Down To the Details: Arai Helmets
Here at Road Rider, we are asked time and time again, “What’s so special about an Arai?” If you ask us, we’ll tell you what’s special about an Arai helmet has as much to do with things you can see and feel as with things you can’t. We’ll tell you about Arai’s one-of-a-kind experience; that you’ll know the comfort difference when you try one on yourself. We’ll tell you Arai helmets are widely regarded in the sport as the safest helmets on the market, and that the Arai family continues to be completely uncompromising in their mission to provide “protection above all.”
Arai’s commitment to developing the best helmet possible is at the very core of the family business, and Arai has never relied on marketing to sell the world on the Arai difference. Each Arai helmet is handmade in Arai’s factory near Tokyo by a team of experienced craftsmen. Each helmet shell is tested twice, and every part of each helmet is inspected at every stage of manufacture by the craftsmen, most of whom have been with Arai for over ten years.
“If your family’s name – and your family’s honor – are on the front of your helmet, how many corners would you cut? How many shortcuts would you take?” -Arai
In an interview with Transworld Motocross a few years back, the author, Don Maeda, asked Michio Arai about the competition between helmet manufacturers when it comes to sponsoring big-name racers. Mr. Arai, son of Arai founder Hirotake Arai, told the author, “Arai takes a stand. We will not pay big money for someone to wear our helmets. All of our racers wear our helmets because they like them, and they want to be protected… We concentrate more on research and development than paying people to wear our product…”
The truth is, there are many helmets on the market that share Arai’s third-party safety credentials and some of them are even fairly inexpensive. But Arai goes much further in the development stage of their helmets than the point required to pass laboratory tests. Arai has always designed their helmets to best deal with impacts in the real world, with the knowledge that every accident is unique, uncontrolled, and unpredictable. To this end and as a result of decades of research and experience, all Arai helmets retain these three primary characteristics: roundness, smoothness, and strength. Roundness and smoothness are integral to diverting and reducing impact energy in real accident scenarios. These are the principles behind what Arai calls its R75 shape.
Every Arai helmet has a fiberglass shell, handmade with special resins and Arai’s exclusive Super Glass Fiber. Born from technology originally developed for aerospace and defense applications, Arai’s Super Glass Fiber is extremely strong and light, and used in all three types of Arai shell constructions.
Peripheral Belting-Structural Net Composite Shell (PB-SNC)
Helmets: Corsair V
Arai’s most advanced process, PB-SNC shells are extremely light and strong, and were originally designed for Formula-1 racers. “Peripheral belting” refers to a reinforced belt above the shield that provides enhanced structural integrity while maintaining light weight and compact shell size. The Structural Net Composite is made from a net of fiberglass strands that bond shell layers together more evenly, further reducing shell weight and providing a lower, more comfortable, center of gravity.
Super Complex Laminate Construction (ScLc)
The fiberglass used in ScLc shells is 40% stronger than standard fiberglass in extension and bending resistance. A layer of an extremely strong and very light chemical fiber material is sandwiched between two layers of this fiberglass laminate.
Complex Laminate Construction (cLc)
The two Super Fiber Laminate layers of the cLc shell have a middle layer made of a strong composite material that is not quite as light and is better suited for production in large numbers than the ScLc chemical fiber.
Arai’s one-of-a-kind EPS (expanded polystyrene) shell liner is comprised of multiple densities of material, molded into a single piece. Because their liner is fused, rather than made up of multiple pieces of EPS that are glued or fitted together, the individuals cells of foam are better supported by neighboring cells for the best possible energy absorption.
In our experience, the vast majority of Arai riders become lifetime converts the very first time they ride with their very first Arai. For Arai, delivering premier comfort is an important part of delivering the very best helmet to those riders who put their trust in the brand.
While being incredibly strong, Arai’s helmet shells are very small and typically weigh less than a comparable helmet. As a result, they are minimally burdensome and feel very well balanced – less like a bobble-head and more like your own head. They feature a reinforced lower perimeter that not only further strengthens the shell, but provides a lower center of gravity that reduces rider neck fatigue.
In addition, all Arai full-face helmets feature unique brow vents in the visor that channel air directly to the forehead. The brow vents on the Corsair V, RX-Q, Signet-Q, and Defiant helmets also channel air back to the temples and around the ears. Brow vents provide airflow, ventilation, and fog reduction through the front of the helmet and do not require cutting vents through the forehead of the shell. Such vent cutting weakens a key impact area of the shell and is something Arai will never do. Chemical anti-fog agents used by on the visors of other manufactures wear off over time and can be damaged by cleaning agents.
Achieving the best possible fit is key to maximizing both safety and comfort. To provide the best and safest fit possible, Arai’s cheek pads and temple pads now feature peel away layers. When the correct shell size around the head is selected, the peel away pads provide additional space when needed for comfort in key areas around the face.
Internal Shell Shapes
In years past, Arai became known for offering different helmet models with distinctively different shell shapes. Today, all Arai helmets sold in the North American market, except for the Signet-Q, have what Arai calls an ‘intermediate oval’ shape, though the shell shapes vary slightly within that general intermediate shape. This means most Arai helmets today have a more neutral shape and fit most heads comfortably. The exception is the Signet-Q which is the ‘long oval’ helmet in the modern Arai lineup. The Signet-Q is slightly narrower on the sides and longer from front to back than the now discontinued long oval Arai Profile.
Arai encourages you to visit your local shop and try on different Arai models to find the one that fits you best. Road Rider has the selection, knowledge, and commitment to help you choose the helmet that’s just right for you.
Miles, Matthew. On The Record: Michio Arai, President And CEO, Arai Helmet Ltd., MotoAmerica.com, http://www.motoamerica.com/record-michio-arai-president-and-ceo-arai-helmet-ltd.