By Bryan Harley

Great fit, great quality, great helmet

At Arai, making motorcycle helmets is a family tradition that’s been passed down from generation to generation. The family members behind the company, which is based in Japan, must takes great pride in protecting motorcyclists’ heads, because their motorcycle helmets are 100% handmade, each shell is painstakingly crafted one at a time.

This past riding season I’ve been wearing an Arai RX-Q Helmet with the 75 Retro Black Frost graphics. The RX-Q sports an “Intermediate Oval” shape that fits my head well. It had the proper amount of snugness out of the box, but if it didn’t Arai offers a range of interior liners and removable cheek pads to ensure it will fit a variety of head sizes.

With its somewhat oblong shape, I experienced less buffeting with the Arai RX-Q Helmet than other full-face helmets I’ve worn. This is a boon considering many of the motorcycles I ride as MotoUSA’s Cruiser Editor don’t have fairings or a buffer between me and the brunt of the windblast. Between its neck roll and sealable faceshield, it’s also one of the quieter helmets I’ve worn. This was most noticeable when I threw on a different company’s full-face helmet that I really like and was surprised by how much wind was whistling through the helmet compared to the Arai.

The Arai RX-Q circulates plenty of air thanks to a chin vent, two intake vents on top of the helmet, two vents above the brow, two side exhaust vents and an exit vent at the back of the head. The chin vent has two positions, fully open or half-way. The two vents at the top of the head can easily be opened or closed at the push of a button, even with gloved fingers. The exit vent requires a little bit more pressure but clicks open without much fuss. The cowlings over the exterior vents are designed to help with the helmet’s aerodynamics and reduce buffeting. The brow vents are situated so Arai didn’t have to punch an extra hole in the shell or EPS liner to accommodate them. There’s even an exit vent at the base of the neck fed by channels in the EPS liner.

For cleaning and sizing, the helmet’s cheek pads have a plastic tab at the front that secures them into place and snaps in and out easily. The cheek pads also have small cloth hooks so the pads can be pulled out with the helmet on in emergency situations. Tug on the orange “Pull Here” swatch at the base of the cheek pads to access them. The head liner snaps out quickly and easily too, and the neck roll slides off as well, as everything is washable. All of the liners are soft, padded and porous, making for a comfortable fit.

All Arai faceshields come with an anti-scratch coating, and even though the shield has been raised and lowered hundreds of time, it’s still clear and in good shape. Thanks to small levers underneath the helmet’s side plates, the faceshield comes off quickly. Simply push the levers up and slide the shield out of the mounting points. This revealed the only sign of wear on the faceshield: the part that rotates underneath the sideplate, but that particular section of the shield is still sturdy and, luckily, out of sight.

To put it back on simply feed the open slit of the faceshield back around the mounting point, position the helmet so it’s facing away from you, and push the faceshield down, and it will snap back into place. No need to take the side plates off. There’s a small tab to click the shield securely into place, or you can leave it slightly open to allow a bit more flow in. The only minor hiccup is the lever on the right side used to take the shield off doesn’t automatically pop out when the faceshield is in the up position, so it has to be fished out with something thin like a butter knife. The one on the left side still functions properly.

The helmet’s polycarbonate shell is constructed of a fiberglass/polyester resin and the liner of expanded polystyrene. Though it’s not as light as carbon fiber helmets, at 1,597 grams, the weight of the helmet hasn’t been an issue. The Arai RX-Q meets or exceeds SNELL 2010 and DOT specifications.

On a side note, our helmet is stenciled with 75 in big numbers on the sides of it. Coincidentally, it was the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Rally and we got questioned frequently whether it was a Sturgis special edition when we were at this year’s rally. Good conversation starter.

Granted, with a $719.95 sticker price, the Arai RX-Q Helmet isn’t cheap. But it’s not a cheaply made helmet. Made the old fashioned way, it’s a high-quality lid that’s almost tailored for my head shape, resists buffeting well, and is quieter than most other helmets. Considering what it’s protecting, sometimes shelling out a little more dough is worth the investment.

Check out the great assortment of Arai Helmets at J&P Cycles!