Throughout the years I have become incredibly particular when it comes to the helmets I wear, so I have owned quite a few. Protecting my head has always been my number one priority so I am always hunting for the best and newest technology in helmets, which as you know can be a pricey hobby. Growing up in the Northeast, in an overcrowded state with a required-helmet law, my enthusiasm gravitated to open-face and full-face helmets. Both styles allow me to ride longer into the winter and get back out earlier in the spring as well as offering me the best protection. When I think premium helmet technology and manufacturing, Arai instantly comes to mind.
Arai has been one of the world’s premium helmet brands for over 70 years. The company has launched two new models in 2018 with innovative technology designed specifically for the V-twin motorcycle enthusiast. Each Arai helmet is made completely by hand and undergoes testing well above the industry standard for both DOT and SNELL certifications. The new Defiant-X (full-face) and Classic-V (open-face) helmets both raise the bar of not only performance but my expectations of future helmets.
This year at Daytona Bike Week I had the pleasure of getting my hands on both the Classic-V and the Defiant-X. The Classic-V is something completely new to Arai, the company having never produced a ¾-style helmet before, and it is absolutely amazing. The Classic-V features a retro look with modern, top-of-the-line technology. It features their proprietary PBcLc (Peripherally Belted, complex Laminate construction) shell. This helmet is SNELL and DOT certified and has removable cheek pads as well as a dirt-resistant, odor-eliminating antimicrobial liner. Staying true to the retro look of the helmet it even includes a goggle strap in the back.
What really sets this helmet apart, though, is the patented hidden ventilation. That’s right; a smooth, round, open-face helmet with ventilation. Air enters via three intakes, flows over the head and exits through a multi-staged channel that leads to all-new Venturi exhaust ports that increase the ventilation in the helmet. I rode around in the Florida heat all day and my head didn’t even break a sweat! At first, I thought it was a little odd, but quickly realized it wasn’t a fluke. It actually kept my head cooler throughout the day even as the temperatures outside rose. This one is definitely my new favorite helmet.
The new Defiant-X is similar to their other Defiant line but there are some new, stand-out features in this full-face helmet. Its shell, like the Classic-V, is SNELL and DOT certified and is made of Peripheral Belt technology. This is a Formula 1-inspired shell created with top-of-the-line materials, proprietary adhesives and an aerospace-grade Super Fiber belt that fortifies the most critical areas of the shell. Similar to the Classic-V, it also has an all-new ventilation system. This one includes mouth vents with an internal shutter, exhaust ducts behind the cheek pads, and additional exhaust ports. It also includes their patented dirt-resistant, odor- eliminating anti-microbial liner. This helmet also has a fixed chin curtain which makes it super quiet, cutting down on wind noise. It comes with a Pinlock lens for improved visibility in the unpredictable weather conditions and has a number of mirror-coated and tinted shield options.
On top of all those features the Defiant-X also comes with an optional Pro Shade System, an external system that doesn’t interfere with the internal structure or performance of the helmet. The Pro Shade has three positions and can be used at any time of day. During the day it can be placed in the down position allowing it to function similar to a smoke shield. At night it can be placed in the up position to block street light and oncoming traffic glare. Unfortunately, I did not have the ability to wear this helmet too much in Daytona but I look forward to putting it to the test back home in the brisk but hopefully warming 45-degree temperatures next week.
Both helmets are available in a variety of colors and will be available in official Arai dealers this spring.
Arai Classic-V and Defiant-X
Classic V: XS-XXL, $469.95–$589.95
Defiant-X: XS-XXL, $659.95–$809.95