Arai XD Helmet

Arai is getting ready to introduce the new XD "Supermoto" helmet. This new hybrid helmet is intended for the Street-Supermoto and Adventure Touring crowd. It combines a motocross helmet's shape and visor, with a street helmet's flip-up face shield. The XD includes high-end features like a removable-washable liner, I/C 2 Intake vents, DDL-2 "Double Delta" bridged exhaust vents, and strong yet lightweight composite construction with Snell M2000 certification.

It all works surprisingly well for on-road use. On the streets and highways, the XDs motocross attributes allow you to use the visor to block the sun, while the large eye port and the motocross style chin bar offer enhanced peripheral vision. The street helmet-inspired face shield closes tightly to help keep wind noise, moisture and cold at bay. It's funky looking, yet attractive in a strange hybrid-moto way

I wore the XD on a fully-faired FJR-1300 and on an un-faired V-Max and it remained calm, quiet and dry in all street riding scenarios, including a sudden downpour at 80mph on the freeway. Its highway refinement seems comparable to most normal street helmets, which is surprising, considering the big visor sticking out of its forehead.

The picture isn't so rosy, once you get on a Motocross or Supermoto track however, because the closed face shield doesn't allow enough airflow for heavy exertion. This caused me to ride with it in the cracked or fully-up position which is not ideal for safety. If you're looking for an off-road competition helmet, I'd recommend Arai's excellent VX series and a good set of goggles.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SHAPES? This is what Arai says on their website:

"It comes down to a basic fact: the shape of the head - the relationship between length and width - are as important as head size in determining the right helmet for you a helmet:

1. The traditional Arai fit - the "Long Oval" - For heads whose length is distinctly narrow side-to-side, combined with a longer front to back measurement. Arai's Long Oval shell shape is currently available in the Signet, Renegade and Tracker GT series.

2. The transitional fit - the "Round Oval" - For heads that are distinctly rounder, the length and width being almost even. Arai's Round Oval shell shape is currently available in the Quantum series. (The RX-7 series has a "relaxed" Round Oval shell shape, which is not quite as pronounced as the Quantum's.)

3. The bridge fit - the "Intermediate Oval" - For heads with a round shape, but with considerably more forehead length. This shape "bridges" the gap between the two previous shapes. Arai's Intermediate Oval shell shape is currently available in the Astral series."

Arai Signet and Signet GT helmets have a loyal following among oval-headed riders, because the Signet has a longer - narrower interior, compared to most other helmets. This allows more forehead room and drastically cuts down on helmet pinch. For those of you with normal "round" heads, Arai offers the Quantum series, which has a more traditional fit, while still offering Arai's award winning safety, design and finish. The super popular RX-7/RR and awesome new RX-7/Corsair race helmets fall neatly between the Signet and Quantum and I find them to be very comfortable, once they are broken in.

All decals on the front fender are upside-down, for a more pleasurable 100mph reading experience. The new Arai XD "Supermoto" helmet is closer to a Quantum than Signet shape, so if you have an oval head, or frequently suffer from forehead pinch, you might want to order a size larger than usual, or go with a different model of helmet. Unfortunately for me, I didnt notice the interior shape issue when I first put the XD on. However, my forehead started hurting 15 minutes into an hour and a half trip to Perris Kart Track, for a Yamaha Supermoto press ride. The day's schedule required that I press-on, but the forehead pinch became extremely unpleasant and tainted my experience with what otherwise seems to be a perfectly nice helmet.

The 2004 Arai XD is Snell M2000 certified. It's available in five solid colors: Aluminum Grey, Aluminum Silver, Black, White, and Sport Blue, plus various patterns which have not yet been finalized. Exact pricing is also not yet determined, but it is expected to be in the $450 - $550 range, depending on graphics. The XD will be produced in six sizes from XS through XXL.

For more info on Arai and the 2003 line of Arai helmets, call Arai at their toll free number (800) 766-ARAI.

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