Some things are best made the old fashioned way. That’s what Arai believes with the release of its new Quantum-X and Signet-X full-face motorcycle helmets (starting at $679.95 in solids). The Japanese company’s latest head protection comes one year after the introduction of its race-bred, and top-of-the-line Corsair-X helmet and replaces the previous Q-designation lids.
Tailored Fit for Everyone
Available in two versions designed to accommodate specific head shapes, Arai is the only brand to offer this customized-production fit.
Most Americans want the Quantum-X. With its “round-oval” expanded polystyrene (EPS) shaped liner, this helmet is for riders with evenly proportioned noggins. However, by fitting a Corsair-X’s head liner, the interior transforms into a more balanced “intermediate-oval” form.
On the other hand, people with long, skinny faces, should try the “long-oval” design of the Signet-X. Its interior measures longer front-to-back and more narrow from side-to-side. Out of the six sizes (XS-XXL), only medium/large share the same shell and EPS. This further enhances fit based on head size. Although some of the competition have recently introduced “flex” varied-density EPS, Arai still believes in using its tried-and-true multi-density EPS configuration.
Some riders, myself included, will likely fit in either lid well, but that’s what’s appealing about Arai’s design philosophy: tailored fit for everyone so you’re comfortable in the saddle. The cheek pads can be swapped for thinner or thicker versions, as can the head liner for even greater fit.
The remaining three interior pieces can be removed for cleaning. But the anti-microbial-lined interior works well between washes mitigating unpleasant odors. Every so often, we do toss the entire six-piece interior in a front-loading washing machine and let it air dry afterwards. This ensures a brand-new feeling helmet.
Handcrafted in Japan, Like Always
Arai has proudly crafted its helmet shells by hand since the beginning. Fast forward to today and its team of 14 Shell Masters still lovingly lay fiberglass and composite materials by hand.
Instead of trendy fancy-looking shapes, Arai insists on smooth egg-like lines devoid of edges that can catch on objects during an accident. This helps it “glance off” potential hazards rather than getting hooked and risking added energy transfer into the helmet during a crash.
Of course its helmets are built to withstand both Snell and DOT helmet testing, but the Japanese brand is quick to point out that it passes US testing directives as a byproduct of design. Road riders and racers worldwide depend on Arai craftsmanship to keep them safe in an accident. It’s those word of mouth experiences that have allowed Arai to develop its allegiant following.
On the scale, the new helmets weigh 0.6-ounce more (3.53 pounds) versus the outgoing Signet versions (3.49 pounds – measured in size small).
Improved Ventilation and Shield Mechanism
Ventilation and noise were never squawks with the outgoing version yet engineers spent time tweaking how the helmet flows air. The five intake vents remain but channels have been improved. The chin vent remains three-way adjustable but are larger. The upper intakes now operate with a slide mechanism (as opposed to small buttons) making it easier to use with gloves.
The shape of the rear diffuser is unchanged however the exhaust vents are now three-way adjustable via a new lever slide. Additional fixed ports on the lower rear edge of the helmet push more air and are complemented by a neck nozzle port.
A removable chin curtain has also been added which mitigates turbulence inside the face shield. Like before the helmet pushes enough air to keep perspiration at bay even during hot summer rides. Since we always wear ear plugs, we can’t comment on whether the new version is any quieter than before but we do like the more stable air pocket courtesy of the chin curtain and superior shield seal. However, the new visor latch works so well it can be tricky to open until you memorize the proper opening sequence.
Perhaps the biggest update is the new Variable Axis System (VAS) shield. It’s a complicated engineering solution to a simple (at least to us) task. Push-button levers release the pod covers (tethered so you don’t lose them), exposing the mechanism and facilitating the visor swap.
The new setup certainly isn’t any faster if you’re familiar with the old technique, however there is reduced margin for error and/or damaging delicate plastic parts. The helmets ship with a Pinlock-equipped clear visor which reduces visor fog in humid climates. Tinted face shield options are also available in smoke, dark smoke, red, green, blue and silver finishes.
Arai hasn’t jumped on the Transitions bandwagon yet, instead relying on a more conventional (and less expensive) solution which it calls its Pro Shade ($86.95). Available in smoke, silver, and blue tints, the Pro Shade attaches to the top of the main visor. It operates on its own ratcheting system allowing it to be raised or lowered on command. The setup works well and is a reasonable alternative to an internal flip-down sunshades.
A Quality Helmet for the Money
Arai didn’t reinvent the wheel with its new X-designation helmets. A staple in our gear closet for years the new versions improve upon some of the old quirks, while creating some fresh ones too. Still, it’s a likable helmet that reaffirms Arai’s belief in classic old world craftsmanship versus Chinese-style mass production.
Arai Signet-X and Quantum-X Helmets
MSRP: $679.95 – $709.95 (solids); $829.95 (graphics)
Warranty: Five-year limited
Weight: 3.53-pound (size small)