My Arai Tour X-3 has been with me for about 3 years now and has had everything from 45 degree sun shining on it to a 2 inch icicle hanging from its peak. It’s been through torrential rain and endless miles of dust between Australia and the UK and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with it.
There are now several dual purpose helmets on the market, some starting at a fraction of the Arai’s hefty price tag. I’m sure many would match up in a quick comparison whilst standing in a shop, but I doubt any of the cheaper options would still feel as good, 3 years and 35,000km down the road.
The Arai, as with other top of the range brands certainly is a quality bit of kit. The outer shell is a fibreglass composite mix or Complex Laminate Construction as the official blurb states. The removable washable lining (part of it anyway) & cheek pads (slim line speakers can be fitted behind), effective air vents and quality D shackle strap all add to the pleasure of owning it. In fact with a bit of a wash, the lining still looks virtually brand new.
The X-3 has now been superseded by the X-4 (main improvements air vents and pin-lock anti-fog visor) but none of the niggles I’ve experienced have been addressed:
The major drawback of the helmet (except for the excessive wind noise & turbulence due to the peak) is the visor. To swap it for a tinted or yellow low-viz type is no clip on/off job as it with their ‘normal’ helmets. The X3 & X4 require a screwdriver and 10 minutes of fiddle-faddle.
Rain is a bit of a problem as well. The normal technique of turning your head at speed to ‘blow’ the drops off the visor just doesn’t work, wiping is the only way to clear the view. I guess this is due to the peak affecting airflow. Another more annoying weird bi-product of the design is that drops actually get on the inside of the visor. Only a few make it in but to clear them you need to take the helmet off which is a real pain.
If you’ll be riding in dusty conditions and wearing goggles check that they actually fit into the small opening of the helmet, some don’t. Once wearing goggles however you can easily close the visor down over the straps so giving you extra protection from the elements that a motocross style helmet wouldn’t provide. The down side is that the dust gets in the visor hinge mechanism, making it stiff and clunky.
Overall for a ‘one style does all’ helmet, the Arai is a good bit of kit and in my mind worth the money. Weight is 1675 grams and even though this might increase, wouldn’t it be nice if they could incorporate a flip front into it as well? Hello, R&D, are you listening?
Price: The X3 is no longer available new but the updated X4 retails from £439.99 for the white one, to £499.99 for coloured models, but shop around.
Will Wilkins (author of Wollongong to Woolwich)