They say you either have an Arai head or a Shoei head but Arai aims to change that thought process with the latest shell design on their new affordable £379 Profile-V helmet. No matter what shape of bonce you have, or what you ride, you want to give it the best level of protection.
We were at Donington Park recently for the press launch of this latest Arai helmet, the Profile-V. It’s only one notch above the new entry-level Arai Debut on price (which starts at £299.99) but comes with most of the features of its more expensive siblings. The shell has also been designed to fit more heads comfortably and has a wider ‘easy on’ opening to make getting the lid on your head easier.
We’ll get to the design, ethos and specifics of the Profile-V shortly but from a first impressions point of view, I was impressed at the look, feel and fit of the brand new helmet. Firstly it’s 150 grammes lighter than my top of the range Arai RX7-V. It tips the scales at 1500 grames and you notice the weight difference straight away. Some customers judge a helmet by weight alone so a weight saving is good news, especially when it’s not a saving that was gained by compromising safety (as you’ll find with many cheaper helmets).
Aside from the weight, you’ll also notice that the lining is super-soft and plush, it felt comfier than my current helmet as soon as I put it on. None of that breaking in to worry about (I broke an RX-7V in riding to Croatia and back, ouch). It also helps of course if you get your helmet fitted properly. All Arai dealers should be trained to fit you with a new helmet. Take the time to get it right and you’ll be safer and feel comfier from the beginning.
Arai always uses traditional Double-D strap fasteners and the Profile-V is no exception. They use them because there’s less to go wrong, they’re dependable and they work. With Arai safety is paramount, everything else is secondary.
You may wonder why Arai shells are generally pretty round with nothing other than vents/fins or side pods protruding? The Arai ethos is based around ‘glancing off.’ In the event of a crash, a round shell will help to minimise rotational force before it gets into the helmet, it’ll also glance off objects more easily and dissipate some of the energy produced. Glancing off stops your head snagging on pavements, street furniture etc. All external side pods/vents are designed to snap off in an accident.
All Arai helmets are built for overall safety, rather than being built to simply pass a set test. Some other brand helmets have a specifically harder shell in the areas used for the drop test – Arai’s shell is designed for great overall protection and tested to their in-house safety standards, as well as SNELL/ECE.
The Profile-V is instantly recognisable thanks to its ‘Hyper Ridge’ an indented part of the lower shell unique to this helmet. It makes the opening of the helmet 5mm wider for ‘easy on’ but also adds strength.
Like all Arai helmets, the Peripherally Belted “e” Complex Laminate Construction (PB e-clc) of the Profile-V shell is laid by hand – in fact, the only part of an Arai not made by humans is the laser cut visor aperture. The Profile-V uses a new laminate process that requires less resin and gives a stronger, lighter shell (hence the weight saving). The shell is also peripherally belted using Super Fiber (30% stronger and six times more expensive than normal fibreglass) across the forehead to reinforce that key area without adding weight.
As one journalist asked during the press conference “Can’t we line a helmet with something better than the polystyrene packed around a new telly?”
Actually, the one-piece Multi-Density EPS inner liner of an Arai is quite complex – with as many as four different densities combined into a one-piece liner. It’s designed to dissipate kinetic energy, without excess bulk and working in tandem with the helmet’s outer shell. It’s much more preferable than having a scrambled brain. The EPS liner making process is one of the most closely guarded secret parts of Arai production.
Remember this is a mid-range Arai so you don’t get a fully removable interior (the cheek pads and perimeter liner are removable though) but the interior still has the Facial Contour System to give a firm yet comfortable fit. To be honest, I can never be bothered to take the whole liner out to clean it anyway so it’s no biggy for me.
Unlike some of the higher spec Arais, there’s no adjustable chin spoiler, again not a major issue for most of the time on a scooter. I use mine on the RX-7V if it’s raining heavily but doubt I’ll miss it too much on the Profile-V. The fixed chin spoiler will still help to minimise wind noise and help to draw moisture away from the mouth to reduce fogging. So far I have found the Profile-V to be fairly quiet, even at 140mph around Donington.
Why no sun visor?
Helmets with an internal sun visor by design have to accommodate the extra visor and mechanism inside the shell. That means the inner liner has to be reduced in thickness to fit it in. Arai don’t believe it’s worth the compromise, so they don’t make one. The Profile-V can be fitted with Arai’s external flip down ‘Pro shade’ though, it’s a good compromise if you want a sun visor. Personally, I use an illegal dark visor, it looks cool and stops my face being seen in photos.
For similar reasons to an internal visor, Arai don’t make a flip front helmet, although it’s likely that they are working on one. They told us that they won’t bring one to market unless it’s as safe as their full faced lids. Strangely though, they do make a piss pot. Freedom of choice is still good to have.
VIDEO | This is how quick it should be to change an Arai visor
VAS Visor mechanism
One thing Arai are often criticised for is their visor changing mechanism but things improved greatly with the launch of the RX7-V with its new style Variable Axis System visor.
The old visor was a bit of a pain, the side pods could break off and once you’d broken one the visor would fall off. I once rode to London and back in an Arai with a taped on visor after a side pod broke. It was mid-winter and I lost the visor after a few miles when I did a shoulder check. The old system was also a bit scary, you’d have to force the visor in and be scared of breaking something. Although once you’d mastered the technique it was quick and fairly easy.
VAS is much easier. Ok it still has pods but these ones are there for two reasons, firstly to cover the mechanism and secondly to reduce wind noise. You can take them off (they stay attached by a small cord for added security) and the visor is perfectly ok. The pods simply flip off by pushing a lever and give easy access to remove the visor. It takes seconds once you’re used to it and you don’t need any tools.
The visor has two top vents, there’s also a chin vent and two top vents, all of which can be closed. There’s a rear exhaust vent to keep the air flowing and the visor comes complete with a Pinlock.
I’ve only been using this helmet for two weeks but it’s already my favourite lid. I’ve ridden around Donington Park in it at 140mph, I’ve tested scooters in it and have just ridden to Scarborough on my Lambretta. So far I can’t fault it. It’s comfortable, has a good spec, it’s light, looks great in the Modern Grey (perfect if you’re buying a GTS Super Tech) and at £379.99 (£459.99 for graphics) it’s a reasonably priced hand-built helmet from one of the best and most well-respected firms in the business.
If you’re going to buy yourself a new lid this year I’d highly recommend this one. They’re available from May. You can check out the full-colour options (and the rest of the Arai range at Why Arai?
Or visit the SLUK Shop.
Photos: Lee Colwell @ Thrill Pic and Tim Keeton @ Impact Images
Ron Haslam Race School
Whilst we were at the launch we got the chance to have a wobble around the track on the Ron Haslam Race School bikes. The bikes were brand new that day, Honda CB 650Rs. We got three 15-minute sessions with top instruction (I also spotted one aspiring novice scooter racer at the school).
Afterwards, we were also given the chance to do a few laps on the back of a Fireblade with Rocket Ron as chauffeur. Holding on to a special tank-mounted pillion handle helps to make things easier whilst braking hard into corners, or accelerating, or doing power wheelies at full tilt mid-corner, or wheelieing at 140mph along the start/finish straight. A fantastic experience though and one you can all have a go at. Check out Ron Haslam Race School.
New products always in development…