You would think that all riders can agree that if there’s one item to splurge on when it comes to motorcycle gear, it’s a helmet. You’d be surprised at the different attitudes and opinions that people have towards lids. Some riders think that paying a lot of money for a helmet just buys you a fancy badge.
I’m here to tell you that when it comes to helmets from Arai, that’s just not true.
I recently drove upstate for a chance to ride cruisers but it had been a minute since I was in the saddle, so I found myself without any riding gear. I had to address this lack of gear, and as any rider will attest: trying out gear is half the fun of riding in the first place!
(Full Disclosure: Comoto invited me to test ride motorcycles and to check out Revzilla and Cycle Gear kit at the first annual Get On! Moto Fest. The company paid for my accommodations and my saddle time in a Flat Track course, but I bought and paid for the helmet reviewed here myself.)
Motorcycle helmets are like the crown — if not the crown jewel — in a rider’s arsenal. That comparison isn’t far off the mark, either. The Quantum-X costs around $700. Is that jewelry money, nowadays? I’m unsure, but maybe.
In any case, it’s more than the cost of many other helmets. I’ve now owned and ridden in helmets from Icon, Nolan, Schuberth and Arai and can finally say without reservations that Arai makes a damn good helmet. They may not be as quiet as a Schuberth, nor as easy to live with as a Nolan. They are certainly not as affordable as an Icon, but Arai is the best overall package.
Many years ago, I rode in a Flat White Arai Quantum II. That helmet is the precursor to this Quantum-X, which fits riders with rounder heads. The Quantum line has what Arai calls a round oval fit, versus the intermediate and long oval fit of their other helmets.
The last lid I owned before this was a Schuberth C3 Pro, which fits between a round and long oval head shape. Schuberth helmets cut a sharper profile than Arai helmets, and they feel more stable at speed. Despite being modular lids, which lack the one-piece construction of a full-face, the Schuberth C3 Pro was extremely quiet. My C3 was quieter than my Quantum II, but this Quantum-X is on par with the Schuberth.
The problem with my Schuberth was that the longer front-to-back shape could interfere with head-checks. It never stopped me from turning my head, but if I jerked my neck during a lane change, I could easily bump my shoulder with my chin. The Quantum-X has no such problem because it’s smaller front-to-back and a little wider. Also, Arai has more shell sizes than many other companies.
That means if you set down a row of Arai helmets from XS to XXXL, they would be physically smaller or bigger on both the outside and inside. That’s not the case for all companies. Some helmet makers save money by putting more or less material inside two or three shell sizes — let alone shapes. Arai has different tooling to produce more outer shells. One added bonus to this, is that you don’t get that drastic lollipop effect where your head looks disproportionately large.
And this is only part of the reason why Arai helmets cost so damn much. The company puts more money into manufacturing and its R&D than into marketing or the addition of gimmicky features. In fact, Arai helmets are still made by hand!
Arai helmets are also famous for their strong and safe egg shape, which the company claims it sticks to because of its natural high integrity. You can choose to believe that line or not, but professional riders swear by them. Just look at any MotoGP grid and count the number of Arai lids.
The features I mentioned above are mostly limited to a few, functional additions. Arai has tried to improve its liners, and they’re just OK now. They are not the last word in comfort, but I’ll get into that later. One area where Arai improved on their older helmets is venting. I was cool even in the muggy Texas afternoon, and that’s not easy to achieve.
There are more detents in the vents than before, and there are now vents throughout the lid, like on the top, on the visor and the mouth section. There are also exhaust ports on the back. When you open all of these, you get a ton of air flow and only take a mild hit in terms of noise.
There are a couple of nits to pick though. When I was trying on a few different helmets, trying to get my size right by walking around the Cycle Gear pop-up (which was huge) I noticed something surprising between two different Arai helmets. The Quantum-X was less comfortable overall than the Regent-X.
That could be due to the construction of the Regent-X, which has a wider opening to help with ingress and egress. The difference sounds small at 5 millimeters, but trust me, it makes a difference!
Also, the Regent-X has a different lining than the one in the Quantum-X. The lining looks identical to what used to be in my Quantum II and maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I think the lining in the cheaper Regent-X is more comfortable.
The higher comfort was enough to make me consider putting the Quantum-X back, but the round oval fit decided for me. I’ll also mention that the Regent-X has different styling which I’m not a huge fan of. Its chin juts out, which is likely due to the wider opening, but I preferred the familiar shape of the Quantum-X.
The other problem was with the visor, or face shield. The Quantum-X has a locking mechanism that works a little too well. It’s not as easy as I recall to flip open. The visor has a two-step latch and in order to open it, the rider must apply both upward and outward pressure at the same time. I had a helluva time figuring this out and gave up trying to open it until I could sit down and focus. It was a small but noticeable bump on my road to helmet bliss.
Other than that, the helmet performed better than I expected. The fit and finish is impeccable. This Diamond White Arai is the most stylish helmet I’ve ever owned. The airflow is excellent; it’s quiet and comfortable and I feel very safe. Yeah, it’s pricy, but if there’s one thing I’m going to splurge on, it’s a helmet.