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Arai Gets Defiant … But Sticks to its Core Values (With Video)

Arai has traditionally rejected styling fads that might in any way compromise the safety of its helmet designs. Arai’s uncompromising approach to safety, together with the comfortable nature of its lids, has created a remarkable following among elite racers, both two wheel and four wheel.

Did you know that Arai does not pay sponsorship to professional racers? It simply provides a few free helmets each year (typically no more than six) to prominent racers who seek support. Foregoing huge amounts of sponsorship money, racers such as three-time F1 champ Sebastian Vettel choose to wear Arai. Not much more needs to be said.

Without straying from its core design objectives, including safety and comfort, Arai has introduced the new Defiant model for “riders who demand more style on the outside, but who refuse to compromise in other places to get it.”  Just two of several Defiant color schemes are pictured above.  The “aggressive” look of the Defiant did not require Arai to stray from its strict design parameters for the shell of its helmet, which remains round and smooth to resist rotational forces when a rider is sliding.  The extremely hard outer shell allows Arai to use a softer inner liner to more effectively manage impact energy resulting from a crash.  Like all Arai helmets sold in the U.S., the new Defiant is both Snell and DOT approved.  Here is a video discussing Arai and its helmet manufacturing techniques.

We attended an event where Arai introduced the Defiant to a group of journalists, and had a chance to try on the new helmet.  It seemed even more comfortable than the Arai I am currently wearing (a Signet Q).  We will have a full review of the new Defiant within a couple of months.

Some of the features employed by the Defiant to enhance comfort and aerodynamics are described in the press release from Arai below.

(Allentown, PA) For 2013, Arai introduces a new full-face model named the Defiant. It is scheduled to arrive at Arai dealers in late Spring.

If the Defiant name seems a little out of character for Arai, the helmet itself is as well. Much more aggressive looking than its siblings, the Defiant still offers Arai’s enviable array of upmarket features and benefits. In fact, Arai touts the new model to “riders who demand more style on the outside, but who refuse to compromise in other places to get it.”

Among its key features inside are Arai’s patented FCS® (Facial Contour System) cheek pad, a design so advanced the company says it combines unprecedented support and comfort, while further reducing interior noise; 5 mm peel-away cheek and temple pads micro-fit the interior to your facial contour; and the fully removable/ washable/replaceable comfort liner now features Arai’s water-repellent Dry-Max™ material on the exposed areas of the cheekpads and neckroll that prevents water absorption in wet conditions and provides a “luxurious” feel. The new IR Neckroll pad has an improved shape to flow more air to the bottom of the helmet at lower speeds for improved rider comfort.

Outside, the Defiant’s new IR chinvent and front spoiler edge trim are said to offer more than just a bold look: typical of Arai, they houses a number of rider benefits. The chinvent provides multiple adjustments and functions “with tangible rider benefits,” while the edge trim is flared along the bottom, creating a stabilizing down force while reducing buffeting, lifting, and turbulence-generated wind noise. Another visual feature of the new Defiant is its larger IC-4 upper front intake vents whose slide-gate closures seal more completely when closed, allowing for a cleaner airflow. The new Defiant also has Arai’s patented Hyper-Ridge® reinforcing band, and the helmet comes standard with a clear Pinlock SAI Max-Vision faceshield and anti-fog lens insert.

Defiant comes in an expanded size range from XXS to XXXL, in five solid colors and six graphic designs and colors. MSRP ranges from $619.95 to $759.95. Like all individually- handcrafted Arais, it meets or exceeds both Snell 2010 and DOT standards.

For complete information, please see your nearest Arai retailer, or log onto


  1. Randy says:

    First Arai was in 1985, an F-1 with the Freddie Spencer paint scheme. I was hooked and have worn Arai ever since, regardless of the cost. My newest cost over $800 and I pay it gladly.

  2. txrogue says:

    I have seen the results of left turnitis in a shoei. Im still here. they are loud and hot. joe rocket is light and really loud. thinking about shuberth. they are pricey, but i kinda like my current skull. thoughts?

  3. Conrad says:

    When asked why he switched from Arai to Yes helmets Jamie Whitham said ” good helmets pay shitty….shitty helmets pay good” It has taken HJC 30 years to make a decent helmet and that on the income from selling millions of plastic buckets…

  4. Dan says:

    Long time Arai wearer because they fit my noggin the best. Optional shell shapes as well thicknesses of check pads/headliners allow users to achieve an optimum fit.

    Shield mechanism is only slightly futzy, and no bother once acclimated. Countless youtube vids demonstrate how to change shields with ease – reading the instructions helps, as well.

    After several Arai lids over the last twenty years (approximately a couple of hundred thousand miles), I’ve broken exactly one part – a side pod, which Arai shipped free to my home in a matter of days.

  5. KTMRyder says:

    I have worn Arai in the past and loved them except for the price.
    The price is just too much in this “new economy” so I ended up with a Bell RS1 for my last purchase.
    Excellent fit, very easy shield changes, nice style.
    Works well even at high speeds of a track day.
    I’m impressed since I paid $300 and could have two for the price of an Arai.

  6. Joe Sixpack says:

    Arai is a joke of a manufacturer.

    First, the price is ridiculous.

    Second, the side shield mechanism is a poor example of engineering. I have senior level MechE students who can design something better in a couple of weeks.

    Third, do you think any racer is going to risk their life by putting on an inferior quality helmet? Lorenzo and Spies use HJC, Stoner used Nolan, RDP uses Shark, Rossi uses AGV. I guess they don’t care about protecting their head in a crash.

    • Marcos says:

      Could not agree more, that was just my point before.

      I use Shoei helmets, but also have first hand experience with top of the line Arai as well (own one and have seen another that my brother uses being abused). When comparing the ease of cleaning and durability between the two, I am amazed that people with a budget consider acceptable that every time you want to change the shield an Arai helmet, you are risking having to buy replacement plastics because taking off those side pods is a nightmare. Also, the full removal and cleaning of the lining, not even comparable, and I speak from experience.

  7. Mars says:

    Scorpion. You can pay more, if you really want to, but you won’t be getting a “better” helmet for that money.

  8. DaveA says:

    The headline should read “Arai struggles to stay relevant as people come to understand that you can be just as safe for under $200”

    I love Arai helmets. In particular, the quality of the finish is always perfect. But, for them to continue to intimate that you’re getting a safer helmet when you buy one is silly and bordering on disingenuous. One might take notice that no helmet ads (Arai or anyone else)ever claim empirical evidence demonstrating that their helmets are measurably safer than other helmets. Any guesses as to why that might be? The liability thing doesn’t hold water, as the marketing for this helmet says that it’s for people who don’t want to compromise safety for style…so clearly they aren’t above mentioning safety. Here’s a hint: it’s because they aren’t any safer than other helmets that pass the same standard tests.

    Also on a side note, it is 100% not true that Arai doesn’t pay anyone endorsement money.

  9. RedDog says:

    Comfortable helmets (Quantum), tested (by me sadly) protection.
    Disgusting quality of design. Pathetic shield removal system that has parts break regularly and pretty much all parts will either snap or fall off in a short time.
    Garbage helmet overall for a huge price.

    • Ninou says:

      Spot on! Same experience with a top of the line Arai(except for the crash). I will never buy an Arai again! Shoei of the same price last ten times longer without all the plastic pieces breaking or falling off. Heck, even much cheaper helmets have better build quality!
      I was shocked at the piss poor build quality of a $700 helmet! After less than a year it looked like it was an abused 10 year old helmet.

  10. MGNorge says:

    The common line on helmets is how much value to place on your head/life? I don’t believe anyone doubts that Arai makes a great helmet but I think that holds true to other brands and models too. It’s a personal decision as to whether spending the extra money is the right move. Three things, maybe four, come to mind when choosing a helmet. Cost, style, comfort and protection. Won’t know about wind noise until after the purchase. The first three are tangible but with protection we have to go on standards and faith. Are lower cost helmets able to protect as well as the high priced spread or is the extra money largely spent on a name? You decide.

    I think it’s been shown that it’s some of both.

  11. Bob says:

    The prices of ‘premium’ helmets have grown to laughable levels, and Arai, which has always led the way in stratospheric pricing, is the worst offender.

    $620 TO $760?

    NO THANKS !!!

  12. Hair says:

    Helmets mess with my Hair. Rocks mess with my head. I’ve experienced both. Keep pushing the limits. Keep building better helmets.

  13. mark says:

    I gave up on Arai when the cheap plastic parts started falling off. Carrying glue on a tour is not my idea of quality. My last three Scorpions have held up better than my previous two Arais.

    I agree, something is amiss here. Hard to believe racer’s would risk their lives for sponsorship from other helmets deemed unacceptable by the majority (Including riders like Rossi, who rides with an AGV.

    • Gutterslob says:

      Rossi does not find Arai unacceptable. He just chooses to wear AGV. Maybe because they’re Italian, maybe it’s because of the design, or maybe it’s got something to do with the 2.8 million Euros he gets from them yearly.

      I don’t really find much difference between the top helmet manufacturers. You get what you pay for. You get great protection from a $800 helmet, whether it’s Arai, Shoei, AGV or Bell. Just like you get less than adequate protection from a helmet that’s a fifth of that price from the same manufacturers

      • Tim says:

        Some of the very comprehensive European tests would shock you. There seems to every little relationship between cost and performance.

        • Gutterslob says:

          Dunno about Euro tests, but that accident I had 4.5 years ago did shock me, and the Arai I was wearing at the time (probably cost around USD500) saved my noggin. That’s enough of a test for me.

          • iliketoeat says:

            Actually, unless you have the same crash with a cheaper helmet and compare results, you DO NOT know if the Arai gives you more protection than a cheaper helmet.

            Helmets all work the same way – a cruah liner absorbs the energy of an impact. There is no magic technology that only expensive helmets have. Expensive helmets are more comfortable, have better features, better venting, etc. But there is absolutely no evidence and no reason to believe that they’re any safer in an crash than cheap helmets.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Pricier helmets often have more shell sizes, which if I remember correctly, is relevant to crash safety. I have to agree though that, assuming the helmet is a proper fit to the rider, the recent studies and tests do not demonstrate a relationship between safety and price. My position is that most helmets provide good protection, and an impact that would kill me or make me a vegetable in a budget-level HJC will likely do the same in a $760 Arai.

            I’ll continue to buy premium helmets, but that is because I am willing to pay more for comfort – fit, plushness, venting, sound levels, etc.

        • Tim says:

          I’m not anti Arai. I’ve always wanted one. My current lid is an expensive Shoei, which I love. I’m not suggesting people cheap out. I’m just saying the European tests, which by all accounts are more comprehensive than those being done in the US, have not shown a link between cost and protection.

          The most expensive helmet I’ve owned was a Shuberth, and the damn thing developed a crack for no apparent reason. It wasn’t dropped or anything. I dont kow if a piece of chat caused it or what. The interior materials deteriorated prematurely as well.

          I think too often people associate cost with quality when, in fact, cost is often just a decision a company makes as part of their marketing plan (in other words, they may make a crap product, but choose a high price point to give the perception of quality.) I definitely don’t see Arai as a poorly made product. Clearly they are hand made, and very expensive to make. I seem to recall the knock on them as maybe being the shell was too rigid and didn’t provide enough flex on contact.

          I would still like to have an Arai. If the right one came along at the right price, I would buy one.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I took a look at a $700 Arai at a local shop. One of the buddy little vents was loose – there is no way it could stay in the open or shut position. Another Arai had the finish scuffed where the visor was rubbing it slightly when pushed up. I was less than impressed, especially at that price level.

      I will say that the Signet-Q is the most comfortable helmet I have put on my head to date, but what I saw on the display shelf has me hoping I can find something just as good and comfortable from another manufacturer.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The only Shoei that fit me as well as the Signet-Q was the Qwest. But I live in Texas, so a removable liner I can wash is a must and is a feature the Qwest didn’t have.

          • Dave says:

            The RF and Qwest are the same internal shape. The pads are only very slightly different.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I tried the RF1100, but it felt noticeably different on my head than the Qwest. Not bad at all, but it didn’t fit well enough for me to pay the asking price. I also don’t care for whatever the liner is made of in both the Qwest and the RF1100. Not that it would be a deal breaker, but I was expecting something supple.

  14. todder says:

    Nice lid. I appreciate their standard of safety, which is why I understand the pricing. Testing is never cheap which is why other companies don’t do this.

    Due to fit and budget, sticking with the other brand which stats with S and ends in I. Still would love an Aria if it would comfortably fit my skull.

  15. Tim says:

    They are obviously well made, and I’ve always wanted one. However, they have not done all that well in a few of the bjective tests I’ve seen over the years.

  16. Iwan says:

    Some testing video’s from the European introductions event, where the Defiant is called “Rebel”.

  17. Marcos says:

    I find it hard to believe that top racers in Moto or F1 (Pedrosa, Hayden, Vettel, Hamilton) do not get $$$s for wearing Arai and are passing at the opportunity to get paid by helmet manufacturers, just because they want to wear Arai. If the argument is that no other manufacturer is as safe, I doubt that a top racer would put on a HJC, Nolan or Shoei helmet just for the sponsorship if their safety could be compromised. So there is something amiss with the idea that Arai does not spend money in sponsorship. Or is it that Arai gives the racer a fee when they make a replica helmet with their name on?

  18. Tom says:

    Love that funky Euro music and them British accents.

  19. MGNorge says:

    Where’s the popcorn?

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