Head of the Class
Many motorcycle industry insiders have long regarded Arai as the best motorcycle helmet (period). I guess this comes from experience. For instance, twice bouncing my Arai covered head off the racetrack pavement in the last decade and still having the good judgment to write this story maybe proof enough.
Built not to simply meet DOT and Shell helmet safety standards, Arai has for three generations constructed helmets to their own higher standards. At the top-of-the-range is the recently released Arai Corsair-V. Furthermore, for mid-2009 Arai has announced another iteration in this line: the new Hiroshi Aoyama (MotoGP 250cc front-runner an current points leader) Replica.
The Corsair-V recently replaced the celebrated RX-7 Corsair. Arai declares that the new V model has so many new patents and advancements over the RX-7 that "they’re really not close in anything but the ‘Corsair’ name," said Brian Weston, Arai Americas’ Director of Operations. Apparently enhancements have been made not only to the shell but also the helmet interior and ventilation. I was eager take this latest iteration for a rubber-side down ride.
The helmet is more compact in size and relatively light compared to others. It cuts through the wind quietly. This is due in part to the noise absorbing ear pad foam, the face shield’s tight seal with the helmet and the organic aerodynamic shape. A large eye port provides an unobstructed view and the optics of the shield are crystal clear.
Those of you familiar with the three different shaped shells offered by Arai, the Corsair-V is an intermediate oval shape (not round oval round or long oval). This helmet shape seems to fit my head best and with a snug fit the cheek pads tightly squeeze my face like my Italian grandmother (god bless her heart). The Dry-Cool Liner is removable, replaceable and washable. The liner seems durable (not yet time tested), is comfortable and is plush enough.
The multi-color graphic "matches nothing, but go with everything". Unexpectedly the adjustable air wing makes a helpful difference when matched with your riding position. Enhanced venting works well and on a few hot summer test days this is well received.
Effectively hand-made, Arai has scored the highest JD Powers ratings in customer service for the past 11 years. "We know it’s not a helmet for everybody, especially not in this economy," Weston concluded. "Come to think of it, no Arai is. Yet, after three generations of making helmets in a very special way, we know there are riders who can tell the difference. And yes, we know they’re expensive. That’s because it costs a lot to build each one."
Overall, the Aoyama Corsair-V is another work of art from Arai that will be appreciated by enthusiasts. Head of the class or not, this is an investment that should be considered ‘money in the bank’. Available in sizes XS-XXL, and offered at suggested retail of $899.95.