Arai RX-Q: Motorcycle Helmet Review

Motorcycle Helmets

Arai markets the RX-Q as the "ultimate street helmet," which is simply a shortened way of saying the helmet combines the safety/functionality of full-blown race technology with the added comfort needed for everyday street riding.

Basically, the RXQ is the race-prepped Corsair-V in street clothing, the Q’s design built to emphasize comfort, stability and less noise…the street-savvy cousin of the Corsair-V. And after my very first mile with the RX-Q, I knew this was one serious street helmet.

As a faithful customer to the Japanese company since ’98, I wouldn’t expect anything less. But it appears I’m not the only one. Statistical data shows that many others are also faithful to Arai. According to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2010 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study, Arai ranks highest in customer satisfaction for a 12th consecutive year.

When the Snell M2010-approved RX-Q was released in late 2009, many confusedly branded it as the new Quantum, but it’s not. The RX-Q is a brand new model, the RX having roots in the RX-7, which was the helmet that introduced top-mounted diffusers. The RX-7 model derived from Arai’s ventilation studies in Formula 1. Arai technicians learned the best way to extract hot stale air from the helmet was by negative pressure, which Arai duplicated by way of the top-mounted diffusers found on their helmets.

Since the RX-Q was designed with road speeds in mind, not race speeds, Arai moved the two top vents farther back for additional volumes of airflow during a more upright position on the street, whereas the Corsair-V’s vents are designed to rush more air around the head during full-tuck positions. Also, the side vent cowls are much larger than the V’s, which is required for the slower speeds on the street, but still perform well at higher speeds. They are also reshaped to provide additional stability on the street.

The latter features combined with the brow vents that push air onto the temples produces a system that works extremely well. On a recent 300-mile trip returning home from Ocean City Maryland on a Honda VFR, the temps were hovering between 98 and 102 degrees.

Due to the more upright position of the bike, the newly positioned vents allowed my head to remain cool. On a side note, when I previously rode long distances on the VFR with my Corsair-V, there was only strong ventilation while tucked. But with the RXQ, ventilation was extremely optimal.

During colder riding weather, the vents close, tightly sealing out the brisk air. I recommend some anti-fogging agents on the faceshield though, especially during the colder weather or early mornings when you’ll want to keep the chin vent closed. Another feature that helps keep out cooler air is the retractable chin spoiler, a feature I absolutely can’t ride without in the colder weather.

Another feature that the RX-Q borrows from its cousin is wider eyeport on the faceshield, providing better peripheral vision. With an additional five millimeters on each side over other Arai helmets, awareness of what’s around you is higher, undoubtedly providing more safety.

Regarding shape (Arai known for providing three sizes to accommodate different head shapes), the RX-Q is an Intermediate-Oval, the same as the Corsair-V, Vector and older RX-7 models. But the I-O design is further refined on RX-Q, based on Arai’s continual study of human head shapes.

The RX-Q features an all-new 12-piece cheekpad design, which also derives from F1 technology. Each piece has more surface area, which reduces pressure points on the cheeks, allowing for additional comfort. They are created with higher density foam, and the material that touches the face is more comfortable than previous Arai models, although some argue the interiors of other models is more comfy.

And because the cheekpad design cradles the head from underneath, they create a noise seal. That was always my one huge dilemma with Arai helmets, the loudness while cruising. But working in conjunction with the sound-deadening material the cheekpads are created from, this helmet is one of the quietest Arai helmets I’ve ever wore. Also, like the Corsair-V, the RX-Q has Arai’s Emergency Cheekpad Removal System, which allows EMTs to easily remove the cheekpads to take the helmet off without further injury.

Regarding removal of the interior, just as new users to Arai’s faceshield removal system, the cheekpads take some practice to get down. But after you get it down, removable of the interior adds to the overall appeal of the Q; the process provides for easy cleaning, which I’ve been doing after every three or four weeks of riding. The neckroll is also removable.

This "ultimate street helmet" is designed for everyday practicality, considering you can ride hundreds of miles and soon forget you’re even wearing a helmet. One factor towards this is weight; the RX-Q weighs around 3.5 lbs in a medium. But the creative part comes in the unique design of the Hyper-Ridge that circles the bottom of the shell. This lowers the center of gravity, further lightening the feeling of the helmet. Plus, this design allows for easier placement/removal of the helmet.

When it comes to serious riding, I believe one should always invest in safety before anything else. And the best place to invest? The thing that allows us to function and therefore ride our beloved motorcycles – the brain.

I’ve been wrapping Arai helmets around my noggin for 12 years now, and every accident (and there were enough trackside), I limped away headache free. But what’s great about the RX-Q is that I can count on the safety Arai provides in their line of race-oriented helmets, but with all the comfort needed for miles upon miles on the street.

The best kind of helmet is one you forget you’re wearing. And that’s why the RX-Q is a key element to safetly enjoying the open road.

MSRP: $539.95 solid, $674.95 graphics