Arai Ram-X Review: High Performance Touring Helmet Test
The all-new Arai Ram-X motorcycle touring helmet is more than merely an open-face helmet built to satisfy those who want the air in their faces. Instead, Arai took the shell from the high-end Quantum-X and Signet-X street helmets and combined it with the ventilation system from the racetrack-ready Corsair-X to create a spectacular touring helmet.
The appeal of an open-face helmet for touring is obvious—more airflow to your face and an unrestricted view of the sights that you’ve come to see. Without a doubt, the Arai Ram-X helmet gives a fantastic view. I could not see the sides of the Ram-X out of my peripheral view, and the open chin area provides an unobstructed view of the dash. The extended cheek protection is welcome, and helps give the Ram-X a protective feel.
Combining with the top-level shell and ventilation is Arai’s new Vas-Z shield system, which is nicely integrated with Arai’s excellent Pro Shade System. Arai boasts that the dual-pivot system for the panoramic Vas-Z faceshield is smooth and low on the helmet—this is claimed to be more aerodynamic and safer in a fall.
Without a doubt, the Vas-Z shield works for riding. It encompasses the face, yet lets plenty of cooling air up to keep the rider from feeling stuffy. How much air makes it to the rider’s face will be dependent on the size of the fairing and windshield on the motorcycle, of course, but the opening at the bottom is generous.
The use of the Corsair-X ventilation system is inspired. It is top-notch and flows plenty of air through the three large intake vents in the crown. The intake vents are easily found, opened, and closed while riding—a great convenience. The two exhaust vents can be opened and closed, though you will want to keep them flowing air, except on the coldest of rides—they require pulling off the helmet to switch positions.
Thanks to the heritage of the Quantum-X, Signet-X, and Corsair-X, the Arai Ram-X has indisputable aerodynamics at any speed. Facing forward, the helmet feels like it’s slipping through the air, and turning my head never gave me a feeling of tugging—it’s naturally smooth. Although it weighs in at a substantial 3 pounds, 5.7 ounces in a Medium—about the same as lighter modulars—the Ram-X does not feel heavy on the head, even on long rides.
I’m a big fan of the Pro Shade System on other Arai helmets, and it works to even better effect on the Ram-X. It’s easy to position the Pro Shade where you want, and it seems to move more smoothly than on Arai’s full-face helmets. When the sun is in an awkward spot, one of the intermediate position clicks on the Pro Shade does a great job of knocking down distracting light and glare.
However, as proud of its Vas-Z shield system as Arai is, it has the same level of fiddly that we’ve come to expect from Arai shields. Arai steadfastly designs its faceshield to function properly while riding, though installation and removal of them can challenge one’s patience.
Some people have no problem with Arai’s various shield systems, but they can flummox the best efforts of others. In the case of the Ram-X, it took about an hour and two staffers to figure out how to reliably reinstall the Vas-Z shield. The trick for us was to snap in the right side first, every time. We can’t explain why, but when we started on the left side, the right side simply would refuse to click in fully. As is traditionally the case with Arai shields, your mileage almost certainly will vary.
That aside, the Vas-Z shield is a great one, and there are four optional color finishes for the faceshield and three for the Pro Shade system. Along with the various shades of gray Arai offers for the Ram-X, you can personalize the helmet to your taste. Note that if you don’t like the Pro Shade System—can’t imagine why—it requires an accessory piece to use the Vas-Z faceshield on its own.
Inside, safely pulling the cheek padding out for cleaning requires effort, and there’s a tab on each side that complicates matters—doing it a few times does help. While we greatly appreciate Arai’s single-minded dedication to safety, we would like to see a bit more effort put into elegant and effortless user-interface. Fortunately, the rest of the padding removes and installs easily.
Safety and comfort are the two focuses at Arai. The Arai Ram-X doesn’t have the latest safety innovations that we have seen in many helmets over the last years—MIPS, for example. Rather than go with what’s new, Arai has always been a deliberate innovator.
Arai feels that its multi-density liner in conjunction with its carefully designed and handmade shells are the best way to fully protect a rider’s head in a fall. Although we’re intrigued by the many advances in helmet safety, we also have great respect for Arai’s nearly seven-decades dedication to safety, and we have the survived crashes to prove it.
There is no doubt that the Arai Ram-X is an elite touring helmet at a premium price. It’s a pleasure to wear while seeing the world, and the peace of mind that comes with the high-performance heritage it draws on cannot be denied.
Arai Ram-X Motorcycle Helmet Facts
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Shape: Intermediate oval
- Colors: Diamond Black; Diamond White; Aluminum Silver; Black Frost; Gun Metallic Frost; Modern Gray; Fluorescent Yellow
- Arai Ram-X Price: MSRP from $680