Although Arai is best known for its premium street helmets, the Japanese brand also makes a dirt-specific helmet—the Arai VX-Pro4. It uses the same R75 Shape design as the street helmets, and relies on Arai’s Glancing Off philosophy
of impact protection for the rider’s head. I’ve been wearing the VX-Pro4 since its introduction in 2014, so it’s time for a long-term test using experience accumulated testing several examples of the breed.
Arai relies on the smooth contours of the VX-Pro4 to dissipate any impact in a fall. The chin bar is notably close to the mouth; according to Arai, there’s a safety reason for that. The shorter chin bar makes it less likely your head and neck will be wrenched in a fall, which can cause catastrophic injuries. Arai
considers your face to be a crumple zone and prioritizes protecting your neck and brain over your face. Exterior plastic spoilers are kept to a minimum and break off on impact. The relatively short peak uses plastic fasteners that will shear off as needed. As with all helmets, it’s about managing risks and making informed choices.
One reason the Arai VX-Pro4 hits your wallet for as much as $760 is that the helmets are handmade by highly skilled long-time craftsmen at Arai. The outer shell is a smooth laminate construction with many layers molded together. Arai claims a 30 percent higher tensile strength than standard fiberglass for the shell, along with improved penetration prevention, thanks to an expensive Super Fiber layer. Inside is a multi-density EPS liner to absorb most of the shock. If you’re looking for the latest technology, such as MIPS or the like, you will need a different helmet. Arai is not convinced that is the safest way to build a helmet—certainly a controversial position—so the company relies on its own proven safety strategies.
Hitting the scales at 3 pounds, 11 ounces for a medium VX-Pro4, the Arai is fairly heavy for a dirt bike helmet—some helmets break below the three-pound barrier. Fortunately, the balance of the VX-Pro4 camouflages the weight once it is on your head. The VX-Pro4 doesn’t feel particularly light or heavy—it just feels good. I have an Arai-friendly skull, and the Intermediate Oval shape works perfectly for me. Some riders are sensitive to cheek pad thickness, and Arai offers replacement pads that are either 0.2 inches thicker or thinner—a noticeable difference to your face. The standard pads are fine for me.The rounded chin bar is, indeed, noticeably close to your mouth with the helmet donned. Once you realize why, it adds a feeling of comfort and confidence. There’s a stainless-steel mesh grill in the chin bar to flow air to your mouth; it’s an always-open design. The only other venting comes from two closable forehead vents. Air exits via five non-closable vent holes—one at the top of your head, two at the upper back of your head, and two on the sides. With no exit restrictions, the two intake vents are enough to keep your head cool in the summer. I ride in triple-digit heat, and my head doesn’t roast. When temperatures drop, my head never feels chilled. Of course, everyone has different sensitivities to temperature.
The Arai VX-Pro4 has a small eyeport, though it accommodates whatever goggles we’ve tried. Because of the helmet’s nose guard, we usually find ourselves pulling off the nose guard on the goggles. The molded eyeport frame has a guide for the goggle strap, and the vent cover provides guidance at the back of the helmet.The soft liner of the helmet is plush, though it is scalloped for the airflow over the scalp. It’s not difficult to remove the liner for washing, and putting it back in place only requires a bit of patience and dexterity. We were able to install a Cardo Packtalk Slim on a couple of our VX-Pro4 helmets without problems, as Cardo offers a mount designed for compatibility with this Arai.
I’ve used the Arai VX-Pro4 extensively for off-road and dual-sport riding. Aerodynamics aren’t as critical for dirt bike riding, though I get going pretty fast on dirt roads and dry lake beds in the desert. The peak will catch the air if you look up—otherwise, it deals with speed-limit busting speeds nicely, though it’s not as quiet as Arai’s street bike helmets.Selecting a helmet is a particularly personal choice, with many factors to consider. The Arai VX-Pro4 is a top-quality dirt bike helmet for the rider who wants the utmost in build quality, appreciates that the helmet is handmade by a family-owned company, agrees with Arai’s Glancing Off safety doctrine, isn’t price-sensitive, and, of course, has a head shape that interfaces seamlessly with the helmet’s shape.Arai VX-Pro4 Fast Facts
Arai VX-Pro4 Prices: from $630 MSRP (White) to $760 (graphics)
- Sizes: XS-XXL (not all colors in XS or XXL)
- Colors: 14 graphics, plus White and Black Frost
- Weight: 3 pounds, 11 ounces (medium)
- Certifications: DOT and Snell 2015