UPDATE: Arai Corsair X is the 2015 webBikeWorld Helmet of the Year!
The Arai Corsair-X (RX-7V in Europe) has been updated with features that are sure to make it more popular than ever.
The most dramatic change is the new face shield pivot location and removal system.
Called the "Variable Axis System" (VAS), the face shield pivot point is now lower on each side.
Arai said this yields an average of 24 mm of additional smooth shell area above the side pods.
This further refines the "R75" round shell shape to make it even rounder and smoother at and above the temples, which helps the Corsair-X to avoid becoming snagged on objects during an impact and slide.
A new type of lever releases the side pod, which allows easy access to the face shield, which has a completely new removal system.
And a new face shield lock design, taken from Arai's Formula 1 helmets, allows easier locking and release of the face shield while also providing a small opening for defogging.
A Pinlock insert is also included with the Corsair-X.
The upper ventilation system has received the latest Arai intake design, similar to the design we liked so much on the Arai Defiant (review).
This results in an upper ventilation system that is both more efficient and much quieter than the Corsair-V.
Arai is big on acronyms and the upper vent system is the "IC Duct-5", said to provide 11% more air flow than the "Delta Duct-5" system used on the Corsair-V.
The vents on top now have three position sliders for variable air flow and the vents are designed to prevent water intrusion when they are fully closed.
The new "Type 12" exhaust system diffuser is 20 mm longer, which yields better performance with improved aerodynamics, according to Arai.
Other changes include new materials for the shell construction, which makes the shell even stronger, according to the company.
The liner has also been updated, with a new "Eco-Pure" anti-microbial fabric and new padding.
About the only feature that didn't get an update is the short chin strap pads, but the Corsair-X is so good, we can overlook that. For now.
Oh, and the price. This is a hand-made helmet with an extraordinary reputation, which is reflected in the list price.
What can we say about Arai quality that we haven't already? The metallic silver paint on this helmet is flawless, as are all the moving parts. That's to be expected at this lofty price range.
We've said this before and it's still true: when you first pull an Arai helmet out of the box, there's something about it that exudes quality, much more so than just about any other helmet.
It's very rare indeed to hear of any problems with an Arai helmet and all of this is what you're paying for.
But the really important ingredients are hidden away in the design and build quality, which is the reason why so many motorcycle racers rely on the Corsair series for protection.
The newest member of that family, the Corsair-X, is available in a few solid colors including basic Black, Black Frost, White and the Aluminum Silver solid color of our helmet.
Current race replicas include Nicky Hayden, Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Viñales, along with 30th Anniversary Freddie Spencer version.
I've seen a few of each but fashion isn't what this helmet is about, you're buying it for the potentially better protection it offers.
The updated features have been carefully designed and everything works smoothly and has a quality feel. For example, the top vent sliders have a solid feel as you're working them back and forth...although the small buttons can be a bit difficult to find by fingers encased in heavy winter gloves.
There's a completely new lever/lock system that can be used to pop open the face shield just a touch for defogging and it's better than the old system by far.
The classic Arai "sugar scoop" (or feed scoop) chin vent hasn't been changed and as always, it's simple and it works. The chin bar includes a wide opening to allow air inside and the slot is lined with mesh to prevent debris from entering.
The Corsair-X also comes with a new and very large chin curtain that puts most others to shame. That is a very nice and welcome surprise. It can be removed if desired and underneath is the traditional Arai pull-down chin spoiler that never seemed to do all that much.
Score: Yet again for Arai, the Corsair-X gets an "Outstanding" rating for paint and quality. See the Summary Table at the end of this page for a description of our rating system.
The new Corsair-X has a slightly modified shell shape that still adheres to the Arai "R75" radius design. Rounder is better, according to Arai, because this shape helps to prevent the helmet from snagging on obstructions during a crash and slide.
The shell uses yet another Arai acronym; this time, it's the "Peripheral Belting & Structural Net Composite2", or "PB SNC2" shell. Does anyone remember what this stuff means, other than the Arai marketing staff?
The shell is said to have been made from "proprietary net strands, special synthetic fibers and new resin" that makes it lighter, although we found it to be a touch heavier (see the Weight section below).
The internal shape is the familiar Arai "Intermediate Oval", which translates to "Neutral". It's slightly narrow with a bit of extra room in the forehead.
Speaking of Arai helmet fit, I (Rick) stopped by the Arai booth at the recent AIMExpo show and chatted with an Arai factory rep. I bemoaned the disappearance of the "Round Oval" Quantum II, which was the last of the round-head helmets in the Arai lineup.
He asked if he could feel my head and after he did, he said "You have a Japanese head". We laughed and I said "I think I'm Japanese actually."
But he did suggest the "Intermediate Oval" shape in the Arai RX-Q (review) or Arai Defiant (review) and the Corsair-X. Arai provides some padding sections to custom-fit the interior to a certain extent.
My problem is I'm in-between a large and extra-large. I'd rather go with the smaller external shell size of the large, but that means the interior padding is at its thinnest.
I've been wearing the size large Corsair-X as my regular helmet since July and it fits and feels exactly like a size large Arai Defiant I also have, if that tells you anything.
Bottom line, this is what we call a "Neutral" helmet in today's shape continuum and it should fit the majority of head shapes, even the fairly round heads like mine.
It's a bit tight on the sides for me and has some extra room for my flat forehead, but it works.
My only complaint is that for me, the chin room is at the absolute minimum.
This is probably a result of the round R75 shell shape, which pulls in the chin compared to the more oval shell shapes of other size large helmets (like recent Shoei helmets).
I also noticed this on the Corsair-V Special Editions we reviewed recently and I'm waiting for a Corsair-X in size XL to arrive so I can compare.
In the meantime, my chin just touches the back of the chin bar in the size large Corsair-X and I don't know what implications this might have for protection if and when needed. So that short front-to-back dimension is something to note.
What's more curious is that the Arai U.S. marketing representative told me that some of the riders at the Corsair-X press introduction commented that they could actually go down a size due to the slightly redesigned shell shape.
There is more room up top for me in the forehead, however. This is part of the Arai "Intermediate Oval" shape profile, which has a slight front-to-back oval shape in the top half of the helmet, designed to relieve pressure on the forehead.
The Corsair-X slides comfortably over my wide head, which is also surprising, considering this is a race-fit helmet. The size large is listed as fitting a 59-60 cm head and I think that is correct.
We get a lot of questions about eyeglass fit with motorcycle helmets and I can say that all of the recent Arai helmets we have reviewed have excellent fit for eyeglasses.
I'm not sure why or how they do it and they don't necessarily tout that as a feature, but I can honestly say I never have a problem sliding my straight-temple eyeglasses inside an Arai helmet, no matter how tight the fit is on the sides against my round head.
For more information about head shapes and choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet, please see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, which also includes a discussion on head shapes.
As always, remember that helmet fit is crucial to safety and comfort, so make sure you try the helmet on before buying, and try a variety of sizes. The smallest size that fits comfortably is usually the safest.
Score: I'll give the Corsair-X an "Outstanding" for a comfortable fit, a nicely constructed and comfortable liner with comfortable liner material.
The most dramatic change with the Corsair-X is the new Arai face shield design with a completely revised attachment system.
The points at which the face shield rotates on the sides of the helmet have been lowered and the infamous Arai side pods that have given so many street riders fits have been reduced in size and also completely redesigned.
Arai says that the changes create more smooth helmet shell surface area in the section above the side pods, which helps prevent anything on the helmet from catching or snagging obstructions during a crash and slide.
The eye port also seems much larger, although by how much, I don't know. Upward visibility is now outstanding and I noticed this right away as soon as I first slipped the helmet over my head. Of course, this is designed to help when the rider is leaned over in a race bike tuck.
Horizontal visibility is also outstanding and the only thing that hasn't changed much is the visibility at the bottom of the eye port, which is about average.
The operation of the newly redesigned face shield system and the revised removal system is fully illustrated in the video below, so be sure to watch it.
This should put any owner complaints about fussy side pod and visor removal to rest. The side pods now easily release with the push of a lever and the face shield rotating mechanism is then laid bare.
It's very simple to remove and replace the face shield on the Corsair-X compared to the older system.
Somewhat ironically, however, the only complaints about the new system may come from motorcycle racers, who didn't really mind the old face shield (visor) changing system for quick changes with the helmet on.
With all the street rider complaints, it actually just took a little practice and once you're used to doing it -- best when wearing the helmet -- it's pretty easy to swap out face shields without looking. The key is to be wearing the helmet when you're doing it, as it can be tricky if you're not.
If you've ever watched an Isle of Man TT race, you can see the racers or their assistants changing Arai helmet face shields in an instant. The new system makes it easier to change a face shield when you're not wearing a helmet, but more complicated if you are.
So it's kind of a double paradox -- it's now a more complex system to make the job easier. Seems strange all around and to be honest, the Arai face shield system still has a lot of complexity for what is mostly a simple design on other helmets (probably the best is the system used on most Bell helmets).
Arai has always maintained that the external side pods and its visor removal system provide more shell integrity at that point on the helmet.
But it's hard to believe this is true and that competing helmets aren't as strong in that area, because the parts and the depth of the recess don't seem all that different on Arai helmets.
In any case, the new system should erase all concerns about the ease of changing a face shield.
The other new feature is the Formula 1 inspired face shield lock and catch on the lower left side. It's a rocker-type lever that pops the face shield off of the lock and allows a small first opening for defogging.
It's easier to use than the old stiff friction system found on other Arai helmets, although it takes some time to learn the new system and develop the muscle memory on the location and operation of the rocker.
The Corsair-X now comes with a Pinlock insert and the face shield has a recess to hold the insert, although it's far enough out at the edges to remain unnoticeable.
Tear-off posts are still included, as are the brow vents and a variety of face shield tints are available.
Score: I'll give the Corsair-X an "Outstanding" rating for above average outward visibility and the sealing performance of the face shield.
The Corsair-X continues the Corsair series reputation for having what is probably the most effective ventilation system of any full-face helmet.
The new top vents aren't dramatically different from the old style, but the noise levels have been noticeably reduced and that's fairly amazing.
As with the Corsair-V, we wrote that we are not usually fond of multiple ventilation controls on the top of a helmet, but again, 3 vents on the Corsair-X can be opened adjusted in various configurations to really control the huge volume of air that comes through.
The difference again is that while on the Corsair-V, the vents created a lot of noise when open, on the Corsair-X, there's a definite reduction in noise levels.
The chin vent is the old tried-and-true Arai "sugar scoop" type that in this case brings air directly through the chin bar.
As always however, be careful of where you mount the microphone for an intercom system because the air coming through the chin bar vent can generate unwanted background noise in the speakers.
In the rear, the special Corsair-X has the same spoiler that can be raised or angled to one of three positions or lowered to its base location. And also like the Corsair-V, the spoiler doesn't do anything at legal street speeds but it sure looks cool.
The rear exhausts have a lever that can close the vents to two positions and the overall system has been perfected over the years on racetracks large and small.
Score: We give the Corsair-X an "Outstanding" rating for ventilation.
The Corsair-V we reviewed in 2009 was a size XL and weighted 1758 grams. The Special Edition Corsair-V helmets we reviewed just this year weighted 1599 grams for the Nicky 5 and 1596 grams for the Isle of Man TT edition.
We wrote "This is a good showing, especially considering the Snell M2015 certification."
This Corsair-X in size large weighs 1631 grams, slightly heavier than the 2015 Special Editions and contrary to most press "review" claims that the Corsair-X is about 30 grams lighter in weight. Just the opposite is true.
1631 grams is still a pretty good showing though, placing it at number 118 out of the 251 full-face helmets we have reviewed to date on the Motorcycle Helmet Weights page.
Like other Corsair helmets, the X has outstanding aerodynamics and fit that belies its weight. Note also that this helmet is Snell M2015 certified.
Again, be sure to visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for charts comparing the weights of all of the open-face, full-face and flip-up helmets we've reviewed.
Score: The Arai Corsair-X gets an "Excellent" rating for weight and balance.
The changes and updates to the Corsair-X have actually lowered the overall noise levels, which is quite a surprise. The combination of outstanding ventilation and relatively low noise levels is very rare for a motorcycle helmet.
The top vent system does create some wind noise, but even in the turbulence of a small windscreen, the noise seems well controlled.
Since the Corsair-X is primarily designed for motorcycle racing, it's natural that in a lowered position like you would have for racing or on a sportbike, the noise levels decrease even further.
Straight-up, sit-up riding will catch more wind in the top vents, as will some large windscreens, so as always, your experience will vary.
But one thing we can say with certainty, since we have both a Corsair-V and Corsair-X on hand, is that the X is noticeably quieter, especially at the upper vents.
Note that our helmet evaluations are a combined effort of several riders over time on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.
Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).
Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.
Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit, the type of motorcycle and windscreen, wind speed and direction and even the rider's clothing.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: The Corsair-X gets an "Outstanding" rating for noise levels.
The one thing that unfortunately was not redesigned on the Corsair-X is the short chin strap padding that we've commented on for all recent Arai helmets. Please Arai -- fix this problem!
The helmet meets the DOT standard in the U.S.A. and it is Snell M2015 certified. The European and ROW versions meet ECE and/or local country helmet safety standards.
The Arai Corsair-X is an outstanding improvement to an already outstanding helmet. Although primarily designed for motorcycle racing, it's probably the answer to "What is the best helmet I can buy?" question on many riders' lips.
It does everything well and the changes are all a positive. The only issue is getting over the cost. But if you want the best, you'll have to pay for it, simple as that.