Arai "Profile" Helmet Review
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
The Arai Profile was a new helmet for 2006, replacing the popular Arai Signet, which had been in the lineup for many years.
The Profile is known as the Arai Viper GT in Europe.
Also see our review of the Arai Vector, a similar helmet with an "Intermediate Oval" internal shape.
Arai is making a big marketing push with the Profile, so I thought I'd start out by deconstructing some of their sales propaganda to see if I could sort out some of the claims.
Arai says that the Profile has "so many new features and such a completely new and unique look that it needed its own name and identity".
This is probably true when comparing the Profile to the the Signet, which was getting a little long in the tooth. But where are all these new features?
The Profile appears to have more than a little of the Arai Quantum II in its DNA with, as far as I can tell, a nearly identical set of top vents, visor and liner.
Only the rear exhaust assembly is slightly changed, with a full-width "spoiler" on the Profile and smoked plastic covers over the lower rear exhaust vents which are open on the Quantum II.
However, there is definitely one significant difference that is readily apparent as soon as the helmet is placed on the head -- the Profile is an Arai "long oval" head shape, while the Quantum II is definitely a "round head" fit.
Many "long oval" types will rejoice that a Quantum II equivalent has finally arrived! Be sure to visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more detailed information on head shapes and tips on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet.
Arai market-speak also gushes over the Profile's "distinctive new hyper ridge reinforcement band" on the bottom of the helmet shell, which is claimed to add strength.
When companies start using technobabble like that in their handouts, it usually means they're stretching to find something to talk about. I guess this new feature is completely internal and hidden from view, because I can see no difference between the band around the bottom of the Quantum II and the Profile.
The Profile is also supposed to be "narrower, sleeker and more aerodynamic" than the Signet, and if memory serves me correctly, it probably is; I haven't seen a Signet in quite a while. Although since it's very difficult for me to tell the difference between the Profile and the Quantum II, I'll discount the "completely new and unique look" statement as more output from a hyperactive marketing department.
OK, so Arai may be overstating the case for the Profile just a tad. But with that said, the Profile is a very nice helmet, and one major difference that we did find (which Arai seems to be silent about) is that the Profile is much quieter than the Quantum II and it also flows much more air over the top of the rider's head.
Why this would be remains a mystery, because the helmets appear to be so similar, but these are features that really would make for good marketing fodder and which Arai should be proud of and should be crowing about.
We had quite a time finding a Profile when they first hit the market. We ordered the Aoyama graphic at the same time we ordered the Arai XD, but while the XD arrived at the local shop in about a week, we still hadn't heard anything about the Profile nearly a month later.
You'd think ordering nearly 1200 bucks' worth of helmets would buy you some special treatment, but the shop didn't seem to care whether we got the helmet or not, so I cancelled the order.
A few days later I happened to be walking into another store just as a clerk was unpacking the a size XL Profile in the Aoki Serpent livery seen here. It was the one and only XL Profile he had, so I grabbed it before it hit the shelf without even looking closely at the design. I'm glad I did.
The Profile shows Arai's usual attention to detail in the thick paint and high quality. Looking closely at the helmet shows many differences in the way the paint and graphics are applied when compared to the Quantum II we have kicking around here. The graphics on the Profile have more detail, they're "deeper", the edges are sharper and the metal flake paint has more "pop".
The Aoki Serpent graphic has lots of flowing lines, but they're perfectly lined up on the visor side plates and everywhere else on the helmet. I'd have to say that this is one of the most impressive paint and graphic applications I've seen; the photos surely don't do it justice.
Arai is, as far as I can tell, the only motorcycle helmet manufacturer that offers its helmets in different internal head shapes. The Profile is definitely a "long oval" design, with a narrower and taller internal height and narrower sides. Arai also offers replacement cheek pads in different sizes to custom-tailor the fit if necessary.
After trying on several of the helmets in the webBikeWorld inventory for comparison, I'd say that the Profile is not quite as narrow as the beautiful Shark RSI, but it's slightly narrower than the Shoei X-11.
In other words, it's the Shark RSI, then the Arai Profile, then the Shoei X-11 from narrowest to the widest "long oval" shape. The next step down from the Shoei X-11 would be a round head shape like the Shoei RF-1000, with the Arai Quantum II holding the honors as probably the roundest head shape we've tried.
By the way, we're working on adding a new comparison chart to our Motorcycle Helmet Weights comparison table which will also compare the internal shape, external height and width and eye port opening of the helmets we review. Stay tuned...
The Profile doesn't seem to have any more or less chin room than other Arai or Shoei full-face helmets, but it does seem to me that the eye port opening is narrower in both height and width than, for example, the Quantum II.
Although the chin vent on the Profile is identical to the vent on the Quantum II, the front top vents on the Profile not only seem to let in much more air, they are also quieter than the vents on our Quantum II, which have that "blowing over a Coke bottle" whistling sound at speed.
The Profile's top vents transmit slightly more noise when they're open then when they're closed, but the whistling that is a constant companion on the Quantum II is gone.
I don't know if this is due to a different shell shape or something else; sometimes a very minor and almost unnoticeable change in shell shape can make a huge difference in aerodynamics and sound levels.
The Profile also has the Quantum II's little clicking rocker switches to open and close the vents, and although I'm not fond of them because they seem to small to operate when wearing motorcycle gloves, they do seem easier to find and operate than the switches on the Quantum II.
I can really notice the air flow as it moves across the top of my head when wearing the Profile, even with a helmet liner (aka "skullcap") in place.
I'd have to say that the Profile has some of the best top venting I've experienced on any helmet, although this may be due to the slight amount of extra space in the top of the helmet due to its narrower and higher "long oval" design. The extra space allows more air to flow in and over the top of my head.
I'm having a hard time noticing a difference whether chin vents on any helmet are open or closed, and the Profile is no different. It just seems like so much air comes up under the chin bar anyway that it's difficult to tell whether an open vent really adds anything extra. The Profile includes an "activated carbon" filter in the chin vent, so perhaps this is reducing the amount of air flow.
The rear spoiler has a single pull tab to open or close the rear exhaust vent. It works, but it sounds like it's dragging over an unfinished piece of fiberglass as it's moved back and forth. Since I always leave the rear exhausts open anyway, this really isn't a bother.
The Profile liner looks and feels identical to the liner on the Quantum II, so there's not much to be said here. It's comfortable, removable and washable.
The Profile is one of the quieter helmets we've tried, and again, I'm not sure why, because there is no radical new shape to account for the difference. Perhaps a few minor changes here and there really do make a dramatic difference.
The quiet is especially apparent when riding an unfaired bike, which may seem counterintuitive, but is often the case. Fairings and windscreens cause all sorts of turbulence at their edges, and this is especially noticeable if the helmet protrudes only half-way into the air stream, which causes lots of buffeting and helmet noise.
But the Profile seems to handle this well, with some noise coming from around the bottom of the helmet and overall low noise levels. We always wear correctly inserted earplugs when we ride (See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page). I can't imagine how much louder the noise level would be without earplugs.
Our size XL Arai Profile weighs 3 lbs., 10-3/8 oz. (1658 grams). It's slightly heavier than the XL Quantum II and it's heavier than the 1598 gram average weight (as of this writing) of the helmets in the webBikeWorld inventory.
See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart that compares the weights of all of the helmets we've reviewed.
By the way, the Profile's weight is nicely balanced and it doesn't seem noticeable when riding.
The Profile uses Arai's "infinite" adjustment system for raising and lowering the visor; that is, it works via a friction device rather than a ratcheting system. I'm not fond of this feature, because it never seems to be as smooth as it should be.
The visor also has the snap lock on the lower left hand side, which I also don't like, because the helmet and visor twists as it overcomes the initial resistance as the visor is lifted.
Arai uses a D-ring attachment on the Profile, which is preferred over the overly complex "quick release" latch. There's ample padding under the chin strap and it feels comfortable.
The Arai Profile is a very well made, comfortable and quiet helmet that should please riders with "long oval" head shapes. As we have noted, it's very comparable to the Quantum II, which is also an excellent helmet.
|wBW Review: Arai Profile Helmet|
|Manufacturer: Arai Helmet||List Price (2006): $475.95 (White, Black). $584.95 (Racer Graphics)|
|Colors: White, Black, Aluminum Silver and Gray, Multicolor Graphics and Racer Replicas.||Made In: Japan|
|Review Date: February 2011|
|Notes: Snell and DOT FMVSS 218. Also known as the Arai Viper GT in Europe|
From "A.E.N." (February 2012): "I owned several Arai Profile Helmets over the years and submit this comment to point out a safety concern that may be present on any Arai model. While participating in a NESBA track day on the Lighting course at New Jersey Motorsport Park another rider missed a gear and crossed the track unexpectedly leading me to crash.
While sliding on the track my chin-strap failed causing my helmet to come off. The metal connector at the point where the strap meets the helmet apparently broke during the crash. This left the strap still clasped but connected only on one side of the helmet.
I am writing this comment because I believe that had I inspected the helmet carefully prior to this incident the injury that resulted from the strap disengaging and the helmet coming off may have been avoided. The padding in the helmet can easily be removed and the connections to the helmet inspected. A simple pull test can also be performed.
I had never inspected the helmet before wearing or while using but it is clear that if this connector failed at a relatively low speed as in this case a defect must have been present which was probably visible or could have been uncovered by doing a pull test.
Since this incident I critically inspect all my equipment prior to riding and perform simple failure tests. Following the crash I brought the issue to the attention of Arai and they asked me to send them the helmet to inspect at the factory.
After I sent the helmet to Arai they were generally unresponsive and did not provide me with any assessment as to whether the problem was a manufacturing defect or a design flaw.
Because Arai held the damaged helmet I could not return it to the dealer who was willing to work with me on a credit but they did provide a helmet temporarily that I was told was for my use while the factory conducted their inspection."
From "G.W." (7/10): "I spent a lot of time shopping for a helmet for my "long oval" shaped head and found your review helpful. I tried the Shark RSI (review) and others you recommended for this head shape but only the Profile fit really well.
It is a great helmet - light, comfortable, great fit and finish, and vents decently well but perhaps a tad pricey at the MSRP. I only wish it came Snell M2010 or ECE certified instead of Snell M2005 certified.
Aerodynamics are also great as it is the first helmet I've owned that does not buffet when I do a head check on the highway. It also has nice touches like a groove in the padding for the temples of your glasses so they don't bind, an adjustable chin skirt and pockets for ear speakers.
The visor mechanism takes some getting used to. You need to watch the you tube videos on how to change the visor, remove side plates etc. to figure this out as it is not intuitive, unlike most other helmets and can be damaged if you do it wrong. After you get the hang of the visor mechanism though it starts to make sense - it allows you to change the visor quickly while wearing the helmet, something most other helmets do not allow. I don't find it noticeably quieter however than other helmets I've owned."
From "J.S.": "Hi, you may remember a while ago I had some comments on my HJC CL-SP and I remarked then that I thought it was very noisy. Eventually I started riding more and longer, and discovered I was getting severe pressure points on my forehead.
After reading your very helpful reviews and comments on helmets versus head shapes, I realized that I really had a long oval head shape whereas the HJC was designed for a round head shape. After trying the Shark RSI and Shoei X-11, I decided that the Arai Profile fit my head best.
Several hundred miles after buying it, I still think that is true, but that's not my point in writing. My point is that the Arai is ALSO much much quieter than the HJC, and I think the reason is the head shape.
The lower edge of the Arai simply fits tighter around the bottom of my head. There are no gaps for air turbulence to generate noise. The HJC relatively speaking is much wider at the bottom and fits more like a bell. My own standard for noise is how fast I can go and hear the engine. By 50, the wind noise would drown out the engine with the HJC.
With the Arai, I can still hear the engine at 65-70 mph. If I have one complaint about the Arai, it is that the helmet isn't long enough in front of my chin. My own hot breath keeps getting deflected back on my chin and there isn't enough air flow otherwise to keep things cool on my chin. If I wasn't riding behind a windshield, this might not be an issue, and anyway it's worth tolerating this one problem in exchange for quiet and comfort."
From "B.B.": "I just picked up a new Arai Profile a few weeks ago. I've ridden several hundred miles with it and couldn't be more pleased.
I have a definite "long oval" head shape and have had problems finding a truly comfortable helmet where I didn't have to compromise on comfort. I have owned and used five other helmets in the last 15 or so years. These include a Shoei RF-200, 2 Super Seer police half-helmets, an Arai DS and a Z1R Strike.
The Shoei was tolerable only after using a spoon to compress the forehead area of the helmet interior (probably not the best thing, safety-wise). The Super Seer helmets were comfortable, mainly because they utilized a headband system similar to a hardhat, which allowed it to conform to my head shape. They were also exceedingly cool in warm weather due to this system.
However, after serving as a motor officer and 15 years as a fatal accident investigator, I can't bring myself to spend my retirement wearing anything but a full face helmet.
I rode for years wearing a fairly comfortable Arai DS, but still had a bit of pressure on my forehead. It was getting up there in years, so I purchased a Z1R Strike based on the Motorcyclist magazine helmet test and the fact that the helmet was promoted as being more of an oval shape. Probably a terrific helmet, but a lot of pressure on my forehead.
When I read your review of the Arai Profile, I decided to give it a try. I tried a size XL on at a dealer and found it to be very snug, but with even pressure everywhere. I ordered a size XXL and love it. Finally, no more pressure points and the ventilation and visor adjustments are excellent.
I chose white and put SOLAS ultra-reflective tape on it for safety. The chin bar seems a bit close, but that might be due to my being used to the Arai DS chinbar, which is further away (similar to a dirtbike helmet).
My only slight problem with the helmet is the oval-shaped pad in the top. Having fairly short hair, the space in the center of this oval gave me a mini-mohawk when I removed the helmet (much to the amusement of my riding partners). A tiny concern easily taken care of by putting a spare bicycle helmet pad in the center.
It's amazing how a properly fitted helmet can enhance the entire riding experience, making it much more enjoyable. You don't realize how even a small amount of discomfort can lessen your focus and detract from how well you ride.
Thank you for helping me find this helmet. It has made a world of difference in how much I enjoy my riding, and I would buy another one without any reservation. Keep up the terrific job. You are doing a great service to motorcyclists everywhere."