by Bill C. for webBikeWorld
The new 2011 Arai Vector 2 review.
The Arai Vector motorcycle helmet is new to the 2007 Arai lineup.
The Arai staff have been pretty busy lately, because the Vector comes right on the heels of the recently released and all-new Arai Profile, which replaced the Signet.
The Vector (known as the Arai Chaser in the UK), which replaces the Astral-X in the company's lineup, is so new that it's not yet listed on Arai's website (nor is it listed as a Snell certified helmet on the Snell website; see below).
The Astral-X was itself a variant of the original Astral, which has only been in the Arai lineup since 2002.
Arai is the only motorcycle helmet manufacturer that we're aware of that offers three different internal helmet head shapes for a semi-custom fit, and for this they should be commended.
The Profile is considered a "Long Oval" shape, "for riders whose heads are longer front to back and more narrow side to side", in Arai's description.
In comparison, the Vector is an "Intermediate Oval" shape, which is claimed to be a slightly more relaxed fit than their "Round Oval" shape like the Arai Quantum II.
The Intermediate Oval shape is supposed to have more room in the forehead for those who feel pressure in that area when wearing a Quantum II.
Confused yet? Well, you shouldn't be. Yes, maybe it takes a little bit of homework to uncover the best Arai shape for your head, but believe me, you should be thankful that these choices are available. For our take on head shapes and helmet choices, be sure to visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.
I've never worn an Astral or Astral-X, so I can't make a fair comparison to the Vector as its replacement. But Arai claims that the Vector has a greatly improved ventilation system; how or why, I'm not sure.
Some initial print magazine reports claim that the Vector has "four oversized intake vents", as compared to the Astral's two, but this is not correct. The Vector has one vent on top, the normal Arai fold-down chin vent in front and two exhaust vents out back.
There are two small permanently open exhaust vents at the lower rear of the helmet, and the Astral-X had none, as far as I can tell from the photos.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself here, but I just wanted to provide some information that places the Vector in the Arai lineup. So let's take a closer look at the Arai Vector Phil Read replica shown here...
Since information about the Vector is not yet available on the Arai website, it's hard to know whether the Phil Read replica illustrated here is a limited edition or if it will be a permanent member of the lineup. Phil Read, for those of you who don't know, was the first rider to accomplish the Triple Crown of motorcycle racing, winning the 125, 250 and 500cc championships.
It's interesting to note that he won two 250cc championships first, in 1964 and 1965, before winning both the 125cc and 250cc championships, both in the same year of 1968. He went on to win another 250cc championship in 1971 and two 500cc championships in 1973 and 1974, both on MV Agusta motorcycles.
I thought that perhaps Read wore Arai helmets (see the note in the comments section clarifying this), and the photo on this Phil Read tribute website shows him wearing a helmet with graphics that are absolutely identical to the replica shown here. How cool is that?!
Arai helmets are usually second to none when it comes to paint and graphics, but I wonder if Arai takes even more care when making a Phil Read replica, because our example simply oozes superior quality. The paint is flawless and the helmet has a super-thick clearcoat that really does it proud.
Compared to all of the over-the-top flashy graphics on most of the boy-racer helmets available nowadays, the Read replica is definitely understated, but the more I look at it and the more I wear it, the more I realize how special this helmet really is.
The Vector is also available in solid colors and other graphic styles and the Arai Chaser (same helmet, different name) sold in the UK is available in an even greater selection of interesting graphics. But the Phil Read replica is definitely one of my all-time favorite helmet designs.
As I mentioned above, the Vector is an "Intermediate Oval" internal head shape. This is supposed to offer more forehead room than the "Round Oval" shape in the Arai Quantum II.
My feeling is that the Vector doesn't feel much different than the Arai Profile, although the Vector possibly has slightly more room on the sides. Even though I'm the webBikeWorld evaluator with the head shape that's closest to a "Long Oval" fit, the Vector seems too "long oval-ish" for me. It sort of feels like putting a square peg (my head) in a round hole (the Vector).
The helmet fits me perfectly on the sides, but my head feels like it rattles around up top. I can stick my four fingers up between my forehead and the helmet liner and the helmet has enough room that it moves back and forth from front to back, even if I quickly move my head whilst riding.
The Vector also seems to have a slightly larger shell than I expected; that is, it feels like it's longer from top to bottom. It seems to come down below my chin about 10mm more than comparable helmets.
This isn't necessarily a problem, although I've found that the bottom of the helmet does interfere with some winter jacket collars. But some riders do not like the "fishbowl" effect that a larger or taller helmet shell offers.
Also, it's my opinion that the eye port opening is not as large as other full-face helmets. It seems noticeably narrower from side-to-side and top-to-bottom than other helmets I use. I think this may be due to Arai's newer "narrow" shell profile, which is apparently designed to "slice" the wind but which causes some distortion to the front helmet shape compared to traditional full-face designs.
However, another advantage of this narrower design is some additional room in the chin area; the Vector seems to have slightly better than normal clearance here.
Comparing different helmets, I think that the Vector fits somewhat like the Shoei X-11 but with slightly more room in the sides. It's definitely not as "round" as the Shoei RF-1000 or the Arai Quantum II. It's hard to define, because there aren't really any other "Intermediate Oval" helmets out there that I've come across.
So the important point to note here is that 1) you need to know your head shape before you order one and 2) make sure you try one on and walk around the local shop for a while to make sure it's going to fit. If not, Arai has two other internal shapes available in other helmet styles that should do the job.
Again, be sure to visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on head shapes and tips on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet.
Arai has their liner comfort factor perfected, and the Vector is no exception. They've apparently standardized on a soft, comfortable velvet-like fabric and padding, based on several Arai helmets we've tried recently. The liner in the Vector looks and feels just like the liner in our recently reviewed Profile and also our older Quantum II.
Other than the choice of fit for different head shapes, part of what you pay for in an Arai helmet is the quality of the liner, which translates as comfort. If you plan on keeping the helmet for a long time or owning only one helmet, make sure it fits and it's comfortable.
UPDATE 2010: The cheek pads only are removable on the Vector, the liner is not. This seems rather unforgiveable in a helmet at this price. I'm assuming that different sized cheek pads will be available, just like the other Arai helmets.
The Vector has the standard Arai fold-down chin vent. It also has a single hole in the top of the helmet covered by a dark smoke colored plastic scoop with a three-position sliding cover.
The rear of the helmet includes two exhaust vents under a dark smoke colored spoiler and also opening and closing with a three-position switch and two very small and permanently open exhaust vents at the lower rear sides of the helmet.
The visor also has the standard Arai flip-down air vents, located on either side along the top ridge of the clear visor.
Although the chin vent directs some air on to the back of the visor, the chin bar includes two holes directly through the lining material, which flow air on to the rider's chin. I can look through the inside of the chin bar and see through to the outside when the chin vent is open, but for some reason, I just don't seem to notice much of a difference in air flow if the chin vent is open or closed.
I'm not sure why this is -- in theory, the air should be blowing full-force directly on my face when the chin vent is open, but it doesn't seem to be so.
The holes in the chin bar liner are slightly below the actual opening of the chin vent, so this may be the cause. Or possibly the narrower front profile of the helmet allows more air to come up underneath the helmet on to my face, diluting the potential effect from the chin vent.
Now I'm not saying that the Vector doesn't flow a lot of air, because it does. But it's my feeling that the chin vent isn't quite as effective as it could or should be. I have noticed this problem with several other full-face helmets though, so there may be some aerodynamic reason involving pressure buildup or something that explains it.
The single top scoop vent seems to work very well, allowing lots of air to flow over the top of the head. The extra room up there that is a result of the "Intermediate Oval" shape may be helping to allow the air to flow readily in that area.
The vent opening/closing switches on the Vector deserve special praise. They're apparently a new Arai design and they work very nicely. They have a quality feel with positive opening and closing across all three positions.
This is an area where the less expensive helmets usually fail; some vent closing mechanisms are pathetically flimsy and doomed to quick failure, so be aware. Unfortunately, some of the worst switches are on expensive helmets, so who knows what goes through the designer's minds...
All told, I have no complaints actually with the amount of air flowing through the Vector, and I'd say it's one of the better ventilation systems I've tried.
My feeling is that the Vector is a surprisingly quiet helmet. I say surprising because I expected that the different helmet fit combined with the big scoop on top of the air vent would be a recipe for noise. Perhaps Arai's new shell profile really does cut through the air, because I'm very impressed with how quiet the Vector really is.
Note that "quiet" is a relative term; no motorcycle helmet is truly quiet -- they're loud and louder. We always wear correctly inserted earplugs when we ride -- see the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing ear plugs.
But the Vector mirrors our experience with the Arai Profile, which also features the new Arai shell shape. The Vector also seems to be relatively unruffled when hit with turbulence around the lower edges of the helmet, an area which can be the source of loud "booming" low frequency noises.
The only noise that's readily apparent is a slight whistling from the top vent scoop when riding in the upright position. When leaned forward, like when riding Burn's Suzuki TL1000, the noise disappears. It can also be almost completely eliminated if the top vent is closed.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Our size XL Arai Vector weighs 1583 grams (3 lbs., 7-7/8 oz.). It's one of the lightest weight full-face helmets we've tried, only 1 gram heavier than the AGV Ti-Tech Rossi replica (size XXL but fits like a size large) and actually lighter than the Akuma V-1 Ghost Rider (which is a size large) and the Shark RSR, for example.
See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart that compares the weights of all of the helmets we've reviewed.
Other than the slightly larger-than-normal shell size, which can make the helmet feel like it has more mass, the Vector carries its weight well.
The Vector uses Arai's ratchet-less adjustment system for raising and lowering the visor. We've experienced problems with this design and I really wish Arai would get over the fact that they have something they think is unique and dump it for the much easier to use and modern Shoei type system of visor ratcheting and replacement with its flush sides.
The Arai system uses way more parts and is, in our experience, much more prone to breaking than other, more modern systems. See our comments on the Arai visor breaking problem on our Arai Quantum II review page.
The visor also has a snap lock on the lower left hand side, which, as I've mentioned in other helmet reviews, I don't care for, because it has too much resistance, causing the visor to twist as it's lifted and the entire helmet rotates on my head. I believe this was the cause of the visor cover breakage we experienced on the Quantum II. I do understand the lever is there to hold the visor at race speeds.
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.
NOTE: The Vector is labeled as meeting both DOT and Snell safety standards in the U.S.A., but at the time of publication of this article (January, 2007), the Vector is NOT listed as a "Certified Helmet" on the current Snell Memorial Foundation website list of certified helmets, although there is a "Chaser" listed. Perhaps Arai was going to use the Chaser name in the U.S.A. also when it submitted the helmet for testing? I'm not sure what the explanation is, if anyone can help, please contact us at the email address below.
The Arai Chaser (identical helmet, different name) meets ECE 22.05 standards when sold in Europe.
Other tidbits: The Vector uses Arai's Complex Laminate Construction (CCL) shell and has a "multi-density, single piece hybrid EPS liner".
The Arai Vector is another high quality, comfortable and quiet helmet from Arai that should fit riders with the "Intermediate Oval" head shape that's between the Arai "Round Oval" and "Long Oval".
|wBW Product Review: Arai Vector|
Made In: Japan
|List Price (2007): White, Black - $393.95; Aluminum Silver or Gray, Frosts and Touring - $403.95; Racer Replicas - $521.95.|
|Colors: White, Black, Red, Yellow, Blue; Camo and Eagle graphics; Racer Replicas.|
|Review Date: January 2007 Notes: Claimed to meet Snell and DOT standards in the U.S.A. but is not yet listed as certified on the Snell website. Also known as the Arai Chaser in Europe, where it meets ECE 22.05 standards.|
From "S.D." (04/11): "I have always owned cheap and uncomfortable helmets, and as I was going on a long 3,000 kilometer tour over just one week decided to buy a decent helmet that looks good, is comfortable and quiet.
After trying on several helmets, the best fit for me was the Arai Vector Phil Read replica. At over $600 and being an Arai it has to be the best thing since sliced bread doesn't it? After all, they are individually hand made and inspected before the factory, according to Arai website, so must be the ants pants of motor cycle helmets.
Man, do I wish I read some of the reviews! Great looking helmet and the paint finish is superb. the fit is perfect and is oh so very comfortable. But, the noise, or to the point, BUZZING. I have a constant buzzing from the right hand side where the face shield slides into the side holders. not the left side, just the right side.
It buzzes no matter what direction I'm going, and only at speeds between 60kph to 80kph. it is most annoying, and after a few hours in the saddle, aggggh! The buzzing sounds like a stick held up against the spokes of a revolving wheel.
I thought it may require some adjustment, but my helmet didnít come with any instructions and Arai website doesnít have any that can be downloaded. Contacted Arai who were very good and they sent me a copy as well as some silicon lube that should have been in the box as well.
So, with the missing instructions replaced, at least I know how to remove the face shield and the shield holders and the base plates. I have done this in order to try and reposition the visor when it is closed in an effort to eliminate the noise, but the blasted thing still buzzes like hell.
The visor doesnít seem symmetrical. there is a smaller gap on the left side near the side shields when the visor is closed compared to the right side, so I think that has something to do with the buzzing. there has to be something wrong with this helmet, otherwise the noise wouldn't be just on one side, wouldn't it?
Arai, highly over rated and I'm really annoyed and wish I never bought the thing."
Editor's Reply: This isn't normal and certainly not endemic to Arai helmets. It may be a base plate misalignment and that may be possible to fix with some adjustment. I'd suggest returning to your Arai dealer or finding one who can help. Also, the noise may be caused by some type of air flow or turbulence from your windscreen or motorcycle, so I'd check that also. Usually a buzzing noise is simply a loose piece of plastic or something which is catching the air in the wind stream, it should be fairly easy to locate it and fix it.
From "B.W." (11/09): "An additional comment on an otherwise fantastic helmet: the visor is EXTREMELY difficult to remove, even after following to the letter Arai's owner's manual, as well as various tutorials on YouTube, etc. There is absolutely no reason it should be this difficult when others are such a breeze to change."
From "B.G." (1/09): "After reading your excellent review of the Arai Vector and trying it on, I decided to buy it. It is a good fit, but sadly I will sell it as soon as I can.
The ventilation is top notch, but as you said, the chin vent doesn't seem to do much. My main complaint is that the shield on this helmet fogs up at once and I found myself constantly opening it to clear it. I'm not just talking at stop lights or slow speeds, but it fogs up under 60 mph.
I also find there is way too much air entering through the bottom of the helmet. Finally, the visor is one big hassle to remove and replace. For this price, one expects a more user-friendly helmet."
Editor's Reply: Thanks for visiting webBikeWorld and for your feedback. Many/most helmets have that problem of too much air coming from up underneath. It can be resolved by adding the Windjammer helmet wind blocker we reviewed.
Also, you may want to try a Pinlock anti-fog insert for the visor, when installed correctly, they work very well as I've recently discovered.
From "D.W.": "I was reading thru your write-up on the Vector. I noticed a few things that I would like to point out.
First off let me just say that I greatly appreciate the time you take to type these reviews. I have recently purchased this model and you're write-up has ensured me that have I made a good buy.
The "exhaust" vents you talk about in the rear of the helmet - you say there are two on the top. this is incorrect. If you look closely right behind the center switch, there is a third hole with a triangular shaped piece in front of it (you may have to hold under a light to see). My guess is when the air curls around this triangle that it causes a vacuum to help pull out the old air while the new air is being forced in.
The second thing that i would like to point out is the clip you speak of. I actually wasn't even aware of it until after I had been wearing it for about an hour or so. This clip, just like the Arai lineup, is strictly race technology. Think about it for a second, if you were doing over 150 mph would you want you're visor to catch the air and pull open at that speed....probably not.
This clip does NOT have to be used at even highway speeds. The seal is greatly strong enough to hold it in place. However I do find this so called clip very hard to release. which could be an upside as well. Depending on the circumstances.
Again. thank you for the time you take to produce the information."
From "B.D.": "Just a comment re the Phil Read replica paint scheme. (The Arai Phil Read replica is) A good reproduction of Philís original design, however from memory when racing in anger he always used Premier Helmets and not Arai.
I expect the manufacture of an Arai helmet with this paint scheme comes from a more recent tie-in with Phil."