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Kabuto Aeroblade III Review

Kabuto Aeroblade III Review
Kabuto Aeroblade III Helmet Review
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
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Summary

The OGK Kabuto Aeroblade III is the newest version of the popular Aeroblade series.

It's basically a street/sport version of the Kabuto FF-5V (review) that was reviewed recently on webBikeWorld.com.

The Aeroblade III uses the same type of composite shell and the internal shape and fit is roughly the same as the FF-5V.

There are some minor exterior differences between the helmets and the Aeroblade III is available in several color and graphics choices.

The helmet has outstanding ventilation, especially in the upper half of the helmet and the visibility from the wide and tall eye port is also better than average.

Like the FF-5V, the Aeroblade III meets the DOT standard in the U.S. and it's also Snell M2010 certified.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Top View

Background

The Kabuto brand name is new to the U.S. market but OGK has been making helmets for over 35 years in Japan. 

We reviewed the OGK FF-3 (review) on webBikeWorld in 2003; that helmet was sourced in the UK. OGK was/is sort of an "underground" motorcycle helmet brand, but many motorcycle racers have discovered that the helmets offer many real-world advantages and are characterized by outstanding ventilation and aerodynamics at a lower price point than Arai or Shoei.

OGK helmets have been popular here at webBikeWorld, where you can also find reviews of the OGK FF-4 "Aeroblade" (review) that was also sourced from the UK and the OGK FF-5 (review), purchased in Japan. The OGK FF-5 was named the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet of the Year in 2008 and I liked it so much that I bought a second back then.

The brand is now known as OGK Kabuto, or by the Kabuto brand in the U.S.A., distributed through Western Power Sports (and conveniently and coincidentally sold through this link to Competition Accessories, a webBikeWorld affiliate). Besides the Kabuto FF-5V (review) and this review of the Aeroblade III, WPS is also distributing the street-oriented Kabuto Kamui and the open-face Avand II.

Note that helmets are no longer sold under the OGK brand; the company is now known as OGK Kabuto, with the emphasis on the Kabuto brand.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Eye Port

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The Kabuto Aeroblade III: Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

The Aeroblade III is available in the solid colors of Flat Black, Pearl White, Aluminum Silver and something called "Flat Gun", along with three different graphic patterns, including the white and black "Linea" graphics shown here.

The Linea graphics are very nice -- not too gaudy but with enough style to hold one's interest. I could probably do without the "Kabuto" text on the sides of the helmet; I'll chalk that up to self-consciousness by a probably overzealous marketing effort to establish a new brand name.

The design and its application is well executed however and the helmet has a nice clearcoat and excellent overall appearance with no obvious flaws that I can find.

The moving parts -- such as the vent sliders and operation of the face shield -- all have a solid feel and work nicely. Like the FF-5V, the Kabuto helmets aren't quite up to, say, Shoei quality...although it's hard to put a finger on exactly what those differences might be.

It's a matter of very slight differences, such as the face shield rotation on the Kabuto helmets, which doesn't have quite the same crisp feel as recent Shoei helmets. We're talking very minor differences here and the fact that the Kabuto helmets are roughly 30% cheaper than equivalent Shoei or Arai helmets pretty much makes any differences moot.

And that fact that both the FF-5V and the Aeroblade III have among the best ventilation and visibility of any motorcycle helmets we've reviewed in 14 years is definitely a reason to take notice. I'll bet more than a few street riders and motorcycle racers will jump ship from those other brands once they try one of the new Kabuto products.

Score: The Kabuto Aeroblade III gets an "Excellent" rating from us for paint and overall quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Liner

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Kabuto Aeroblade III Fit, Sizing and Internal Shape

As we mentioned in the FF-5V review, Western Powersports (the U.S. distributor for Kabuto) told us that the differences between all of the Japanese and Rest of World Kabuto helmets and U.S. versions  are that the U.S. helmets have a "western" head form with an "intermediate" shape, similar to what is sold in Europe and Australia. The Kabuto helmets sold in Japan and Asia have more of round internal shape.

The FF-5V we reviewed was a size XL but our Aeroblade III is a size L, so any difference in the internal shape is masked slightly by the smaller head size. With a 60.5 cm "Round" head that is widest at the temples, I'm an in-between size.

Kabuto lists the size L as a 59-60 and XL as 61-62. The FF-5V fit me rather nicely but the Aeroblade III in size L feels a bit tight just where I expected, above my ears at the temples. But I'd say that the size L Aeroblade III fits as expected and like the FF-5V, I'll call it a "Neutral" shape that should fit a range of head shapes from "Slightly Narrow" to "Slightly Round" according to the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Kabuto also told us that the Aeroblade III shell, which comes in 3 sizes (XS/S, M/L, XL/XXL) to span the head size range, is slightly wider at the bottom for an easier on/off for street riders. I agree that the helmet does slide on and off my head pretty smoothly, which for me can be unusual in a size large.

The internal shape of the Aeroblade III feels similar to my Arai RX-Q (review) in size XL, although the Arai has just a touch more forehead room.

The bottom line here is that the Kabuto FF-5V has a "generous" fit that should work for many head shapes, other than the very narrow.

The removable cheek pads and upper helmet liner are comfortable and the padding is generous in the Aeroblade III. It feels very similar to the FF-5V (no surprise there), right down to the slightly less firm stuffing, but that's a matter of preference.

The Aeroblade III ear pockets are a touch shallow and narrow, with a sort of pocket that's formed by part of the cheek pads, which cut across what would be the ear pocket. Speakers can be installed but the gasket around the bottom of the helmet is styled on the sides with a shark-gill type of cutout arrangement, and this makes it a bit tricky to install a standard intercom mount.

It's somewhat ironic that it's easier to install an intercom in the race-oriented FF-5V than the street-oriented Aeroblade III. And by the way, I am able to fit my straight-temple eyeglasses in the Aeroblade III.

webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: Kabuto Aeroblade III
Narrow Med. Narrow Slight Narrow Neutral Slight Round Med. Round Round
Helmet Shape
Helmet Shape
Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)
Arai
Profile
Scorpion
EXO-700 Neon
Shoei
RF-1200
AGV
Stealth
HJC
CL-16
Bell
Arrow
Arai
Quantum II

Overall, we rate the Kabuto Aeroblade III as very comfortable, especially for "Neutral" to "Slightly Narrow" head shapes

More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: The Kabuto Aeroblade III gets an "Excellent" rating for comfort and liner materials and padding and a comfortable fit.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Face Shield Removal
The Kabuto Aeroblade III face shield removal system is easy to use.
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Kabuto Aeroblade III Face Shield, Eye Port and Visibility

Like the FF-5V, the Aeroblade III has excellent visibility in both the vertical and horizontal planes and both are similar to the Shoei RF-1200 (review) recently reviewed on webBikeWorld.

The Aeroblade III comes with Pinlock anti-fog insert (review) studs on the face shield and a Pinlock insert is included in the box. The face shield is similar on both helmets and our Aeroblade III face shield measures 2.08 mm thick. It also has a snap lock on the lower left-hand side to keep it firmly in place.

Again like the FF-5V, the Aeroblade III face shield has only three detents, so there's no small first opening position for city riding or defogging.

The face shield locks tightly in place when the snap is pushed and the full-surround eye port gasket also prevents any water from entering in our "leak down" test. And one more similarity: the top and rear vents close tightly enough to prevent water from entering when riding in the rain.

The face shield does not have a VESC-8 label (nor does the Shoei RF-1200 or GT Air) and it's marked "Not warranted shatterproof" (most helmet face shields are not warranted as shatterproof).

The removal system appears to be identical to the FF-5V and they're both very easy to use and illustrated in our video below. Raise the shield, push in the button and the face shield slides out of a "U" shaped channel. To replace it, simply snap it back in.

The optical quality of the face shield is very good and the Aeroblade III does not have an internal sun visor.

webBikeWorld Eye Port Visibility Estimator: Kabuto Aeroblade III
Visibility Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Top to Bottom
Side to Side
Optical Quality  

Score: The Kabuto Aeroblade III gets an "Excellent" rating for the overall quality and operation of the face shield.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Top Vents
Kabuto Aeroblade III top vents let in a lot of air.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Chin Vent

Kabuto Aeroblade III Rear Exhaust Vent
Kabuto Aeroblade III rear exhaust vent adds to the effectiveness of the helmet's ventilation system.
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Ventilation and Air Flow

In another "thank you Kabuto" similarity, the Aeroblade III also has outstanding ventilation, also among the very best we've ever experienced.

Western Power Sports told us that they think the Aeroblade III even has more air flow than the FF-5V but I'm not sure. They're both among the best of any full-face helmet I've ever worn.

I do know one thing: there's so much air coming through the top vents that I have to close them in cooler weather or risk getting an ice-cream headache! It's not very often indeed when a full-face motorcycle helmet has that much air blowing through.

I also think the rear exhaust vent, which has direct openings down into the helmet that are clear enough that you can see right down inside, helps also.

The chin vent on the Aeroblade III doesn't seem quite as effective to me though; it's very good, no doubt about that, and it directs the air up on to the back of the face shield along the top of the chin bar, which helps defogging also. But there are no direct channels for the air to flow through the chin bar and -- despite the chin curtain -- I get a lot of air flowing up into the helmet from underneath, even when I'm riding behind a windscreen.

The magic here is that the outstanding upper ventilation doesn't cause any undue noise levels. Over the last year or so, the top three full-face helmets for ventilation are the Kabuto FF-5V (review), the Aeroblade III and the Shoei GT Air (review), which was named as the webBikeWorld 2013 Motorcycle Helmet of the Year.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: Kabuto Aeroblade III Ventilation
Location Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Top/Upper
Chin/Face

Score: The Kabuto Aeroblade III ventilation system rates an "Outstanding" overall.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Slide Show
Kabuto Aeroblade III Noise Levels

With all that air flowing through the helmet, you might think the noise levels of the Aeroblade III would be a problem, but it isn't so. In fact -- and like the FF-5V -- the helmet is actually pretty quiet.

OGK and now Kabuto has always had a reputation for excellent ventilation and aerodynamics and this remains true. The helmet seems to cut through the air and the sound levels are comparatively low. Considering the outstanding ventilation, that's quite an achievement.

This is even mostly true when riding behind a windscreen. I rode the BMW C 650 GT (blog) scooter several times wearing the Aeroblade III and I tilted the scooter's electrically adjustable windscreen back and forth in all different positions, dumping air on the Aeroblade III and the helmet is always relatively quiet.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: Kabuto Aeroblade III Noise Levels
Location Very Quiet Quieter Average Louder Very Loud
Upper
Lower

Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens. Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems) and (usually) a helmet liner. It is strongly recommended that hearing protection is used when riding a motorcycle.  See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page 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 type of clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score: The Kabuto Aeroblade III gets an "Excellent" rating for noise control, which is amazing, considering the efficiency of the ventilation system.

wBW Video: Kabuto Aeroblade III Helmet
View the Aeroblade III video on the webBikeWorld Vimeo Pro channel.
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Helmet Weight

This Kabuto Aeroblade III in size L weighs nearly 200 grams less than the FF-5V at 1587 grams (3 lbs., 8.0 oz.), although the Aeroblade III is size L and the FF-5V is a size XL. But this is an excellent showing and it puts the Aeroblade III within the lightest 1/3 of the 220+ helmets we've reviewed so far on webBikeWorld.com.

Other helmets for comparison include the Arai Vector (size XL) at 1583 grams; the Nexx XR1R (XL) at 1588 grams; the Akuma V-1 Ghost Rider (L) at 1591 grams; the Schuberth S2 (ECE Version, XL) at 1591 grams and the size L Arai RX-Q at 1597 grams.

Note also that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: The Kabuto Aeroblade III gets an "Excellent" rating for its weight and good balance.

Kabuto Aeroblade III Top Vent Efficiency
Top vents flow air directly down into the helmet. That's the Clearwater "Andie" flashlight (review) peeking through...
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Miscellaneous

The Aeroblade III has a double D-ring chin strap retainer with comfortable and removable padding underneath. Kabuto provides a five year warranty (from date of purchase) on their helmets and they have a discounted program for replacements if the helmet was in a crash.

webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: Kabuto Aeroblade III
Picks...
...and Pans
  • Outstanding ventilation.
  • Relatively quiet, especially considering the ventilation.
  • Nice styling that has strong ties to OGK tradition.
  • Comfortable liner with a good fit for "Neutral" shaped heads.
  • When closed, the vents seal out water.
  • Air flows up into the helmet from underneath, even when tried on several different types of motorcycles.
  • Padding isn't as firm as we'd like.
Conclusion

It's hard to choose between the Kabuto Aeroblade III and the FF-5V; both have a lot of nice features and my feeling is that many motorcycle riders are going to be interested based on the outstanding ventilation that both of these helmets provide.

Both also have the DOT (natch) and the Snell M2010 certs, which is a plus.

The Aeroblade III can be purchased with a discount from our affiliate Competition Accessories for $314.95 for the solid colors and $359.95 for the graphics, making for a pretty good deal for this much helmet...especially if you can compare it to offerings from Arai and Shoei.

If you're not familiar with the OGK/Kabuto brand, it may be time to do so. We've been reviewing these helmets for many years and have always been impressed.

More wBW: Motorcycle Helmet Reviews

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wBW Product Review: Kabuto Aeroblade III Helmet
Manufacturer: OGK Kabuto (USA) List Price: Solid colors $349.95. Graphics $399.95.
Colors: Solids and graphics. Made In: Japan
Sizes: XS to XXL Shell Sizes: Three Star Rating (1-5): Four Star Rated
Review Date: January 2014
Ratings Scale: For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.

Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld© Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

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