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A Look Into Arai’s Secret Test Lab

A view of a rider trying out the Arai XD4, with a rugged topography in the background

Northern Irish professional motorcycle racer Jonathan Rea has just been given exclusive access into Arai’s secret laboratory – and he’s come out to share the difference that Arai makes, whether on the track, street, or experiencing life on the daily.

A view of professional racer Jonathan Rea, talking to Arai Managing Director, Igmar Stroeven

The journey starts in the Netherlands, at Arai’s EU headquarters; here, Rea is given a tour by none other than Igmar Stroeven, the managing director at Arai Helmets

Of course, no tour of Arai would be complete without an all-access visit to the AIC (Arai Inspiration Centre)

A view of the wall at the AIC (Arai Inspiration Centre)
The museum wall at Arai’s Inspiration Centre

Sidenote – Rea walking into the AIC feels a bit like a museum, and with good reason – watch along with us in the video at the top of this article. 

Inside the AIC is a testing booth – not the real deal, but rather a demonstration corner where dealers, marshals, and paramedics are taught on how Arai helmets function and how they protect. 

A view of the ECE testing booth at AIC (The Arai Testing Centre)

The testing process shows what happens on impact with the Arai helmet – both the amount of energy absorption needed from the lid and the amount of impact energy that threatens the can. 

Rea, of course, asks the obligatory question:

“Arai is at the higher end of the price market. Why is that?”

A view of the Arai Concept X Rapide Retro Motorcycle Helmet
Arai Concept X Rapide Retro Motorcycle Helmet

Since Arai’s safety has been proven time and again to be top of the line, the response is poetry:

“Tests here are done at a speed of around 28 km/h. That is the testing speed for ECE approvals”, says Igmar. 

“In the real world, it goes much faster – 70 or 80 miles per hour.”

A view of professional racer Jonathan Rea featuring an Arai helmet at WorldSBK
Jonathan Rea featuring an Arai helmet at WorldSBK

“If you increase the speed by four – let’s say you go from 28 to 100 kilometers per hour…the SPEED is just four times more, yet the IMPACT that needs to be absorbed is about 12 to 13 times higher. That is an incredible amount of energy that needs to be absorbed.” 

Igmar Stroeven, the managing director at Arai Helmets
Igmar Stroeven, the managing director at Arai Helmets

“You could focus on absorbing impact, but more important is how you can prevent that impact energy from getting into the helmet itself. If you can prevent that energy getting into the helmet, you don’t need to absorb it.”

Rea is then given a brilliant demonstration of the ECE test, which the Arai helmet passes with flying colors. 

A view of Jonathan in 2013 at the WorldSbk qualifying, in a massive crash.

“I had this crash in Imola,” Rea reminisces, “2012, 2013 maybe…I went right then left and just gassed it, so third gear…this is the helmet.”

As he holds up the helmet, Rea continues. 

An Arai helmet showing damage

“Landed on my head pretty hard….and I was completely fine, raced the next day.”

“I race at the top world championship level, and I crash. You can never know when you’re gonna crash, and you don’t know how you’re going to crash. But at least I know when I do, I’m in the best possible hands…and safety is the least of my concerns when I leave the pit box”. 

Jonathan Rea riding his Honda at the 2013 WorldSBK

Amen to that!

I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as we did – while you’re here, check out our reviews on Arai helmets – especially the Arai Regent-X full-face helmet and the Arai XC Open-Face Helmet.