Arai Defiant Gets the Pro Treatment
The Arai Defiant Pro Cruise is a variant of the originalArai Defiant we reviewed in June of 2014.
The Arai Pro Shade (review) is standard on the Defiant Pro Cruise.
Also, the special face shield to accommodate the Pro Shade visor is included.
The Pro Shade may seem a bit strange but it actually works very well.
There are a couple of other minor updates, including a new water-repellent “Eco-Pure” liner.
And because it’s a Pro “Cruise” model, it gets slightly larger ear pockets with a shallow indent for speakers.
The Defiant Pro Cruise comes with a Pinlock anti-fog insert for the Max Vision face shield that unfortunately still has the loose brow vent issue we’ve experienced on 3 different Arai Pro Shade equipped helmets now.
Carried over from the relatively new Defiant are the huge chin vent, the new top vents and the front chin spoiler.
The new max-size chin curtain, updated visor lock/lift and the new side pods, released with the new Arai Corsair X (review), haven’t reached the rest of the Arai lineup however.
(UPDATE: The large chin curtain is now available as an optional accessory.)
The Arai Defiant has become one of Arai’s best sellers and the Pro Cruise version should only help.
It may just be the perfect street and touring helmet for Arai fans and it even comes in a bunch of new colors for 2016.
Since the Defiant Pro Cruise is very similar to the original Arai Defiant we reviewed when it was first released in early summer of 2014, much of the information in this review will be a repeat, with differences noted where appropriate.
The Arai Defiant Solution for Quantum Heads?
The Arai Defiant was first announced in early 2014 as a new helmet in the Arai product line. Arai doesn’t announce new helmets very often, so this was a biggie.
I talked to the Arai Japan representatives at the recent 2015 AIMExpo show (Report) and expressed my dismay that Arai — the company that prides itself as “The only company offering multiple interior-fit shapes to better address the infinite variety of riders’ head shapes and sizes” — no longer offers helmets for “Round” heads.
In fact, Arai now only sells one “Long Oval” helmet in the U.S. — the Arai Signet-Q (review). All of the rest of the helmets currently listed are the “Intermediate Oval” shape.
I lamented the discontinuation of the Arai Quantum II (review), which was classified as a “Round Oval” shape and was the only helmet that fit me perfectly in the 16 years we have been reviewing helmets.
Since that amounts to several hundred helmets, I’m pretty sure that unless Arai (or someone else) makes another “Round Oval” shape, I’m doomed.
As are many other webBikeWorlders, from what I can tell based on the emails I have received.
The Arai rep measured my head and he said “Yes, you have a round head. Very unusual…”
I said “Yes, I think I’m Japanese actually” and we both got a big laugh.
About the Defiant, he said “This is what you should wear.”
Later on at another booth, I pulled a Defiant — one of my favorite of the current Arai crop — off the shelf. I asked the rep to remove the two 5 mm thick (actually, I measured them as 6 mm) pads glued to the inside of the top of the liner on either side.
Removing the pads (which are designed to be removed if necessary) does help by making the inside of the helmet a tiny bit wider and more “Neutral”.
Note that even he couldn’t remove the pads without tearing the rather flimsy foam, however…
Now I have one more problem — I’m in-between sizes. This is another thing that has been an issue for me since, well, forever.
At 60.5 cm in circumference, my head falls exactly between Large and Extra-Large sized helmets in most brands. And my “Round” head is widest at the temples, which doesn’t help either, otherwise I might be able to slip into a size L.
Oh, and one more thing: the newest Arai “Intermediate Oval” shells in size L seem to be slightly too short in the front/back dimensions.
I noticed this also in the Arai Corsair X (review) that just recently won the 2015 webBikeWorld Helmet of the Year Award and I also found the same issue with the previous generation Arai Corsair V Limited Editions (review).
My chin touches the lower part of the back of the chin bar, which is kind of disconcerting because I wonder what might happen if I fall on my face during a crash.
This isn’t a problem in the XL Defiant, but then the helmet is too big for my head.
So, absent an “Arai Quantum III” with a “Round Oval” internal shape (one can only hope!), the Defiant, the Corsair X or the other Arai “Intermediate Oval” shapes with the internal padding removed are about as close as I’ll get to perfection.
And it’s the only solution for ex-Quantum-lovers like me.
I would very much like to hear from other “Round Heads” who have found other helmet solutions since the Quantum II disappeared from the Arai lineup.
Arai Defiant Pro Cruise Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
Everything we said in the original Defiant review holds true here, such as the special feel of an Arai helmet that you notice right away.
The Defiant Pro Cruise is available in all black plus 7 other graphic patterns. This “Timeline Black” is a good compromise between all black and something with a more visible pattern.
(Note that some of the retailers have solid white, silver and gray versions of the Defiant Pro Cruise that are not listed on the Arai Americas website.)
The bright green and near-high-viz orange do help to make the helmet more visible. The overall finish on this one is matte, but it’s not that rubberized stuff, so it’s easy to keep clean.
In fact, this finish may be easier to clean than a gloss painted helmet; it seems very easy to wipe away the bugs and dirt on this helmet.
Special mention goes to the moving parts; i.e., the chin vent, top vents and rear exhaust vent. They all have the most solid-feeling slider I think I have ever encountered.
Also, each has a half-way stop that actually does something — it reduces the amount of air flowing through.
That’s more than can be said for just about every other helmet I can think of, where the half-way stops really don’t do anything different.
The only faux pas — yet again — is the very loose brow vent sliders on the special face shield designed for the Pro Shade.
This is the third Pro Shade with face shield that has come through here and all of them have these very loose and floppy brow vent sliders.
How hard can it be to mold a nice detent on the vent? The standard Arai face shields without the Pro Shade are perfectly fine. But the Pro Shade face shield vents are nowhere near the quality expected of an Arai helmet.
One more thing: I mentioned the new deeper (slightly) ear pockets on the Defiant Pro Cruise.
This helmet can hold a standard intercom mount pretty easily also, although there’s a molded rib just above the bottom gasket that prevents the intercom from mounting flush.
There’s also not enough room above the rib to use a stick-on mounting solution for an intercom.
Score: Overall, I’ll rate the Arai Defiant as “Outstanding” for paint and quality, with the exception of those brow vents. See the Summary Table at the end of this page for a description of our rating system.
Arai Defiant Helmet Fit, Internal Shape and Liner
We’ve said it all in the original Defiant review. The Defiant Pro Cruise is no different; it has the Arai “Intermediate Oval” internal shape.
This translates to a “Slightly Narrow” to “Neutral” in the webBikeWorld parlance. Remove the rather squishy 5 mm pads on either side at the upper part of the head liner and you get some extra room.
But the foam is so squishy to begin with that it doesn’t make an “Intermediate Oval” helmet suddenly turn round. It does perhaps make that “Intermediate Oval” more of a “Neutral”.
Bottom line? The Defiant should fit just about everyone…except the outliers like me.
It’s comfy and other than the too-short front-to-back issue I mentioned previously, it’s about as good as I can currently expect in the absence of a true “Round Oval” shape.
A note about the Arai “R75” shell shape.
They have promoted this round shell design quite often recently, but strangely enough, there’s no mention of it for the Defiant Pro Cruise like there was on the original Defiant. I’m not sure why.
The R75 shell shape refers to the 75 mm radius used for the shell.
It is claimed to be a rounder and smoother shape that’s also stronger, which can help to divert or deflect impact energy by sliding and not catching on uneven surfaces and glancing off obstacles.
Also, the external vents and hardware on Arai helmets are designed to break off in the event of a crash, further minimizing the risk of catching or digging in during a spill.
This size L fits a 59-60 cm head. I’ve tried the XL and it feels too loose by a fraction for me, although perhaps adding the thicker optional cheek pads might help.
The liner padding in the Defiant Pro Cruise has a new fabric, said to be water-repellent. It is comfortable, so no problems there.
The chin strap padding is still too short, as it has been on all of the other Arai helmets we’ve reviewed in the past couple of years. I wish they’d at least have an option for a longer chin strap cover.
More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.
Score: I’ll give the Defiant Pro Cruise an “Outstanding” for an internal shape that should fit a wide majority of head shapes.
Face Shield, Eye Port and Visibility
The face shield on the Defiant Pro Cruise is again identical to the original Defiant. It’s the “SAI Max-Vision” type they released a few years ago, said to be 5 mm wider than the original.
Those floppy brow vents direct air through vent channels attached to the top of the eye port and then through the liner and on to the rider’s head at about eyebrow level.
The visibility from this size Large Defiant Pro Cruise is better than I remember on the original Defiant, which was an XL. I think this is because the front of the helmet fits closer to my face, due to either a smaller shell or thinner padding.
In any case, the visibility is excellent on this one vs. just very good on the XL. It makes it much easier to do sideways head checks at stop signs and stop lights.
The face shield has the standard Arai friction system to hold it open when raised and what are now the “old style” side pods.
This has all been changed on the new Arai Corsair X (review) and word is that the new face shield, the new lock and the new side pods will make it to the next generation of Arai helmets. But that may take some time…
The tight-fitting top vents, chin vent and the seal between the face shield and gasket mean that this is a pretty water-tight helmet.
I can pour water on the vents and around the gasket and have yet to find anything leaking through.
So residents of the Northwest U.S. should check this one out!
Arai includes a Pinlock “Max” system with the helmet. I’m not a big fan of Pinlock inserts and almost never install them, but then again, I don’t seem to have much of a problem with fogging.
The Defiant Pro Cruise ventilation system is outstanding and face shield can be cracked open for defogging — although the new Corsair X design is better.
The Defiant face shield is labeled as meeting VESC-8 standards. The original Defiant face shield measured it at 2.21 mm thick and this one measures 2.16 mm thick. Both are slightly thicker than the non-Pinlock RX-Q face shield at 2.10 mm.
Score: I’ll give the Defiant an “Excellent” for above average outward visibility and the sealing performance of the face shield.
The huge chin vent on the Defiant and Pro Cruise is huge and it flows a lot of air. Click the slider up half-way and the air flows up along the top of the chin bar only. The topmost position closes the vent completely.
The vents have a really solid feel and the top vents are immediately noticeable as both a different design from any other Arai helmet and they’re more efficient, also with much less noise than the old “scoop” style vents.
The vents close all the way, then half open and then fully open. The air is directed down into the helmet, where there are large channels and openings in the top of the liner to make sure the air flows across the rider’s head.
The rear vent diffuser also has a three-position switch and it seems to help pull the air through the helmet. Overall, it’s an excellent system and an improvement over previous Arai helmets.
Score: I’ll give the Defiant Pro Cruise ventilation system and operation of the parts a score of “Outstanding”.
Arai Defiant Sound Levels
The Defiant and the Defiant Pro Cruise are quieter than my RX-Q for sure.
The sound levels are controlled pretty nicely, although as with any helmet, you have to make sure the internal shape matches your head shape and that you buy the correct size for best results.
The top vents are noticeably quieter in the Defiant Pro Cruise than the whistling RX-Q scoop-type vents.
The Defiant is designed for riders of standard bikes and “streetfighters”, according to Arai; i.e., motorcycles without a fairing.
A slightly leaned-forward position seems to combine the lowest noise levels with optimum ventilation. Arai said that the contoured cheek pads on the Defiant are new and they carry over to the Pro Cruise version.
Overall, I rate the Defiant Pro Cruise as quieter than average at the top and along the bottom, which is really outstanding because it’s combined with a high volume of air flow.
Score: I’ll give the Defiant Pro Cruise an “Excellent” for slightly better than average noise levels and ability to control noise.
Strangely enough, this Arai Defiant Pro Cruise in size Large weighs 1738 grams (3 lbs., 13-1/4 oz.).
That’s heavier than the original Defiant we reviewed in size XL, possibly due to the Snell M2015 certification vs. Snell M2010 for the original Defiant we reviewed.
The XL weighed 1707 grams (3 lbs. 12-1/4 oz.), about 200 grams heavier than an RX-Q in size L (the first RX-Q I owned), which weighed 1597 grams.
1707 grams is about average, neither heavy nor light.
For comparison, the HJC CL-16 (review) in size XL weighs 1702 grams; the Shoei GT Air (review) in size large weighs 1727 grams; the Kabuto FF-5V (review) in size XL weighs 1734 grams; the Arai Corsair V (review) in size XL weighs 1758 grams.
Score: I’ll give the Defiant a “Very Good” for relatively low weight and excellent balance.
The Defiant Pro Cruise has a five-year warranty. The chin strap uses double D-rings. Different sized cheek pads and liner parts are available for a custom fit.
The Defiant Pro Cruise meets the DOT standard and it is Snell M2015 certified in the U.S. and also the Defiant sold in some other countries is listed as being Snell M2015 certified. The Defiant is known as the Arai Rebel in the UK
That’s quite a deal! The Rebel received 3 stars in the SHARP helmet testing program, losing points for side impact.
The Arai Defiant Pro Cruise may be the “perfect” street, touring or cruiser helmet for many owners.
The ventilation system is outstanding on both sportbikes and touring bikes (taking into account the fairing reduces air flow).
The Defiant and Defiant Pro Cruise are designed specifically for un-faired motorcycles also, so keep that in mind.
Overall, I like the Defiant Pro Cruise even more than the original Defiant and can highly recommend it to anyone with a head shape that fits the Arai “Intermediate Oval” template.
|wBW Product Review: Arai Defiant Pro Cruise Helmet|
|Manufacturer: Arai Helmet Ltd.||List Price: $659.95 to $799.95|
|Colors: Solids and graphics.||Made In: Japan|
|Sizes: 2XS-3XL||Review Date: January 2016|
|Shell Sizes: 3 (estimated)|
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding.
Owner Comments and Feedback
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From “L.T.” (April 2016): “I’m going to have to try one of those. Been an Arai fan forever, but when the Quantum dropped I was in trouble — Signet and Vector both squeeze my squarish head and honestly, I’m not up to spending the bucks for a Corsair just for street riding.
I eventually found that HJC’s MUCH cheaper CL17 fits me just as I remember the Quantums (in fact, I still have a many-years-old one in the garage and allowing for the old one loosening off they feel very similar) so the HJC is what I’m wearing now.
Had it on for a week’s holiday in early March and never thought about it once, a great testimonial.
Also, it’s great not to have to fight with the Arai shield system when changing visors …”
From “A.R.” (January 2016): “Like you, my quest for a helmet shape to fit my round head goes on. It has been so long since my Quantum II that I have had three other helmets.
All of these three were only fair fits with the last, a Kabuto FF5V (review) the best of the lot and it required a lot of work to get it to fit.
I have found that some helmets made in Japan or Korea to be more likely to fit my head shape.
I await the round head, noise cancelling, self tinting visor, touring sunshade, Snell approved model of my dreams. It is good to dream.”