Note: Arai North America kindly provided the XC for the purposes of this review
Arai has long been known for its high-end class-leading helmets. After reading Jim Pruner’s recent article titled Arai Is The Helmet To Buy (it may be long, but is well worth the read), I was intrigued to try out an Arai helmet. Shortly after Jim’s article was published, the opportunity came up to try the open face XC, and I jumped at it.
Here’s the catch! Although the Arai XC can still be purchased in some markets, Arai no longer makes the XC helmet. We had this helmet available for review at WBW in size XL, but the size and head shape didn’t fit any of the reviewers, so it sat on the shelf. That is until they brought on a guy with a melon for a head (that would be me!).
We thought it would be worth a review as it is a solid helmet that can now be had at an excellent price.
In the past, I have worn half helmets and open face helmets. For the last several seasons, I have almost exclusively used a modular or full-face helmet. Although, last summer I reviewed a Schuberth M1 Pro, which I liked a lot. I was looking forward to feeling a bit of wind in my face, especially with the temperature rising in early to mid-summer.
I hoped to use the helmet for some late spring riding and finish my review on my annual three-day trip that I make with a group of friends, some of which I have known since my early teens. Sadly, this spring would be different, nothing like a world pandemic to squash my enthusiasm. In the province where I reside, the request was made for no non-essential travel. Although there was not a ban on riding, I felt it was best to park the bike in support of healthcare workers and all others that are fighting the virus.
By late May, restrictions had started to be lifted and I felt comfortable heading out for rides. Even with these changes, and with most motels and restaurants having restricted availability, the call was made to cancel the annual trip.
Instead, local rides, along with day rides with a packed lunch, have become the way this season has started. I have been lucky enough to ride around 2000 kilometres with the Arai XC.
TDF-3 FRONT VENT: Working with the DDL-4 exhaust vents, the TDF-3 front vent is designed to further improve intake airflow to the XC’s interior.
SIDE COWL EXHAUSTS: Completing the XC’s advanced ventilation package, these exhaust vents further help in quick removal of stale interior air.
LOW-PROFILE SHIELD ARMS: The low-profile shield arms on the XC give the helmets a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape that integrates better with the XC’s shell design for less air resistance.
UNIQUE CHEEK PAD DESIGN: Adding to its distinctive look, the XC’s cheek pad design is similar to that of a full-face helmet, with its full-coverage EPS base and removable covers.
VENTED NECK ROLL: Arai’s vented neck roll uses the prevailing airflow under the rider’s neck to further enhance ventilation by extracting more interior heat and stale air.
6. ORGANIC SHELL SHAPE: Follows the smooth, linear, naturally reinforcing the shape of the egg – one of nature’s strongest shapes. The shape “flows” better in the wind, conforming more to the head’s natural shape – smaller and less bulbous – and seals better to further reduce wind noise.
All Arai helmets are warranted against defects in materials and workmanship and are serviceable only for the properly fitted first user for five years from the date of first use, but no more than seven years from the date of manufacture. It should be replaced within five years of first use. Throughout the years, Arai has recorded the manufacture date on helmets in a standard month/year format (00/00).
While the manufacture date has always been recorded on the chinstrap, as it is a permanent part of the helmet, the position on the chinstrap has changed over the years for various reasons.
Therefore, the date-of-manufacture can be found on the chinstrap D-ring.
The Arai XC open face style is aimed at the touring, cruising, and commuter crowd. For me, it hits the mark with style and protection not available on most open face helmets. The first look at the helmet screams high-quality materials, fit, and finish.
The paint was flawless, and the fit and finish of the interior were excellent. I found the extended jaw protection to give a modern and straightforward style that I liked.
In the box, included:
The XC with attached visor
DVD for face shield removal
After many weeks of riding, these are my thoughts on the Arai XC.
Arai’s exterior shells are all about safety. There are not a lot of open face helmets that are Snell approved.
The XC helmets are made using Arai’s mid-range ScLc (Super Complex Laminate Construction) construction that claims to be 30% stronger than standard fibreglass in extension and bending resistance. It is commonly referred to as F.A.S.T. (Fiberglass Aerospace Shell Technology) construction due to its development heritage.
It also includes Arai’s Hyper-Ridge, which is a reinforcement band circles the shell, adding strength and lowering the helmet’s center of gravity.
With the XL shell and with the visor attached, my inexpensive kitchen scale showed a weight of 1540 grams. By comparison, a large Shoei J-Cruise weighs about 1600 grams and the Schuberth M1 Pro I tested last year was around 1500 grams without the visor.
The Arai XC uses the “R75” design for the construction (shape) of the outer shell. What this means is a common pattern for all Arai caps, using a constant curve of 75 degrees.
Why 75 degrees? According to Arai, it is a design that allows (for the most part) to minimize the energy generated by a shock. A 75-degree angle would be the ideal angle for the helmet offering better glide on the surfaces, which would avoid obstacles.
The shell has two air intake ports on the top as well as dual exhaust ports at the upper back and two smaller exhaust ports at the lower back.
One of the most striking features of the shell is the extended jaw or cheeks for added protection.
The only graphics on this solid color XC is the Arai logo on the front above the visor.
Paint & Color Selection
The XC comes in four solid colors and the XC W in two two-tone colors. The following colors are from the Arai 2018 brochure.
XC- Aluminum Silver / Diamond White / Black Frost (matte) / Diamond Black (gloss)
XC – W – Silver/Black and Red/Black
I have inspected the paint after removing bugs from several rides, and the paint looks as good as new. The Aluminum Silver finish was very easy to keep clean.
The interior of the helmet is made from a soft grey and blue material. The interior is non-removable, except for the cheek pads.
Everything appears to be well made. If you take care of the helmet I wouldn’t foresee any issues with durability.
The cheek pads are designed with a removable cover, and this allows you to peel-away a 5mm layer of foam to get a custom fit. I would recommend waiting until you have used the helmet for some time as peeling away a layer of foam is permanent. For a more custom fit, various thicknesses of pads are available between 15mm and 30mm depending on helmet size for under $50.
There is also a layer of foam in the ear pocket to help block assorted noises from reaching your ears. The ear pocket leaves plenty of room for speakers.
Because there is no built-in sun visor, I wore sunglasses much of the time. I had no discomfort, and I had no issue putting the glasses on or taking them off.
Overall Build Quality, Fit & Feel
Arai has a reputation for quality products. The XC did not disappoint. The paint quality, fit and finish, and materials used all appear to be very good.
The helmet comes in 8 sizes.
SIZE HEAD (CM) (IN)
2XS 51 – 52 20.1 – 20.5
XS 53 – 54 20.9 – 21.3
SM 55 – 56 21.7 – 22
MD 57 – 58 22.4 – 22.8
LG 59 – 60 23.2 – 23.6
XL 61 – 62 24 – 24.4
2XL 63 – 64 24.8 – 5.2
3XL 65 – 66 25.6 – 26
Based on the sizing chart, my 61 cm head was a size XL. I found the XL to fit very comfortably.
The Arai XC comes in intermediate oval head shape. This happens to the shape that I find to be most comfortable. The liner felt great with no pressure points. I previously reviewed a Schuberth open face helmet and thought it was one of the most comfortable helmets I had worn. The Arai XC was its equal! I came away very impressed with the comfort.
I thought with being an open face helmet I would get additional buffeting. This was not the case, and the helmet felt very stable. I did most of my riding behind the windshield of my Stratoliner, so lack of buffeting would be expected. So, I made several shorter rides with the fairing removed, from going around town to 120 km/h runs down the freeway, the helmet was extremely stable. I think this can be attributed to Arai’s R75 design.
The XC has a standard dual D-ring chin strap buckle, with a snap to take up any excess length of the strap. The straps are well-padded for comfort.
It’s an open face helmet, therefore a lot of air, but there is much more to it than that.
The Arai XC ventilation utilizes Arai’s TDF-3 and DDL-4 intake and exhaust vents taken directly from the Arai’s RX-Q.
Aside from the mass of air that is inherent in an open face helmet, the intake is controlled in two ways:
The TDF-3 intake consists of two top-mounted vents that can be switched on or off.
Brow vents built into the visor and brow of the helmet to provide more cooling air in the temple and forehead area.
All that air coming in has to have someplace to go.
The DDL-4 exhaust vents on the upper rear, which is controlled by a single switch.
Side cowl exhausts found on the lower sides that are always open.
A vented neck roll that takes advantage of existing airflow from around the rider’s neck to remove heat build-up from the interior.
I found that the large visor allowed me to control the air that came in around my face, and the top vents allowed me extra air around my head in warmer weather. The Arai XC helmet makes for an excellent all-weather helmet, but, in particular, was great on those days when the temperature starts to rise.
Visors & Vision
The visor itself is very thick with a solid feel and seals tightly to the top ridge and rubber seal at the temples. It has a flat viewing surface and is distortion-free.
The visor has several solid detents, with the bottom position locking in place. Between these positions, the visor moves with a smooth and solid feel. I was able to ride at normal speeds with the visor in any position without it moving.
To open the visor from the lowest locked position, simply push the visor slightly away on the bottom left and lift. This clears the visor latch from the locking stud.
The visor can be removed and reinstalled without tools. The fact that an instructional DVD is included with the helmet tells you that it is not a simple task. To be fair, it isn’t too bad. Simply open the visor to the upper position and push the tabs on both sides toward the front of the helmet. This allows you to lift the visor slightly and it pops out. To reinstall, just reverse the steps and the visor locks in place.
The visor is not anti-fog ready. At this price point, I would like to see the anti-fog lens not only made available but included as standard.
I can confirm that the visor on the Arai XC is very clear.
Replacement visors cost about $60 for clear, light tint, or smoke.
As with many open face helmets, vision is excellent. The eye port is very large. I would rate the vision as excellent.
Noise Assessment & Management
Noise assessment, without the tools and skills to measure decibel levels under a multitude of test conditions, is purely subjective. So, as I do not have any highly calibrated tools or the skills to use them, I will attempt to assess the noise levels I experienced using the Arai XC.
Being an open face helmet, I didn’t have high expectations concerning noise management. I was pleasantly surprised.
In terms of noise management, this helmet has several intake and exhaust ports, several of which can be closed. Also, the eye-port has a tight-fitting seal to the temple area of the visor. The bottom side of the helmet has a tight-fitting neck curtain.
I used the helmet mainly on a cruiser based touring bike with a full fairing (Yamaha Stratoliner). I usually ride with earplugs, but for this review, I also spent time riding without them. I also rode with the fairing removed.
Behind the full fairing, the helmet was extremely quiet, with or without earplugs. Riding with the fairing removed was a better test of noise management. Again, I was pleasantly surprised at the noise levels.
Given my conditions for testing, I would assess the noise management as very good.
Like all Arai helmets, the XC series was handmade in Arai’s production facilities. The Arai XC is a very well made helmet, built with design and safety in mind.
The problem is that in this price range consumers want additional bells and whistles like integrated sun visors or communication systems. The issue is that those options often compromise the safety of the helmet in the eyes of organizations like Snell.
My workaround was to wear a pair of photochromic motorcycle glasses, along with my old Sena SMH10 attached to the side.
With these modifications, along with the clearance prices available on the Arai XC, this helmet can be a bargain for someone looking for a Snell approved open face helmet.
The Arai XC has become my go-to helmet for long rides on hot days.