There’s no denying that a good helmet is essential for racing. Your head needs good protection, comfort, and ventilation. There are many helmets that offer some of those features, but are lacking in one department or another. Only a select few stand out as “the best.” Unfortunately, the best helmets also cost a lot of money. It’s hard to spend upwards of $500 on a lid that is eventually going to need replacing. Rightfully so, most question whether these are truly the best helmets, or just the most expensive. In the case of the Arai, it is undoubtedly one of the best.
I’ll be the first to admit, I have mocked Arai’s helmet for years. It’s a very round helmet with a short chin bar that yours truly referred to as a space helmet for years. However, as my current helmet began showing signs of age, I decided to do research on helmets to find the right one. As it turns out, the VX Pro 3’s round shape has nothing to do with looks. Tons of engineering went into this helmet to make sure that it was strong, durable, and safe. The roundness makes the shell very tough, while doing a great job of reducing the force of an impact. There are no sharp edges because Arai did not want it to snag and twist your neck in the event of a crash. Nearly everything breaks away, and can be replaced under their five-year warranty. This helmet is legitimately one of the safest, and is backed by Snell 2010 and DOT certifications.
Aside from the design itself, the Arai has many other great features. Ventilation isn’t as good as say an Airoh helmet, but it’s pretty darn good compared to lower level lids. Almost every vent has the option of being opened or closed, including the mouthpiece in the front. There are two above the head, one positioned up top, two on each side just behind that, and two near the bottom of the helmet. Air is forced through the vents up front, over the head, and literally vacuumed out of the back vents. You’ll notice there are smoked out covers for many of the vents. These keep moisture and dirt out, and break away in a crash. There is also a nose guard on the chin bar, which can be removed. It leaves little room between the goggles and chin bar. The protection is excellent as a result, but those using nose guards with their goggles will have to remove them.
The inside of the Arai is incredibly comfortable. The fitment is a tad snug, but it feels secure and protects well. The only issue is with the cheek pads. Regardless of brand, I have always worn a medium. As one might guess, I therefore ordered my Arai in a medium, even after checking sizing charts, which indicated that their medium was a bit bigger than Thor’s medium Force 2 helmet I had worn for some time. As I mentioned, the helmet is incredibly comfortable, but a bit snug, and the snug feeling is from the cheek pads. The 30mm pads are too thick for this helmet. Luckily, nearly every piece of this helmet can be replaced and Arai offers tons of different cheek pad sizes, which means I’ll have some 10mm or 15mm cheek pads on the way. Aside from that, things still feel a little stiff, but my understanding is that the interior breaks in and will form to your head nicely over time.
Speaking of the interior, all of the materials inside are incredibly high quality. They’re soft, antimicrobial, and cooling. While some other helmets feel more comfortable when trying them on, the material their made of can get very hot very quickly out riding. Everything is removable easily, and the liner can be removed from the foam and rinsed off. There are four small snaps on the headliner, while the cheek pads have none at all. Inside of the cheek pad are emergency removal loops that can be pulled. The system is a must have as it allows the helmet to be safely removed. The cheeks have to be removed and the loops pulled out from inside the liner when the helmet is brand new.
Out on the track the great features of the Arai shine. As mentioned, some helmets feel great on the showroom, but fall short when asked to perform. The ventilation is noticeable, as is the comfort. If this is your first high end helmet, it may take some adjusting to get used to it. Inside is very quiet. While I personally enjoy hearing as if I’m not wearing a helmet at all, it does do good for the ears in the long run and is not quiet to a point that you aren’t aware of your machine and what’s happening around you. Vision is excellent with the Arai. Of course your goggles have an impact on vision, but the chin bar and visor are not in the way at all, allowing as much as possible. Even the high quality chin strap is a bonus, as it is stiff and easier to feel with gloves on. Compared to my previous helmets, there is a noticeable difference in the VX Pro 3 all around. It pairs great with my Atlas neck brace, not getting hung up on the edges thanks the Arai’s smaller construction. The light weight is also appreciated by your neck and shoulders. With your head wrapped in this helmet, you’ll definitely be able to enjoy the experience a little more and your riding will reflect that.
In this review, I cannot tell you whether the Arai is truly the safest helmet or not, as I have yet to put it to that test. However, this helmets quality, engineering, and the Arai name are indication that this brain bucket means business. As for every other feature, it is on it’s own level. Still, $600-$700 is a lot to pay for a helmet, but you are getting what you pay for. Also, it is worth mentioning that solid colors are significantly less, somewhere in the $500 range. The helmet I purchased and tested was just $300 thanks to a great sale. By doing a little research and comparing prices, you can get the VX Pro 3 at a much more affordable price. Now is a great time to look too, as the VX Pro 4 was just recently released. That helmet features minor updates and improvements, so if it’s not necessary to have the latest and greatest, the VX Pro 3 is still a proven option.