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Arai RX7 GP Helmet Review

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Arai RX-7 GP Helmet
The RX-7 GP is the top of the line model for Arai worn by top level racers like Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow.      
I need to start this report with the sort of disclaimers you normally only find on the rear of very strong cough medicine bottle. I have been using Arais since they first became available in Europe and I am, therefore, very favorably biased towards the make. Further, I have never bought an Arai and I currently enjoy sponsorship from Phoenix Distribution, the British Arai distributor. Finally, I am an enthusiastic Arai owner and this is my helmet make of choice. However, I am not a mindless fan of the marque and would migrate to another make the moment I thought there was a better alternative on the market - helmet safety is too serious a business to be influenced by emotion.
For Arai fans, the arrival of the all new RX-7 GP was something akin to the birth of a new Prince in the Royal Family. This was Arai’s absolute top of the range helmet - the head protection of choice for MotoGP riders like Colin Edwards, World Superbike stars such as Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow...and classic racers like me. 
We read all the press releases, scanned the pictures and then waited for the first sight of the new heir to the throne. Unwrapping the holy infant was not disappointing. The Arai comes inside a box, naturally, and then there is the fine quality fabric bag, silicone lube for the visor hinges and an instruction manual. None of this will help you one iota in the case of an accident, but the accessories do at least begin to give you justification for the Arai’s price - and more on that later.

The actual helmet is finished, internally and externally, to standards which everyone else in the helmet business is still trying to achieve. Quite simply, an Arai is stunning to look at and can, potentially, fit impeccably. But there is a vital caveat. Arais come in a vast range of outer shell, and inner liner, sizes and the company has a very definite view on the
Arai RX-7 GP Helmet
Although the helmet may be difficult to get correctly fitted, the RX-7 GP is extremely comfortable and lightweight.
shape of the human skull. If you don’t have an “Arai head” it will be impossible to ever get totally comfortable in one. It is also critical to take the time and trouble to get the fit absolutely right - perhaps more so than most other helmets - because there is so much room for fine tuning.
Your patience will be rewarded because once a rider has an Arai “set-up” for him or her, it is like wearing a second skin. Quite literally, the helmet will disappear from your consciousness and allow 100% focus on riding.
I would add a personal tip in this respect: It is possible to wear an Arai tighter than most makes and, within the all-important caveat of comfort, the tighter the helmet fits the safer it will be. With the double “D ring” strap tightened, a well fitted RX-7 should not move at all on the rider’s head, even at very high speeds.
Arai claim that the new RX-7 has a larger aperture and so is easier to put on. In all honesty, I couldn’t tell the difference. However, a clever new feature which is worth noting is the emergency release cheek pads. Assuming that the medic who is dealing with you knows about the feature, the quick release pads permit the helmet to be removed more easily and so reduce the chance of neck injury.
Comfort is a key factor when choosing an Arai and existing Arai owners migrating from the RX-7 Corsair to the RX-7 GP will find an odd phenomenon. The new Arai is still extremely comfortable, either for racing or all day touring, but it is comfortable with a different feel. This isn’t a problem if you haven’t ridden in an RX-7 before, but it feels different if you have.
In terms of safety, Arai claims to have raised the bar with the new RX-7 GP. Let’s start with the shell. Arai call this a structural net complex. Arai claims that their “superfiber” is 40% stronger than conventional glass fibers. With its aerospace “superfibers” and resins it is a world away from the glass fiber shells of old but it still enjoys the benefits of resin and glass fiber construction. Primarily, these allow the shell to be sacrificial in an accident. In practice,
Arai RX-7 GP Helmet
The RX-7 GP has varying thickness, placing more protection in areas which are likely to be impacted.
this means that the shell self-destructs during impact and in so doing reduces the impact on the inner shell.
What makes the RX-7 clever is that the shell varies in thickness in different parts of the helmet. This means that areas not likely to impact the road - for example adjacent to the wearer’s ear- are thin whilst the front and rear of the shell are much thicker. The area directly adjacent to the visor aperture is particularly strengthened to prevent flexing in the case of a face down impact.
The lighter the helmet the safer it will be since a large, heavy object waving around at the end of a human neck, in addition to the rider’s head, is highly undesirable. In terms of accident safety, and rider fatigue, light is good. There are many other good, safe shells being made by premium brand manufacturers today but an RX-7 is as good as it gets.
The real life saver in a helmet is the inner polystyrene liner rather than the outer shell. The liner absorbs the initial impact and in so doing reduces the risk of the brain accelerating into the skull. This might sound a little gruesome but it is what happens in an accident. That’s why only dumb people ride without a helmet - or bits of kitchenware molded to look like Second World War military gear.
The RX-7 has a triple density inner shell again designed to give maximum protection to critical areas.
Arai claims that having an extremely hard, and tough, outer shell allows a very soft inner lining to be fitted. Reducing acceleration and deceleration of the brain is the name of the game.
The RX-7 meets the ECE 22-05 standards, which doesn’t say much, but also the new Snell M2010. Away from the lab and in the real world, the visor aperture is now 5mm bigger than on the old Corsair. Now no one would have thought that 1/5 of an inch was going to have any practical effect on helmet safety - which just goes to show how wrong we all were. The extra 2.5mm on each side means that it is virtually impossible to see the edge of the visor aperture even with
Arai RX-7 GP Helmet
The helmet comes with a well-designed ventilation system that can be fine-tuned for desired air flow. 
your eyes at maximum peripheral vision. On the track, this is invaluable because a surprising amount can be seen with the quick, rearward glance. On the road, that extra sliver can be the difference between noticing the truck which is about to squash you or not.
Another new feature is the adjustable rear spoiler. For the first couple of races, I was like a “Top Gun” trainee adjusting the trim on my supersonic jet. Then the novelty wore off. Again, in practical terms the RX-7 is completely stable even in the dirty air which comes off a classic race bike at high speed.
On our V-Strom, where owner forums are always criticizing the poorly designed screen which causes turbulence, the RX-7 was effortless even after eight hours of riding. It’s worth repeating that, given correct fitting, an RX-7 GP can be just like having your own exoskeleton.
I have worn my RX-7 GP a lot this year both racing and on the road, and one of my favorite features is the really clever ventilation system which, at maximum, puts a lot of air through the helmet. Fine tuning is also possible so that a road ride can be started with one’s head toasty warm and then gradually cooled down during the day.
I am not a fan of the Arai demisting system and, in heavy rain on the road, I always need the visor lifted a few mm to allow a lot of air through the inside of the helmet.
So, to the punch line: The oil breather pipe on our G.50 cracked – not by much, but enough to put a hint of oil on the rear tire and launch me down the track at 75 mph head first. At this point, the debate about the need to wear a premium quality helmet became rather academic. The front of the RX-7 GP, directly above my nose, was badly worn away as was the visor and chin guard. I had a sore nose from where the helmet chin guard was pushed into my face but I did not lose consciousness or suffer any other ill effects.
The accident answers the question which you may be asking. If I had to, would I spend $900 of my very hard earned dollars on buying an RX-7 GP, or would I prefer to have another premium make for free? The truthful answer is that I would buy an Arai for one reason: I don’t want to be worrying about what protection my head has when I am racing or riding on the road. For me, the RX-7 GP removes this concern and this makes the helmet worth the money. For more information contact Why Arai.

Arai helmets are available on Motorcycle-Superstore.com
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Tikay -Mr  October 28, 2010 02:40 PM
True talk from Jeff bout the SHARP test score for the RX-7. Does anyone know if Arai contest this result? Anyway my choice of helmet will definitely be guided by certification (Snell, DOT, ECE ) ; SHARP score, fit, looks, price. In roughly that order!
ken watson -arai test  October 23, 2010 01:21 AM
look at the testing of all the helmets and you will see that arai more than any other helmet goes way beyond the snell standard and other helmet brand testing. My crash at 120 km/h with my head hitting the road 4 times enforces the extra money I spent on my Vector which also passes snell 2010. No headache, neck pain or concussion. No better helmet. Also I have been riding for 25yrs and have owned many brands but none that reach this quality
B. Keller -from his previous reviews  October 22, 2010 09:15 PM
I can't trust anything this guy writes.
Desmolicious -SHARP rating doesn't show Arai as #1  October 22, 2010 12:32 PM
Bottom line. I personally used to love Arai's fit, but will not buy another until they change the awful visor replacement system. No-one else's is as awkward.
TG -RRW article flawed, they know it  October 21, 2010 09:25 AM

Read the whole article, not just the table. They are well aware that there are a number of flaws in their test. It does (in my opinion) have a large enough sampling of Shoei and Arai helmets to draw the conclusion that they are similar in crash protection (2% in a very un-scientific test is pretty negligible). However, with only 9 reported Suomy crashes, it appears some other brands didn't get a very accurate sampling (not RRW's fault, just the way things go).

All that said, lets not forget the number one factor in a safe helmet is fit. Sorry, my 'leno noggin isn't getting into a RX7, but my X11 works great, as did my old AGV. For others, I can see the less rounded shape works in the Arai. However, I do think Arai price gouges the sh*t outta the everyday consumer (thus why you almost always hear of people buying them clearance online, never in stores).
W1LLPOW3R -google it bro...  October 20, 2010 09:53 AM
i'm pretty sure it was just track riders and they beat Shoei by a couple percents..btw, Motorcyclist had an article saying any thermoplastic helmet would protect your head just as well...
JeffD -"Concussion Ratio"?  October 20, 2010 08:12 AM
W1LLPOW3R - I would like to see a reprint of that article. I love RoadRacing World as they appear to be as impartial as it gets, at least that is my impression. Such a report as you describe it would have so many flaws in data gathering. "Lowest concussion ratio" would imply that sufficient data would have been gathered to accurately compare one brand to another. It doesn't seem feasible as so many concussions would go unreported to the same data-gathering source for inclusion in this report. Jeff
W1LLPOW3R -safety....  October 20, 2010 06:28 AM
..i beleive Roadracing world did an article on track rider crashes and Arai had the lowest concusion ratio in the industry..
JeffD -Arai not the best: what about the SHARP Safety Rating?  October 20, 2010 05:00 AM
Thank you for the review and the disclaimer at the beginning, it really does explain your bias towards Arai. You claim that the Arai's construction makes it the safest on the market. How do you explain that the independent British SHARP test rating is less than 5 stars? (http://sharp.direct.gov.uk/testsratings/arai-rx-7-gp) In fact, no current Arai helmet for sale has received a 5-star rating? Plenty of helmets for sale in the USA with the ECE 2205 certification have received 5-stars from the independent SHARP testing, like AGV, Shark, Shoei and Suomy. My own disclaimer is that I have 11 helmets, including an Arai RX-7 Corsair which I like very much. However, due to the SHARP testing I trust my noggin and grey matter to the Shark RSR2, Shark RSX, Suomy Vandal and AGV GP-Tech when I'm on the track. These helmets have all received 5-star ratings from what I believe is the superior testing regimen of the SHARP standard set up by the British Government and not beholden to ANY manufacturer. All of these are far less than the $900 of the Arai RX7 GP and some even have much "better" crumple zone technology, like the Shark and Suomy variable density shells.
Steve -Wind Noise?  October 20, 2010 03:18 AM
I have always worn Arai helmets too, but I am tired of the extreme wind noise. Next helmet with be Shoei.
W1LLPOW3R -I tried one on...  October 19, 2010 03:45 PM
and my head looked the size of Jay Leno's....think i'd go for the Profile...