A crossover helmet for street…….
A student of human habits and behavior, I’ve noticed full-face helmets are increasingly the choice of protection many riders choose when riding an unfaired bike. Not only are full-face helmets quieter and less fatiguing than a ½ or ¾ size but they also keep the pilot cooler and more comfortable when it is hot out. As much as I appreciate the fact that a full face keeps me cooler, I super appreciate having to deal with less wind noise. After years of playing in bands, hanging out in clubs and riding with no ear protection, a drone on the highway on an unfaired bike leaves me with a headache if I don’t take care and protect my ears. Full-face helmets also help shield the unprotected rider from wind blast, which can be exhausting after a few days.
A few years ago I purchased an Arai Quantum 2, a well-made, lightweight, very comfortable full face. I’ve been wearing this helmet regularly since new and it is always comfy and quiet and gives me a secure feeling whilst out annoying motorists on my FXR. Although I have no complaints about the Quantum 2, I have had two particular wishes since getting to know it: the first, more peripheral vision. I just can’t get enough of it riding in the urban environment. Most full face’s have a somewhat limited peripheral view when sitting up (as opposed to a forward cocked sportbike stance), forcing me to continually move my head to the side to make sure my flank is clear. Busting this very move got me knocked off my bike some years ago, and so I always look for more peripheral vision in my helmets.
The other thing I’ve wished for with my full face is some sort of visor or beak like my beater ½ helmet, so I can keep the sun out of my peepers when heading directly into it. Seems silly, I know, but the beak rules when you are heading directly into the sun, allowing you to cock your head just enough to keep the sun out of your eyes. I’ve tried filmstrips and really dark glasses, but in those situations you lose the detail in the shade, not so good.
Crossover helmets like, the Arai XD3 are something new for me, having never been a dirt rider. Honestly, I never gave the design much thought thinking it was not applicable for my usage. Well I’ve been paying attention and have noticed that some folks are wearing this type of helmet on the street, so I figured I’d give Arai a honk and see what they had available. Based on my head size (XL, surprised?) and shape (melon-y), I thought the XD3 would be the ticket and I ordered it in Motard Black, a very cool color and finish – classy, understated – not as “Vader-like” as some of the matte/satin black finishes. 2 weeks after ordering my helmet arrived, packed in its box, accompanied by a nice “logo’d” carry bag. Hmmm, nice.
So how’d it fit? The helmet fit great, right out of the box. I knew I was an XL from past Arai experience, but if you are not sure, go get fitted by a knowledgeable shop – please. The cheek pads were a bit stiff when I first put the helmet on, allowing me to experience what life must be like for a chipmunk, but after a half-day ride, all was well. The helmet fit as it should – excellently! Before you know what a helmet should fit like though – you need to get just a bit educated – so bone up on HOW a helmet should fit, chances are it’ll be snugger than you’d expect if you are coming from “beanies & novelty” gear.
How does it look? Personally, I like the look, it is hi-tech, a wee bit aggro, but not over the top. The Black Motard finish is just what I wanted – and the gloss is low maintenance and doesn’t show dirt and fingerprints, but Arai has quite a few choices if you are a shopper and like exercising your options.
How’d it work? This is the kicker – the helmet worked great. I love the wide peripheral view, the “openness” of the fit to my face, the integral visor is great and well designed so your head isn’t being ripped off your shoulders on the highway, quite to the contrary actually – this helmet is comfy and well vented and looking side to side is no problem – surprisingly good!
In closing, I found the Arai XD3 to be a great helmet, incorporating all of the great fit and venting features that Arai is known for and then adding a few new touches for good measure. The view from the cockpit is excellent, the fit is spot-on for my egg and the addition of the beak makes it perfect for my needs.