When it comes to safe and sensible riding there is nothing more important than having a clear focus to ensure proper decision making. All of the gear, bike preparation and riding experience is secondary to making sure you have the ability to think and focus clearly. I find this can be incredibly difficult if you’re being barraged by wind, loud whistling in your ears, teary eyes and the inevitable bugs and debris to the face. It hurts, it’s distracting, and in the end is dangerous and impedes your focus severely.
I bought my first half-skull helmet when I bought my Harley, and it was the first time and the last time I will buy one. The protection of your upper head is OKAY, but the rest of my face is still exposed and I still am subjected to the distractions in the aforementioned paragraph. As soon as I got home my search for the “right helmet” began. What you should look for in a motorcycle helmet is largely based on personal opinion and preference. I am sure many of you reading this might passionately disagree about half-skull helmets, which is fine and you are entitled to those thoughts, but these opinions are mine and mine alone.
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First and foremost is safety. DOT and Snell will ensure the helmet you are purchasing meet industry and federally regulated standards for helmet integrity requirements. Now, what is the difference between a more standard DOT/Snell rated helmet and what most consider a premium level DOT/Snell rated helmet like the Arai RX-Q (mine is specifically the Arai-RX-Q 75)? It’s a hard concept to buy into until you have ridden enough with inexpensive helmets vs. expensive helmets. The comfort, quietness and reliability of an expensive helmet is undoubtedly apparent when you wear one for the first time, and the second, and the third… This review is meant to be an opinion on the Arai-RX Q, not a piece on helmet justifications and reasonings. My recommendation is to do yourself a favor and try on a variety of helmets and find the one that works for you.
Arai RX-Q Helmet Safety
Fortunately I have not tested the “safety” factor on my new lid, but I have gone down with other Arai helmets, and they work great, which is why I am still here to write this piece for our community! What I can say about ALL of my Arai helmets (this is the 4th Arai I’ve owned for street riding) is that as a manufacturer every Arai helmet is handmade with the DOT and Snell safety standards as a BASELINE for their protection qualities. They don’t strive to meet those standards, they strive to exceed them. These helmets work, I can personally attest to that.
Fit of the Arai RX-Q Helmet
Arguably nearly as important as the safety factor of your helmet is going to be its fit. Too small and you’re cramped, uncomfortable and likely going to have a headache distracting you from focusing on what’s going on around you. Too big and you can imagine a young boy putting on a grown man’s football helmet for his pee-wee football game… it may do the job initially, but it’s not going to offer any real protection after a solid hit to the dome or after rolling around on the ground. If you’ve been down and hit your head, those are both scary situations that are very real and very consequential. Before buying your helmet measure your head and compare manufacturer fit charts based on your measurements. If you’re able to, take a ride and find someone who knows what proper helmet fit is supposed to be like and try on different brands. Try to picture yourself wearing that helmet for 3-4 hours on end while barely noticing it is on your head! A hard task one might say, but this is a key factor in the design and build of a helmet and finding what works for you. Arai takes great care to produce helmets that fit the majority of riders, with round oval, intermediate oval and long oval helmet fits.
Arai RX-Q Function and Features
We all know the function of a helmet is to protect you during an accident, but think about all that time (hopefully ALL OF the time) that you aren’t crashing and are riding upright. What functions does your helmet offer to make your ride enjoyable? Vents for hot days? Anti-fogging lenses? Blue-tooth capabilities for GPS/phone calls? Removable padding for washing? Anti-microbial materials to fend off sweat smells?
These are all considerations that will vary greatly from rider to rider, and ones I don’t hold onto as much as the first two factors. The Arai-RX Q has great ventilation at the top of the skull on both the left and right margins, two above the eyes and one near the chin for face and visor breathability. Fogging is a non-issue for me when stopped, but if I FORCE myself to fog the visor for testing purposes it clears up shortly after I pop the chin vent open. The visor offers quick release technology that makes it a breeze to switch between a clear visor and a tinted visor, and has a superb locking feature that ensures ZERO (yes Z.E.R.O.) wind and whistling coming through the visor. Anyone who has ridden with one of those cheaper helmets I was bashing earlier knows about the headaches and distractions that whistling makes. I’m starting to realize how much more function means to me than I originally thought…!
The Look of the RX-Q
Lastly is the look! Nowhere near as important as the first three factors, but it is important to like the way your helmet looks! Personally I have historically stayed away from black as I want to be seen and black tends to blend. The helmet I currently have is the white color scheme and I absolutely love it! Neon accents and reflective strips are a bonus to anyone who wants to step up their safety game! Go for what you think you will love, because you work hard to ride that motorcycle and make the investments that come along with it. But, most importantly, try to pick a helmet that fits into the criteria of this post and what your local helmet expert suggests – ride safe out there ladies and gentlemen.
NOTE: This is an opinion op-ed gear review that does not ensure your safety. The author nor publishing medium guarantees your safety in the event of an accident no matter what gear you choose to wear. You assume all risks when riding a motorcycle.