Gear Pick: Arai Corsair V Helmet

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Gear Pick: Arai Corsair V Helmet

In reality, the Arai Corsair V isn’t the ultimate helmet its reputation suggests. Having said that, it is exceptionally comfortable, very high quality and ventilates effectively. If you like Arais, it’s the nicest one you can buy.

Price: $720 (plain) to $840 (replica)

Why We Like It: While Arai has lagged behind other helmet makers on innovation, its solid build quality continues to justify a premium price tag. The Corsair V’s large, external top vents flow a good amount of air and the helmet is very aerodynamically stable – particularly during high-speed shoulder checks. The sweat-wicking “Dry Cool” liner is also positively luxurious.

Arai Corsair V Helmet
Arai Corsair V Helmet

Less Expensive Competitor: Starting at $180, the plastic-shelled Icon Airmada features a similar head shape and far superior ventilation. The Airmada weighs about the same and is made to the superior ECE 22.05 safety standard

You Should Also Check Out: If you’re after the best motorcycle helmet, see if the $900 Schuberth SR1 fits you. Developed by Michael Schumacher himself, it has the strongest claim of any current helmet at being the “best.” That means its lighter, ECE 22.05, vents better and genuinely innovative.

  • Archie

    I’m very confused by this review. You argue it’s strengths and then say it’s inferior in most regards to a competitor with a quarter of the price. I don’t really know why you’d even recommend a helmet that’s almost at the end of it’s lifespan, either. It’s quite dated and for the price you’re paying it doesn’t stack up to the newer offerings from the other big brands.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Despite its issues, the Corsair remains a good helmet and one many readers are interested in. We’ll bring you a Defiant review when we have a chance to ride in one. Arai’s just hired an excellent new PR firm, so it should be easier for us to bring you reviews of its products in the future.

      • Archie

        Good to hear!

      • Davidabl2

        Heh,heh. swag time! Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  • tarun

    Agree with Archie, this review has almost zero credibility.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The truth hurts sometimes.

      • Andy Yun

        Why don’t you just give us a review of the trail you were riding? At least then we would know why you mailed this one in. :-)

        Anyway, I having Arai RX – Q. It’s the only helmet that I found that fits well and snugly without hurting my head. I also switched out the face shield with a Pinlock to eliminate the fog. I had to shell out about $100 for the replacement face shield. I would have preferred it to be included in such an expensive helmet. However, now that it’s equipped with the right face shield, the venting on it is excellent.

        One thing that I like is that the cheek pads and neck roll are removable. I was able to wash them with a mild baby detergent. It would be nice if there were a modular helmet option from Arai. However, after watching the videos on their website, it’s pretty clear that they won’t be making any modular helmet. They don’t like to break up the outline of the helmet because they feel that it will compromise safety. It seems plausible enough.

        I’ll have to check out one of the other ones, like the Icon Airmada or the Schuberth, but I’m pretty skeptical that it would work for me because of fit. And that’s why Arai can charge a premium.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          The $180 Icon Airmada also has a removable, washable interior, as do many other helmets at lower price points.

          Many less expensive helmets also include the Pinlock in the asking price or simply fit visors which do not fog.

          See where we’re going with this?

          • Andy Yun

            I’ll check it out, but nothing else fits me so far, and I tried a lot of helmets to find a way to avoid dropping $500 on a helmet.

            • Andy Yun

              Eh, Airmada doesn’t fit me. Boo.

  • Ayabe

    A newer model like the Defiant might be better to review.

    Best airflow of the Arai’s, great fitment for more ovalish heads and can swap cheekpads for even better fit, noisy-ish(I always wear plugs), not super light, visor changing mechanism is still Arai all the way and still blows, customer service is fantastic – you can order any part of the helmet save for the shell directly from their website. I broke the side visor cover/holder taking my clear shield off, got a replacement set for free in a couple days but was disappointed as I’d changed the visors only about a dozen times since I’ve owned the helmet. I ordered another set just in case; parts are cheap.

    It’s a nice helmet that’s stable, good airflow, comfy for me, looks great IMHO and does what I need.

    If I had to buy a new lid right now I’d probably get a Shoei RF-1200, I tried one on and was blown away by the lightness and smallish size of the thing.

  • William Connor

    If you check out the crash data sites for what helmet protects your head better. Arai only has two helmets that show up before you hit the three stars level. http://sharp.direct.gov.uk for the UK and http://www.crash.org.au in Australia. For the money I would expect them to rate top honors, particularly when you look at features per dollar as well.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The linked tests were carried out using the ECE 22.05 version of the helmet, which yeah, is lighter and safer. They don’t sell that version in the US.

  • Davidabl2

    Despite it’s good comfort and cosmetics I think it’s pointless to even discuss ANY premium priced helmet that ISN’T an
    ECE 22.05 helmet. Unless it’s “aerodynamic stability during head checks”is so much better than the competition that it puts the Arai in a class all it’s own..

    • Gonfern

      Agreed. I am a long time Arai loyal customer. I absolutely love the style, shape and quality of their helmets. My most recent purchase however has been a Nexx Carbon. Until Arai offers an ECE helmet in the US, I will not be buying another one. I looked into ordering one from europe (the US is the only place where they sell the SNELL crap) but its just too expensive. I hope Arai brings some ECE helmets to the states. I understand that here SNELL is a dummy must-have and almost suicide for a brand not to snell certify, but Arai has enough power in its brand to get their clients to see the benifits of ECE.

      • Davidabl2

        The whole debate about dueling standards has gotten me thinking…

      • Scott Jones

        The European market RX7 and the US market Corsair V are the same helmet.

    • Ayabe

      ECE will never be the law of the land in the US – it came from the UN so it’s dead by default.

    • Scott Jones

      The European market RX7 and the US market Corsair V are the same helmet.

  • zedro

    Can’t I just get a graph of various helmets with overlapping lines of cost vs survivability and I’ll buy the one where the lines intersect. If it comes in black. Otherwise scale back on survivability.

    • Davidabl2

      But a black helmet has less “survivability” than the same helmet in a more visible color, doesn’t it? ;-) Since fewer people see “dark riders on dark steeds”
      Aside from cooking your head more in hot weather…:-)

      • Stef

        clearly stormtrooper white and neon yellow are the most safe options!

        • Davidabl2

          Actually what I do is to put a wide contrast stripe on my helmets, generally a red vinyl single or double stripe.
          Unless the helmet is a bright red, in which case the stripe is black.
          One advantage of the stripe is that a rider or motorist behind me can more easily it see if i’m making a head check.
          The other is that the vertical line itself seems to make the helmet more noticible, no matter what color the helmet is.
          For a black helmet the obvious choice is a pair of wide white stripes….

  • Darrick Anderson

    The Airmada is made to ECE 22.05, but how much force is transmitted to your head in a crash in that plastic bucket versus the Arai?. Just because a helmet passes at the highest allowable limit does not make it equal or better. In tests that were conducted while I watched on, Arai and Shoei helmets were registering well below the allowable limit to pass Snell or ECE. HJC, Icon, & others were approaching the fail line of allowable g forces.

    Also, let’s get into shell sizing and eps liner sizing as well. If you wear a large it generally makes no difference, but when your head is out on the fringes, you’ll get a better fit with a helmet that has specific shell sizes versus making up gaps with padding. The Icon does that at $180, which is impressive, but in the end it is still a plastic helmet, and its very marginal side plate system is hardly innovative or functional. Although to be fair, why Arai continues to use that crazy side plate it has boggles my mind.

    • Gonfern

      if you are to believe their videos, the reason they stick with the side pods is that incorporating the mechanism into the shell, requires designing the shell to be flat or concave on the sides, which loses its side impact distributing properties. They argue that by putting the mechanism on the outside, the shell shape can be round, thus distributing side impact more effectively. Sounds possible, I guess.

      • Stuki

        It actually makes an awful lot of sense. Not because it necessarily works, but rather because it indicates they recognize they have no clue what shape is optimum for impacts from every given angle, nor the likelihood of an impact coming from any particular angle; so the do the conservative thing and stick with the simplest, most predictable shape they can. Like making a bicycle out of round tubes, instead of fancy shaped ones.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The material the shell is made from doesn’t dictate the forces transferred to the wearer’s head.

      • Stuki

        And the forces transmitted to the wearers head depends more on correct sizing and a well fitting liner, than almost anything else. And liner material breaks down over time, with exposure to moisture, temprature changes etc. The first thing to look for in a helmet, even for the most devoted fancier of pseudo scientific anvil tests of various kinds, has to be how similar his 3 year old, well used helmet is, to the brand new one used in the test. Then, how his head shape differs from the test dummies, and to what extent his specific helmet compensates. Etc., Etc………

        Not saying Arai has some sort of magic lock on making safe, or even safer than other makes, helmets; but pretending that the “safety” of two helmets can be discerned even remotely accurately by a simple drop test or 10, is rather gullible.

      • Stef

        It might be cool to do a feature story on how safe certain products are. Not just looking at ratings but test results and things like that. Also to get more of a scale how safe a leather race suit is vs a denim one for example. random ratings and “this” is better than “that” says kinda nothing to me…

  • Clint Keener

    Arai is like the Honda Cars of helmets. No innovation, just resting on the name to move product.

    • Stuki

      Mindlessly flapping around changing stuff for no reason other than getting attention, whether you call it “innovation” or not, doesn’t really add up to much end user value.

      Honda just launched a passenger car without a transmission. That works. Really well at what it is intended to do. If that’s not more useful innovation than “carbon fiber paddled complexification transmissions derived from something that’s hip in Europe bit really doesn;’t do anyting other the road than shift clunkier, break down quicker and cost more”, I don’t want to know what passes for “innovation” these days. Other than another bucket list checkoff for ADD afflicted well indoctrinateds who have been told that Steve Jobs was cool because he did innovation or something.

      I haven’t seen anyone, ever, conclusively demonstrate to anyone whatsoever that Arai helmets doesn’t protect your head as good or better than any other brand. Plus, they make models to fit a whole slew of different headshapes and sizes; vent well and last forever without obvious degradation. Wouldn’t be surprised if other have caught up after all these years, but the Arais still work as well, or better, than ever. Nothing wrong with that.

      • Clint Keener

        True, but companies should try new things once in a while besides a new chinbar design. I was digging the new AGV Corse, but it wasn’t that comfortable. Even Shoei is doing new things now, so I bought a GT-Air and retired my Arai Corsair 4. It was nice, but I wanted something new and different. It’s sad but the world is turning slightly ADD now. Companies need to catch up. Or die. I don’t see Apple innovating anytime soon either.

        I’m a manual purist, but those DSG trans do shift pretty seamlessly. Much better than the clunky SMG that was in my M3.

  • Dustin Coury

    Bought the Airmada from your recommendation, Wes. I couldn’t be happier with a helmet, and for under $200. SCORE

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Glad you like it. So far, everyone I know that’s bought one has been super happy.

  • Steve

    I’m a bit confused with the whole idea behind this review. I’m also confused how you can even remotely suggest that a $180 dollar plastic shell helmet can be ‘better’ let alone worth anything at all. The science behind helmet construction is sound. A hard shell that resists breaking, snagging, and structural failure will distribute impact energy along the curvature of the plane. This isn’t even helmet science, it’s basic physics. Once the plane is no longer capable of supporting the impact, the remaining impact energy will transfer to the next layer. The Arai standpoint is to make the helmet shell smooth, hard, and structurally strong so that the interior polystyrene liner is capable of absorbing the interior impact force of the head in order to slow down the movement of the brain on impact. This is how concussions and fatal injuries happen.
    Commenting that the outer shell has no effect on managing the impact energy that a helmet may have to take? Do you not hear yourself? Go and where a helmet with the outer shell made of glass. Let me know how that works out. I’m sure you assumed for readers to take that as the difference between fiberglass, carbon, or plastic. But as a write, you know what happens when you assume…
    As to the far ‘superior’ ECE standard: While ECE may be superior to DOT by some creation of associated scoring, the SNELL foundation takes another step forward and goes beyond that standard. While the Icon helmet you, for some reason, suggest is a better choice may very well be made to ECE standards. MADE TO. They aspire to meet the minimum requirements of governmental safety standards. Those standards ensure that the helmet can provide relative safety at impact speeds of up to 30 km/h or 18 miles an hour. You must be one of those 18 mph riders, not a regular motorcyclist like more of your readers. even if you assume you have time to slow before impact, if you impact another vehicle at an equal or higher rate of speed, the impact speed is your speed plus the other vehicle in that case. If you figure in a high side or other situation where centrifugal forces add more speed to the ending impact, it just goes up more. That said, Arai doesn’t build their helmets to meet standards. They build helmets to protect in real world situations. Even Shoei has the ability to say they don’t make their helmets to meet government standards. Arai doesn’t throw in gimmicks and features to justify costs, even the features that people want. They are the good parent that does what is right. They give safety and needs, not what the screaming child throwing a tantrum wants. Arai’s helmets have been proven time and again. Not in a lab, but on the race tracks at speeds over 100 mph, and in the real world where anything can happen, not just a weight hitting a helmet.
    One last thing…your Schuberth SR1 recommendation: Your recommending a helmet that states that you should open the visor and compromise safety in order to make sure there is enough oxygen in the helmet. This is the helmet you ‘recommend’ for better ventilation? Arai and Shoei have never had to tell people that they need to open their faceshields in order to breathe….
    Please don’t write helmet reviews anymore. You are clearly not qualified.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Hey look everyone, someone else who believes the marketing!

      Clearly the material used in shell construction matters, but there is no safety benefit for carbon/kevlar/fiberglass (as used by Arai) over plastic except in weight. In fact, the deformable nature of plastic shells has been shown to better disperse energy and send it shearing off in other directions instead of straight into the riders head.

      Schuberth is the only premium helmet manufacturer to actually release the results of its impact tests and show you just how safe its helmets are. I wonder why that is?

  • Jimmy Dicks

    Are you on Icon’s payroll? I had no idea that a plastic POS from China was the benchmark for all other helmets to be measured against.