I know what you're thinking. You're either thinking these things are the Holy Grail of helmets and you’d never wear anything else, or you're wondering what the big deal is (but don’t want your fellow riders to know you don’t know, because you feel like you should know). I’ll admit it; until recently, I was in the latter group.
How Does it Work?
Now, IMHO, the Arai RX-Q ‘Oriental’ just may be the most visually stunning helmet ever made, but to be honest, the rest of my first impression was kind of meh. I guess I expected a motorcycle helmet with a price tag pushing $700 to come in something nicer than a plain, nylon drawstring bag, and maybe have something more luxe in the way of lining, instead of the nondescript navy blue padding. I also realize those are sort of superfluous attributes.Trying it on changed my tune.
The RX-Q is light, just 3.825 pounds, and its round silhouette is remarkably balanced. The deceptively boring cheek pads are surprisingly cushy, enhancing the overall fit, which for me, was hands-down the nicest, most comfortable fit I’ve ever had in a helmet. The shell itself comes in five different sizes, with various cheek pad sizes that extend options from XS to XXXL.
The face shield has a smoother, more solid feel to it than most other full-face helmets I’ve worn, locking and unlocking without panic-inciting stiffness (I’m still waiting for someone to invent a shield that wooshes open and closed like the doors of the Enterprise with the push of a button on the chin bar or something). Switching out the clear face shield to a tinted one was no big deal (although the fact that the helmet comes with an instructional DVD entirely devoted to this task is kind of daunting). Frankly, I find this to be a cumbersome endeavor, no matter how earnest any manufacturer claims it not to be.
I rode with the RX-Q in a variety of riding conditions: daytime, nighttime, nighttime plus a broken sprinkler (read: splash zone), through the blast furnace of an Arizona freeway and congested urban tangles. Generous venting made all the difference in extreme heat and kept me remarkably un-sweaty, even in triple digit temps, without added wind noise.
Though I was expecting more in the way of quietness, it did edge out the competition (albeit slightly) in this regard. That’s in a semi-upright (Ducati Monster) riding position; dip your head in aggressive sportbike mode, and you really notice the aerodynamics, especially at high speeds.
I like the feel of the RX-Q. The compact fit gave me unrestricted range of motion when looking around in traffic, and I found the field of view to be exceptional, two huge safety features. Two more: DOT and SNELL 2010 certification. And, if you’re the kind of person who worries about getting the thing off while you lay there unconscious, you’ll appreciate the removable neck-roll and emergency cheek-pad removal system. Personally, I’m all about the other end of the equation.
As the feature gap narrows between $ and $$$ helmets, the Arai RX-Q maintains a distinct design edge among competitors. It feels like something special, more so when you wear it. Even if it’s not quite your Holy Grail of helmets, I’d say it comes pretty close. Yeah, I get it now.