Once again I’ll admit that I’m writing about one of my favorite subjects: Arai helmets. I’ve worn them almost exclusively for the past 22 years. The reason I chose my first one was for the same reasons I continue to use them: great fit, great reputation for safety, excellent cooling features and top design elements.
I used to wear the Arai Quantum helmets, but found the Corsair a better fit—with the exception of the RX-7 Corsair, which I didn’t get along with. I’m currently using a Corsair-V Doohan Isle of Man, which is about the most stable and comfortable helmet I've had.
With the dominance of Jonathan Rea in World Superbike this year, I thought it would be good to move my loyalties to a rider in the current decade and decided to try the Arai Corsair-V Jonathan Rea 3.
In addition to comfort and safety, I generally choose helmets that provide bright colors to help with visibility on the road. “Be safe, be seen,” was a public information trailer I remember form my childhood, and it stuck. You won’t find me wearing a matte black helmet—I like mine to stand out to help motorists avoid having to tell me, “I didn’t see you.”
That said, I was slightly disappointed that Arai hadn’t updated its color scheme to reflect Rea’s new livery. Admittedly, the older red, white and blue scheme is brighter, but who wants to blow a large slice of cash on an outdated design?
And these helmets aren’t cheap. With an MSRP of $929.95, it’s a sizable investment. However, you only have one head, so it always seems like a good idea to protect it as best you can.
R75 Shape & Diffuser
We had previously looked at Arai’s new R75 Shape in an Arai Vector-2 review. This new shape came about after the company’s research into real world accidents revealed that a street rider can suffer impacts greater than even the most stringent test conditions. So the R75 Shape was designed to be able to slide over surfaces and glance off objects on an uneven surface, helping to divert impact energy and potentially reducing severity.
The R75 Shape has a minimum radius of 75mm around most of its shell and is stronger to ensure it can withstand deformation that might otherwise focus the energy into one area.
In the hope that I will never need to exercise this crash protection, what the R75 Shape also represents is an improvement in aerodynamic performance. Compared directly with my older Corsair-V Doohan, the new Rea suffers significantly less buffeting, making the ride much more comfortable. For me, this is the best Arai yet.
Of course, all Corsair-V helmets use Arai’s exclusive patented, adjustable AirWing. This is designed to reduce turbulence and buffeting thanks to its five adjustable positions. I find it most comfortable in the flattest position, but this could be attributed to the poor wind protection offered by my 2008 Yamaha R1.
Build & Fit
A tremendous amount of technology goes into each helmet, with its construction derived from Arai’s Formula 1 involvement. This starts with the SNC (Structural Net Composite) shell, which is described as “re-bar” that holds the layers together for greater integrity. The Corsair-V also uses a peripheral belt that extends across the forehead area to provide greater strength without adding unnecessary weight.
The snug fit is attributed to Arai’s FCS (Facial Contour System) cheek pads. The multi-density foam pads essentially act as springs to apply the correct amount of pressure. Yet the helmet is still easy to remove and includes Aria’s Emergency Cheek Pad Release System, which makes it easier for medics to remove the helmet.
The FCS cheek pads have a 5mm peel-away layer to provide a customized fit. And Arai offers different size cheek pads as an optional extra if you have an odd-shaped head.
Here in Southern California, it can be hard to keep a cool head. However, Aria tries to make it possible with a series of inlets and exhaust vents. The most useful is in the chin bar as it keeps some useful airflow on your face. It’s fully adjustable to compensate for temperature.
Additionally, there are two vents in the top of the face-shield and a further three inlets on the top of the helmet. These can be opened or closed easily when riding, allowing you to stay comfortable.
The top inlets vent out of the rear diffuser, which is designed to create more negative pressure for faster venting. There are also side vents that do a similar job and are nicely sculpted to aid airflow over them.
With so much airflow through and around the helmet, it's relatively noisy – no different from other Arai lids. The trade-off is good ventilation and protection, so I always use earplugs to protect my hearing and get on with the job.
It’s difficult to believe this great product got better, but the inclusion of Aria’s R75 Shape into the Corsair-V construction has reduced buffeting noticeably. Added to list of stellar features, you’ll need to find a really good reason not to buy the Arai Corsair-V Jonathan Rea 3.
Perhaps my only reservation is the outdated graphics, but there are plenty more to choose from in the Corsair-V range, and I’m sure Arai will update Rea’s design for 2016.
So whether you’re a fan of Jonathan Rea or simply want a helmet with bright graphics to help ensure you’re seen in traffic, this helmet is a great purchase for the safety-conscious rider who demands top quality and performance.
The MSRP for the Arai Corsair-V Jonathan Rea 3 is $929.95, but we’ve seen it as low as $837 online. You can get the price down to $730 if you forego the replica graphics, but make sure you use a reputable retailer and always try on a helmet before buying—a good fit is essential.
For more details, visit araiamericas.com