Kiwi Rider Podcast 2022 | E28
In this week's show, Ray talked us through his insurance win, we have another look
Since the untimely demise of my LS2 Pioneer Evo, I have been looking at new helmets. If you have the chance to look at what people are wearing, I think you would agree that there are 2 very popular helmets out there. The Airoh Commander and Arai XD-4. The Airoh Commander retails in NZ for around the $750 mark, while the Arai XD-4 demands a premium at $1099 RRP.
I have ridden in an Airoh Commander for a while and had the opportunity to pick up this Arai XD-4 to compare. While this is not a comparison story, I think these facts are important to outline, to begin with.
When I first put the Arai XD-4 on, I was surprised at how comfortable it was straight out of the box. While most helmets require a bit of time to bed in and form to the shape of your face, the XD-4 was solid and comfortable, with loads of room around my ears. So much room, in fact, it felt like I may not have had the padding in the shell correctly. The helmet gripped where it should, around the crown and jaw.
It was when I installed my Cardo Packtalk Edge, that things took a turn for the worse. The right-hand speaker slotted in perfectly, with no pressure points or anything to complain about. The left however was a completely different story. It then took me about a week of minor adjustments to get the speaker in the padding in a place where I would hear it properly and it wouldn't put pressure on my left ear. Sure, this is not the helmet's fault, but something to think about if you are in the market.
Using the Cardo with the clamp mount, the left-hand cheek pad is now easily dislodged and often needs re-seating before putting the helmet on, so possibly think about using the adhesive mount instead.
All that said, I now have the helmet set up to my liking with Cardo system and everything is comfortable enough to wear for a full day of riding.
The XD-4 has excellent ventilation, with 3 chin-bar vents, 2 visor vents, and another 2 brow vents, as well as exhaust vents, all of which are independently opened or closed. The helmet can also be used with a clear visor, tinted visor (both available with Pinlock) or goggles.
The helmet is fastened with a double-D system, which is classic and widely trusted. Though some may like and even prefer a clip/ratchet system. I found the left-hand chinstrap with the double-D system on it very short, so you often find yourself fighting to get the helmet done up
The peak doesn't catch as much wind as you might think it does. I can't say I've noticed any feeling of my head being jerked around by the wind.
When I first started wearing the XD-4 I noticed it was a very quiet helmet, with minimal wind noise. Having a peak will mean it is always going to be noisier than a Streat helmet but in comparison to other ADV helmets, it's one of the better ones out there. However, a full day in the saddle at motorway speeds will leave you wishing you had a set of earplugs.
It's a great helmet. it does what it says on the box. But, and this is a big but... I don't really see what all the hype is about. I have what I would classify as better helmets with cheaper price tags and similar or slightly better comfort levels.
That said, Arai doesn't do things by halves, they have a reputation for creating safe helmets, and they don't compromise on that, which is why you won't find an Arai with an internal dropdown sun visor. Arai is continually on the top 10 list of the world's safest helmets for a reason. and maybe that is the reason they can demand a premium.
At the end of the day - If you try this and a stack of other helmets on, and it fits best, then buy it. But don't be pressured to go for this if something else feels better.
As I have said to many people before, you need to go to a shop with a wide range of helmets and try a stack of them on. Seriously, do this... and pick something that feels good, is safe, and looks good to you.
Update, I have since replaced the Cardo Packtalk Edge clamp mount with an adhesive mount on the shell of the Arai XD-4 and re-routed the speaker wires, this has improved the comfort of the helmet no end. It's almost as good as it was out of the box with no comms installed. so that's a good thing. If you are in a similar situation, I would recommend using the adhesive mount. This is the most difficult helmet I've had to install comms in, and it's taken a while to get it sorted, but good to know it's doable.