Arai XD3 Motorcycle Helmet Review

[This Arai XD3 Motorcycle Helmet Review was originally published in the June 2009 issue of Rider magazine]

Just as dual-sport motorcycles have hybrid features that make them capable on the street and in the dirt, the Arai XD3 motorcycle helmet attempts to give you the best of both worlds. XD stands for “crossover design” and the 3 indicates its third generation of development.

At first glance the XD3, with its visor and pointy chinbar, looks like a dirt bike helmet. But it also has a full face shield and airflow venting found on street helmets. Arai’s Twin-Cam Shield Pivot System allows the face shield to be operated fully beneath the visor. When the face shield is fully raised, only the lower edge is visible in the rider’s upper peripheral vision. The face shield has very positive action and stays in place at partial openings. When locked closed, airflow is sealed out completely. The XD3 is one of the quietest helmets I’ve ever worn, regardless of speed or conditions. And the visor is designed such that my head is not constantly craned back due to wind catching underneath at speed. The shield/visor system can be used in any combination: both, no visor or no shield. When the shield is removed, of course, eye protection is a must: wear goggles, as many dirt bikers prefer. Just unscrew two plastic screws on each side to remove or install the shield and/or visor.

Dirt bike, dual-sport and adventure riding can be very demanding. To keep your head cool, the XD3 offers five intake vents (three on the chinbar and two on top behind the visor) and seven exhaust vents (two in the upper rear, two in the lower rear and three in the neck roll). Any or all of these vents can be closed to adjust the amount of air coming in, which is particularly helpful on cold rides. The front mouth vent has an interior louver that can direct the air to the rider’s mouth or upward to help prevent fogging. A pull-down chin spoiler further minimizes wind noise and improves airflow around the mouth.

Arai XD3 Motorcycle Helmet
Arai XD3 Motorcycle Helmet

Putting on an Arai helmet is always a pleasurable experience because the interior is so plush. Inside the XD3, a durable fabric is used that isn’t as downy soft as the interior of their street helmets but it is still very accommodating. The Dry-Cool liner has micro water cells that improve moisture and heat transfer to the airflow cavity in the Space Frame Liner. As the name implies, the liner keeps my head cool and dry, and the liner dries out more quickly between rides. Remove the inner padded liner for easy cleaning. The XD3, which has an intermediate oval interior shape, fits my head more comfortably and securely than any helmet I’ve worn.

We wear helmets primarily for safety. The helmet is supposed to take the hit rather than our noggin. Arai claims to be the only helmet manufacturer that uses a one-piece EPS liner. Several densities of expanded polystyrene are molded into a single piece rather than several pieces glued together. Ergo, “the direct-fused contact area that each EPS cell shares with its neighboring cells creates a mutual support—as one is crushed under impact, the surrounding cells assist with the energy absorption.” In other words, all of the little Styrofoam balls hold hands to better protect your head; safety in cohesive numbers, which is nice.

Having worn my XD3 to Colorado and back and on several dual-sport rides, it has become one of my favorite helmets. Because the helmet is comfortable, durable, multifunctional and stylish, I get to have my cake and eat it, too. Available in several solid colors ($569.95-$599.95) and graphics ($699.95).

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