Arai XD4 Motorcycle Helmet Review

(This review was published in the June 2012 issue of Rider Magazine.)

Adventure bikes continue to grow in popularity and sales, and paralleling this trend is a proliferation of gear and accessories tailored to the demands of on- and off-road riding. In the late ’90s Arai introduced the first dual-sport helmet, the XD (crossover design), combining the shell shape and visor (peak) of a dirt bike helmet with the face shield and other features found on full-face street helmets. These days nearly every major helmet manufacturer offers a dual-sport helmet.

Now in its fourth generation, the Arai XD4 carries forward or improves upon many popular features, such as the one-piece, multi-density EPS liner, Twin-Cam Shield Pivot System and multiple intake and exhaust vents, and adds new features found on other Arai helmets, such as brow vents, the FCS (Facial Support Contour) cheek pad design and micro-fit temple pads.

The XD4 has a redesigned shell shape said to be more aerodynamically stable at high speeds, which works in conjunction with the redesigned high-flow visor and more sculpted side cowl vents. It slices through the air smoothly at speeds up to 75-80 mph, even when doing head checks before lane changes. As with most helmets in Arai’s lineup, the XD4 has an intermediate oval interior head shape that splits the difference between oblong and round.

Excellent ventilation has always been a strength of the XD line, and the XD4 is even better. A new face shield has brow vents for more airflow, and as before, the shield is fully operational beneath the visor or can be used with the visor removed (an optional Pinlock-ready version is also available). The chin vent has more intake ports, the two side cowl vents have been enlarged and the two top intake vents remain. After air passes through the helmet, it exits through seven exhaust vents (two in the upper rear, two in the lower rear and three in the neck roll). With all of the vents closed, the XD4 is nearly as quiet as other Arai full-face helmets, though the visor created a prominent whistling sound if I lifted my chin up too high. With the vents open, the high-flow helmet can be quite noisy, a problem solved with earplugs.

Introduced recently on the Signet-Q, the XD4 gets Arai’s new FCS cheek pad design. A spring support provides a more secure fit when the helmet is on, but automatically moves out of the way when putting on and taking off the helmet. FCS incorporates the same Emergency Cheek Pad Removal System found on some Arai helmets, and there are 5mm peel-away cheek and temple pads to customize fit. The removable, washable Dry-Cool liner has micro water cells that improve moisture and heat transfer to the airflow cavity in the Space Frame Liner. Consistent with the XD4’s premium price is premium fit, finish and comfort.

My XD3, worn on countless dual-sport rides and photo shoots over the past several years, has served me well. Scratches aside, it’s a good cleaning and fresh shield away from being like new. The XD4 is even better, with more ventilation, more comfort and a cool new paint scheme. It meets DOT and Snell standards, is priced from $589.95 for solid colors to $719.95 for graphics and is available in sizes XS-XXL.

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