Many, many years ago Arai launched the RX-7. Unlike a lot of race replica kit, it was the Real Deal. Your racing heroes really were wearing that very same helmet, and with the evil handling race machinery of the time you can bet your bottom dollar that they were doing some very real-world product testing at the same time. It underwent a few evolutionary tweaks over the fifteen years or so that it was at the top of the Arai tree before it was superceded by the first really significantly changed model, the RX-7 GP. It’s a measure of how good the original was that it wasn’t dropped from the Arai lineup, it just moved down a step.
The RX-7 GP was, and is, a fantastic helmet. But now, a mere seven years later, Arai have upped their game again. Lots of testing – both in the lab and on roads and tracks – means that lots of data gets gathered. Some companies would use that data to, perhaps, make sure they get a five star rating in various government endorsed safety standards. Arai used it to actually make their helmets safer. I know which I would prefer.
One of the most common parts we injure when we launch ourselves down the road at speed is our neck. That’s quite important, and one of the most common causes of that injury, apparently, is the way that a helmet drags on the road and causes sharp and rapid rotation. That’s never going to be good. One of the major causes of that rotation is the visor mounting. It’s obvious really – there’s something sticking out of the helmet, hallway up, which by necessity is quite hard and unyielding as well as being rather sticky-outy. Arai have redesigned the visor mount on the RX7-V and moved the pivot to level with the bottom of the visor aperture. If it hits the ground then you’ve got lots more problems than just a rotational injury, because it means you’re missing a shoulder. I’m trivialising it, of course, but the point is that pivot should never be able to catch on the road.
A side effect of the redesigned mount is that it’s suddenly really easy to change visors. You don’t even get the horrendous crunching noises that always used to accompany an Arai face shield change. Refined and redesigned vents complete the obvious changes to the RX-7V from the RX-7 GP, and the result is a helmet that is markedly more modern in look. In fact, the shell is completely new and close examination shows that Arai have gone to a lot of effort to make it as smooth as possible to improve performance in glancing impacts. And let’s face it, how often do you smack into something straight on? Far more likely that it’ll be a glancing blow instead.
Put the helmet on and it soon becomes apparent that peripheral vision is at least as good as it was before, the wide visor aperture having been retained. Vent controls are all easier to use with a more positive action to open or close them, and the visor locks shut and opens easily.
It’s quiet, too. Not in the same revelatory way that the RX-7 GP was quieter than the RX-7 Corsair, but noticeably so nonetheless. Obviously it’s comfortable and feels delightfully high quality. It’s a top-of-the-range Arai, so you shouldn’t expect anything else. I rode across London with it on one of the hottest days of the year, and can attest that the ventilation works at least as well as its predecessor. I also got caught in the rain and can confirm that it doesn’t mist up either.
Now the RX-7V is, as I mentioned, the top of the regular Arai range. There’s a fully carbon fibre version, but we’ll ignore that as not even top flight racers can justify spending £2500 on a lid. What this means is that it isn’t cheap. The plain colour comes in at £549 while replicas are £699. I don’t know that I’d pay that much extra to have a replica paintjob personally, but I do know that however much you fork out it’ll be worth it. As long as it fits you properly I genuinely believe that there is no better motorcycle helmet on the market.