Very few of us can afford to own the very best of most things. But with an Arai helmet, you truly can own the very best of one thing – and when its protecting your head, it would be a worthwhile investment. Learn the Arai story, and check out 7 things that truly set Arai helmets apart from all the rest!
- Family-owned From Day One
- Certification Standards: The Baseline, Not The Goal
- The Masters of Fit
- Every Helmet Is Handmade
- Quality Control, The Arai Way
- Rated #1…Thirteen Times
- The Choice of Champions
A handful of Arais wrecked on the track over the years by BikeBandit staff.
1. Family-owned From Day One
Check out this awesome documentary on the history of Arai Helmets, from our friends at Tucker Rocky!
One thing Arai is extremely proud of is their company structure; after over 70 years in business, they are still family owned. Since founder Hirotake Arai started Arai in the 1930s, a successive line of sons from three generations has been at the helm of the company – and all of them are motorcycle riders.
An impressive lineup of Arai helmets spanning several decades.
A company with a reputation like Arai’s could have gone public decades ago, and gone the route of so many corporations whose sole purpose is maximizing profits and shareholder returns. Instead, Arai has not only retained family ownership of the company, but having their own family name emblazoned across every product they sell is a driving force in their pursuit of making the finest helmets in the world.
As they like to say, in characteristic Japanese fashion: “If your family’s name, and your family’s honor, were on the front of your helmet – how many shortcuts would you take?”
Well when you put it that way…I guess you’re right Arai. I wouldn’t take any.
2. Certification Standards: The Baseline, Not The Goal
A partial cutaway view of what goes into an Arai fiberglass shell.
You hear a lot about DOT or Snell Certification when shopping for helmets. Both of these are safety standards, achieved when a helmet passes certain laboratory tests.
The DOT certification is the minimum a helmet must pass to be street-legal in the U.S. Snell’s certification process significantly surpasses DOT standards, and is considered the industry benchmark for helmet safety; any helmet that is Snell certified can be counted on to be a high-quality piece of headgear.
Arai, however, takes the process a step further, using DOT and Snell standards as their baseline when designing helmets, rather than their goal. They don’t consider a laboratory to be the place where the crash-worthiness of a helmet is determined; like you, they want it to work in the real world. And the real world is a very unpredictable place.
They do not build to a price point; they determine a need in the marketplace, and make the best helmet possible to fill it. This is why Arai helmets are more expensive than most others on the market; but you do get what you pay for in their helmets, and Arai’s quality is unparalleled.
(As they like to ask: “what is your head really worth?”)
3. The Masters of Fit
There are a lot of great helmets on the market; but without a doubt, a helmet MUST fit correctly to work properly.
In a crash is where this is most important; but a helmet must be comfortable enough to wear for hours on end, day after day for years. If its not, no matter how crash-worthy a helmet really is, you won’t even want to wear it.
As you try on and own different helmets, you may find that “the perfect fit” is a bit like finding a unicorn; you get close, especially when you find a brand that you like, but there’s always something that’s a little off. Most companies – and most riders – understand this compromise.
Every part of an Arai helmet’s padding is removable and interchangeable to find the perfect fit.
But again, “compromise” isn’t really in Arai’s vocabulary. They have gone through great lengths to make “the perfect fit” genuinely achievable, and that has earned them a well-deserved reputation as the “masters of fit.”
This isn’t just a marketing gimmick either; Arai simply puts more of an emphasis on covering the gamut of head shapes with their helmet line-up than any other manufacturer, and really does have the most adjustable, customizable fit on the market. Their different models are built for various head shapes, and there are so many options for liners and cheekpads in various thicknesses, you can get lost in them.
Short of ordering a true custom-made helmet, like the $1100 Custom-fit Bell Star (read more about it here), you simply cant find a more customizable fit than you can with an Arai.
4. Every Helmet Is Handmade
Members of the Arai “family” in various parts of the production process.
In today’s modern environment of computer-aided design and automated robotic manufacturing, you are hard-pressed to find anything that’s handcrafted anymore. This isn’t always bad; modern production methods make amazing products available and affordable to everyone.
But for certain things, you feel better when you know an expert craftsman put it together by hand; like high-quality work boots, or a hand-assembled leather jacket. Or in this case, a motorcycle helmet.
Arai performs the entire helmet-making process by hand, just as they have done from the beginning. From crafting the first molds for a new design, to creating the fiberglass shell, to assembly of the interior pads and liners, every step is done by hand by highly skilled craftsmen (it can take up to 5 years for an employee to earn the right to build just the shell; a 27-step process!)
5. Quality Control, The Arai Way
A technician inspects a helmet shell at the Arai factory in Omiya, Japan.
When you buy a product worn by a pro racer sponsored by a certain brand, do you really think you’re getting the same product they’re wearing on the track? Hate to break it to you, but most likely, you’re not. Pros get handmade, custom-built products; you get the mass produced equivalent.
But again, Arai does things differently. Arai, in characteristic Japanese fashion, takes an obsessive approach to quality, and proudly proclaims that they have only one single standard for every helmet leaving their premises. Whether a helmet is destined for an A-list racer or one of our customers, they all go through the same quality control process (in the words of the current chairman, “Mitch” Arai: “How can you say one person’s head is worth more than another’s?”)
What is that process exactly? Every helmet goes through three separate quality inspections – one after the shell is built, one after paint/graphics, and one after final assembly – and the craftsman signs their name to the helmet each time it is approved. This process is done on every single helmet (not every 10th or 100th, like manufacturers of mass produced products would typically do.)
6. Rated #1 – Thirteen Times
Arai’s quality speaks for itself. But 13 J.D. Power & Associates awards don’t hurt either.
Arai is one of those companies that kind of runs by their own standards, and lets the results speak for themselves. But when those standards result in exceptional customer satisfaction awards; may as well show them off right?
Arai has been ranked Number One in customer satisfaction an astonishing 13 consecutive times in J.D. Power & Associates Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Studies, a record no other manufacturer can even come close to.
7. The Choice of Champions
Arai MotoGP riders line up for a shot in Qatar. A lot of pros trust their heads to this brand.
If you follow AMA racing, MotoGP, F1, or NASCAR, you’re bound to see the Arai badge emblazoned across a lot of helmets. In fact, when you look across the grid at any top-level motorsports race, you’ll see Arai time and time again. It’s no secret; the people who use the very best protective gear available, in the most demanding situations, very frequently choose Arai.
And if there are any doubts as to why, check out this video of one of the fastest motorcycle crashes in MotoGP history, of MotoGP rider Shinyu Nakano coming off the bike at over 200 MPH. He actually came away from this crash with no serious injuries!
Here is a short list of professional racers donning Arai helmets:
Current MotoGP racers Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden, Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa, Hiroshi Aoyama, and Broc Parkes…
MotoGP racing legends Mick Doohan, Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz, and Freddie Spencer…
Over half the Formula-1 grid, including Sebastien Vettel, Max Chilton, Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez, and Kamui Kobayashi…
NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya…
…and many, many more.
You get the idea.
Now, go get an Arai!
What do you think makes your Arai helmet special? Tell us about it in the comments below!