AMA Member Tested: Arai Defiant
March 01, 2014
Outstanding Helmet With Great Features
MSRP: Solids, $619.95-$629.95; graphics, $749.95
By Rashmi Tambe
The main things I look for in a helmet are safety, fit, comfort, distinguishing features, looks and price point.
Let’s start with safety. The Arai brand already has an established reputation for the safety aspect of design. The Arai Defiant that I received for testing has the emergency cheek pad release system from the RX-Q line that enables medics to slide the helmet off a crashed rider’s head more easily.
It also has the R75 shape that, according to Arai, is “rounder, smoother and stronger.” The logic is that a rounder and smoother surface slides more easily, disperses more of the impact energy and reduces the potential for excessive rotational force. With most of the kinetic energy dispersed, the helmet’s inherent impact absorption abilities could be enough to absorb the remaining energy, better protecting the rider’s head.
The stronger material ostensibly prevents deformation on impact, which could otherwise concentrate the impact energy or catch on obstacles during a crash. While I did not crash test the helmet for the sake of this review, two of my previous Arais have protected my head adequately in high-speed crashes in the past.
As for fit, the Defiant is available in a range of sizes, and the head type it is made for is “intermediate oval.” I reviewed a small, which is what I generally wear, but my head better matches Arai’s “round oval” shape, which fits better into my Quantum 2. While the overall fit of the Defiant was OK, it was slightly looser in the front and back than I like for optimal safety.
When it comes to overall comfort while riding, key factors to consider are weight, venting and noise. Arai helmets in general are some of the lightest available. This significantly reduces fatigue on those long rides. The Arai Defiant, in particular, is optimized for riders of non-faired naked bikes. The front chin vents, the chimney vents on top and the exhaust vent at the back all have three settings. This allows the rider to have a significant amount of control over the volume of air flowing from the front to the back.
The level of noise is its only failing. During my test ride, I thought it was noisier than my Quantum 2, although this could have been due to the less-than-perfect fit. I also found myself fumbling to open and close the vents with my gloved hand.
One of the Defiant’s noteworthy features is the built-in PinLock, which in my experience is the industry’s only solution that works 100 percent against fogging. The helmet I reviewed came installed with a smoky black face shield, which I thought was a little optimistic for a Seattle winter test ride. As it turns out, it was a bright sunny day and the face shield effectively cut out most of the glare and made for a pleasant riding experience.
Some of the helmet’s other features are the removable neck roll and cheek pads, which are water-resistant material to prevent them from getting soaked in a downpour. The inner lining is a removable one piece made of a wicking, anti-microbial material. The helmet has a chin spoiler that can be pulled out to deflect air into your chest when it’s cold out. The bottom of the helmet has a “HyperRidge” bumper to strengthen the shell and lower its center of gravity, which enables it to sit lower on your head.
When it comes to overall looks, the Defiant is available in five solid colors and 11 graphic versions. Several are very aesthetically pleasing, although that is obviously a personal preference. It is not available in a high-visibility color.
A helmet’s price point is the last thing I consider, but it is a factor. The Defiant is not inexpensive, at nearly $750 for graphic versions. When it comes to choice of helmet, though, I strongly recommend purchasing the best that you can afford.
If you have the right head shape and budget for the Arai Defiant, this is an outstanding helmet with a lot of great features.
Rashmi Tambe is an independent AMA Member Tester.