I MIGHT have an ugly mug and a head shape that scares women and children, but I still want the best for my bonce, which is why I’ve been using Arai’s top-of-the-range Snell-certified RX-7V for the past seven months.
My last helmet was a Shark and it ticked most of the boxes, apart from one: it wasn’t an Arai. I’ve always worn them; they fit me nicely and I like the shape of the shells. In fact, I’d still be wearing my last Arai – a two-year-old Chaser V, if I hadn’t damaged it in a crash last year.
I’ve been hankering for a new Arai since then, and when I finally got around to seeing the RX-7V’s 2016 colours, I cracked and went back to what I know. I’m glad I did.
It looks ace – the shell’s got a racy, aerodynamic shape that’s ever so slightly different to its predecessor’s (the RX-7 GP) and is complimented by a bright and crisp paintjob. The detail in the paint is great – like the honeycomb pattern in the blue section, and the fine, flecked glittery finish. After seven month’s use, it still looks as vibrant as it did the first time I took it out of the box.
So it looks cool, and thankfully it feels the same too. The venting at the front (above the visor) means the RX-7V is well equipped to suck in air. Thanks to the adjustability of the vents, it’s also easy to fine tune the amount of air getting it. The top vents provide the most firepower when it comes to channeling in cool air and although the chin vent is ok, it certainly doesn’t allow in as much air as my Shark Race R-Pro Carbon. The exhaust vents at the rear allow air to escape out of the back, and again, these are adjustable.
The RX-7V is also quite an airy helmet and by that, I mean it’s possible to feel more than just my stinky coffee breath wafting around inside. On the move and with vents and visor shut, it makes the RX-7V pleasant.
Considering how much air can get in to the shell, it’s no too loud either and is certainly quieter than my Shark, although that’s not a ringing endorsement of how quiet it is. It’s OK. I usually wear ear plugs, so it’s not a massive problem but if you’re looking for the quietest lid around, you’re probably better off with something more geared up for touring.
Arai says it weighs 30g less than the RX-7 GP, which means it tips the scales at 1300 grams. That makes it 50 grams heavier than the Shark Race R Pro Carbon but a bit lighter than the 1400g Shoei X-Spirit III.
The RX-7V has a ‘wind curtain’ or chin spoiler to reduce wind noise and turbulence. With the spoiler fully deployed, it adds approximately another 20mm to the bottom of the chin bar. After seven months of use, I’m not hugely convinced of its effectiveness. I don’t doubt how effective it is in a wind tunnel, but have I noticed less turbulence while using it? No.
On a similar note: have I noticed a reduction in drag whenever I’ve adjusted the diffuser at the rear? No, but I can tell you that the RX-7V feels stable and solid at all speeds and doesn’t buffet when it’s facing the wind at speed. In fact, it feels as comfy at 150mph in the wind as it does at 30mph. I do worry about the spoiler when transporting the helmet though (like when I’m taking it through an airport in a bag), as it can easily get knocked and feels like it’s quite fragile.
The RX-7V’s stability owes something to the shell’s aerodynamic performance, but also to the fit, which is sublime. It’s easily the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever worn - snug where it needs to be without being tight, and because my face isn’t pressed right in to the chin bar, doesn’t feel claustrophobic. I can happily wear this for hours in complete comfort, regardless of whether I’m on the motorway, in a city or on track.
Slip it on and you know it’s a premium lid thanks to the plush cheek pads, which were nice and soft from new. I’ve washed them once so far, which has revived how plump and fluffy they feel.
Removing the cheek pads and lining is simple enough because everything attaches using poppers and it’s obvious how everything fits together. The only snag I encountered was that the cheek pads are attached to part of the wind curtain via a little plastic tab, which wasn’t immediately obvious but is easy to remove and reattach. The pads also include emergency removal tabs so the emergency services can easily remove the helmet.
Slightly less simple is the RX-7V’s new visor system. It’s still fiddly, especially at first, but doesn't take long to get the hang of. Because the side pods pop off, it’s an improvement on the system on my Chaser V because it’s possible to see where to locate the visor tabs, so the first time I swapped visors, I didn’t feel like I was on the brink of breaking the visor mechanism. Still, I wouldn’t want to be the guy changing Michael Dunlop’s visor at the TT.
Also new is the F1-style visor opening/locking mechanism. It takes a short time to get used to and works well, providing a secure closure for the visor. Once I’d learnt where to reach to operate the lever, it made opening the visor a simple affair and the visor locks into place with a push.
Priced just under £600, it's eye wateringly expensive and the RX-7V sits firmly in premium helmet territory, but it that hits the mark for me when it comes to comfort, looks and performance because all its component parts come together to form a great bit of kit and one that I enjoy slipping on each time I go for a ride. It’s easily the best helmet I’ve ever worn.
Tested: Arai RX-7V
Contact: Why Arai