New kit: Arai Rebel Patriot

First impressions of Arai's new lid for naked bikes

I'VE just done my first 100 miles with Arai's new Rebel helmet, a 2013 model lid intended specifically for use on naked/streetfighter bikes. It's basically the Quantum with a new chin section, with an integrated spoiler which aims to better deflect wind blast, given the more upright and less protected riding position on a naked bike. The spoiler, created with MotoGP input, is said to reduce high-speed turbulence and thus wind noise. 

It's not the lightest helmet around at 1.56 kg +/- 50g, but it is very well balanced and fitted - it grips my whole head evenly, firmly yet comfortably, rather than sitting on top on it, so you don't feel the weight on the move. Arai attributes the Rebel's great fit to their Facial Contour System. The FCS has a 'spring' action in the cheek padding, and the padding sits on the jawbone and cheekbone rather than the flesh of the cheek. Fresh out of the box, the Rebel did not feel vice-tight as many helmets usually do, and felt like it was already 'bedded in' on day one. 

Build quality and finish is impeccable, with operation of vents and visors feeling solid and smooth, and easy enough with gloved fingers. Ventilation is generous and noticeably effective - there's a big two-position vent on the chin bar, two visor vents at the brow and two big sliding vents on the forehead. At the rear, an exhaust vent at the bottom edge and two side vents channel out hot air. The range of peripheral vision is good, though the wide chin bar reduces my direct line of sight to the clocks. 

The visor comes Pinlock-ready (there's an antifog insert in the box) but I have not felt the need to fit it yet, thanks to the (slightly) warmer May weather, and the well-designed breath guard. As someone who wears spectacles, fogging is generally a doubly annoying issue for me, but the Rebel cannot be fazed even with extra-heavy, phone-stalker-style breathing. 

The Rebel's Patriot colour scheme (other options are plain white/black, frost black, Base White and Base Orange) is bold and striking without being flashy or cheesy. The shape itself does not strike me as the sexiest, with doughy lines that seem more 1990s than 2010s. But Arai - which still makes its helmets by hand in Japan, firmly believes its own standards surpass those of standardised tests and believes so strongly in helmet shell integrity that it refuses to make flip-up models - can be trusted to put function ahead of form. 

It's that trust in the brand that they have earned over the years that has helped them not only earn a faithful following but also to charge premium prices for it: the Rebel is £440 in solid colours, and you pay another £50 for graphics. Is this too much money? Hard to say. The Rebel has not yet been rated by SHARP, and obviously the only way to truly compare the quality of a premium helmet in the real world is to have two absolutely identical high-speed crashes, which I'm not about to try to do, so I will go on the above mentioned faith for now. But if I was spending £7k-£10k for a premium naked bike, I wouldn't hesitate to fork over another few hundred on a highly functional lid from one of the best in the business.

I'll update you later in the summer on how the Rebel holds up after I use it in more varied conditions, for longer durations and at higher speeds.  

Model: Arai Rebel Patriot 

Price: £439.99-£489.99

Sizes: XS-XXL