Arai Corsair X – Review of Arai’s top of the range helmet

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Arai Corsair X in Freddie Spencer colors

Arai Corsair X (RX-7V in Europe) – Arai’s top of the range sportsbike helmet

Arai have updated their range-topping Corsair V helmet – replacing it with the Corsair-X.

But if you think it looks very similar to the old Corsair helmet, you’d be spot on. Because, as you can see from the picture further down, it’s more an evolution of the series rather than a redesign. So what’s changed?

Well, according to Arai, a little bit of everything. From the outside in, Arai have tried to make the outer shell even smoother, in line with their goal to make a helmet that will ‘glance off’ surfaces better than any other. They’ve also slightly reformulated the construction too – it’s still got a composite fiber shell, but they’ve reformulated the resin between layers to be lighter, saving an ounce or so off the weight (or so they say). And while they were at it, they also reinforced parts of the shell that are particularly important for passing the Snell safety test.

Read on for a closer look at what the Arai Corsair-X offers and how well owners think it does on the road.

Looking to buy this Arai?

We recommend Revzilla (PA) for outstanding service and free shipping, and both Rocky Mountain ATV/MC (UT & KY) and 2 Wheel (CA) for great service backed by outstanding online reviews, free shipping and free returns. Or you can click through to the Arai helmets pages at Amazon if you prefer to buy from there. Please click any link to drop onto their Arai helmets pages or see here for more info about our recommended stores, including T&Cs.

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The Corsair-X Pedrosa Samurai. At least the helmet’s a winner 😉

Changes from the old Corsair?

The Corsair-X is an evolution rather than a nose-back redesign.

You can see the changes from the old Corsair-V helmet below. Visually, changes mostly come in the form of the lowering of the side pod (and new shield pivot mechanism) and longer ventilation duct on the top of the helmet – said to improve ventilation a bit (OK, Arai say 11% but that probably equates to ‘a bit’ when you’re riding along, right?).

There’s also extra space around the mouth and chin and updated internals using their ‘Eco Pure’ lining. But we’ll get to those in the relevant sections below.

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Corsair-X on the left, Corsair-V on the right.

As always, let’s start with…

Safety

As you know, at BCH we put a good deal of weight behind a good score with the SHARP helmet testing scheme. Well, the Corsair-X has been M2015 Snell certified and as of late 2016, it scored a maximum five stars with SHARP, putting it among the best helmets on the market for safety.

Which is kinda what you’d expect from a $700+ helmet that’s used by professional racers right?

Interestingly, the old helmet ‘only’ scored four stars with SHARP, dropping a star for safety on the side impact test. And while Arai proclaim proudly on their website that they design their helmets to be as safe as possible and not to pass any particular tests, I’m not sure if they’re fibbing in this case.

You see, the shield pivot and release mechanism on the old Corsair sits slap bang where SHARP (and Snell) tests the helmet for its side impact tests. All that gubbins is bound to affect a helmet’s shock absorbing capabilities. And lo and behold, when SHARP tested the Corsair-V, that’s exactly what happened; and it dropped a star. I could be wrong, but it very much looks to me like Arai took notice and lowered/shrank the mechanism on the new Corsair to improve shock absorbing at this key point and so get their fifth star.

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Another Corsair-X replica. This one’s Nicky Hayden’s

And fair play to them. If it improves helmet safety, then we’re all happy.

Moving on, the Corsair-X’s also got a nice wide shield opening – great for spotting other traffic pulling alongside – as well as the Maverick Vinales’ of this world about to chop your nose off before dropping into the corkscrew!

The shield also has a lock on it – which is essential for on-track use to stop the shield opening unexpectedly, especially if you’re rolling across the deck about to enter a gravel trap!

There’s a double-d ring fastener keeping the helmet secured and there’s also a plethora of internal lining options, there to make sure the helmet fits as sungly and comfortably as possible.

Don’t underestimate that point. Comfort and getting a nice tight fit are as important as any safety rating in making sure a helmet’s going to work well during an impact. So, if in doubt, try another before buying (and consult our fitting guide).

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As usual, there’s a gloss/matt black versions available

It’s worth noting that all the bits and bobs covering the surface of the helmet – the ventilation ducts and side pods – are designed to snap off under impact, so they don’t dig in and rotate the head. That supplements the rounder/smoother helmet shell design that you see across Arai helmets. They call it R75 and the idea is that this rounder helmet form improves “glancing-off” performance of the helmets – i.e. they’ll skim and slide off things during an accident rather than dig in and rotate.

Reading the Arai website, it’s obviously more an idea based on common sense rather than scientifically-backed design ethos (in fact their website specifically states no scientific papers exist to support their ideas). Still, it sounds good. Though we wouldn’t mind a bit of science to back it up before we trust our safety to it chaps!

Finally, the Corsair has EQRS fitted – or Arai’s version anyway. Look under the helmet and you’ll see two red tags. Pull on those and the cheek guards pull out nice and easy (ish). If you’re going to buy a helmet for the track, we recommend you always look for one with EQRS fitted (check all the helmets we’ve reviewed featuring EQRS here).

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The most exclusive helmet in the world? Certainly one of the most expensive: the Corsair-X RC

Corsair-X RC carbon version

It’s worth mentioning the RC version. It stands for Really Costly. Probably.

If having a ‘run of the mill’ top of the range Arai isn’t exclusive enough, well Arai have also made a full carbon fiber version – called the Corsair-X RC.

Made with eleven layers of aircraft-quality carbon fiber and based on F1 tech (so the blurb goes) it’s lighter, very cool-looking and massively exclusive.

It certainly looks the part – but then at $2499, it probably should do!

It looks amazing of course – although I’m not sure those transparent side pods showing all the shield removal cogs and sliders was the best idea! But if you want to be hyper-exclusive, then get saving for the RC version.

Helmet Noise

Pretty well all owners who moved from the old V to the Corsair-X said that the X is a quieter helmet. That’s especially true with the vents closed, which makes a noticeable difference to noise levels in the helmet.

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Rear of the carbon fiber RC version

Having said that, there are lots of different opinions how noisy the Corsair-X is. Plus, helmet noise is so subjective and so prone to expectation bias (expect it to be super quiet and you’ll probably be disappointed at how noisy it is) that it’s really impossible to say whether you’ll find the Corsair-X quiet or noisy. Multiply that with factors such as the type of bike, position, riding speed; and one person’s quiet is another person’s noisy as hell.

Several owners said you can make it quieter by closing the vents, making sure the chin curtain is fitted (most owners reckon that reduces turbulence and noise a bit) and, of course, wearing ear plugs. Do all three and you should be a happy bunny.

Taking all comments into account though, we’re going to score the Corsair-X about average for noise suppression. Which is certainly no disgrace given that it’s a track helmet – which are notoriously noisy.

Ventilation

Just like its predecessor, ventilation is one of the Arai Corsair-X’s strong points.

Take a look at the photos of the Corsair-X and you can see, there’s just a ton of air vents and exhausts scattered across the shell. That’s six front vents and seven rear exhaust vents, if you’re counting.

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There’ll probably be a dozen Corsair-Xs in every TT race – so they produced this cool TT graphic version

All the input vents and most of the rear exhausts are adjustable and open/closeable.

And by all accounts, they really work well. We only found one person with a gripe, who complained it steams up when stationery. But then all helmets will do that in the right (wrong) conditions. Like, all of them.

Everyone else waxed lyrical about how great the ventilation is and how cool their head felt, even in hot weather.

If pushed to find fault, one person said the top vents work better than the chin vent (it’s not as well venting as his Shark Race R). Another said some of the switches are still a bit fiddly to use in gloves.

But overall, ventilation is one of the Arai Corsair-X’s strong points.

Shield

And owners think the shield’s great too.

It’s nice and wide and tall to give great vision – and there’s a Pinlock anti-fog Max Vision insert included with the helmet.

This new shield system is one of the major changes with the Arai Corsair-X.

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Plain (and cool) matt white version

It’s been redesigned to reduce the size of the pivot mechanism. Why? Check out our rambling thoughts in the Safety section. Suffice to say it means they’ve had to redesign it to be more compact.

And owners broadly think they’ve done a good job. A few people commented that the shield removal system is a great improvement over the old version, which made you feel like you’re about to snap the shield before it pinged loose! Check the videos below to see info on the new shield.

Until you get the hang of it, the new quick removal system is a bit fiddly though – but then most are. Just check out the 4m video below to see exactly how tricky it can be (and how to do it).

Arai have also updated their shield locking mechanism. It’s a bit more chunky and easier to use than the previous one – press the shield firmly closed and it’ll lock in place. Push the lock up and the shield will go to ‘cracked open’ or city riding position, giving a bit more ventilation. Push up further and the shield will be unlocked.

Overall then, the shield works great and shouldn’t give you any problems.

Comfort and Sizing

The interior of the Corsair-X is very well designed and, for most people, supremely comfortable.

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New to the line up, the Vinales rep Corsair-X

That’s especially true if you’re a typical oval head shape, as the Corsair-X is designed to suit people with more oval rather than rounder heads – which is most of us.

While you’ll find it uses similar foams and anti-wicking type materials to other top of the range helmets – and in the X’s case Eco Pure neutral PH anti bacterial lining (because you’re worth it!) – it’s the adjustability that Arai seem to have really nailed with the Corsair-X.

The lining is, of course, removable and washable. But it’s also adjustable around the cheeks, skull and temples so you can tweak the fit and get it just right. That includes removable panels to reduce pressure points, and swappable cheek pads to tighten things up.

If you do decide to go for a new X, a few folks said they size a tiny bit on the tight side. So, if you’re between sizes or unsure, we’d suggest opting for the smaller size. And of course, keep the tags on the helmet and buy from a retailer who’ll swap size with no quibbles – like one of our recommended retailers below.

Other than that, several owners commented that their Arai Corsair-X is the comfiest and best fitting motorbike helmet they’ve ever worn/owned. All of which makes for a safe helmet that’s a pleasure to live with. Hurray!

Looks and Graphics

There’s no doubt that Arai are a pretty traditional company. And that’s reflected in the design of the Corsair-X. This certainly isn’t a helmet that’s designed for cutting-edge looks. Its form is dictated by what Arai consider to be the best functioning design for a safety device. Which is exactly as it should be and brings Arai helmets a special kudos all of their own.

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Old Skool cool – Kenny Roberts replica

So, they’ve left the helmet to do the protecting and the graphics to catch the eye; and that means there’s stacks of designs and paint jobs out there to do just that.

There’s a massive range of race replicas based on designs used by Arai-sponsored riders. Including the Pedrosa, Giugliano, Vinales, Rae, Haslam, Kenny Roberts and a few others.

We’ve tried to put as many graphics on the page as possible – but most designs have several color options too, and there’s new designs and graphics coming out all the time. So, as usual, click the links below to our recommended retailers to see the latest designs and deals.

Best place to buy this Arai crash helmet?

Please click below to visit the Arai helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from any store, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site).


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Arai Corsair-X Videos

We’ve found three videos taking you all around the Arai Corsair-X. First off, a fast-talking-guy sweeps you around the helmet, followed by a couple of vids looking over the shield mechanism.

Here’s a guy at Arai taking you through how to remove the shield on the Corsair-X (RX-7V in Europe) – trying to emphasize how cool and simple it is while making it look incredibly complex! (4mins).

Oh go on then, here’s another video showing you how it should be done (25s)!

Other stuff – bluetooth, weight, aero & buffeting, build quality, warranty

The Arai Corsair-X has a ‘pull away’ section in the liner to accommodate bluetooth speakers. It also has a slightly larger space in the chin area to accommodate a microphone. One owner said it works just fine with his Sena 20s kit, meaning we’d expect it to work a range of other third-party bluetooth sets too.

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Jonny Rae gets his own Arai Corsair-X replica too

Onto weight and, even though Arai claim it’s lighter than the old Corsair, a medium size Corsair X still weighs in at 3.5lbs. That’s not a light helmet by any means – the average weight of a full face helmet across all construction types is a smidge under 3.3lbs (1.5Kgs). That said, we didn’t come across any owner saying their Corsair-X feels heavy so I guess it’s not heavy enough to cause any problems.

One thing that owners were very happy about was the aero on the Arai. Whether it’s down to that round R-75 shape or the design of the air channels and the rear spoiler, they’re not sure. But it feels slippery when you’re wearing it and there’s little buffeting. That’s especially the case when you’re doing head-checks over your shoulder when there’s very little buffeting at all; even at speed.

Pretty well everyone who buys an Arai expects a good build quality from their helmet. Why wouldn’t you when you’re paying $700+? And owners’ expectations aren’t let down because everything from fit to finish, Pinlock to paint seems to be raved about by its lucky owners.

Which is possibly one reason why Arai can afford to offer their customers a class leading 5 year warranty on all their helmets. That’s as good as warranties get – and are likely to get with helmet makers recommending changing helmets every five years.

Arai-RX-7V-2

Alternatives to the Arai Corsair-X

If you’re looking for a top-notch sportsbike/racing helmet, then the X is at the top of the pile, probably along with the Shoei X-Fourteen and AGV Pista GP.

The Shoei X-Fourteen is also an amazing helmet – it looks great, has heaps of MotoGP heritage and is SHARP 5 star rated. Owners love em too and they cost about the same as the Corsair-X. If you’re looking for the best, we’d currently put the Shoei slightly ahead of the Arai, mainly because it has a 5 star safety rating.

However, we’d have to include the AGV Pista GP in there too. It’s ultra-light (lighter than the other two) and also SHARP 5 star safety rated. It’s more expensive than both the Arai and Shoei though – but it does have the pedigree of being developed alongside Vale himself. That’s gotta count for a few extra bucks, right?

Aside from these three top helmets, there’s a bunch of other racing helmets that don’t cost as much but are extremely decent lids.

First off, the Shark Race-R Pro can be had for less than the Arai. It’s a SHARP 5 star rated carbon fiber helmet that’s lots lighter than the X too, weighing in at 2.9lbs.

The AGV Corsa is a smidge heavier than that, but that’s also a SHARP 5 star rated sportsbike helmet and comes with an optically-correct shield.

For about the same price as the Corsa, we’ll throw into the mix the Schuberth C3 Pro – one of the only sports-modular helmets out there. It’s only SHARP 3 star rated but, even though it’s a modular, it’s about the same weight as the Corsair-X (that’s light for a modular!).

Finally, for less than half the price of the Arai, you can pick up a SHARP 4 star safety rated sportsbike helmet in the form of the LS2 FF323 Arrow. Optically correct shield, Pinlock antifog included (check retailer) – that’s gotta be worth a look too?

Looking to buy this Arai?

We recommend Revzilla (PA) for outstanding service and free shipping, and both Rocky Mountain ATV/MC (UT & KY) and 2 Wheel (CA) for great service backed by outstanding online reviews, free shipping and free returns. Or you can click through to the Arai helmets pages at Amazon if you prefer to buy from there. Please click any link to drop onto their Arai helmets pages or see here for more info about our recommended stores, including T&Cs.

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