Review of the Arai Defiant X crash helmet for cruisers and nakeds

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Arai’s fiberglass full face helmet designed for cruisers and naked bikes.

Arai has made the Defiant X for riders of naked bikes – and specifically for riders of cruisers and cafe racers.

It’s a fiberglass composite helmet that’s designed very much like the rest of the Arai family – which means it’s built to a very high standard and shares the overall helmet shape (R75) and many features with the rest of Arai’s current crop of high-end helmets.

Only, the normally hyper-conservative Arai have added a few design flourishes to the outside of the Defiant X that makes it look a little more retro and ‘street’ than the rest of their helmet range. Whatever next?!?

So, if you’re in the market for a new helmet for your naked bike, then read on to find out what you can expect from the Arai Defiant X (Arai Renegade V in Europe).

Looking to buy an Arai?

We recommend both Revzilla (PA) and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC (UT & KY) for outstanding service. Please click either link to see their full range and latest deals or see here for more info about our recommended retailers.

Safety

(more about helmet safety)

The Defiant X is both ECE 22-05 and DOT certified. And while it’s not been SHARP tested in the Europe yet, the US version has been Snell certified.

All of which means it’s passed the pretty stringent European ECE testing regime and the Snell labs have put the Defiant X through an extra round of safety tests where it passed their standards to get M2015 certified.

And with Arai’s recent improvement in scores in the SHARP safety test – with their last two helmets which use a similar tech and shape to the Defiant X, scoring a maximum 5 stars for safety – (that’s the European equivalent to the Signet X and the Corsair X), we’d expect the Arai Defiant X to score pretty highly too.

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Arai Defiant X in Carr orange graphics

Like several other Arai helmets, the Defiant X shares the rounder R75 helmet shape that’s designed to ‘glance off’ objects during an accident. It also has their much vaunted peripheral banding tech where a strengthened band of fiber is wrapped around the helmet passing above the eye port to add strength and rigidity to the helmet.

We’re not massively convinced it really helps make for a more protective helmet – in fact some argue that making a helmet too strong reduces its ability to absorb impacts, passing more shock through to the rider instead.

But overall, we’d expect the shell of the Defiant X, coupled with the multi-density shock absorbing liner inside, to do its job admirably well.

OK, onto other safety features.

Well, there’s an anti-fog insert included in the box to keep the shield fog-free. A double-d ring fastener to keep it securely in place – and the helmet is produced in three shell sizes which is arguably great for safety as well as looks and fitting.

I’d expect a premium helmet like the Defiant X to also maybe come with EQRS too – but overall we’d expect the Defiant X to give great protection when you need it.

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Defiant X in Diablo red graphics

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

Arai helmets aren’t usually known for how quiet they are – especially the helmets designed for the track like the Corsair X.

And with the Defiant X, Arai has put a few more vent holes into the helmet shell, all of which will let more noise in along with the air.

To combat this, they’ve added what they call a noise-reducing foam to the cheek pads which they hope will keep things quiet. And they’ve also added a fixed chin curtain to the bottom of the helmet to keep noise out from below.

It might have helped a bit, but overall, owners seem to reckon noise levels inside the Defiant X is about average for a full face helmet – so don’t think you’re going to be able to get away without using ear plugs with the Defiant X because you won’t; not if you value your hearing that is!

Ventilation

(more about helmet ventilation)

Arai’s made a big thing about the ventilation in the Defiant X. That’s because there’s a ton of vent holes all over the lid.

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Rear view of the black frost Defiant X showing side and to vents.

First off, there’s those obvious four vent holes in the chin bar. They ventilate the chin and rear of the shield and while they look like straight-through old-style racing vents, they can actually be closed off from the inside of the helmet.

Arai reckons that’s to keep the integrity of the helmet shell intact – so for safety. I’m not entirely sure how that squares up with the rest of their range which don’t have similar open holes in the chin guard… but anyway, owners reckon they’re a bit of a pain to use. They’re madly difficult to open/close on the move, especially as they both have to be found individually. So they really mean you’ve gotta stop, fiddle, then set off again. Not ideal.

Like most other Arais, there’s a couple of vents in the shield ducting air into the helmet shell, as well as a pair of crown vents up top – and again these crown vents are both operated independently using small but glove-friendly sliders next to each vent. They do take time to get the hang of but once you do, they’re OK to find and open/close – though they are a bit more time consuming than using a single switch.

New to the Defiant X, you’ll also find a couple of intake vents in the front of the cheek pads behind the shield. These are designed to draw air in from the face area and push it out of the side exhaust vents when you’re on the move.

And talking of exhaust vents, the Defiant’s got seven rear exhausts (if you count the main 3-exit vent as three) including a rear neck roll exhaust.

OK, that’s great. But do they work??

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Frost Black design Arai Defiant X – showing shield lock mechanism

Easy to answer that one. Because owners reckon the ventilation is really great. The vent covers might be a bit fiddly to use, but if you want cooling then open them all up and the Defiant X will give gallons of the stuff (or should that be degrees?). Either way, it’s good.

Shield

(more about shields)

The shield on the Defiant X is designed to be larger than average to give both a larger vertical as well as horizontal opening. It also uses Arai’s VAS or variable axis shield system (designed to give a nice tight fit as well as allow Arai to lower the shield mechanism to accommodate the peripheral banding).

While it does create an effective shield mechanism, it also means you get a slightly fiddly shield quick release mechanism that needs you to remove the side pods and perform a short masonic jig with the shield before it’ll pop off.

Actually, it’s not too difficult once you do it a few times, but still it’s a bit more tricky than most other helmets around.

Something else that can be fiddly is their shield lock/opening mechanism. If you’re used to Arai’s, you’ll be familiar with slamming the shield shut to find that it auto-locks. To unlock/open the shield, you need to push on the lock then push up on the shield tab. Again, a few new owners find this annoying and pointless – but you do get used to it over time.

The Defiant X does come with a Pinlock Max Vision anti-fog insert in the box which is welcome and saves $30 or so (or adds $30 onto the overall price depending on how you look at it!).

But, coupled with the shield ventilation system, it should mean your shield’s kept clear in all but the most cold/wet conditions.

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Arai’s pro shield system – as both a sun peak and shield tint.

Sun Visor

(more about sun visors)

Arai don’t do internal sun visors. They reckon they compromise the safety of a helmet – though I’m not sure anyone else does, including some helmet safety testing labs.

They do offer their external pro shade tinted shield system as an extra though. Some folks love em, others loathe em. But if you want to have a sun shade system on your Arai and don’t like riding in shades or swapping out your clear shield for a tinted screen, then the pro shade system will set you back another $80-90. Not cheap!

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

The Defiant X has a medium oval fitment – meaning it should fit most people’s heads that aren’t too round or two long and narrow.

And while there’s no substitute for getting the right internal helmet shape to match your head shape in the first place, Arai’s internal comfort lining is probably the most out-of-the-box adjustable and customizable of any maker.

It features removable 5mm panels to each side, to the crown and to each cheek pad which allows you remove or add padding to get the fitment just right. And if doing that doesn’t quite give you the fit you’re looking for, Arai does sell larger and smaller fitment cheek pads too.

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Defiant X in Modern grey plain design

So, if you get the right fitting (see our helmet fitting guide) and tailor the fit with the comfort lining pads, then word is that the Defiant X is a really comfortable helmet. Combine that with some great ventilation and a lining material that’s ph neutral, anti-microbial and odor resistant – as well as created from a particularly soft and high quality lining – and the Defiant is a majorly comfortable place to stick your noggin.

So that’s all good on comfort with several owners saying their Defiant is great for all day riding.

Looks & Graphics

In terms of overall appearance, the Defiant X looks pretty similar to most of the Arai range in that it shares the overall helmet shell shape and vent config of many other models. The most notable difference is the slightly sculpted chin bar with it’s four vent holes.

Similarly, and as is usual with Arai helmets, most of the graphics are pretty conservative with a few classy graphic options available.

To check the graphics out in more detail and see the latest Defiant X deals, feel free to click through to the Arai helmets pages on our recommended retailers below.

Best places to buy an Arai crash helmet?

We've chosen two of the best places to buy from - whether it's an Arai or any other helmet/gear.

Revzilla are based in Philadelphia and offers outstanding service (at the time of writing 9.75/10 at Reseller Ratings) 30 day refunds and free shipping on orders over $39.99 to 48 states.

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC are in Utah and Kentucky, score 4.9/5 at Google Customer Reviews, offer free shipping to 48 states on orders over $75, 45 day no quibble returns and will pay for shipping if it doesn't fit right.

Both are recommended retailers for quality of service and if you buy from either, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site).

Click to visit Revzilla
Click to visit Arai at Revzilla
Click above to visit Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Click above to visit Arai at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC

Arai Defiant X Video

Here’s a 3m video from Arai Europe taking you round some of the most notable features of the Defiant X (called the Renegade V in Europe).

Other stuff – fasteners, audio, weight, build quality, chin curtain, warranty

The Defiant X comes with a good old fashioned double-d ring fastener. And if you’re looking to fit a bluetooth set, there are speaker pockets inside the comfort lining but there’s no word yet on how easy it is on the ears or easy to fit.

As for build quality, it’s got Arai’s usual outstanding attention to detail and build quality so you should be able to ride without worry on that front. At 3.5lbs (1.6Kg) the Defiant X is slightly heavier than the average 1.5Kg full face helmet; though it’s doubtful it’ll cause any problems in practice – though click the link to find the lightest motorcycle helmets if light weight’s a priority for you.

Renegades come with a built in, permanent chin curtain to reduce noise and air flow from the bottom. And as usual, your Defiant X will come with Arai’s 5 year warranty (7 years from date of manufacture found stamped or printed on the chin strap).

Overall/Summary

Arai’s probably the most traditional of helmet manufacturers. And the Defiant X is only a slight development from many of their other helmets, using tried and tested helmet tech that’s proven to offer good protection in an impact (and much improving over recent years) and that’s popular with road riders and racers the world over.

And of course there’s also that great Arai build quality and use of high quality materials that makes owning an Arai memorable. But then it should do because Arai helmets don’t come cheap.

For that higher price tag, you could be forgiven for wanting a bit more of course. How about EQRS or how about a Pro Shade included in the box (or even better a photochromic shield) for example? And don’t forget, if you’re not used to an Arai helmet, you’ll have to get used to that quirky shield lock mechanism; plus the individual vent openers might get on your nerves a bit.

But like the rest of its recently safety tested family of helmets, we’d expect the Defiant X to offer decent levels of protection and performance for most cruiser and naked riders.

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

Good Alternatives to the Arai Defiant X

OK, if you’re after a more exclusive performance helmet, here’s a selection of helmets you might want to check out. We’ve included both full face and modulars here – but only helmets that perform well in safety testing.

The Bell Star range are some fantastic sportsbike-oriented helmets that are SHARP 5 star safety rated. There’s also a variant to suit most budgets.

The Shoei RF-SR is a great all rounder full face helmet that, again, scored maximum marks for safety when SHARP tested it.

Or how about the lightweight carbon version of the Shark Spartan – a well rated full face road helmet with 5 year warranty and Pinlock in the box.

Or finally, there’s another sportsbike full face that scored maximum for safety – the AGV Corsa. It comes with a wide, optically correct shield and is a light weight carbon/fiberglass composite.

Looking to buy an Arai?

We recommend both Revzilla (PA) and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC (UT & KY) for outstanding service. Please click either link to see their full range and latest deals or see here for more info about our recommended retailers.

Other full face helmets

There are lots of alternative full face crash helmets. You can check out our Top 10 full-face crash helmets list to see our best rated helmets. But we also recommend you take a look at all our full face crash helmet previews and reviews as well as our safest motorcycle helmets page where you'll only find helmets that are SHARP four or five star rated - so you'll know you're wearing the best protection out there.

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