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The Arai XD-3 is now one of the elder statesmen of what is becoming a fast growing segment of on/off road riding helmets. Almost all brands of riding gear including the once urbanized ( ICON Variant Helmet ) brand offer something to this growing market. Once called Dual Sport, the term Adventure Riding has now become the more fashionable phrase and represents the go anywhere, do anything nature of the 2-wheeled beasts that comprise the segment.  Whether this type of helmet represents jack-of-all trades or master-of-none, remains to be seen.

Arai XD-3 Luster

Taking the Arai XD-3 out of the box for the first time, the helmet feels a little heavier than most full-face helmets, but not quite as much as a modular helmet. The balance feels decent with a little bias towards the rear of the helmet. Included with the helmet are instructions, a warranty card (five years from first use, seven years from manufacture date), a nice helmet sock, silicone lubricant for the rubber visor gasket, and an extra pair of visor side plates.  The paint on my Aluminum silver XD-3 Helmet has a nice even clear coat and small to medium metal flakes comprise the gloss color.  The helmet is stamped for Snell (M2005 on my example) and DOT.  Like many helmets out there now, both Snell M2005 and M2010 examples inhabit the product stream, so be sure to check if you prefer one to the other. The shell is an advanced composite fiberglass construction that Arai terms “cLc”, or Complex Laminate Construction.

Arai XD-3 Contrast

When opening the visor, you definitely want to lift by the easy to find black tab.  If you push out as you lift up it helps the shield clear a detent, which locks the visor nicely in place when closed. I count two positions from full closed, halfway open and fully open.  The shield locks so tight that you’ll probably shoot past the first one when you open it.  If you want to remove the helmet peak and shield, there are two clear plastic screws on each side of the helmet which must come off. You can remove the shield and use the helmet with goggles and the peak if you wish. The peak is also fully removable and though they worked to improve the XD3 from the generation one XD, Arai still warns that this is the best position for “high-speed” riding.  Reviews from wearers seem to vary from no helmet buffeting at all, to only a little while making a head check, to being incompatible with a particular bike or windscreen.

Arai XD-3 Motard

As far as venting, there are five intakes on the front of the helmet and five exhaust vents in the rear.  The center chin vent lever is easy to find with your finger and while opening and closing it is easy enough, you can forget about trying to find the middle position while riding. It is very difficult to move to that position without passing right through it. This opening is marginal anyway, so I don’t really see the point. On either side of the chin vent are two wire-covered vents. If one skips reading the owners manual, they might not realize that the sliders for this vent are on the inside of the EPS covered chin bar. The top two intake vents have airflow through the peak and the buttons that operates them are easy to find, though you may have to remember which way does which.  On the back of the helmet, the top exhaust vents have easy to operate levers and then the three remaining exhaust vents are always opens. One of those resides in the rear part of the neck roll.  In terms of air management the chin bar also has a very convenient chin spoiler. Simply pull down on the tab and you have instant noise and wind management. When you don’t want to use it, it retracts easily. This is a very unique and nice feature.

Arai XD-3 Thierry Van Den Bosch

The interior of this helmet uses the Arai Helmet “Dry Cool” interior.  According to Arai it has micro water cells to improve heat and moisture transfer from the liner to the vented airflow around the helmet. Arai touts the helmet shape as being an “Intermediate Oval” which is for the user whose head has a longer front to back than the side-to-side dimension. I was able to fit my thin-framed prescription glasses in with no problems and my normal size fit me fine. The Arai XD-3 interior is fully removable / washable / replaceable with cheek pads, and the top liner sold separately and is available in different thicknesses for a fine tuned fit. Also of mention is Arai’s “Emergency Cheek-Pad Release System” which allows easier removal of the helmet (still by qualified Medical Personnel) in the event of an accident. Two straps on the bottom of the helmet allow the check pads to be removed while the helmet is still on the rider.

Arai XD-3 Sparkle Black

The chinstrap itself is the traditional double D-ring design and the extra strap is conveniently held with a snap.

Like the Adventure Touring bikes that go with it, the Arai XD-3 is a wonderful all-rounder.  But just like an Adventure Touring bike will never be as fast as a sport bike, or have as much chrome as a cruiser, there are always compromises.  If you are into a quick changing shield, often ride at high speeds, or like the ultimate in lightweight helmets then the XD-3 may not be for you. But if you need a helmet that can do a bit of everything, and you often take the road less traveled, then the XD-3 may be for you.

There have been a lot of new Arai models lately and I expect to see more soon. The Arai XD line has been around for a long time and the XD-3 needs a bit of a face lift. So because some are going to closeout I would expect a new model very soon. If I was a betting man the Arai XD4 Helmets would be the name. Check back soon to see if we are right!!

ALL NEW! Arai XD-3 Adventure (Due out in late March 2011)

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