by Gus Breiland
It was time for a new lid this year. I had joined the ranks of Dual Sport with the purchase of a used KLR and being the gear monger that I am I needed to dress the part. There was never a reason to own a dirt helmet but now that I had a “dirtbike” in my garage, I could think about brain buckets with visors. Oh, and with dirt helmets I can get goggles too. While I am at it…as you can see, it is a sickness.
After perusing helmet websites I came across the Arai XD. Dirt, Street, a combination of both. A transformer helmet. I already have an Arai head, now I must have an Arai XD.
While cool looking, I couldn’t quite figure out why I liked it so much. The idea of having the visor for commuting and a face shield was very cool. The visor would keep the sun out my eyes while I am used to the face shield and opening or closing it depending on my speed, traffic and my attitude. I also have the choice for pulling the visor off and running it as a standard helmet or I could pull the face shield out and either run it with sunglasses or goggles.
But its function wasn’t what I was recalling. One of my many other vices in life is my addiction to video games and my favorite shoot ’em up game has a character that wears a helmet similar to the XD. Yup, geek city folks. I could become Master Chief and ride through the city hunting down aliens bound on taking over the universe. Or commute to work. Which one sounds more exciting?
I have been riding for the last few months with the XD and I have to say I really enjoy it. As a friend of mine once said “There is nothing like the new helmet smell.” As the manual states, with the visor on it is not for high-speed applications. The buffeting caused by speeds over 80 mph bobbles your head around, but running back and forth to work at 70 mph has been just fine.
Of the three warm days we have had this spring, I really appreciate the amount of air you can get to flow over your face with the face shield up. I like the fully assembled helmet configuration the most. Part of it is it forces me to slow down and enjoy where I am going. At the same time, it allows me to wear my sunglasses and flip up the shield when needed rather than being stuck behind a pair of goggles.
There is plenty of chin room and with the fitted cheek pads, the helmet stays in place and is very comfortable over long rides. Buffeting caused by the visor is fine with earplugs while in the visor-less model is very minimal. You can transform your helmet easily with a nickel and 2 minutes. Four plastic screws hold the visor, face shield and shims together.
My overall impression is this will be a wonderful warm weather helmet and a good compromise if you can afford only one helmet but multiple riding environments, i.e. dirt and road.
I picked mine up from Motoprimo in Minneapolis. They are the largest Arai dealer in the area and offer free cheek pad fitting/replacement with the purchase of a new Arai. The XD comes in Black, White, Gray, and Silver solids while the graphic lids are in Gray, Orange, Red and Blue. Prices range from $454.95 to $537.95. You can find Motoprimo in either Minneapolis at 2610 East 32nd Street or in Burnsville, 1 mile west of 35W at 3150 West Highway 13.