Construction, Safety, and Options
The Arai XD4 is a premium dual sport helmet. As with any Arai helmet, you expect the protection and features to be top shelf and the Arai XD4 does not disappoint. The shell of the helmet utilizes Arai’s cLc (Complex Laminate Construction) technology. That is basically marketing speak for a layered fiberglass shell. According to Arai it provides excellent energy dissipation and retains the light weight quality we appreciate in a good helmet. The EPS liner is comprised of multiple densities and molded into a single piece. Arai claims that a single piece liner will absorb more energy to protect your precious noggin.
A couple of other additional safety features included in the Arai XD4 is the emergency cheek pad release system and the nylon screws used to secure the peak to the helmet. In the event of an accident, first responders and emergency personnel can easily remove the cheek pads. This will allow them to keep your neck more stable while removing your helmet. The nylon screws in the peak will be able to shear off and avoid transferring any extra force to your head and neck if the peak were to get caught on something.
I have not exactly crash tested The Arai XD4 and I hope I never crash test it, but it does have the Snell and DOT 2010 certifications and the overall feeling of the helmet does inspire confidence. One of the first things I noticed when I put this helmet on is the weight. My size large weighs in at 3 lbs., 10oz. This helmet is definitely on the lighter side of the market. I would say it is very comparable to my Shoei X-Eleven in weight.
The Arai XD4 is available in solid colors, graphic designs, and Hi-Viz. The prices typically range from $540.00 - $646.00. My first choice was silver, but when I was purchasing silver was not available, so I went with Hi-Viz. Graphics will cost you about $110 extra and Hi-Viz will run about $20 extra. I like the graphics, but at this price level you should be able to have the Mona Lisa on your helmet if you like. There are also several shield options available. The Arai XD4 comes with a clear shield, but you can also purchase light and dark tint shields. Adding to the adaptability of the Arai XD4 is the ability to use goggles. You can use them with or without the shield. On a hot summer day with no chance of rain you could remove the shield altogether and have a dirt style helmet. On the other hand you can remove the peak and leave the shield in place for a more street style helmet. Leaving the peak and shield in place and adding goggles will give you an excellent dual sport helmet with very little compromise.
If you are inclined to spend even more, pinlock shields are also available. If you go with the pinlock shield you can pick between clear, light tint, dark smoke, and yellow inserts.
What’s In The Box
Your Arai helmet does include their standard 5 year limited warranty and you will also find a helmet bag, manual, stickers, and silicon lubricant in the box.
Sizing and Fit
When I was at Competition Accessories trying different helmets on, I figured out that I was right in between a medium and a large on the Arai XD4. The Arai XD4 shell is considered an intermediate oval shape and will likely fit most people. To help you with sizing I also use a Shoei X-Eleven in medium and a Fox V1 dirt helmet in medium. One unique feature the Arai XD4 offers is some adjustability in the cheek pads and side of the top liner. If you need a little more room around the cheeks you can pull the pads out and there is a 5mm tear off on each pad. You will find a similar feature in the top liner. If your head is more of a round shape you may find that tearing the foam away from the top liner will make it more comfortable.
In the pics below you can see the tear offs in the cheek pads and head liner.
I had the pleasure of spending about 8 hours and 200 miles in this helmet. I rode a short stretch of interstate, twisty mountain roads, gravel roads, and trails with this helmet on and it was comfortable all day. The weather ranged from low 50’s F to High 60’s F.
The inside of the Arai XD4 is very nice. You can definitely tell you are wearing a premium helmet. The liner features a wicking fabric called Dry-Cool. After riding a few trails I can vouch for the wicking properties of the liner. The evaporative cooling it provides is very effective.
Some helmets of this type have a shield that can cause optical distortions because of its shape. The Arai XD4 shield is optically correct and provides a large opening for peripheral vision. When opening and closing the shield the motion is smooth and about half way up there is a second detent that allows the shield to go all the way up and back a little more. The shield does not bump the underside of the peak and while it does move back you can still see a little bit of the shield above your sight line. Even though I could still see the bottom of the shield I did not find that it was distracting or significantly reducing my ability to see. When lowering the shield you can leave it closed with a small crack to let air in or you can utilize Arai’s positive shield lock and get a really good seal.
The shield design on the Arai XD4 allows the use of goggles underneath. When riding dual sport bikes it gets very hot to ride offroad with the shield closed. By adding goggles you can quickly open the shield and get the maximum airflow without worrying about dust in your eyes. I use Scott OTG (Over The Glasses) goggles with the Arai XD4. The goggles did fit, but it was a tight fit. Once I got them in place they were comfortable and the setup worked well. I was also able to slide my glasses on easier than any helmet I have ever owned.
(Special thanks to my purdy wife for modeling for me.)
Once I got out on the street and I reached speeds of 60-70 mph I was surprised how little wind drag this helmet has. Prior to the Arai XD4 I always rode my KLR with my Fox V1 dirt helmet and goggles. There is a lot more drag at higher speeds in the Fox V1. The peak had little to no lift. In contrast, my Fox V1 will lift your head up at higher speeds. After a long day of riding the weight and stability of the Arai XD4 reduced my neck and shoulder strain dramatically compared to the Fox V1 I usually wear.
When looking straight ahead the Arai XD4 was very stable at high speeds. I did notice a faint whistle sound when my head was in certain positions at speeds over 55 mph. There is a bit of drag when doing shoulder checks at higher speeds, but it is not excessive and certainly not a deterrent to the Arai XD4.
Another standout quality of the Arai XD4 is the myriad of vents incorporated into the helmet. You have a chin vent, two screened intake vents on the side, two intake vents on the top, two brow vents in the shield, two exhaust vents on the top rear, and two exhaust vents on the bottom rear. All of the vents except the bottom rear exhaust vents can be opened and closed. The top exhaust vents have a three position vent and the two screened intake vents have a slider that can be set at any point just inside the helmet at the chin. The rest of the vents are either open or closed.
When I was taking pictures for this review I found another feature of this helmet that I have not seen any other reviews mention. Inside the chin vent there is another slider. When this slider is open the air from the chin vent is directed at the rider's face. If the slider is closed the air is redirected to the shield to assist in defogging.
While riding I found the ventilation of the Arai XD4 to be very good. With all the vents closed and my shield locked I did start to experience a slight fogging. When I unlocked the shield and opened the chin vent the problem was solved. While testing each vent I was able to feel a difference in airflow with each one as I changed their positions. While I could feel the top vents moving air, I expected them to move a little more air than they were. I don’t know for sure, but that probably has something to do with the placement of the peak. Overall, the venting of the Arai XD4 was excellent and I would not hesitate to wear it on a hot day or a cold day for that matter.
I tested the operations of the vents while riding in Fox Polarpaw gloves. All the vents with the exception of the sliders inside the helmet were easy to operate and the “click” of the vents provided a positive feedback so you could tell you changed the vent position. I did find the top vents somewhat tricky to locate and the brow vents took some practice as well. I would suggest changing the brow vents before riding. Since the vents are at the top of the shield, your hand will impede some of your vision while you are trying to adjust the brow vents.
The Arai XD4 also has in integrated chin spoiler. You just pull it down or push it up. The chin spoiler was very easy to adjust, but it is definitely not as effective as a full chin skirt. I only noticed a mild difference while using it. In cold weather it may be necessary to use a balaclava or neck gaiter to keep that part of your face warm. I will try to update this section when it gets colder.
The noise level of a helmet is usually not a big issue for me. I always wear ear plugs and I use a SENA SMH-10 bluetooth headset while riding. The Arai XD4 is one of the quietest helmets I have worn. I mentioned earlier that I have only really ridden my KLR wearing a dirt helmet and goggles. Well, my KLR has an aftermarket exhaust and I have never noticed it to be loud until I put the Arai XD4 on. The wind noise was cut down so much that my exhaust started to be noticeable and now I find my exhaust annoying! Can you believe that? The wind noise always drowned it out before!
Since I just mentioned the SENA communicator I think now would be a great time to point out that this helmet is highly compatible with speakers and a headset mount. The SENA bracket was a breeze to install on the side and the speakers were even better. If you remove the cheek pads and then pull the cover off of them you will find a large ear pocket carved out in the foam. Place your speaker in the ear pocket area and put the cheek pad cover back over it. The cover holds the speaker in place and there is still plenty of room for your ear. The Arai XD4 is a helmet that you can install speakers in and not change the way it feels at all!
Here's some pics where you can see the SENA installed.
What Could Be Improved
While I do have mostly praise for the Arai XD4 there are two gripes I have. I think Arai should devise a way to provide a quick change shield. In order to change shields you have to remove the nylon screws that hold the peak in place and then you can change shields. A quick change shield would also make it a lot easier to clean.
My second gripe has to do with the chin strap. The first thing you will notice when you buckle the Arai XD4 up for the first time is how little slack you have on the strap. There is not a chance you will get this helmet strapped with gloves on and it is still a bit challenging without gloves. Once you do get it strapped you will find that the plastic snap is nearly under the padding of the helmet, but that doesn’t matter much anyway. There is really not enough strap left over to flap in the breeze. You will also find that there is not much padding on the helmet strap. For me, the padding isn’t much of a gripe just an observation. I did not find the strap uncomfortable at all, just hard to buckle because of its length.
Considering my experience with the Arai XD4 I would definitely recommend this helmet. It is certainly a pricey lid, but if you are willing to swing the price you will end up with a premium helmet that is very functional and comfortable. If you are riding dual sport and have the need for a great helmet on and off road you will be happy with the Arai XD4.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or would like to know anything I may have forgotten to mention please feel free to leave a comment and I will respond as quickly as possible. The opinions in this review are my own. If you found this review helpful, please consider supporting our sponsors with future purchases.
The test ride: