Arai VX-Pro4 Motocross Helmet Review

Arai VX-PRO4
The Arai VX-PRO4. Photo © Arai

Regardless of when you learned to ride a motorcycle, you've probably heard the adage: it's not if, its when... and so it's very possible all of us know what it's like to survive a motorcycle crash. Now think about it just one more time, for me, did your head hit the ground? How did it make contact - with a single direct hit or did you skim off the pavement like a stone skipping across the water? The people at Arai helmets know it was probably the latter and design with this as their core principle... they make helmets by riders like Arai founder Hirotake Arai, for riders.

The uniquely handcrafted shell of the VX-Pro4, like its predecessor Pro3, is built to Arai's R75 shaping concept (a mandate for creating the smoothest shell possible; using a radius of a minimum of 75mm), resulting in a truly round, strong and smooth shape that's more likely to roll off obstacles in the path of a crashing rider's head instead of possibly snagging a contoured edge, wing or vent and causing potentially more damage to the rider. Constructed of Arai's exclusive Super Fiber, the VX-Pro4's shell is strong and light - as seen by standing on the core during the trackside presentation in the scorching heat of Perris, California. Simply put, round balls roll with less resistance than square ones.

While the most compact arc is the strongest, many complained that the chin bar of the Pro3 was too close to the rider's mouth, so they updated the vent grill to mount on the outside of the shell and is now one of the many vent covers, switches and trim pieces that are frangible and designed to easily break away in the case of a spill. I don't plan to crash again anytime soon, so we'll just have to take Hirotake's word on that.

With Snell standards as they are, Arai uses those benchmarks as their starting point while many other helmet makers design their products to meet those standards as their end product. Arai believes they can do more, and does. Watching video clips of spectacular crashes and conditions, Brian Weston, Managing Director of Arai Helmet, Inc. explains how a strong shell-softer interior combination is better than the alternative. There's no sense in the reverse; with room to move inside the helmet, many rider's survive their crashes when the helmet's outer shell meets those external obstacles like sign posts, fencing, curbs or other motorcycles. 

With constant research and development, rather than a focus on releasing a new lineup each calendar year and fashion trend, Arai's releases are done when the product is ready, having been sufficiently updated, often with numerous little-but-important details.

In your hands, the VX-Pro4 might not feel like an advancement, when often the marketing target is to primarily be lighter, faster and the winner. But as Brian Weston again explains, "nobody wears a helmet to be lighter, we hear them to be safer." The feel they're making the right choice (towards protection) versus the popular (and fad) option.

"G-meters' don't feel pain, but we do", so they design for the real world and going beyond the standards. Current Snell testing uses a a 5 kilogram headform, dropped 3 meters, falling straight down on to a single point on the helmet's centerline... we simply don't crash like that. If the helmet tested, passes a particular g-shock rating, it gets the Snell sticker and hits the market. But we tend to ride beyond these 'standards.'

The faster you go, the more energy you are carrying. The strictest standard in the world to date, SNELL, uses the about drop test as it's standard, equaling a test of only 18 mph. At a speed of 65mph however, your mass and direction is now carrying nearly 13 times the energy used on these standardizing tests. We typically ride beyond the testing parameters, so Arai designs their helmets to ride with us in the real world, beyond the Snell standards. And they like to remind us that helmets are more like tissues. Used it and replace it. Their products are not designed to be used over and over again, for more and more crashes.

The shell does the work of the forward momentum... the initial hit is usually a glancing blow, not what you see in the standardizing drop test. As your first line of defense, the Aria helmet shell is there for the entire crash, not just the first hit. The liner helps with the rest of the accident. Arai's multi-density one-piece liners are in a class by themselves, with different density beads fused together into one piece for the softest yet most protective interior. With a total of 10 different densities in their quiver, they combine five  of them in their automobile racing products, four in their street bike helmets and three in their motocross line.

The cheekpads take trickle down technology gleaned from their involvement with Formula 1;  their driver's being most demanding. With a formed backplate, soft padding on the inside and a foam wedge between the two to keep shape and rigidity, these pads are the most complex on the planet, consisting of 12-15 parts offering more support to the american headshape. Inside the mixture is the updated emergency release system as well. Multiple headliner and cheek pad options help to find the best fit for every rider.

With 5 intakes ports and 6 ten-millimeter upper exhausts holes and 2 lower side exhausts, air flow with this helmet feels as free as not wearing one.

Arai builds the helmet that you would build for yourself (and your own family) if you could. He puts his name on it, because he and his family believe in it. You should too.

The all-new Arai VX-Pro4 will be a 2015 Snell approved product and available for purchase in October 2014, in a variety of color and graphic choices, including White, Black Frost, Tip Orange, Tip Red, Tip Blue, Tip Green, Tip Yellow and NuTech. MSRP will be $599.95 to $609.95 for solids and $729.95 to $739.95 for graphics and racer replicas.