There’s a lot to consider when you’re shopping for a new helmet. And given the sheer volume of choice on the shelves, it can be bloody confusing trying to drill down to the perfect lid for your nut.
And the price range in helmets is off the charts. You can pick one up from Aldi for $80 (please don’t) or bust through the $1000 mark at a dealership. I can’t think of another motorcycle product that covers such a wide range of prices while offering the same stated aim…in this case, to protect your head.
I’ve been wearing an Arai EC XD-4 adventure helmet for a few months now.
The XD-4 is a helmet that can be configurated to run in full adventure trim, road configuration (no peak) or motocross style where you replace the visor with a pair of goggles, (why do we call them a pair of goggles when they only come in one piece?).
But hey, there’s nothing too special about being able to remove a peak so let’s dig deeper into the XD-4.
WEIGHT, FIT AND PEAK FITNESS
The most common question I hear asked about helmets is, how heavy is it? There are lighter helmets than the XD-4 on the market (about 1.68kg), but at this level, there aren’t any truly heavy helmets. The weight is perfectly acceptable and having worn it a lot across a range of different rides and conditions, I can assure you that at no point did I wish I had a lighter helmet.
I did wear a Bell Moto 3 through the 90s, so maybe my neck muscles developed like Mike Tyson’s.
The comfort factor is extremely important though and along with the KLIM Krios Pro, the XD-4 is the most comfortable helmet I’ve worn.
The cheek pads are substantial but not overly intrusive and are contoured to fit your face rather than a flat slab of foam. And I haven’t felt any rubbing anywhere nor chaffing from the forehead padding.
The padding is simple to remove and includes an emergency check pull so the XD-4 can be removed safely after an accident.
I run a Cardo Packtalk comms system which was very simple to install in the XD-4 which offers recessed speaker mounting spaces and a flat enough strip to fasten the mount.
The noise level inside the XD-4 is low and the peak is good at handling winds without extreme buffeting. Side winds do catch it out at times, but off the windshield I have no complaints. The black finish on the bottom of the peak reduces glare which is also a nice touch.
The plastic screws that hold the peak are a bit too soft for my liking though and I’ve already lost one which came loose on its own. Replacements are available.
VENTING | LET IT FLOW
A huge factor in choosing a helmet is for me, the available venting. Australia has schizophrenic weather but when it decides to get hot it can suck the life out of a ride day if your head is cooking. And it’s dangerous too. A few hours in 38 degrees and you’ll start riding as silly as a clown’s dick and that’s when things go bad.
The XD-4 offers the most effective venting I’ve ever seen with a host of intakes and channels designed to maximise airflow in different regions.
As you’d expect, the centre of the chin piece can be opened and closed but inside on each side of the chin piece you’ll also find sliders that actuate what’s called the Free Flow System (FFS). They allow air in through two vents at the front which flow in such a way as to pull warm air out of the helmet which helps prevent fogging.
There are also closable brow vents at the top of the visor which feeds air into channels that direct the breeze onto your forehead which feels mighty good when needed.
At the top of the helmet, you find two scoops that channel air onto the top of your head and aiding that is the XD-4’s peak which is designed to push air towards those vents.
At the top of the rear, there are two very large outflow vents that force warm air out of the helmet, while at the lower sides there are two more smaller outflow vents as well as a long exhaust vent along the neckline.
To get more ventilation than that in an adventure helmet you’d surely have to cut the top off (please don’t).
Under the chin-piece is a clever drop-down curtain to help keep cold winds out. I had no idea it was there and only found it by accident but it’s a better solution than the pop-out shields which I hate the feel of until I need it and it’s sitting back at home.
The visor can be cracked just a few millimetres should you need to clear any fogging or grab some extra fresh air. I have been running a light-sensitive Pinlock which I didn’t appreciate fully until I took it out recently. I’m hopeless at installing Pinlocks but having a transitions-style Pinlock negated the need for sunglasses. The XD-4 does not offer a drop-down sun visor.
The XD-4 comes in a heap of colourways – mine is the Cover Blue (matte) but tri-colour Africa Twin owners will love the matching XD-4 design. And the helmet comes in 5 shell sizes from XS to XXL so it’s imperative that you try one on to get the best fit.
ARAI XD-4 | QUALITY AND COMFORT
The helmet is made of top-quality components and the shell is one of the best that Arai offers which puts the XD-4 in the upper price range. But your head is not a replaceable part and what we do is dangerous, so wearing a well-fitting helmet built to high specs is kind of a…and I hate to say it…no brainer.
At an RRP of $949.95, you’re buying a supremely comfortable and well-ventilated helmet that offers as much peace of mind as possible. The XD-4 is outstanding. If it’s within your budget, don’t hesitate.