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alan katkich

alan katkich

Arai XD4: Still Adventuring In 2021

Arai is a helmet manufacturer that is synonymous with premium, top quality helmets. Those who wear an Arai know helmets and know quality. 

In the dual sport/ADV world, the Arai XD4 has an almost cult-like status. 

The helmet was made famous with the reality series Long Way Round featuring Charlie Boorman and his pal, actor Euen McGregor who rode around the world together. That series made the BMW GS famous as well as the Arai XD4.

In this article we will dive into the helmet and see what makes it loved by so many. You can determine if this may be the helmet for you on your next adventure. 

Like all Arai helmets, the XD4 is hand made in a small, family run factory in Japan. Attention to detail and a tried and true manufacturing method with top quality materials is what sets their helmet apart from the rest. 

Using carbon fiber and organic resins laid perpendicular in layers by hand is how the XD4 ‘s outer shell takes shape. Speaking of shape, the Arai XD4 is best suited for the intermediate oval head shape. This should include about 90% of the riders out there.

Interior

We want to start in the interior of this helmet because we feel it’s what sets this helmet apart from the others. 

Arai uses a very effective tear away system in the comfort liner of this helmet. 5mm tear away pads adorn the cheek pads as well as the liner of the crown of the helmet at the temples. This gives you the ability to customize your fit further than most helmets allow. A superior fit will lead to superior crash protection. This is something that Arai is known for in the industry. They take fitment very seriously. 

Along with this, the interior liner is removable, washable and keeps you dry from sweat and cool as well. 

The liner is one of the best in the business. It is super comfortable. If it sounds like I’m a bit of an Arai fan boy, It’s because I am. I have yet to put my head in a more comfortable helmet than an Arai save, maybe a Shoie, and the XD4 Is no different. 

Venting

Venting is a strong point with the XD4. Any touring helmet needs to pay particular attention to its venting. A rider can get fatigued quickly in an excessively warm lid. 

I find no such issues with the Arai. 

The two large diffusers at the top back of the shell do quite a good job at extracting warm air out of the helmet

The chin vent is fantastic. But probably the best feature as far as air flow for me, has always been the two brow vents cut right into the face shield. A steady stream of air over the brow is a blessing on a hot ride. There are also some jawline diffusers that I’m not quite sure how effective they are but overall this is a well vented helmet.

Versatility

The XD4 is actually three helmets in one. You have the obvious full-on ADV setup with its peak and shield. You can remove the peak if you are simply riding around town for the day and want a standard looking full-face helmet. This is also useful on the freeway as well. Depending on your size and your windscreen setup, the peak can be annoying if it catches wind at elevated speeds. Finally you can remove the peak and the shield which allows  you to ride with goggles for full on dirtbike action. 

Safety

With a composite, handmade shell and a Snell 2020 rating, the XD4 is at the upper end of the safety spectrum in the market. As mentioned earlier, proper fitment makes for a safer helmet. With the tear away adjustments in the comfort liner, you are likely to get a superior fit. 

Shield

The shield on the XD4 is exceptionally clear. I think a lot of its great vision has to do with the super wide peripheral vision it offers. Another bonus is what was mentioned earlier and that’s the  brow vents incorporated into the shield. Not only does it provide added air flow to keep you cool, it helps eliminate fogging as well. Overall vision out of this thing is the best you get out of a full face helmet.

Noise

For an ADV style helmet, the XD4 is acceptable if not better than most. ADV helmets can be excessively noisy due to the peak. With the Arai we found no such issue. This of course will differ from rider to rider due to personal tolerance and bike set up, be we are confident noise will not be an issue for most. 

Pros and Cons

What we love the most about the Arai XD4 is its comfort. A touring helmet needs to feel good on your head and the Arai is exceptionally comfortable. Once you put one on, it will be difficult to try on any other and find it comparable. For the intermediate oval head, it’s the best on the market for comfort in the ADV realm.

What goes along with all that comfort and quality is a fairly hefty price tag that we will add to our cons. You do get what you pay for but unfortunately with the facts of life being what they are, that may leave some priced out of this helmet.

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Conclusion

So is the Arai XD4 deserving of the cult-like status it enjoys in the ADV world? The answer for us is a resounding yes. Arai makes a great helmet. It is no fluke that this helmet is a legend. ADV riders know their gear. Probably better than any other style of rider. If they resoundingly agree that a particular product is one of the best, you can take that to the bank.

The current XD4 has been on the market for quite a few years now so we expect an updated version in the near future. It will be difficult to make this winner even better. It’s likely why Arai are letting this current version ride out as long as possible. Why fix what ain’t broke? 

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