Arai’s take on an a retro 1980’s helmet: the Arai Rapide.

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Arai Rapide classic retro full face motorbike helmet review.

Even staid old Arai – that most traditional of helmet makers – are starting to get in on the classic/retro helmet act.

And in the case of the Arai Rapide, they’re doing it with style. It’s all in the eye of the beholder of course, but you have to say, the Arai Rapide is a great looking helmet.

arai rapide modern grey retro motorbike helmet side view
Modern Grey version of the Arai Rapide

The thing about retro helmets though, is that they’re usually a compromise.

Modern helmets are all about performance and utility – with style. Whereas retro helmets are usually about the looks and style first and usability second.

Which can compromise how easy they are to live with.

Helmet brands are increasingly trying to make retro helmets that don’t compromise – like the Simpson Venom. Unfortunately, they don’t always manage it.

Having said that, Arai says the Rapide is based on their modern day helmet tech. It’s just that they’ve added period design features like that series of (closable) vents in the chin bar and a brutalist visor plate on the side to give it a real retro 1980’s feel.

So, if you’re looking for a helmet that’s a little different but gives modern day performance, then here’s all you need to know about the Arai Rapide.

Best places to buy an Arai Rapide?

Please click below to visit the Arai Rapide helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShop

Overall/Summary

The Arai Rapide hasn’t yet been independently safety tested by anyone yet so we’re in the dark about the exact level of protection it’ll give. Though of course it has been ECE 22.05 tested/approved.

arai rapide number retro motorbike helmet rear view
This is a Rapide in Number graphic

What we can say is that based on previous Arai helmets, it should give decent protection.

And things like the visor system with included Pinlock antifog along with internals that are based on tried and tested designs/materials are known to work well and make for a helmet that’s well constructed and user-friendly on the road.

And now, that’s been combined with some quality retro design flair to produce a stylish retro helmet that looks to have most of the usability of Arai’s latest modern helmets.

Like most hand-built Arai helmets, it’s not the cheapest. But then craftsmanship has never come cheap. And besides, that’ll just make it a more exclusive accompaniment to your retro ride.

The Arai Rapide is slightly compromised – but only a tiny bit. Overall, it should be a great performing and stylish lid.

Safety

 (more about helmet safety)

The Arai Rapide uses the same PB e-cLc helmet tech that’s used on the Arai Profile V.

That’s Arai’s own special fibreglass composite mix coupled with their peripheral belt that strengthens the shell in a band above the eye port.

It’s got the same overall shape of most other Arai’s too – their R75 rounder shape which they reckon (without any real evidence I can find) will cause the helmet to better glance off surfaces thereby reducing injury.

arai rapide gloss black motorbike helmet front view
Gloss Black Arai Rapide

So how do Arai’s rate for protection?

Well, they’re generally quite good. After a few years in the doldrums, they seem to be getting their act together and – at the time of writing – they’re actually number 1 in our Top 10 Safest Helmet Brands list.

Although that list doesn’t yet take into account some of their more recent test scores – including the much more average SHARP 3 star Renegade V.

Looking at the data from SHARP (who test helmets independently in the UK) their last five tested fibreglass helmets scored an average of 3.8 stars out of 5, with only the Arai QV Pro scoring top marks.

Most of these tested helmets use Arai’s special fibre laminate construction, so maybe aren’t 100% directly comparable to e-cLc helmets. But they look to share many of the same components and they’re all essentially fibreglass-based helmets.

So maybe we can expect the Arai Rapide to score something similar? My guess would be 3 stars but possibly 4 if SHARP was to test it. Obviously, that’s an educated guess looking at past performance.

arai rapide motorbike helmet in gloss white side view
And here’s the gloss white version

That helmet shell is made in three shell sizes – which is great for enhancing protection as well as optimising fit and looks.

Apart from the shell, Arai has given the Rapide a Pinlock visor and includes a Pinlock Max Vision in the box – so you shouldn’t suffer from a fogging visor if you buy a Rapide.

That visor has Arai’s usual visor lock on there too, made to stop the visor opening on the road or after an impact.

It’s reasonably easy to use: it locks automatically when you close the visor bit it’s easy to unlock and open the visor with one hand.

And finally on safety, Arai’s also included emergency quick release cheek pads (EQRS) in the Rapide, which is a no-brainer for safety these days. Especially when you’re paying over £400 for a helmet.

So overall, we can’t be sure exactly how protective the Rapide will be without it being safety tested. But Arai has a good reputation overall, and there’s enough safety features on the Rapide for you to be pretty confident it’ll do a decent job when you need it.

Ventilation

(more about helmet ventilation)

While the actual helmet shell looks devoid of vents, that’s not totally the case because if you look closely, there’s a pair of brow vents in the top of the visor.

These two vents actually take air inside the helmet shell and channel it over the top of the head to bring cool air into the helmet. They then vent warm air at the rear of the helmet through a couple of always-open exhaust vents and a hidden exhaust vent in the neck roll.

arai rapide modern grey retro helmet front view
Modern Grey Rapide showing visor and chin bar vents

For venting to the face, there’s the obvious six vent slots in the chin bar. And while they look like they’ll be always open, you can actually close them from inside the helmet using a large slider.

That’s not going to be adjustable while you’re on the move but it lets you keep a nice uncluttered look on the outside of the helmet while being able to close them off when it gets cold or rainy.

Retro helmets are often a bit of a compromise when it comes to venting, and many do without vents in the helmet just to keep the looks clean. So Arai’s done a good job with the Rapide, keeping uncluttered lines outside but subtly including ventilation.

And the early word is that, while the chin vents do a decent job of taking air into the mouth area and onto the back of the visor, the brow vents are a bit less successful. I guess maybe they’re just too small?

Visor

(more about visors)

Unlike most Arai helmets, Arai’s removed their trademark side pods to give the visor mechanism on the Rapide a bit more of an industrial look.

But it does mean that if you want to quickly swap the visor over, it’ll take a bit more fiddling with those two plastic screws on either side before you can pull it off. Not a massive hassle but more fiddly than the latest quick release visors.


A couple of useful links…

All our Arai helmet reviews
Retro and classic helmets


What is welcome is that Arai has made the visor Pinlock-ready and include a Pinlock Max vision antifog insert in the box.

Pinlock’s are pretty much essential kit when riding in the UK or anywhere it gets cold/rainy or even humid. So that’s a big thumbs up.

arai rapide ha yellow motorcycle helmet side view
Striking Rapide HA design, named after the Arai founder, Hirotake Arai

Like all Arai helmets, there’s a visor lock on the left hand side of the visor which is also where you’ll find the visor opening tab.

When you close the visor, it auto-locks, meaning you have to release the lock to open the visor. That might sound fiddly but it’s not too bad because you simply push up on the locking mechanism to release the catch and open the visor in one fluid movement.

It does limit the visor to a single opening tab on the left hand side though. That’s a very common setup, but it’s not as handy as having a tab on both sides so you can release the visor with your throttle hand when stopped.

While Arai doesn’t make any claims about making a wide visor, a couple of owners have said there’s plenty of peripheral vision with the Rapide. So while it does look like a pretty narrow visor port, it seems it does give quite a wide view of the road.

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

Inside the Arai Rapide is a typically comfy and well made Arai comfort liner.

It’s antimicrobial and adjustable, with peel-off cheek and temple pads that allow you to tailor the fit if things are too tight. And if you still find the fit isn’t totally right, Arai does sell replacement larger/smaller cheek pads too.

arai rapide number brown retro motorbike helmet rear view
Not many brown helmets around. So if you’ve got a brown bike… this is the Number graphic in brown

Unlike many Arai helmets of old that were longer fitment inside, the Arai Rapide suits slightly less long, more medium oval head shapes (so should suit most of us).

The liner is of course fully removable and washable and the cheek pads have been fitted with EQRS (meaning they should be really easy to remove by pulling the red tabs on the bottom of the helmet) and are designed for use by emergency services to help remove the helmet from your head without disturbing your head/neck too much after an accident.

Hopefully you’ll never need them, but well worth having just in case.

The Arai Rapide is available in sizes XS-XL.

Looks & Graphics

If you’re thinking of buying an Arai Rapide, we’ve sprinkled all the graphics available at the time of writing up and down the page. If any others are released, you’ll find the latest colour schemes and designs by clicking the links below to visit the Rapide pages at our recommended retailers.

arai rapide gloss black motorbike helmet side view
Side view of the gloss black Rapide

As usual for Arai helmets, you’ll always find a plain gloss and matt (Frost) black version as well as a gloss white. And there’s also a mid grey Rapide called Modern grey.

As for graphics, there’s just a couple – the HA Rapide, named after the initials of Arai’s founder Hirotake Arai and available in blue, green and yellow variants.

And there’s also the striking Number design, in blue, white or brown (!) – but that’s it (for now).

Best places to buy an Arai Rapide helmet?

Please click below to visit the Arai Rapide helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShop

Arai Rapide Video

Here’s a good 8m video taking a look at a green Arai Rapide HA: a look around the helmet as well as riding with it on UK roads.

Other stuff – fasteners, audio, weight, warranty

Like motorbike helmets of yore, the Arai Rapide comes with a tried-and-tested double-d ring fastener. It’s a safe-as-houses, low tech solution that should keep your helmet on securely.

arai rapide number retro motorbike helmet in blue side view
Here’s the blue Rapide Number

If you want to fit a bluetooth headset to your Rapide, Arai has added some speaker pockets inside. We’ve no word on how deep or wide they are though, so if you’ve a headset with big speakers, you might want to have a word with the retailer before buying.

The Rapide weighs around 1.5Kg (3.4lbs) which is about bang on average weight for a fibreglass full face helmet. It not the lightest helmet out there, but it’s light enough to not cause any weight problems and to be all day comfortable.

Like all Arai helmets, the Rapide comes with a massive 5 year warranty (7 years from date of manufacture – which you should find printed inside the helmet).

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

Good Alternatives to the Arai Rapide?

You’ll find all the retro and classic inspired helmets we’ve checked out on our Retro helmets pages. But here’s our pick of the crop that you could do with checking out.

shoei glamster resurrection white retru crash helmet side view
Shoei Glamster Ressurection in white

First up, Shoei’s Glamster is looking like being a quality 70’s inspired alternative. It’s got EQRS, Pinlock and a quality fibreglass shell too and it really looks the part but with modern underpinnings.

simpson ghost bandit solid matt black crash helmet side view
Matt black Venom

The Simpson Venom is half retro/half current – and it’s certainly distinctive. It’s also SHARP 4 star safety rated, lighter than the Rapide and costs less.

Bell eliminator outlaw motorbike helmet red black front view
Bell Eliminator in Outlaw design

The Bell Eliminator is an auto-inspired retro that’s a real looker, with a bit of retro quirkiness built in. It’s light weight too and comes with an optically correct visor.

agv-x3000-ago-retro-helmet-front-view
AGV X3000 in Ago colours

Finally – and arguably the most authentic looking of the four – is AGV’s X3000. It’s a fibreglass full face with leather interior that’s based on the racing helmet sported by Agostini in the 70’s.

Best places to buy an Arai Rapide?

Please click below to visit the Arai Rapide helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShop

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