While not necessarily a “new” helmet the Rea-5 graphic brings a fresh look to Arai’s Corsair-X helmet. The Corsair-X is the top shelf unit in Arai’s lineup and designed for racers and supersport motorcycle riders.
Since the design comes from the track, this motorcycle helmet is most at home on riders that find themselves in a moderate to full-on forward lean or “race-tuck”. We’ll see this demonstrated later in the review in the noise levels section as the helmet acts quite differently when sitting upright versus tilted forward into the oncoming wind.
Safety features take center stage with meeting not simply DOT but also SNELL 2015 in the United States and ECE 22.05 in Europe (sold as the RX-7V there) meaning the helmet should meet requirements for most any tracks. Indeed, the Corsair-X might be the perfect companion for the rider who enjoys back road scratching as well as hitting those track days.
Cost of the Corsair-X might be a barrier to some riders but it is a serious piece of kit for serious work. Jonathan Rea, whose helmet graphic inspired the Rea-5, isn’t the only pro rider wearing one of these. There are plenty of pro racers out there wearing these on tracks around the world. So let’s have a closeup look at what makes this helmet so special.
Paint & Graphics
Part of the reason we were sent this Corsair-X was to introduce the new “Rea-5” graphic and I have to say it‘s a real looker. This helmet is designed to mimic the look of four-time Superbike World Champion Jonathan Rea’s actual helmet he wears on the track. It does come close but taking a closer look one will notice the green “Monster Energy” logos have been replaced with green stripes. (see the comparison below)
Jonathan Rea’s actual helmet on left with the version Aria has released for sale on the right.
There are some other subtle differences as well but it is still a great looking helmet. Frankly, I think the street rider would appreciate the higher visibility afforded by the smaller areas of black on the retail version.
It’s interesting, to me anyway, how the red/green/white/black colorway appears of Italian inspiration. However, since Rea is British and Arai is a Japanese company, this was likely not the intent. Still, the helmet looks like it would be right at home on the head of the typical “Ducatista”.
Whether one appreciates the aesthetic of the graphics or not, they are certainly well applied. The finish of the exterior is excellent and not really surprising considering the attention that Aria puts into its paint and graphics.
As expected from a SNELL M2015 helmet, the Corsair-X feels very sturdy and a bit on the heavy side at 1645g (3lb, 10oz). I think it’s a fair price to pay for the protection and it is certainly one of the most robust helmets I’ve handled.
Vent switches and other moving parts feel very solid in most cases and give the impression they will last. The only area of concern I have is the flexible nature of the rear vent actuators. These switches are long and thin so they can flex quite a bit before actually opening or closing the rear exhaust vents. It isn’t likely these will be used frequently but they just don’t provide the solid feel of the other moving parts.
Speaking of solid, the Corsair has reinforced the shell above the eyeport space to increase strength and allow for a tall opening. That tall opening is important in a helmet designed for the track and/or street rider with a bike requiring a significant forward lean.
The Corsair-X is not a simple helmet by any stretch and there are several parts attached to the exterior of the shell. These pieces and parts seem to be rather strongly attached to the shell without a creak or squeak to be heard when putting pressure on them.
Arai has implemented a dual chin curtain approach on the Corsair-X with a large removable curtain in place by default. With this curtain in place, the air coming up under the chin bar is very well controlled.
If desired the curtain can be removed and underneath one will find a small retractable curtain in place. This smaller curtain can be extended to control airflow under the chin bar if needed although it provides less control than the larger removable one. Having the choice of which to use is nice for sure.
Removable chin curtain in place on the left and chin curtain removed on the right
One thing of concern I find with the removable curtain is that it covers the emergency cheek pad pulls. If an EMT knows the helmet has them and knows where to look then all is well. Otherwise, it would be easy to miss.
If one doesn’t have the curtain in place they can be readily accessed however, the pulls are small and can easily go unnoticed. I would like to see these pulls appear larger and more brightly colored for visibility. Frankly, some printed instructions along the lower portion of the helmet to let alert first responders of their location.
A unique feature on the Corsair-X is the small, adjustable spoiler at the rear of the helmet. The spoiler can be raised and lowered through several increments and locks firmly into place. This spoiler is designed to provide adjustable pressure at higher speeds to keep the helmet from trying to lift or fall forward depending on the rider and their position.
I tried adjusting it to various points but I didn’t feel much difference at highway speeds. I would guess at triple-digit speeds the effect becomes noticeable but I don’t have a good location to test that out.
Overall the construction is about as good as it gets for a motorcycle helmet. Of course for the price, one should expect the premium level of build and Arai is delivering here.
The Corsair-X has a sung “race” fit but the cheek pads have been relaxed a bit over the previous version. In comparison to more street-oriented helmets like the recently reviewed Defiant-X, the fit is still a bit tighter in the cheeks.
Fortunately, the liner and cheek pads are adjustable so one can still remove some of the “tear-away” foam to create a more customized fit. Fitting helmet speakers can also be handled in a similar way by removing some of the removable foam to make enough space for a variety of intercom/music drivers.
Helmet weight is a bit on the heavy side at 1645 grams (3lb, 10oz) and handling the helmet bears this out. The feel is very solid and robust, and frankly, it is exactly what a helmet designed for the track should feel like.
The weight is offset by the excellent balance and after riding for a couple of hours in the Corsair-X the weight never felt burdensome. I would still like to see the next version shed some weight what with the variety of strong and lightweight composites available today.
The shape of the shell and the aforementioned balance provide a very stable experience. The Corsair-X resists lifting and buffeting like no other helmet I’ve worn. Higher speeds on open highway fail to upset this helmet and head checks do very little to upset the stability.
Fit & Comfort
As mentioned earlier, the fit is as expected for size large helmet with the cheek pads running a bit more snug than average. Arai brought their fully customizable liners to the Corsair-X providing a more custom fit over the previous iteration. It can appear a bit complicated with all the variables that can be adjusted but the extra time taken can provide an excellent fit.
One area I haven’t been able to warm to is the surface of the Eco_Pure liner. While not uncomfortable, it is not as plush as liners from the past. I get that the new liner is probably better at moisture wicking and has excellent anti-microbial properties but it just doesn’t say “Premium” helmet to me.
The target rider for the Corsair-X being supersport and racing riders means that I’m probably in the minority regarding the feel of the liner, so take that for what it’s worth. On a side note, it looks like Arai might have been reading my mind while I’ve been evaluating this helmet. Their newly minted Regent-X offers many of the same safety features combined with a new improved comfort liner. Maybe dreams can come true?
Overall comfort is good and being able to customize the fit also helps reduce or even eliminate “hot spots”. This in itself helps keep make the Corsair-X a nice place to keep one’s noggin for some long stretches in the saddle.
Ventilation & Noise Levels
Ten vents are placed on the Corsair-X with six forward-facing intakes and four exhaust ports. Starting up front there is a large chin bar vent that pulls open with into two positions. The opening reveals a passage that goes through the chin bar and another broad passage that vents air directly onto the visor for defogging.
When open, the air coming through the vent is definitely noticeable and can be felt on the chin and mouth. I didn’t notice much difference between fully open and halfway but it certainly works.
At the upper edge of the visor are two vents that pass through the face shield. Those visor brow vents are ducted to release airflow back by the temples instead of onto the forehead. Opening and closing these vents doesn’t produce much direct air that can be felt but it does create an overall cooling effect when riding in hot weather.
Up top, there are three vents each with three-position (open, partially open, and closed) sliding covers. The central vent has a port that flows air directly to the top of the head. This vent does flow air that can be readily felt. The other two vents, which flank the central one, port into the interior above the liner so the effect is felt as directly.
Moving towards the rear, there are two exhaust vents that are ported through to the interior along with a port in the channel above them. This extra porting helps pull air out of the interior by using the air flowing into the channel from behind the front vents. There is a lever at the rear under the channel housing that can be used to open and close (and partially close) these vents.
Finally, there is an exhaust port on each side about one third away around towards the rear sitting very low above the helmet base. These “always open” vents are covered with black plastic covers to prevent rain coming in as well as creating negative pressure around the port to pull interior air out.
Noise is very well controlled when the helmet is used in the intended position. So what does that mean?
The Corsair-X was designed for the track so the expected riding position is a forward lean or full race tuck. This becomes apparent when moving at speeds above 35mph. Sitting upright or even with a moderate forward lean one will hear a wind rushing noise. I would characterize it as about average noise levels.
This changes significantly when one leans forward into more of a sport/racing position. The rushing noise quickly changes into a smooth “whooshing” sound. It is much quieter and the sound is less abrasive overall. This is where the Corsair-X is meant to live and I think the closer one is to a “race-tuck” when riding, the more at home this helmet will be.
Opening and closing the top vents can increase overall noise levels but it isn’t that significant and it follows the same pattern of attenuating when one tilts their head down.
Note on Venting & Noise Levels
Testing was done while riding my 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 on both secondary roads as well as interstate highways. The Ninja 1000 has three available positions for windscreen height and I tested all three heights during my test rides.
I always wear custom-fitted earplugs when I ride. Also, rider height and motorcycle specifics such as fairing, non-faired, etc. can affect noise and ventilation performance.
Visor & Outward Vision
Like other “X” series helmets, the Corsair-X uses the new VAS shield design which makes removing and installing the face shield much easier than previous versions. Arai still uses “side-pods” to cover the visor pivot point but now they are tethered to the helmet so they cannot go missing once popped off.
Optically, the face shield is excellent and compares well with the best available. The visor is set up for a Pinlock MaxVision insert and one is included with the Corsair-X. Arai has also included a light smoke visor (also Pinlock ready) which is a nice addition.
The outward view is excellent side to side. The top to bottom view is also impressive with a bias to the upper portion of the opening. This makes sense given the intended riding position and it works well.
In my recent review of the Defiant-X, I noted that the brow vents could intrude in the outward view at the top. The Corsair-X is noticeably better in this regard and not a problem in my experience.
The release mechanism for the visor is much improved over the version on the Corsair-V and releases easily while still holding the face shield very secure. Popping the visor out of its lock leaves the visor open just a few millimeters making for a good demisting position.
There are only two other positions for the visor which are almost fully open and completely open. The widest position is also where the visor needs to be placed for removal.
It’s no surprise that the Corsair-X meets DOT rating but it also meets SNELL 2015. In Europe, where this helmet is sold as the RX-7V, it meets ECE 22-05 as well as SNELL 2015. I was also pleased to see that the RX-7V received a 5-star rating on the SHARP helmet safety scheme.
The Corsair-X certainly lives up to its placement at the top of Arai’s lineup. The build quality is everything expected and I think one would be hard-pressed to find a motorcycle helmet that has a more solid and protective feel to it.
The latest graphic shown here, the Rea-5, is beautiful in both appearance and application. The color scheme is also nice and bright with the red and green areas making for a highly visible helmet.
Overall the Corsair-X is a brilliant helmet, for the right rider/motorcycle combination. For riders on supersport machines on both the street and track the Corsair-X is not going to disappoint. For those of us who ride in a more upright or even modest forward lean, the helmet may show its bias towards designed for a more aggressive riding position.
This review was intended as a second look at a previously reviewed helmet and provides a different reviewer’s perspective on this helmet. As such it lacks some specifics and details that were covered in thisreview of the Corsair-X which we encourage you to check out.
Agree? Disagree? Have a question? Hit us up in the comments below!
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