The Arai Defiant is one of the best helmets I've ever owned. For years, an antiquated three-quarter open-face or a hand-me-down sportbike full-face helmet sufficed my protective headgear needs, no matter what type of bike I rode. I never put much thought into it. If it fit halfway decent and didn’t resemble a modified bowling ball atop my head, it was good enough for me.
Even recently, I thought I’d finally gotten my hands (head) on a fairly decent helmet—until editor Jeff Holt took notice and boldly proclaimed, “That POS isn’t doing you any good, especially if/when you go down. Try this on for size.” He handed me a box with a familiar name: Arai. Inside was its latest edition of the Defiant (a greatly improved version of the RX-Q). It fit very well, as a matter of fact. And beyond that, it didn’t feel like a 15-pound barbell weight strapped to my head. But I wasn’t sold yet.
The real test—and furthermore, the real selling point—was donning the Arai Defiant for an early-morning commute to work the next day in 40-degree, semi-foggy weather at 6 a.m. Not only did the proprietary Pinlock fog-resistant inner shield liner do its job (no fogging!), but the turbulence normally kicked up from my Dyna’s fairing didn’t sound like a wind tunnel at speed. Buttoned up, road noise was beyond tolerable, and Arai’s clever venting system worked like a pro. Surely the integrated pull-down cloth chin shield aided in that, as I was unfortunately accustomed to air entering through the bottom of previous helmets in an annoyingly “lifting” manner—an aspect I greatly appreciate being absent from the Arai Defiant’s features. And speaking of present features, the flip-up tinted half shield is great for the sundown ride home (and easily removable when shading is not needed). While even the basic Defiant will set you back a few bucks, I’ve come to the realization that my dense head’s definitely worth every penny—which thankfully didn’t require an impromptu meeting with the pavement to figure out.