Audentes Fortuna Adiuvat
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
X-lite X-551 vs. Arai Tour-X3.
I've come to the conclusion that Arai's trump card is it's marketing effort, and that the X-lite X-551 is simply a better helmet than the Arai Tour-X3.
For the benefit of anyone shopping around, I will qualify that - I own and wear both, and have had ample opportunity to compare the two helmets on the same bikes and same riding conditions.
1. The X-lite is lighter - seemingly by at least a couple of hundred grams.
2. In heavy rain (and I DO ride in heavy rain), the Arai leaks like a sieve. This is most apparent around the visor, where the hard, relatively inflexible plastic seal creates gaps which allow water to run down the inside of the visor.
This can lead to dangerous situations, because if a) enough incoming water permeates the helmet lining and b) you are not using the anti-fog insert at the time, the inside of the visor mists so badly that visibility is cut to almost nothing within a very short time. This gives you a choice: visor down (keep stinging raindrops out of your eyes, but risk a crash), or visor up (try to get some visorless visibility, and risk a crash).
The X-lite has a less radically-curved visor, softer and more flexible visor seal, and better-sealing air vents that eliminate these problems.
(Having said all this, neither Arai nor Nolan have any excuse for persisting with a snap-in anti-fogging solution - not when Shark, whose helmets and visors are substantially less expensive, offer visors with a pre-applied anti-fog coating which works brilliantly and presents zero visual distortion.)
3. The X-lite creates less air turbulence around the face. This could be due to a better-designed chin curtain which also closes the gap between helmet and chin better. (As a side note, the Arai's flip-down chin curtain is a typically Japanese high-tech, complicated solution to a simple problem. Not needed!)
4. Changing visors on both helmets is a pain in the @$$. All the better, then, that Nolan see fit to have equipped the X-551 with a peak which fastens to the helmets using three wing-nuts, while Arai use four cheese-head screws (requiring a screwdriver... wake up, Arai - some lateral thinking is called for!)
And - major bonus - you don't need to swap between visors anyway, because the X-lite has a flip-down sun shield. Also, because of the location of the peak fasteners on the X-lite, changing the position of the peak is also faster, and it's secured position more positive.
In today's age, there is no excuse for designing an adventure helmet where tools are needed to remove the visor.
5. The X-lite is a little quieter than the Arai (a moot point for me, since I always wear earplugs).
6. The X-lite is set up from the factory for an in-helmet comms system.
The Arai isn't.
7. The air vents - especially the 'top-mid' ones - work much better on the X-lite.
If you've ever worn an adventure helmet for eight hours at a go, you know what a luxury this really is.
8. The Arai has always been a supremely comfortable helmet in terms of no defined 'pressure points' and ability to wear the thing for hours without stress. But in the same terms, the X-lite is just as comfortable. (With the helmet off my head, the quality of the lining speaks for itself.)
9. The X-lite does all this while managing to stay at least R2 000 under the cost of an Arai Tour-X4.
Let's put it this way: in 2009, my Tour-X3 cost me R6 000.
Today, a replacement Tour-X4 costs closer to R9 700.
The listed retail on the X-551 was R7 000, but the one I got was in last year's colours (and R500 cheaper). Together with a discount for cash of 10%, I paid R5 850 for it.
The words "No" and "Contest" spring to mind...
3-2012 to 5-2014: '08 F800GS (Sold ), '09 R1200GS Adventure (Sold - whew!), '09 R1200GS Adventure Supermoto (Sold), '10 R1200GS Adventure Supermoto (Sold).
5-2014 to now: '13 R1200GS (
), '12 F800GS Hypermoto conversion (build in progress
Iron Butt Association #59898
All your fast lane are belong to us!
Someone set up us the bike!