PRODUCT EVALUATION: ARAI RAM-X HELMET
A better open face By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Arai is a Japanese, family-owned helmet company that believes that helmets are vital and valuable safety equipment meant for long-term use and extended satisfaction. Aside from a deeply held belief in absolute quality, Arai believes in a smooth, rounded shell shape both for intrinsic strength and so the helmet doesn’t have edges that catch during a crash. The Ram-X is innovative in its shape in another way. Even though it is an open face, the shell extends along the jaw, much like a full face, so it gives more face protection. The tough, polycarbonate, double face shield locks into the helmet opening, and it comes down as far as the rest of the helmet does for more protection. Arai was one of the last holdouts making off-road helmets with removable face guards, thinking that they reduced neck injuries. No doubt that is the reason the safety-conscious company still sells an open face. Arai has fewer open-face or 3/4-shell helmets now. The Ram-X replaces more than the Arai XC, the last 3/4-shell Arai with a face shield that we tested.
The Ram-X starts with a hand-laid, hi-tech laminate with multiple layers, varied materials in the layers and strengthening peripheral belts. Inside the shell is a multi-density EPS liner. Up to five densities of foam are molded into a single liner. Different parts of the liner are tuned to absorb different impacts.
The Arai XC is available in seven solid colors for $679.95, so it is not cheap. Remember, this is a quality piece of equipment. The interior of the XC has a superbly comfortable comfort liner, cheek pads and vented neck roll at the back. It even has a small triangle section that can be removed for those wearing glasses.
The fit and comfort of our Ram-X is flawless. Nearly every part of the helmet, including the comfort padding, is available for replacement. Liners and cheek pads come in different thicknesses, so you can tune your helmet fit to perfection if needed.
LIFE AT SPEED
We’ve spent long, rough, dusty days in a UTV with the Ram-X. The initial fit was fantastic with no break-in required. We were surprised by the effort was required to open the face shield when it is in the down and locked position. As soon as we realized that we couldn’t damage it pulling on it, we appreciated the security of hearing it latch down. The Ram-X is great for those wearing glasses for two reasons: First, you can put the helmet on without removing your glasses. Second, with the flip-up shield, you take the helmet on and off far less often. While the helmet does go on with glasses on, the jaw-protecting lower part of the shell does interfere with the earpieces, so it works better going on than coming off. While the jaw extensions interfere with glasses coming off, they keep the helmet snug and in place at speed and in the rough.
The Ram-X main shield is clear, but it is available in other tints and colors. On top of the main shield is a darker partial shield. It acts like sunglasses, but it flips up and down on the outside of the shield. We’ve used helmets that have a flip-down inner-tinted visor, but most are hard to clean and scratch easily. The Arai outer shield is made of Lexan like the main shield, so it resists scratching. For UTV and quad use, the main problem is dust. It coats both sides of both layers, and that affects vision. Fortunately, both are easy to clean and hold up well.
Unlike our Arai XC, the Ram-X is super vented. Venting starts with eyebrow vents right at the shield line, and there are external vent channels that can open and close. The vent channels are the same as the famed Corsair-X pavement track helmet. Our helmet came in a Hi-Vis Yellow with black accents that we found very attractive. Our helmet looked pretty bad after one hard, dusty day, but it cleaned right up, including the cheek pads. With the open face and shield configuration, shield fogging is rare, but the Ram-X comes with a third lens in the box. It is a no-fog inner lens that attaches inside the main helmet visor. It is easy to flip up the shield to talk with your passengers or others.
The vision, fit, look and stability of this helmet on our head are all you could ask for. Sizing was right on for us. For an open face with a shield, the wind noise is virtually nil. For many people, this may be the perfect UTV helmet. It is expensive, but in this case, you absolutely get what you pay for. And with an Arai, you only need one every five years if you don’t suffer any impacts. The Ram-X comes in XS through XXXL. Go to www.araiamericas.com or call (610) 366-7220 to purchase the Ram-X.