For more than a decade now I’ve been wearing this Arai Kevin Schwantz replica. I know it’s out of date, and so far out of fashion it’s come back in again. Plus it’s probably dangerous considering the recommendations to replace motorcycle helmets every five years or so, as they degrade once they’re exposed to sunlight…
Ironically, I’ve actually got more of a Shoei head, but when I bought this lid there wasn’t a single Shoei I liked the look of. The Schwantz design is a bit shouty for my non-egotistical ways, but Kevin gave me plenty of happy memories from his race days. And that coincided with the peak of my own interest in 500GP racing, so it seemed only fair I contributed something back via his Arai pension.
I’ve gone to replace the Arai countless times over the years, but not found a lid I really like. And race replicas are out when I’m not really a real fan of any of the current racers. But ironically, the sight of Schwantz breaking his retirement for a return to Suzuka last year (And possibly for this year too according to social media rumours), means my quest has started again.
At least if I’m unsuccessful, there’s a good chance Arai might put out a limited edition Suzuka version afterwards?
Tips on buying the right motorcycle helmet:
When it comes to motorcycle helmets, Dan has some good tips. Not only did he end up writing about them a lot as a Products Editor for motorcyclenews.com, he even has a certificate somewhere to show he completed Arai’s training to service lids.
A motorcycle helmet is one of the only things that it’s not worth buying secondhand. Unless you have an X-Ray machine, it’s impossible to tell whether it’s been dropped and damaged under the shell, and the only other way to find out is when it’s tested for real. Not worth it – if you can’t stretch to the most desirable and expensive race replica lid, there are plenty of ways to get a quality product for less.
Reputable dealers are your best bet, as they have a reputation to maintain by offering good service and looking after kit before it’s sold. It’s why we’re happy to have BargainBikerBrands as our site sponsor at the moment – they’ve got several decades of experience in selling motorcycle helmets and clothing, and the company was formed by John Wakefield, who previously ran the UK distributors for brands including Arai. So he’s got a lifetime of knowledge when it comes to sizes, technology and safety – and a well-earned reputation for honesty.
Get the right size! I’ve put this in bold because it’s estimated more than half of motorcyclists are riding around with a lid that’s the wrong size for them. Not only is that less than ideal for safety, it’s also often the reason people complain that their helmet is windy, or noisy. It wouldn’t be if you get the right size (Unless it’s an AGV, which always seem to have the most effective vent systems on the planet).
Need to save cash? Look for plain colours, and consider end of season/last year models. The latest Shane Byrne replica Shoei NXR could be yours for £489.99. But you can save £100 with a plain version for £389.99. The same is true of every range. And there’s nothing wrong with sale items – just make sure it’s not a display model which has been sat in a shop window every day for the last few years. You want it box fresh.
It’s also worth checking out which brands offer a full spares service. Spend more on one of them, and instead of replacing your lid after a couple of years, you can just buy new cheekpads for example. And often you can find deals including a spare or dark visor which would cost a fair bit when bought separately.
Consider investing in an affordable back-up lid. Handy if you’re on a track day and you want to keep going after a minor spill, but also useful when your favourite helmet is cleaned and drying, or you’re riding back from having a haircut.
Avoid stickers on the lid itself to avoid any damage from adhesives – you can always advertise yourself (or rescogs.com) with a sticker along the top or bottom of your visor.
As a general rule, anything attached to a helmet (comedy mohicans etc) is a rubbish idea. Especially for the person behind who ends up getting hit by a bit of novelty plastic or fur at 70mph.
Keep your helmet clean. It’ll last longer, and there’s nothing worse than peering through a visor covered in crap with the sun blinding you as well. The Visorvision sponges available from our chum Mr Berryman are a great solution when you’re out and about.
Finally – start looking for a replacement a while before you need it. That way you can take your time, shop around, and make sure you get the right size. The first thing you’ll do is spend a week looking in every shop window as you ride past to check out your reflection, so you might as well get it right!