Arai Tour-X4 -v- Shoei Hornet Adventure.

After what feels like forever, I have finally received my repaired and serviced Arai Tour-X4. Despite all the problems with premature wear to a couple of parts, it is a lovely helmet and the fit is so much better. But the Shoei Hornet Adventure has a far superior visor mechanism, and greater peripheral vision.

So if you could choose just one of these helmets, which would it be?

Well after alternating between both helmets for a while, despite prefering the look and lining material of the Arai Tour-X4, the best helmet is definitely the Shoei Hornet Adventure, but it is not the best helmet for me.

So what is it that sets these two helmets apart? The main difference between the two is the visor mechanism. The Shoei visor mechanism is precise, each stage of opening is positive and it stays where you want it to be, each and every time. The Arai has this out-of-date visor mechanism which is wooly at best, unsure where you want it to be, and often adjusting itself.

It is also really easy to change the Shoei visor. Simply twist the peak thumbscrews, push the button on the top and the peak slides forward and off the helmet. Open the visor, pull down the two spring loaded levers and the visor pops off. It is possible to change the visor without removing the peak, but it is easier with the peak removed. In order to change the visor on the Arai, you have to undo 4 plastic screws using a coin. If the coin is too small, you damage the screw. If you even consider using a screwdriver, unless it is exactly the right size, you will damage the screws. Replacement screws cost £6 for a set. Once the screws and visor are removed, the visor will have already fallen from the helmet so ensure you do this on a table with a soft covering to prevent the visor from becoming scratched. Trying to refit the visor, peak and 4 screws is a challenging one person job, and not something you expect on an almost £600 helmet in 2022.

The Arai has the nicest, plushest helmet lining I have ever had next to my head, however after just 9 months use, the stitching gave way on the neck roll. The neck roll is bonded into the helmet, so the helmet has to be returned to an Arai service centre so they can change it, which took 4 weeks in my case, hence why I had to buy another helmet to use whilst mine was away for repair. The Shoei is still quite new, but feels more durable, and it hasn’t got the exposed stitching on the neck tube which could wear through if rubbing on a jacket collar for example.

Ventilation is good and bad on both helmets. The Arai has a great vetilation system, allowing you to direct the air from the chin bar in different directions. The downside is the sliders which change the direction of airflow don’t lock into any position, so simply carrying the helmet by the chin bar can move these sliders meanin you have to adjust them each time you put the helmet on. Once adjusted, the airflow over your head and inside the visor is far superior to the Shoei, but the Shoei ventilation system is almost a set and forget system. I leave the chin vent open, and only open and close the vents on top of the helmet depending on whether it is warm or cold outside.

In terms of noise and riding comfort, the Arai suffers from a little buffeting at speed, whereas the Shoei remains stable and is slightly quieter than the Arai. The Shoei is also lighter than the Arai, and whilst the weight difference is only around 100g, it is noticeable.

When it comes down to looks and colours, I think the Arai is certainly the better looking helmet, and it has far better graphics and colour options than the Shoei, but that shouldn’t be the reason why we buy a particular helmet.

So what could have changed my opinion and what would I like to see in the next range of helmets from Arai and Shoei?

Arai simply need to address two things in order to have the best adventure style helmet on the market. Put a simple, precisely adjustable visor mechanism on the helmet like the one on the Shoei. And don’t put stitching and soft fabric in places of high wear (neck roll). Adventure bike riders, who this helmet is aimed at, wear higher collared jackets because we ride all year in all weathers, and those collars can rub on parts that have soft fabric or exposed stiching. The Shoei has durable faux leather in these areas to eliminate this problem.

Shoei simply need to make the helmet shape and helmet colours slightly more apealing for the adventure bike riders. Where is the orange helmet for the KTM riders? The matt green or matt blue for the Triumph explorer riders? I know you can’t make helmets to suit everyone, but Arai make the Tour-X4 in 18 different colours, whereas the Hornet Adventure is available in just 7 colours.

Earlier in this article, I said that the Shoei Hornet Adventure is the best helmet, but it is not the best helmet for me, but its not down to the helmet. Allow me to explain. For almost 12 years, I have used Cardo intercom systems in my helmets. Most of the time, it is to allow me to stream music and take phone calls whilst on long rides, but I have also used them for bike-to-bike and rider-to-pillion communication.

When I bought my BMW R1250GSA, my Cardo Scala G4 would not connect to the bike due to its age, so I had to upgrade. I decided to buy the Cardo Packtalk Bold with JBL speakers. Its a great intercom, but the speakers are thicker and this is why I had to use a helmet which was not as good as the one I actually wanted. The speaker recess in the Shoei Hornet Adventure simply isn’t deep enough for the JBL speakers to sit without them touching my ears, and as a result of them touching my ears, I have had numerous problems and ear infections. When I installed the Cardo Packtalk Bold into the Arai, the speakers don’t touch my ears making the helmet more comfortable to wear.

So the decision about which helmet to buy has now become more complicated. It is not just about how the helmet fits and feels, it is also about how it fits and feels when the intercom is installed. I stand by my decision that the Shoei is the better helmet, but for me, the best helmet & intercom combination is definitely the Arai Tour-X4 and Cardo Packtalk Bold.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this Arai Tour-X4 -v- Shoei Hornet Adventure article.

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