Arai Vector-2 Helmet Review
[This Arai Vector-2 Helmet gear review was originally published in the May 2011 issue of Rider magazine]
It’s a rare treat when a sequel is better than its predecessor, like The Empire Strikes Back or Terminator 2. Especially when the original was pretty good to start with. Take the first Arai Vector full-face helmet. I’ve worn and appreciated mine so much I didn’t even know that it could be improved upon, but Arai has done just that with the new Vector-2, and it’s still the company’s most affordable full-face model.
For starters, the Vector-2 gets a new fully removable liner made from Arai’s familiar and comfortable brushed nylon liner material. When it’s time for a cleaning, undo the four plastic snaps on the crown piece, remove the socklike covers from the cheekpads and wash all of it up. Once dry, it all reinstalls easily. The Vector-2 has new, 5mm thick, peel-away foam layers in the temples and on the cheekpads, too, so you can really fine-tune the fit. This Arai helmet series is not pigeonholed in its shape to start with, either; the Vector is the Arai you try when others don’t fit. It helps that it’s made using five shell sizes: XS, S, M-L, XL and XXL.
Venting on the Vector-2 is incredibly comprehensive and flows lots of air when you want it and is quiet and well-sealed when you don’t. The three-position chin vent in front is improved, and the rear side exhaust ports are larger yet quieter. On top the front intake looks similar to the previous Vector’s, but now has a “garage door” type panel that seals the front of the scoop as well as an inner plate that covers the hole in the helmet when the vent is closed. Three 10mm exhaust vents in the top rear are covered by a static wing designed to reduce lift and accelerate air over them and draw air from inside. They all close with a single lever. The Vector-2 also has Arai’s unique closeable brow vents at the top of the shield, which direct air into channels in the crown and to your head. Overall the venting works well and all are easy to open and close with gloves, whether you choose to open just the chin vent to help keep the shield from fogging (a removable rubber breath guard comes standard, too, and anti-fog shields and Pinlock inserts are available), or open up all seven vents to really cool things down. The Vector-2 is not the quietest helmet on my shelf, but with all of the vents closed runs second or third, and it is quieter than the original Vector.
Arai says it always makes safety its highest priority. A good example is its shield changing system. Many riders complain about the learning curve involved with the SAI pods without realizing that Arai uses them to limit the depth of the base-plate pocket in the shell. A shallower pocket means that it can have a smoother, more gradual edge, instead of a hard corner that can break in an impact. Changing the shield properly does take practice, but Arai offers helpful videos and thorough instructions. In our office I’ve found that when someone is having trouble, it’s because they haven’t watched or read either, or they’re trying to install the wrong shield in the first place.
The latest generation SAI shield is 5mm longer on both sides and the eyeport in the Vector-2 is larger, increasing the peripheral view. The thick Hyper-Ridge around the bottom of the shell allows a larger opening without sacrificing strength, making the helmet easier to put on and take off. Arai says the helmet’s strong, organic egg shape is still just as aerodynamic sideways as forward and its lack of protrusions helps maintain its integrity in a crash and transfers impact loads evenly.
Overall I found the Vector-2 offers several nice upgrades to the original without any sacrifices in what was a great lid to start with. My size L Vector-2 fits a little more snugly than the Vector, but after peeling away the temple and cheekpad layers it’s darn-near perfect.
The Arai Vector-2 comes in sizes XS-XXL and is priced from $450-$550 depending upon which of many replica, graphic or solid colors and patterns you choose. Unlike The Sting II or Batman and Robin, it’s a terrific sequel.
For more information: See your Arai dealer