Arai is steeped in history—predating World War II and even the helmet chin bar—and it had to step back in time a little bit to meet a contemporary desire to buy three-quarter helmets. The Japanese brand proudly protects Formula 1 drivers and MotoGP racers, which is more credibility than many gourd guards can claim. A multidensity EPS liner and a complex, proprietary fiberglass shell structure mirror full-face Arai technology, and five shell sizes are used to span six helmet sizes from XS to XXL.
Sliding the Classic-V (said "classic vee") onto the head, it's clearly higher quality and more comfortable than other helmets in the category. The intermediate-oval shape is welcoming, the lining is cushy, and the speaker pockets around the ears mean no pressure points. A faux-leather trim around the helmet's edge adds a touch of class. Whether it's worth full-face money—$470, with solid colors only, so far—is up to you.
What you get with the Classic-V is a retro look with industry-leading manufacturing. It feels like a modern three-quarter helmet, not a minimalist, thinly padded brain bucket. Cool, sure. And with any luck, chin bars will be cool again someday too.
The Arai Classic-V offers vintage style with the company's dedication to protection.