Tested: Arau XD Dual-Sport Helmet

You're just as likely to find me roosting about on a Suzuki DRZ400 as cutting a rut on a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. Needless to say, the idea of "dual-sport" appeals to me in a motorcycle and in a helmet.

I wore Arai's last hybrid hat, the DS, back in the early 1990s, at least until it saved me from probable brain injury during an unsightly cliffside cartwheel and was retired. When I went to replace it, I learned the whole concept had been discontinued. Back for the first time for '04, the all-new XD is riddled with innovative comfort, cooling and convenience features, such as washable interior padding inserts that can be replaced to fine-tune fit; adjustable venting at the chin, brow and crown; and, of course, the convertible aspect of a removable peak and/or full face shield. The XD is also of interest to those who wear prescription lenses.

Perhaps recreated for the SuperMoto craze, the XD shines during, exploration-oriented off-road riding in good conditions. Although the shield seals well, some dust will sneak in on a dry dirt ride, and if you're doing a lot of slow, technical stuff, the shield does fog despite an adjustment on the chin vent that directs oncoming air up at the visor's interior. If you're chasing fire roads, however, or even carving single tracks at a decent clip, you'll love this helmet. To expand its range of capabilities, just remove the peak or the visor. For example, you simply don't want to set off on a ride at prolonged highway speeds with the motovisor on, so just remove it from the mounts (simple screws to remove both peak or visor use a coin or driver) and slip it in your pack. Or, for a day of crazy roosting, lose the shield and slap your goggles on instead.

It's a bit more drafty and noisy than Arai's road-only hats, but it's still quieter than some midpriced street helmets I've used. I like the XD, especially in the dirt, where I often find traditional MX-style hats too loud and windy, but I would also use if for touring wilder grounds. Motorcycle Escape editors who went to Brazil and Vietnam tried to get an XD for those adventures, but it wasn't ready.

Infused with Arai's standards of integrity and obviously of the highest quality, the XD is well worth the estimated $450 suggested retail for solids (to $540 for special graphics).

What we liked:
Versatility, light weight, comfort, security
** What we DIDN'T:**
Loud/windy at high speeds, pricey

CONTACT
Arai Helmet, Ltd.
www.araiamericas.com