The primary 20 or so seconds of the 2022 Grand Prix of Catalunya turned out to be much more intense than the standard MotoGP race. Blazing down the entrance straight after the beginning, the 24 riders needed to brake very arduous for Flip 1, and the funnel impact of them vying for a similar piece of asphalt led to actual drama.A 100 mph, three-rider crash at that first nook began when Taka Nakagami misjudged his braking level, locking and tucking the entrance wheel of his LCR Honda Idemitsu RC213-V.Because the bike hit the observe, momentum swiftly threw him face-first into the rear Michelin of Pecco Bagnaia’s Ducati GP22—inflicting Bagnaia to go down, too. Nakagami’s machine slid into Alex Rins on the manufacturing unit Suzuki GSX-RR, taking Rins out. It was ugly within the excessive.The entrance of Nakagami’s helmet hit face-first into the bottom a part of Bagnaia’s rear tire—ripping off his face defend within the course of—and Nakagami’s head was immediately spun up into the underside of the Ducati’s again finish.Nakagami’s helmet briefly jammed the rear wheel, inflicting Bagnaia’s crash. Fortuitously, Nakagami’s helmet didn’t keep between the rear tire and the again of the bike; he was ejected onto the observe and slid into the gravel entice.Taka Nakagami was sporting an Arai helmet.As a testomony to the power and affect absorption capability of the Arai, Nakagami was seen aware, albeit a bit disoriented, within the aftermath. He was instantly taken to the medical middle, after which rapidly to the hospital.“After yesterday’s crash, I really feel fortunate as a result of I’ve no critical harm, no fracture, and I’m okay,” Nakagami mentioned. “I spent the night time on the Intensive Care Unit beneath remark, however all is sweet.”Fortuitously, right here at Final Motorcycling, it’s uncommon that we really ‘check’ a helmet. Nonetheless, I can testify that I owe my life a number of occasions to Arai expertise. Nonetheless, the Nakagami crash was such a rare check of a helmet that it’s price taking a look at intimately.The Arai Corsair-X that Nakagami was sporting (named the RX-7 in different markets), did its job much better than may have been moderately anticipated of any helmet. That he didn’t actually have a concussion, not to mention something worse, is astounding.Primarily, there are three areas of Arai expertise that saved him that day:
- The sheer power of the Arai handmade Tremendous Fiber shell withstood two terribly arduous impacts.
- Arai’s Glancing-Off expertise prevented the helmet from twisting on the Ducati’s tire, jamming completely within the rear sub-frame of the bike itself, or catching on the bottom as Nakagami slid away.
- Arai’s multi-layered EPS contained in the helmet mitigated each impacts fully and prevented them from being transferred to Nakagami’s head, which may have killed him.
1) The sheer power of the Arai handmade Tremendous Fiber shell withstood two very, very arduous impacts. Each impacts have been blunt-force trauma at its most excessive, and the primary occurred in any helmet’s probably weakest part—the big eye port and chin guard. For comparability, any MotoGP fan who watched Marc Marquez’ notorious 2020 crash, when he was tagged by the entrance tire of his bike and shattered his humerus bone, should marvel on the related stage of affect taken by Nakagami’s head and face.Arai shell expertise incorporates two areas that saved him. The maintained integrity of the shell prevented the chin guard from collapsing, defending Nakagami’s face. Plus, it helped keep away from the helmet from being caught and rotating, which might have damaged his neck.An Arai shell is a fancy piece of apparatus with a long time of expertise behind its expertise. The Egg Formed Kind (ESF) narrows on the backside, matching the skeletal construction of the human face. The shell’s steady curve radius of a minimum of 75mm is the best radius for max power, in keeping with Arai, and that R75 attribute improves the helmet’s capability to take care of shocks coming from any route with out collapsing.The shell can also be noticeably thicker across the backside. Arai calls it the Hyper Ridge—a novel, added band of Tremendous Fiber that makes the helmet opening significantly stronger. The Hyper Ridge improves the power across the helmet opening and the chin guard, and manages the unfold of vitality to the remainder of the shell. Due to the added power constructed into the shell, the entrance of Nakagami’s Corsair-X retained its integrity, saving his face, and certain his life.The Arai shell-making course of is painstaking. It explains why an Arai shell is so uniquely sturdy, but additionally manages to be mild. Solely an elite group of Arai Shell Specialists have the ability and expertise to hand-make every Arai shell. The craftsmen endure an intense apprenticeship to change into licensed Arai Shell Specialists. Presently, there are solely 15 of them.To create the Arai shell, over 20 exact particular person items minimize from greater than 20 totally different supplies are precisely positioned right into a preheated mould. These supplies should not the on a regular basis fiberglass matting you should purchase in AutoZone to repair your boat. The proprietary Arai Tremendous Fiber was developed in-house. It has 30 p.c extra power than standard fiberglass, and Arai says it’s six occasions costlier. Tremendous Fiber offers unbelievable tensile power in addition to resistance to cracking.The Tremendous Fiber is meticulously bonded right into a shell utilizing Arai’s distinctive and specifically formulated resins, which have been additionally developed in-house. Striving to make use of the minimal resin to maintain the helmet secure but mild, Arai’s shell development methods have been developed to get the fibers uniformly balanced and as near the floor as attainable. Arai shells should not have hidden swimming pools of resin that probably trigger weak spots and a vulnerability to interrupt in an affect.This uniform and extremely exact molding makes use of the “bag course of” to maximise the fiberglass-to-resin content material ratio. Shell supplies are positioned in a heated mould the place resin is added, and an expandable balloon is then put into the mould. The mould is sealed, and the balloon is pressurized to drive the resin absolutely into the shell elements. This compresses the shell layers and forces extra resin from the mould. The heated mould then cures the resin, bonding the shell supplies.But, as expert because the Arai shell consultants are, reaching a wonderfully uniform shell is tough. The thickness is consistently measured all through the manufacturing course of utilizing precision micrometers to make sure absolute consistency.As soon as the shell is in its fundamental kind, a robotic laser-cutter precisely creates the eyeport and outer shell edge. It’s accomplished with such precision that the integrity of the fastidiously crafted shell will not be compromised. That is particularly vital across the eyeport to make sure there is no such thing as a weak level to present manner in a direct frontal affect, resembling that skilled by Nakagami.An Arai shell is a fragile steadiness between power and weight. As a lot as a helmet must be protecting in a crash, it should even be comfy and quiet for all these hours within the saddle. A cushty rider who will not be distracted by their helmet can also be a safer rider. 2) Arai’s Glancing Off expertise helped stop the helmet from twisting on the Ducati’s tire, jamming into the rear subframe of the bike, or grabbing the bottom as he slid away.Arai shells are designed to face up to extraordinary affect and scale back rotational forces that would have actually twisted Nakagami’s head from his shoulders. Glancing Off is the flexibility to keep away from sending vitality instantly into the helmet and disperse as a lot of it as attainable with out stopping or snagging on an impediment.Noticeably, an Arai shell has no exaggerated shapes, protrusions, or arduous, sharp angles to the shell. Because of this, Arai styling is usually derided as plain. Nonetheless, Glancing Off expertise is why an Arai helmet doesn’t seem like that of Darth Vader or the Empire’s stormtroopers. Fashionably protruding chin guards, built-in rear spoilers, and different accouterments require a departure from that easy R75 form. A helmet that favors kind over operate could have stayed jammed between the tire and subframe on the rear of the Ducati.Arai’s information reveals that any sharp edges can probably catch the bottom or elsewhere, inflicting the helmet and the rider’s head to twist catastrophically. Glancing Off negates the necessity to add different measures contained in the helmet, which might take away from an already space-limited inside liner and its capability to soak up vitality.Additionally, Arai exterior vents and the rear spoiler are designed to instantly snap or smear off in an affect or when sliding. By sliding over or glancing off objects—such because the rear of Bagnaia’s Ducati—the kinetic and rotational vitality will be minimized, or averted fully. Smoother is safer!3) Arai’s multi-layered EPS contained in the helmet mitigated each impacts fully and prevented them from being transferred to Nakagami’s head.In fact, helmet security is about greater than merely shell power. That’s merely the primary—albeit essential—line of protection. The vitality from these monumental impacts, as soon as resisted by the helmet’s shell, then wanted a compressible layer to soak up as a lot vitality as attainable earlier than it reached Nakagami’s cranium.That is accomplished utilizing layers of EPS—expanded polystyrene. Getting old and compression of the EPS liner throughout regular utilization is why helmets needs to be retired after a median of 5 years of damage, or seven years after the manufacturing date—whichever comes first—and most undoubtedly after a crash. After a crash, I’ve observed that my helmet inside appears roomier. That is as a result of compression of the EPS liner. As soon as that has occurred, the EPS has accomplished its job and gained’t do it once more anyplace close to as successfully. Should you’ve crashed in a helmet, it’s time for a brand new one.The EPS utilized by Arai appears to be like like customary polystyrene foam. Nonetheless, as with the ‘fiberglass’ of the skin shell, the EPS is developed in-house and distinctive to Arai. The EPS liner incorporates energy-absorbing expertise that’s each mild and extremely resilient. It’s far stronger and extra advanced than something you’ve seen earlier than. This isn’t the identical materials because the polystyrene peanuts packing your Amazon deliveries!Just like the outer shell, Arai’s one-piece, multi-density liners are made by hand, not machines. There are as many as 4 densities of EPS materials in a single shell. These advanced liners allow Arai to fine-tune vitality absorption in all of the areas of the helmet, whereas protecting the scale as compact and uniform as attainable.A head inside a helmet contacts the EPS liner by means of the consolation liner. So, wherever attainable, the softest densities are at that contact sphere, resulting in Arai’s legendary ‘plush’ really feel and luxury. Numerous that consolation comes from Arai’s shell power, so the EPS layer will be softer and extra comfy. Different producers use a extra inflexible EPS liner to compensate for a weaker shell. The result’s a helmet that’s much less plush inside and never as comfy.Nakagami’s two impacts above and under the Corsair-X’s eyeport have been on the most susceptible locations on any helmet to take a direct hit. It’s the place the shell is probably the weakest, and it’s the place the EPS layer must be thinnest to ensure that a rider to have the ability to see forward when leaning far ahead.Unusually, Nakagami’s impacts have been on this exact location. But, the power of the shell and the Hyper Ridge band prevented the entrance of the helmet and the chin guard from collapsing. Equally, the multi-density EPS did its job completely, regardless of being at its thinnest in that space.Due to Arai, Nakagami survived with out critical harm. That is instantly attributable to the corporate’s unwavering adherence to its expertise, and its disciplined strategy to go safety. Arai engineers stick religiously to what they know works.Over time right here at Final Motorcycling, we’ve heard fixed (and generally virulent) opposition to sporting a helmet on a bike. A valued contributor died from accidents in a low-speed accident—he was not sporting a helmet. Hey, it’s a person selection, and we recognize that.We’re not saying that solely an Arai may have had the consequence Nakagami skilled. Different helmets manufactured and worn by different riders may nicely have survived this check, too. The crash images present 5 riders sporting 5 helmet manufacturers—Suomy (Pecco Bagnaia), Nolan (Alex Rins), KYT (Aleix Espargaró), Scorpion (Fabio Quartararo), and Arai (Taka Nakagami)—so there are a lot of paths to security in MotoGP headwear.Nonetheless, the Arai Corsair-X that went by means of this very uncommon, final real-world check that pushed the boundaries of head-protection expertise—and it was an Arai that got here out with a rare consequence. Anybody who witnessed Nakagami’s crash will need to have been shocked and impressed in equal measure by the miraculous stage of safety demonstrated by his Arai helmet. It didn’t simply provide “some” safety; the Corsair-X actually enabled him to outlive the incident with zero accidents to his head or face.It needs to be famous that Arai makes a number of totally different helmet fashions. Most are designed for optimum road use, and one focuses on the racetrack. The variations basically come right down to the venting, eyeport dimension, and the extent of plushness of the consolation liner (which helps make the helmet quieter)—leaving out the off-road, journey, and open-face touring fashions, in fact.Nakagami was sporting an Arai Corsair-X—an uncompromising race helmet. Regardless, all Arai full-face helmets have almost the identical design and stage of shell power, the Hyper Ridge, and the multi-layer density EPS, so they’re all as secure as helmets can get. My favourite road helmet is the Arai Regent-X (Jungle-2), which is definitely essentially the most comfy, quietest helmet I’ve ever worn, although your head form could have a distinct expertise. Should you have a look at our bike assessments of late, you’ll discover that Senior Editor Nic de Sena regularly wears a Corsair-X with, you guessed it, Nakagami-3 graphics.Arai helmets are additionally a standout in relation to match. That’s an important component to security, and naturally, to consolation. Arai was the pioneer in figuring out ‘head form’ and has separated its numerous shells into Spherical Oval, Intermediate Oval, and Lengthy Oval shapes, in addition to the standard sizes of XS by means of to XXXL. You can too change cheek pad sizes between 35 MM and 40 MM as nicely. Should you’re contemplating sporting an Arai, then ensure you decide which mannequin and dimension is the perfect match for you–it’s nicely definitely worth the effort!All of this expertise doesn’t come low-cost. Many occasions, I’ve heard individuals say, “I can’t afford to put on an Arai.” My response is at all times, “Are you able to afford to not put on an Arai?”Taka Nakagami pictures by Rudy Carazzevoli, Tino Martino, Milagro, Diego Sperani, et al.; courtesy of MotoGP and LCR Honda Idemitsu.Extra data on Arai Fitment.