Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

Arai XD4 vs XD3 Initial Impressions

I’ve had a little time to ride in Arai’s XD4 and have an initial impression of it as compared to the Arai XD3.  On a sunny Vermont day, we were able to put in a little over 100 miles mostly on pavement with some dirt and gravel and a tiny amount of slimy mud left over from the Vermont mud season.  With temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s, we did everything from low speeds to some higher speed twisties, so we had a fairly good day and mix of conditions to get initial impressions.

Arai XD4

Arai XD4

Arai XD3

For me, both helmets seem to have the same helmet shape shell and the fit was essentially the same between the two models.  However, for the XD4, Arai has redesigned the cheek pads.  Not only are they a slightly different shape and size, but the cheek pads supplied as original equipment with the helmet are apparently now 5 MM thicker than with the XD3.  In the size M that I purchased new years ago, the stock cheek pads were 20 MM.  Now, in the XD4, the stock cheek pads were 25 MM.  Frankly, the 25 MM cheek pads are probably the best fit for racing and 100% safety, but in return they give you that squished face, kissing fish face feel and look.  Not the most comfortable way to ride.

So if you don’t like the look and feel of a small aquarium fish, never fear, in the XD4 Arai has thoughtfully included an easy peel 5 MM layer for the cheek pad.  You simply just remove the cheek pads, then the covers and carefully remove the clearly marked 5 MM layer.  I chose to go this route and if I can do it, anyone can.  Then just put the cheek pad covers back on and and insert the cheek pads back in the helmet and you are ready to ride, newly minted 20 MM cheek pads and all.

Out on the road, one of the things that the XD line of helmets provides is excellent visibility.  The XD4 continues this tradition with excellent visibility with a wide viewing port, again big enough to wear goggles in if you wanted to remove the face shield.   Another thing that the XD series does well is flow air and the XD4 does not disappoint in this area either.  We did over 100 miles yesterday in temperatures ranging from high 30s to low 40s (F).   You do get a good amount of air around your neck and lower chin so if it’s really cold, you’ll want to make sure you have some way to block the air in theses areas.  However, the vents when closed did block off the air flow and no cold drafts were noted, so I’m going to say that the seal is apparently good since the XD3 flowed a decent amount of air through its vents when moving.  The vents on the XD4 are substantially larger than the XD3 and they portend much more ventilation than the XD3.  I’ll update this when we get into warmer weather.

The shield was susceptible to fogging in the cold, but it was easily dispatched with just a slight crack of the visor.  Nonetheless, I’d suggest an insert of some sort.  Kim and I use Fog City but there are others out there like Pinlock that Arai shields are set up to use.

The visor on the XD4 has been redesigned, is smaller and is claimed to be more aerodynamic than the XD3.  We did ride at a brisk pace during the day, but nothing approaching race speeds.  I was riding a KTM 990 Adventure and if you are familiar with that machine, it has a tiny windshield.  At 5’9″ sitting behind the stock KTM windshield, I did not notice any substantial increase or decrease in buffeting.  If there is a benefit, it must be more recognizable at speeds over 80 MPH.

Weight is claimed to be down on the XD4 compared to the XD3, but frankly to me it’s not that noticeable in riding.  Perhaps over a very long day, the lighter weight would be more noticeable and less tiring, but over a mere 100 mile jaunt, no much difference was noted.  I’ll add that Kim carried the helmet a bit and claimed it was lighter when compared to her XD3 and she’s a pretty good judge of these sort of things.

So there you have it, an initial impression of the XD3 versus the XD4.  Once the weather heats up a bit and we have a few more miles under our wheels, we’ll update you with a longer term update on living with the XD4.

Ride2Adventure – Shrink The Planet One Ride At A Time

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