Helmet fit is such an intensely personal thing that many riders find a brand and model they’re comfortable with and stick with it through thick and thin—garish colors, incomprehensible graphics and the inevitable price hikes be damned. Those with affection for the Arai Signet were less than sanguine when the company discontinued it for the Profile in 2008. Imagine Levi Strauss discontinuing the 501!
Arai heard the noise, and now you’ll find the Signet-Q in the catalog replacing the Profile outright. The key feature here is shape: Arai has replicated the Signet’s “long-oval” form in the new Q, which is approximately 5mm larger, front to back, than the similar street-oriented RX-Q. But that’s not all. While Arai was tinkering with both the shell dimensions and shape—so much so that you will probably move down one size from what you’ve been wearing—it took the opportunity to greatly upgrade the helmet’s interior.
First, the fit. Our tester, who slid into the old Signet in Medium like it was made for his head, switched to a Small in the Signet-Q. From the start, the smaller shell fit much more snugly but not uncomfortably. After a few hundred miles of street use, the Q’s removable, washable liner broke in enough to become all-day accommodating, snug enough to resist lifting and shaking even on a bike with, um, less than ideal aerodynamics. He found the pressure distribution front-to-back and side-to-side was just right, but if he didn’t, a solution awaits. The Q offers a set of “peel-away” pads in the temple area that can help tailor fit. What’s more, new cheek pads have slightly hollowed channels to increase support of the lower jawbone without pushing too aggressively on the cheeks. Gum chewers rejoice. Those pads also have clearly marked orange tabs that emergency responders can pull to ease removal of the helmet after a crash.
Arai converted the Signet-Q to a wide-eyeport configuration similar to that of the RX-Q’s, which provides an additional 5mm of portal on each side. Doesn’t seem like much, but swapping the Q for a Profile shows how effective a mere 5mm can be at the right angle. A lane check requiring a slight tilt of the head in the Profile is but a flick of the eyes in the Signet-Q. Yes, really.
A MAX-Vision Pin Lock Brow Vent shield comes standard on the Q. It uses soft inserts in a range of colors, separated from the main shield by a thin silicone bead. The system has strong antifog qualities, but you must be careful of the inserts; they scratch easily. The shields and inserts, together, are more expensive than a standard shield.
Overall, though, the Signet-Q (Small-XXL; 10 graphics, 10 solids) is an excellent helmet in the grand Arai tradition and, most important for those long in the skull, a welcome return to a shell shape as comfortable as an old pair of blue jeans.
Arai Americas, Inc.
P.O. Box 787
Fogelsville, PA 18051
Price…$589.95 to $729.95
- Relief for long-oval heads
- Wider eyeport a real boon on the street
- New custom-fit flexibility
- You may end up between sizes
- Standard Pin Lock shields more expensive, inserts fragile
- Not as flashy as your buddy’s Corsair-V