Following the introduction this spring of the Defiant-X, Arai has successfully re-engineered in just 36 months its entire family of full-face motorcycle helmets: Corsair-X RC, Corsair-X, Quantum-X, Signet-X, Defiant-X, and DT-X. Arai launched the original Defiant (which later became the Defiant Pro-Cruise) five years ago. At that time, the Japanese manufacturer claimed the DOT/Snell M2010-approved lid—known as the Rebel in Europe and the Rapide-IR in Japan—was inspired by the Ducati Streetfighter 848.

“While Arai has never chased fashion or fads, we saw a need for a new look,” Arai Americas Managing Director Brian Weston explained at the Defiant unveiling. “We wanted to give urban, naked-bike riders the core protection they need and the styling they want.”

That philosophy remains true today, but the sleeker, slimmer-looking Defiant-X is decidedly more subdued in appearance than its predecessor. The pronounced chin air dam of the original Defiant is gone, and the updated design feels physically smaller, even if the circumference of the shell is the same. There are 13 vents—six intakes and seven exhausts—four more than the original Defiant. And like other X models, the DOT/Snell M2015-certified Defiant-X accepts the latest Pro Shade System, a ratcheting 80mm external tinted shield that blocks sunlight or, with a flick of your thumb, serves as an aero-esque peak.

The Super Fiber Belt above the eyeport, shallow VAS shield-attachment point, and vent openings in the chin bar are all visible in this image of a bare Defiant-X shell.Courtesy of Arai Helmets
  1. Ground zero for every Arai is a hand-formed shell, and this artfully crafted shape is no different. The Defiant-X uses the same proprietary Peripherally Belted complex Laminate construction (PB-cLc) combination of fibers as the lower-priced DT-X. Likewise, a reinforcing Super Fiber Belt is integrated into the area above the eyeport of the bowling-ball-smooth shell to increase overall strength and direct impact energy away from the wearer. The Defiant-X also shares Arai's "intermediate-oval" interior—intended for head shapes common to North America, mine included, as opposed to round or long ovals prevalent in Asia and parts of Europe—with the DT-X and the race-spec Corsair-X.
  1. Moving on to the chin bar, a quartet of wire-mesh-backed grooves—two on each side—replace the previous three-position central IR vent and its horizontal openings. The new system flows plenty of air but reaching inside the bar while wearing gloves to slide open or close the shutters is challenging, particularly with the removable curtain in place. Overhead, wider-but-lower-profile, three-position, dual-function QVF-2 intakes (similar to those used on the Signet-X and Quantum-X) and a QVR-2 rear duct (controlled by a three-position sideways-sliding gate) replace the original's guillotine-style IC4 upper intakes and more pronounced ACR4 rear duct/wing.
Chin-vent sliders shown from inside the chin bar in their closed (left) and open (right) positions. Exterior crown vents are easy to adjust, even while wearing gloves.Courtesy of Arai Helmets
  1. Swapping face shields using the Variable Axis System (VAS) introduced three years ago on the Corsair-X is an experience unlike that of the previous-generation Super Adsis L-type, now used only on the final-holdout Vector-2. For one, the smaller, lower-mounted side covers must be removed by pressing a release (visible once the shield is rotated into the fully upright position) to gain access to the single-pivot mechanism. Rolling the shield downward frees it from the track. To reinstall it, simply line up the circular brass pivot with the red dot, rotate the shield upward, locking it into position, and snap the cover in place.
Firmly pressing on the ridge at the bottom of the face shield secures the visor in the closed and locked position. Pushing up on the crescent-shaped latch activates the de-mist function.Courtesy of Arai Helmets
  1. All X models use Arai's impeccably detailed snap-in interiors, including removable FCS cheek pads with layers of "sound-absorbing" foam (I still wear earplugs), as much as 5mm of which can be peeled away for a custom fit; same goes for the temples. Channels behind the pads originally designed for the Corsair-X exhaust warm, potentially face-shield-fogging air away from the wearer and through ports on the sides of the shell below the ears—regardless if the chin vents are open or closed. Standard cheek-pad thickness is 25mm; optional thicknesses include 15, 20, 30, 35, and 40mm. Note: Defiant-X cheek pads are sculpted to accept speakers but are not interchangeable with those of any other model due to the aforementioned channels.
All X models benefit from removable antimicrobial interiors. Neither the Defiant-X nor the DT-X incorporate Arai’s emergency-release cheek-pad system with its built-in pull tabs.Courtesy of Arai Helmets
  1. Priced a couple hundred bucks less than the Corsair-X, the Defiant-X is available in XS–XXL sizes in five solid colors—Black or White ($659.95), and Black Frost, Gun Metallic Frost, or Modern Gray ($679.95)—and seven graphics: Outline Red, Outline Black, Diablo Red Frost, Diablo Yellow Frost, Carr Black/Silver, Carr Black/Orange, or Dragon ($809.95). From the original Defiant to the current Defiant-X, suggested retail pricing has climbed $60 for solids and $50 for graphics—a roughly 8 percent price hike. A Pinlock antifog face-shield insert is supplied with every helmet.