Shoei vs Arai Helmets
When we talk about motorcycle helmet brands, the two names that can be heard almost everywhere are the Shoei and Arai.
Both of these two brands are well-known for their premium motorcycle helmets.
For some riders, having a helmet from one of these brands is an aspirational option. So what makes these manufacturers different.
I own both Shoei and Arai motorcycle helmets, and I’m quite confident with the knowledge I have about them. In this post, I won't point out who is better, but I compare these two brands based on a few aspects.
Shoei was founded by Eitaro Kamata. Before having the name like today, the company was called Kamata Polyester Co. Shoei focused on racing helmets from the start, and that their helmets were used in Honda’s official race helmet in 1965.
Shoei is a very innovative manufacturer. They were the first to produce carbon fiber helmets in 1976, the first to put the ventilation system into a helmet, the inventor of the coverless face shield system debuted on the 1990 Shoei X-8.
Arai was founded by Hirotake Arai in 1937. Unlike Shoei, Arai formed as a hat manufacturer at first. Then the company shifted to construction helmets in the late 1940s. It was not until 1952 that they started manufacturing motorcycle helmets.
Since World War II, it is difficult for riders to buy a helmet due to Japan's economic shutdown. Therefore, based on strategic vision and also on individual needs, Arai decided to build his own.
Arai has developed its production technology a lot. Specifically, in 1958, they made their helmet shells from fiber-reinforced plastic and used expanded polystyrene inner liner instead of cork.
When the first full-face helmets were introduced in America by Bell in 1963 and became popular with everyone, Arai also released a similar product line just four years later.
Although both of these brands are certified by DOT and Snell safety standards, their views on safety differ.
Shoei then thinks comfort will bring safety. Based on this point, you can see that Shoei products all have very comfortable features such as the podless face shield system. This helps reduce wind noise and neck pain.
In some designs like GT-Air II and Neotec II, Shoei sacrificed the integrity of their shell to give users the most comfortable helmets.
In other words, Shoei always puts the comfort of the riders come first so that they can really focus on their riding and then can avoid accidents.
In contrast to Shoei, Arai always puts the safety standard comes first. To prove, Arai helmets meet not only the Snell but also the DOT requirements.
They even exceed such requirements. Araihelmets sold in Europe are also certified by ECE helmet safety standards. Arai appreciates the integrity of their helmets, so they don't apply the coverless face shield system to their helmets.
Arai avoids using any technology that affects the integrity of a helmet such as a flush-mounted face shield. They also refuse to use an internal sun visor and develop a technology called the Pro Shade System.
Shoei expresses a solid view of the ultimate protection. With the Advanced Integrated Matrix
(AIM and AIM+), Shoei can produce helmets with not only safety but also comfort features.
Shoei’s helmet shells are actually made with two main types of shells which are the AIM and AIM+ shell.
A complete AIM outer shell will include four layers that are an inner layer of fiberglass, organic fiber, 3D organic fiber, and an outer layer of fiberglass.
The AIM+ has one more layer which is the Special fiber. This layer is added between the 3D Organic Fiber and the and the inner fiberglass.
You may wonder why the company uses this technology. They said that this use of special proprietary fibers can reduce the weight and increase the total strength of the helmet at the same time.
The shell is also more elastic, thereby absorbing impact better and increasing resistance to penetration.
Still, with the philosophy of bringing comfort to the wearers while driving, Shoei considers and optimizes the shape as well as the wind resistance of the helmet shell.
Their idea was to create helmets that are more aerodynamical so that it can reduce wind noise and riders’ fatigue during long rides.
With Arai, their philosophy is R75 shape (the continuous curve radius of at least 75 mm). This technology can help to reduce unwanted rotational forces.
Despite the help of computer animation in painting and cutting the face opening, most of the shell is still done by hand.
The shells are made from a proprietary mechanically expanded fiber mat. You will see the word Complex Laminate Construction and “Complex” means a multilayer and multi-design shell.
Read also: The construction of a motorcycle helmet
When it comes to choosing a properly sized helmet, the most important factor to consider is the internal shape.
In the US market, Shoei produces only one internal shape that is the intermediate oval. Although only available in one form with some variation, the Shoei helmets still fit 80% of the US rider.
If you have an overly round or long oval head, it will be hard to find a proper Shoei motorcycle helmet. If you wish to adjust a helmet, Shoei provides additional cheek pads and liners available in different thicknesses.
Arai is different from Shoei, they produce helmets with three head shapes which are round oval, long oval, and intermediate oval.
However, the Arai helmet fitment is not universal. If you fit one model of Shoei, it doesn’t mean you will fit another model from the same brand. You still get your favorite Arai lid even when it doesn’t fit you.
The wide selection of inner lining and cheek pads available in different thicknesses can help you to adjust the helmet until you have the perfect fitment.
Shoei utilizes a dual-layer multi-density liner which has a soft density foam on the top area to absorb immediate impacts.
Helmets designed for riders who usually ride at high speeds will have a medium-density foam in order to minimize speed impacts.
In addition, the foam density will also be increased to increase the protective ability of the helmet.
Unlike Shoei, Arai features a one-piece layer. Depending on the type of model, different density of foam will be used. For example, to protect wearers from high-speed impacts, Arai uses a heavier, denser foam. Softer, less dense foam is used to prevent low-speed impacts.
The EPS liners in Arai helmets consist of a variety of foam densities that are placed at certain positions within the helmet. This helps to maximize the helmet’s protective capabilities.
In my opinion, none of these 2 brands is better than the other. They are all winners of their philosophy.
I trust both Arai and Shoei. If you are wondering which one to choose, you should consider your needs. Whether you need a comfortable helmet or a safety one, your types of riding, etc. Again, consider carefully the information above and make a smart choice.
Our Buying Guide and Reviews category has details of some best Shoei and Arai motorcycle helmets. In case you are ready to get one, feel free to head to that section.