The motorcycle business seems to be converging on two distinctly different markets these days.
The first is (in my words) the luxury dual-sport market, in which the king, the BMW R 1200 GS (soon to be the R 1250 GS,) is fending off new contenders for the crown. Let’s be honest, the buyers here tend to be at least somewhat well-heeled and middle-aged. These are expensive, after all.
The other market is the urban market — naked bikes that handle well, may have a smaller displacement and are meant to be ridden in town. The demographic that manufacturers are shooting for is young and fashion-conscious. If you’re uncharitable, you might call them hipsters.
It’s the latter category that Arai is trying to snag with their latest helmet, the Defiant-X, which they put on display at the AIMExpo in Las Vegas.
They hope that someone on a Fat Bob or a R nineT will find the retro appearance and modern safety features of the Defiant-X an aesthetic complement to their ride.
Arai says the sculpted look of the chin bar is a callback to Arai’s history of flat-track racing. And it’s a significant change to the standard Arai look.
What’s unchanged, they say, is the round, smooth shape of the crown. They have no intention of altering what they say is a safety feature. The smooth roundness of the crown reduces rotational pressure on contact, which turns a severe blow into a glancing one.
The chin vents are also callback to the flat-track racing gear. To help create internal airflow, the vents lead to ducts down each flank inside the helmet. The goal is to draw air across the face.
The Defiant-X costs $659.95 for the base model, and $809.95 for the model with hand-painted graphics (you can tell they’re hand-painted because there are tiny imperfections in some of the lines.)