Arai Tour-X 5 review: Does this latest adventure lid still have the X-factor?

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The Arai Tour-X 5 is the latest version of the iconic Japanese manufacturer’s versatile adventure touring motorcycle helmet. It features a raft of improvements over the previous model, the Tour-X 4, which was already a very highly regarded lid and one that has long been my personal favourite from the Arai stable.

I’ve covered 3,100 miles over the past three months in the new Tour-X 5 to see how it stacks up against its predecessor and the competition.

Arai Tour-X 5 in adventure Grey

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Wide field of vision
  • Easy visor change
  • Excellent ventilation
  • High build quality
  • Adjustable fit

Cons

  • Cheek pads are a little too 'Velcro friendly'
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    5.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    4.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0
Weight 1,700 grammes
Construction Complex fibre laminate
Chin strap type D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor No
Pinlock Yes
Interior Fully removable, moisture wicking and washable
Warranty 5 years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Adaptive fit
  • Removable peak
  • Adjustable peak
  • Quick release visor
  • Fully removable and washable moisture wicking liner
  • Speaker cavities
  • Pinlock included
  • Adjustable vents

Is the Tour-X 5 comfortable?

I’ve been wearing Arai helmets for over 20 years and the fit has always been perfect straight out of the box – which is why I was a little disappointed to find the Tour-X 5 perched high on my head the first time I tried it on. A quick check of the specs revealed that the new inner liner has adjustability front and back, as well as either side, which can be achieved by removing peel-away foam pads from around the crown cushion.

Each pad allows for 5mm of additional room, and with the relevant ones displaced the T-X 5 slipped on as neatly as any Arai I’ve ever worn. This ability to tailor the fit should do away with the old Arai/Shoei head shape debate, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it introduced on all forthcoming models as a typical example of the company’s steady evolution towards protective perfection.

Once adjusted, the Arai Tour-X 5 cradles the head comfortably without any undue pressure points, making the whole assembly feel light and well balanced. There’s a sensation of compactness about the shell, an attribute in common with the T-X 4, and like the earlier lid it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing it, particularly on long rides.

Watch our Arai Tour-X 5 video review:

The materials used ooze premium plushness and quickly wick sweat away, plus the entire liner can be removed for a full wash and refresh when needed. There is a downside to this luxurious lining though, and that is how vulnerable it is to Velcro or other hook and loop style closures. It’s only really an issue along the bottom edge where it can come into contact with jacket fastenings, but I’ve snagged mine numerous times on a storm collar and it’s starting to look a little tatty.

Arai Tour-X 5 cheek pads

What sets the new version apart significantly are the redesigned cheek pads, which are noticeably firmer and provide a snug, cushioned fit around the jawline. This makes the T-X 5 feel more like a race helmet – a ‘wide aperture’ RX-7, if you will – which adds to the appeal of running it in the peak-less configuration.

Donning and removing the T-X 5 has been made easier too, thanks to a flare in the base of the shell that gives an extra 5mm either side, bringing it in line with the Quantic, Provile V and RX-7. This also means that Arai’s optional ES (‘egg shaped’) chin curtain (£29.99) can be fitted to reduce wind noise and prevent turbulent air from entering from the face area.

I’ve tried it by switching the one over from my RX-7 and it makes a big difference on colder rides. The built in retractable chin spoiler isn’t as effective, but does help with cooling, so I’ll most likely revert to that when the weather is warmer.   

The Arai Tour-X 5 is fully prepped for specs, allowing the arms to slip down sculpted channels by the temples. I’ve worn glasses for every mile I’ve ridden in it and have never had a moment of discomfort. Unlike some helmets that can press the arms against your head and hold frames at a fixed angle, the T-X 5 has been designed to let them sit naturally on your nose and ears.

I have worn some peaked helmets that suffer from buffeting, particularly in conjunction with a screen, however this has certainly not been the case with the Tour-X 5. I’ve covered hundreds of miles on a KTM 790 Adventure wearing it and felt no adverse effects whatsoever. The aerodynamic design slips cleanly through the air, and I’ve been barely aware it’s there, even on a naked bike.  

Arai Tour-X 5 peak from above

How good is the Tour-X 5’s visor?

The most stand out feature of the T-X5 is the new Variable Axis System (VAS-A) visor system, developed from the the RX-7V, which includes quick release side pods for rapid visor changes. Unlike the old model, where the peak and visor were attached to the shell with screws at either side, the T-X5’s peak and side pods come away as one unit at the push of a button, after which you just rotate the visor upwards to lift it off. Installation, as they say at Haynes, is simply the reverse of removal – and it really is that easy. The mounting position has been lowered too, providing a smoother surface across the temple area for improved ‘glance off’ ability in an impact.

The visor is larger and more curved than that of the outgoing model, providing a clearer view at night (the more pointy T-X 4 visor had a tendency to reflect light in odd patterns at times) and allowing rain to roll off better. A clear one is fitted as standard and comes with the all-important Pinlock anti-fog insert, although different tints are available, including a snazzy rainbow iridium coated item.

Arai Tour-X 5 visor mechanism

It’s also the first Arai visor that I’ve seen not to have integrated flaps for brow air intakes, a consequence of the redesigned ventilation system, which is great because I’ve broken a fair few of those in the past. As is traditionally Arai, there are no stepped positions to the opening mechanism – it operates smoothly from open to closed and, at slow speeds anyway, can be set to any position desired.

There’s no lockable mechanism to keep the visor closed, however a small plastic catch does the job perfectly well. When shut, the visor sits tight against its seal and I’ve yet to suffer any leaks despite subjecting it to some pretty serious rain. Even with it cracked open to allow a little airflow for my spectacles, there’s been no sign of water ingress.

The aperture itself offers a fantastic field of vision in all directions and is one of the aspects I’ve always loved about the Tour-X range. The T-X 5 boasts the biggest yet, providing a pleasant sensation of space around your face and no restriction to peripheral view.

Arai Tour-X 5 visor removal

What is the Tour-X 5’s ventilation like?

Ventilation was never wanting with the T-X 4, but Arai has managed to find some improvements in developing the 5. The chin vent is double the size of the previous version, and it certainly does let a large volume of air through, enough for Arai to omit the additional mesh vents of previous versions. It has adjustability both inside and out to regulate the flow and direct it either onto your face or up the inside of the visor.

Front and centre is the innovative Arai 3D logo duct, as already seen and proven on the Quantic. This sits over twin 10mm ports in the shell and draws air in when operated via a single slider at the top. It has two positions, closed when the slider sits proud of the logo and open when it’s clicked in. The airflow is noticeable as soon as it’s open, even at slow speeds, plus there’s a further three position vent at the top for even more.

With all this air coming in there needs to be an exit, and the T-X 5 has two permanently open exhausts at either side towards the back. Above those are three 10mm holes hidden by the spoiler and covered by a three position lever. With everything open you don’t need to go too quickly to feel the effect of fresh air passing through, and above 40 mph it’s like having air conditioning.

When worn back-to-back with the T-X 4, there does seem to be an increase in airflow, however both helmets are so incredibly efficient in this department that it isn’t easy to separate them.

Arai Tour-X 5 logo vent

Is the Tour-X 5 noisy?

I always ride in earplugs, so unless a helmet is unduly noisy, I tend not to notice. What I can say is that the Arai Tour-X 5 doesn’t have any localised areas of wind roar, and there’s little difference in general noise between riding with or without the peak.

Although I haven’t tried it with an intercom as yet, it is worth mentioning that due to the redesigned interior it’s now possible to fit speakers without having to remove the cheek pads. There are also flat surfaces either side to mount an intercom unit and a pocket in the neckroll for tucking away wires.

Arai Tour-X 5 rear spoiler and exhaust vents

Does the Tour-X 5 look good?

Arai’s philosophy of the smooth, round shell shape being the safest profile for a helmet due to its ability to ‘glance off’, means that the Tour-X 5 keeps the clean, organic look associated with all their products. With the aerodynamically sculptured peak fitted it has a purposeful, dual sport appearance, and with it removed takes on an aggressive streetfighter style.

The more rounded shape of the T-X 5 is closer to the RX-7 than to its predecessor, and that makes it particularly attractive in peak-less mode – especially when paired up with a dark smoke or rainbow iridium visor.

Four graphic schemes and seven solid colours are available, making 19 variations to the range. The helmet on test here is in ‘Discovery Red’, which features a sparkly lacquered finish that makes it look custom painted. It’s easily one of my favourite factory designs from any manufacturer.

Arai Tour-X 5 with iridium visor and no peak

How well-made is the Tour-X 5?

Every Arai helmet is hand made, but it wasn’t until a recent trip to the factory that I realised what that actually meant. There is no automated production line – it’s a completely manual process, from the person who pulls the first strands of fibre together to make the laminate weave, to the guy who ties a knot in the helmet bag and seals up the box. The only robot in the factory is the one which laser cuts the front aperture – and that’s only for the sake of ultimate precision.

All in all, there are 27 stages to production which means that every helmet passes through at least 50 pairs of hands, whether it’s to form the shell, fit the EPS, drill vents or attach the visor seal. Every Arai employee cares deeply about what they do, and there’s no difference between the helmets raced at the top level of motor sport and the ones you can buy off the shelf.

Each helmet is subjected to five quality control departments during its 18 hour construction, and checked twice at each inspection, so it should be of little surprise that the finished article is built to such a high standard. Even so, one should step back to appreciate the care and skill that goes into making every single unit, and it’s that unquantifiable input that makes Arai products so special.

The Tour-X 5 is of course no exception and a shining example of that process. In addition to the basic construction, all external fixtures and fittings are suitably robust and easy to use, despite the fact that they are designed to break away easily in an impact. The hand applied paint and decals are absolutely on point and as mentioned previously, the interior is suitably plush and cosseting.

Arai Tour-X 5 rear view

Is the Tour-X 5 good value for money?

Arai helmets are not cheap, in fact they’re up at the premium end, but when you look at what goes into production – and what the ultimate goal is, the best protection possible – they offer excellent value for money.

The Tour-X 5 uses Arai’s Peripherally Belted Complex Laminate Construction for the shell to give it both strength and flexibility. In essence this involves different layers of fibre matting (Arai’s Super Fibre Laminates) that are bonded together in a sandwich by a special resin, with a reinforced band that runs across the top of the front aperture for additional strength. (As a side note, it’s that resin which gives Arai helmets their distinctive perfume.)

This technique means that the shell can be thinner and lighter, whilst still offering the impact protection needed to exceed ECE 22.06 regulations. Having seen Arai’s in-house testing first hand, I have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t do the job it’s designed to if called upon. Arai is also the only manufacturer to use a multi density EPS (the softer, inner layer that cushions your head in an impact) formed in a single piece, so as not to have any weak spots.

Much of the value is in the years of development behind the Tour-X 5, making it the company’s most advanced product to date. Arai’s philosophy is all about making the safest helmet they can, whilst keeping it practical and effective, for the track, trail or everyday use. Advancements come slowly through careful study and evaluation, not just in the lab but of real world situations – Arai has always had a close relationship with the top levels of motorsport.

There are a couple of features that some might expect to find on a premium helmet which aren’t present on the T-X 5, namely a drop down visor or integrated comms. The reason is simple, and it goes back to Arai’s unwavering commitment to safety, where any additional construction would be considered a concession to that.

Arai Tour-X 5 in adventure Grey

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Wide field of vision
  • Easy visor change
  • Excellent ventilation
  • High build quality
  • Adjustable fit

Cons

  • Cheek pads are a little too 'Velcro friendly'
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    5.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    4.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0
Weight 1,700 grammes
Construction Complex fibre laminate
Chin strap type D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor No
Pinlock Yes
Interior Fully removable, moisture wicking and washable
Warranty 5 years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Adaptive fit
  • Removable peak
  • Adjustable peak
  • Quick release visor
  • Fully removable and washable moisture wicking liner
  • Speaker cavities
  • Pinlock included
  • Adjustable vents

Verdict

The Arai Tour-X 5 is a well constructed, comfortable and versatile helmet. It brings together some of the best features of the current range, such as the RX-7’s visor system, Quantic’s logo vent and Profile V’s wider base, along with improvements of its own, to stand as a testament to the company’s commitment to safety through measured evolution.

With the peak fitted the T-X 5 is ideal for adventure touring, boasting ample room to flip the visor up and wear goggles if needs be, and with it removed makes a smart and practical alternative to a traditional full-face lid. In a previous review I said that the T-X 4 could be the only lid you’ll ever need, but with its quick-change visor, improved shape and enhanced ventilation, the Tour-X 5 takes that versatility to the next level.

Arai Tour-X 5 with rider
Price: £399.99 (was £599.99)
Still a great helmet, with the same versatility as the T-X 5. Just a bit more fiddly to live with when it comes to changing visors or removing the peak. Big discounts on offer now that the newer model is available, but certified to ECE 22.05 so stocks will run out.

Read our full Arai Tour-X 4 review here
Price: £383.94 (was £479.99)
Pretty much on a par with Arai T-X 4 in terms of quality and value, however the fixed peak and awkward visor change (specifically when fitting a dark visor) rob it of some versatility. Certified to ECE 22.05, so expect a new version soon.
Price: £431.94 (was £539.99)
With a flip front, pre-installed speakers and drop down visor the E2 offers what the others don’t. Certified to ECE 22.06, it’s dual homolgated for use open or closed and has a removable peak.

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