Arai Freeway Bandage Review

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Arai helmets have been around for a long time, and the look of the Arai Freeway Bandage speaks volumes of its maker’s history. 

Just looking at it says that the thing gives a feeling of nostalgia. Its simple lines and customization give people a reason to try a ¾ helmet if they never tried one before.

Is it any good? Does it live up to the standards that Arai prides itself on, and more importantly, does it meet our standards?

Ratings

Comfort:

92%
Comfort

Visibility:

89%
Visibility

Ventilation:

83%
Ventilation

Quietness:

95%
Quietness

Overall rating:

Specifications

Outer shell material : Fibre complex laminate construction  

Shell size : XS - XL 

Liner : Ear cups with their shock absorbing liner Fully washable interior

Weight

Pinlock : none

Strap System : Double D retention system

Safety Ratings

DOT : n/a

ECE : Yes

SNELL : n/a

SHARP : Not tested


Shape and materials

Here’s a bit of history to pay respect to Hirotake Arai, and it helps understand the company philosophy. He originally made hats, but he was also an avid motorcyclist in the 1950s, when there were no helmet manufacturers in Japan. He used his hat-making skills and created products to literally fit the masses and spread the love of motorcycling.

Why the history lesson? It plays into their modern-day helmets. Arai helmets are made to fit most heads, and the “micro custom-fitting” turns “about right” into “fits perfectly.”

There’s no denying that classic look and feel from the Arai Freeway Bandage. For a nice, leisurely ride, there’s nothing close to an open-face helmet. You’re able to fully take in your surroundings and feel safe underneath a tested helmet.

Let’s talk about features. It suits different head sizes with shells ranging from XS to XL sizes. The shock-absorbing ear cups come in varying levels of thicknesses to accommodate a wider variety of head sizes. Even now, Hirotake Arai’s hat-making roots hold sway to bring that extra bit of user comfort.

The helmet’s leather interior gives it that classic look and feel. The leather itself is soft and flexible to blend good form with good function. Think luxury leather, not work gloves leather. 

Things I liked

  • Plenty of customization for fit.
  • Excellent protection for its type.
  • Usable with Bluetooth/earbuds.
  • Washable interior.
  • Great quality material.

Things I don’t like

  • Can get stuffy on a long ride.
  • Removable peaks are sometimes problematic.

The double D-ring strap is a standard, easy-to-use piece that will keep your helmet secured and not rattling around. Adjust it to keep it snug but not so tight it straps your jaw shut or so loose it’s useless.

The outer shells' fibre complex laminate construction adds greatly to the rigidity and protective quality of the helmet. Couple this with the triple density inner shell, and you have a system to weather some potentially terrible situations. This is what leads to the safety and security the helmet grants you.

The strap band on the helmet back will easily keep whatever goggles you’re wearing in place. One less worry and another reason to relax and enjoy riding the way it’s supposed to be.

Overall comfort

The multiple sizes for the helmet are an excellent starting point, and the choice in ear padding seals the deal. Because it’s a ¾ open-face helmet, those who wear glasses can feel more at ease from not having to readjust all the time. Also, the claustrophobia from a full-face helmet becomes a non-issue.

Go thinner on the padding, and you can add in an earpiece to bring a whole host of new experiences while riding. Play with different thickness levels and find a combination that allows you to wear it comfortably without it wiggling around. Imagine adding some great music to your rides without compromising comfort - no more devices poking into the side of your head at odd angles.

It has a simple but effective double D-ring system for fastening and ensures the appropriate strap tension all the time. 

No one wants to put on a helmet and feel the grossness of all their past rides. The fully washable interior allows you to wash off all the funk that can build up after riding. The smell might be a plus if you don’t want company, but it’s good to have the option.

This is definitely the go-to helmet for leisurely rides and everyday commutes. You get to fully enjoy the ride, listen to music if you want and smell daisy fresh when you get where you’re going.

Visibility

The Arai Freeway Bandage doesn’t limit your vision in any way. It’s the trade-off for removing the chin bar or a face shield. It’s a give and take in terms of safety; a clear field of vision may help you avoid an accident altogether.

Your vision will be limited by whatever goggles you wear or the shield you might attach to the peak. On that note, we highly recommend you wear goggles and a high-quality, breathable face mask as well. For those who’ve never used three-quarter helmets before, bugs hitting your face at high speeds are utter buzzkills. 

Windshields on your bike are also an option to increase comfort and decrease the need to cover your face. Open-face helmets are magnificent choices, but be smart about it and don’t let Hollywood sell you fantasy. If you’re not sold on the idea, imagine a grasshopper splattering across your teeth at top speed - mmmm, yummy protein.

If you’ve never used one, try using a detachable sun visor for those exceptionally bright days. It’s a world of difference from using sunglasses, especially if you have a windshield to keep bugs and debris away.

Quietness

A huge plus of this helmet style is the lack of noise from the wind rushing through vents as you ride. You will still hear lots of noise from the outside as you ride; complete noise cancellation would be disastrous. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; you might miss a warning honk and drive right into danger.

Pop in earplugs - especially if you run a custom exhaust that really gives the beast a voice. As beautiful a sound as it makes, it’s no reason to go deaf over.

Another comfortable alternative this helmet offers is the feasibility of using a Bluetooth set or even earbuds. Choose some earpieces to have enough room for your ears and a smidge more space without compromising safety. Imagine some good music to complete the atmosphere of a relaxing ride to wherever the road leads.

Ventilation

This helmet has no ventilation ports, so the air won’t be flowing through it as much while you ride. Air will still enter to some degree, whip around the front and flow through the sides a fair amount. The end result is that you can get a bit warm underneath if you catch too much sunshine.

You get far less wind whistling in your ears, and this makes it significantly quieter. However, you should still wear earplugs or perhaps noise-canceling Bluetooth earpieces. Hearing damage is still a threat depending on how much sound your exhaust generates.

Try a light-colored helmet if you worry about heat without ventilation; the difference will be a noticeable few degrees. It’s a simple concept, really; dark colors absorb more sunlight and warm up faster than lighter colors.

Safety

Arai helmets are handmade to company specifications. But how do they hold up to tests? The Arai Freeway Bandage has ECE certification, which is used by +50 European countries. 

The ECE is more comprehensive than the US DOT standard of helmet safety; however, crashes happen at a lower average speed in Europe than they do in America. This is accounted for in the ECE. 

In terms of testing impact damage, ECE tests specific weak points, whereas DOT allows testers to “have at it” within a range. Like kids given the questions before a final exam, companies might prep those specific spots to take a hit. However, a helmet with impact resistance at likely failure points would be good - provided they’re strong where they should be.

That ECE sticker carries weight, and the Arai Freeway Bandage provides excellent protection for the areas it covers. A clear field of vision may help you avoid accidents entirely. But, it’s still an open-face helmet and has a higher risk than a full-face helmet in an accident.

Conclusion

The Arai Freeway Bandage is an exceptional piece of gear that is an excellent mix of aesthetics and practicality. It screams vintage while still delivering contemporary high standards of safety and craftsmanship for which Arai is famous. The choice in material leads to a solid build that you can be proud to wear and trust to protect you.

It caters to the leisurely riders who want to enjoy the ride, but longer rides might become less. However, high-quality safety features, customization and overall appeal make it an excellent choice for folks looking for a ¾ helmet. 

Bottom line, you won’t be disappointed buying this helmet, and it might sway full-helmet purists to join the dark side.

Where to buy this helmet :