Technical Blog - Why Arai?
Earlier in the season WorldSBK photographer and blogger Graeme Brown sat down with Jonathan to discuss some of the technical aspects of the kit that he uses in racing. In a previous blog Jonathan explained some of the details that make his Alpinestars racewear some of the best available. In this blog we use another companies advertising logo and ask; Why Arai?
“Very very simply put I don’t compromise on safety at all and Arai is in my opinion without doubt the most advanced and safety conscious helmet producer in the market. When I first got involved with racing my father used an Arai; all the real road racers of the time, heroes like Joey Dunlop and Kevin Schwantz wore an Arai, so it was one of those helmets that I always wanted to wear.”
“When I first started in motocross I used Arai and when I came to road racing there was no question which brand I wanted to be involved with. Aside from one year where the team I rode with had a deal with another manufacturer, I have always worn Arai.”
I am really really lucky to be given my helmets free of charge, and now to be paid to endorse their helmets. However, regardless of that I would go out and buy an Arai off the shelf if I had to. I know they are at the upper end of the market for most customers but there is a reason for that. Each helmet is hand made and produced and ultimately they cost what they cost. The way I look at it is I am lucky I can crash, and get up and get back on, and Arai Europe send me a new helmet straight away but you get one chance at this life and in motorcycling anything can happen whether it is your fault or not so it’s always paramount to give yourself the best possible chance when it comes to safety.”
In terms of the design of the helmet’s outer shell Arai will not compromise on the overall shape. It’s been proven time and time again that the more edges a helmet has the more chance it has to catch something on the ground, or in a gravel trap, in the event of a crash. Arai call this area the ‘Glancing Off’ performance of the helmet. Recent updates to the design of their helmets have improved this further but the safety aspect of the Arai helmet is always the most important factor even when it comes to aerodynamics.
Jonathan works continually with Kawasaki and Arai to develop his riding position and overall aero package on the bike. This extends to small spoilers that are attached to the helmet to reduce aerodynamic drag. There is no compromise on safety however.
Arai Europe’s helmet technician, Marcel Ruiter explains “One of the main points with the current generation of Arai helmets is the R75 design that ensures that the curve all the way around the helmet’s shell is always 75 degrees. What is important is that if we do change that shape by adding a spoiler it has to be easily detached. So basically the spoilers we use at the moment are secured with a double sided tape that makes sure any light impact will take it straight off.”
The service and maintenance of Jonathan’s race helmets is taken care of by Marcel each weekend at the race track, as Jonathan explains.
“My helmets generally don’t need to go back to Arai Europe after every race. Arai are the only company with a full time technical service within the WorldSBK paddock so they bring their own truck to every race and their helmet technician Marcel takes care of any issues I have on a weekend. My personal assistant Kev has also been to Arai Europe’s workshops and they have taught him everything he needs to know about prepping a helmet for each session but if there are any minor alternations needed, such as changing the internal pads or replacing vents, Marcel is in the paddock to do the work. He also cleans it and preps it with new tear offs between each session on a race weekend but I travel with my helmets in the race truck in case the team will make a test between races. In a case like that Marcel will give Kev a complete service kit and he can take care of the basic helmet prep at the test. A service of that standard is invaluable.”
All of the technical and safety aspects of Jonathan’s Arai race helmet are also featured on the product that is available to the public.
“I am currently riding the Arai RX-7V and it’s really important for me to know that what I wear is what the customer can buy. Anyone can go into a shop and buy my exact helmet and I know that should Kev or I be a bit careless and not bring enough helmets to the race track we can go to the local Arai dealer and pick up an exact ‘Jonathan Rea’ helmet”
For more information on the technical features and to see the entire Arai helmet range visit www.araihelmet-europe.com