Arai Helmets

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The History of Arai Helmets

The history of the Arai Helmets started on the 18th of November 1905 (108 years ago) when Hirotake Arai, the founder of Arai Helmet, was born in Tokyo as the eldest son of Yuichiroh Arai who manufactured the hats for government office and authorities. In 1937 Hirotake Arai established the factory in the city of Ohmiya, Saitama and started manufacturing business for headgears. The Current president of Arai, Michio Arai was born on July 22, 1938 as the eldest son in Tokyo. In 1950 Hirotake Arai developed manufacturing helmet shells by heat forming with resins. Hirotake Arai began manufacturing first FRP (“Fibre Reinforced Plastics”) helmets in 1952 in Japan. In October, 1952 Arai Hirotake Shoten, Co., Limited started supply of headgears to professional off-road motorcycle racers as the first Japanese “motorcycle helmets”.

Arai Hirotake Shoten, Co., Limited started production in 1956 with the new trademark “HA” (HA came from the initials of the president’s name Hirotake Arai). In 1958 HA started production of motorcycle helmets consisting of FRP outer shell and EPS inner shell that is still common standard for helmet construction today. Hirotake Arai established “bag moulding” for manufacturing FRP shell with 2-piece, open-close, metal moulds, and the first open face helmet was designed and made with this manufacturing method in 1959.

In 1962 Michio Arai came back from the United States and joined Arai Hirotake Shoten, Co. helping his father’s business in the export division. HA produced the first Snell certified Japanese helmet in January 1963. March, 1967 Model R-6M was certified to Snell 1968 standard. First Japanese made full face model was introduced. In October, 1971 the new trademark, “Arai” was designed and registered. The movable chin piece was introduced in 1972. Arai started to get involved in motorcycle-racing support in 1977 with a few Japanese professional motorcycle racers. Arai Helmet (USA), Limited was established in December 1977 and the first helmet model for exclusive off-road riding was introduced in 1979. In 1980 the one-touch, open-close face shield mechanism was developed and introduced on the market. The basic construction of this mechanism became common in helmet industries later. Freddie Spencer won the World GP 500cc Road Race Championship in 1983 as the first World Champion with Arai. Arai Racing Service introduced. In 1984 Arai starts sponsorship of Formula One drivers (Keke Rosberg).

On 14 June 1986, the company founder Hirotake Arai passes away and Michio Arai take over his father’s company as the President of Arai. On December 1, 1986 the current company organisation was established, and its name was changed from “Arai Hirotake, Limited” to “Arai Helmet, Limited”. During the 1986/1987 season 26 out of the 28 Formula One drivers wear Arai. In October 1988 Arai introduces AdSIS (Advanced Shield Installation System) at the German Cologne show, being the first to offer visor change without the need for tools. As the first helmet manufacturer Arai introduced a full 5-Year Limited Warranty in 1993. The Arai Paintshop was established in 1998. In 1999 Arai ranks highest in the first J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study. In 2005 it became mandatory for Formula One racers to wear carbon fibre helmets. Arai introduces its first carbon fibre helmet at Magny Course: the GP-5 RacingCarbon (only available for Formula One drivers). 2006 saw the introduction of the VX-3 off-road helmet. This was the first helmet with the Emergency Release System. In 2008 Arai introduced the first carbon fibre car helmet model for commercial use: GP-6 RacingCarbon. February 2008 saw the 25 Years Anniversary of Arai Helmet (Europe) B.V. Akihito Arai and Ingmar Stroeven appointed as managing directors of Arai Helmet (Europe) B.V. Arai introduced the first carbon fibre motorcycle helmet model for commercial use: the RX-7 Racing Carbon in 2010. More than 50% of the Formula One grid and 30% of the MotoGP riders use Arai. In May 2011, Arai ranks number 1 in the J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study for the 13th consecutive year, In 2011 Arai introduced the Quantum with factory fitted SAI Max Vision visor with brow vents.

This legacy continues as Arai continue to grow and develop quality, innovative helmets.

Real protection against real world impacts

Why “Glancing off” helmet properties make the difference. What is the primary function of a helmet? Many believe it is to absorb impact energy, which is understandable considering that the long standing focus of helmet standards is impact absorption. However, while certainly important, attention should not be limited only to impact absorption. In official standards the force, angle and impact position of test impact forces are clearly defined and specified. But these impacts take place under controlled laboratory conditions, and are limited by the size restrictions of functional helmet design.

What if a helmet is faced with severe impacts in the real world? Even helmets that pass the highest impact absorption standards in the world have limits. To help cope with these limits, another helmet feature has to work together with these impact absorption properties. We are talking about the capacity of a helmet to glance-off obstacles and to slide across uneven surfaces, to minimize the chance of being caught by obstacles. We refer to this attribute as “glancing off”. Physics teaches us that kinetic energy increases in proportion to the square of speed (simply put, the faster you go the more energy you carry). Therefore impacts in real world accidents can carry energy levels that are well above established standards. This suggests why “glancing off” is so important in the real world.

In fact, Arai’s long history of studying numerous incidents has led to a simple observation: “The higher the energy, the higher the need for glancing off objects”. This in turn results in the conclusion that “glancing off” can allow for better “impact absorption” capacity of a helmet. ”The more energy you can avoid sending into the helmet, the more absorption capacity the helmet has in reserve”. The minimum official “impact absorption” capacity of helmets are set by the established international standards such as ECE or DOT. However, there is practically no standard defined or enforced to insure any level of “glancing off” properties. The capacity of a helmet to “glance off” an object is therefore completely dependent on the manufacturer. Arai believes this “glancing off” factor brings about a big difference in protective characteristics in real world circumstances. Strange as it may sound, this fundamental functioning of a helmet needs to start with an evaluation of the nature of the manufacturer.

Just four questions are enough to get a better idea about a manufacturer’s point of view in this respect:

  • Is the manufacturer aware of this “glancing off impacts” helmet function? Note: This function is not stated in, or demanded by official standards.
  • Has the manufacturer learned, from own experience, what is actually needed to enhance this “glancing off impacts” function? Note: No public literature or scientific papers exist on this topic either.
  • Will investors and/or management agree to give priority to “glancing off impacts” function in the designs of the helmets they produce? Note: If so, this would prevent aero, square or edgy shell shapes and built in sun shades.
  • Are the manufacturer workers capable to offer “glancing off impacts” properties to their products?Note: Good “glancing off impacts” properties cannot be realized without the capable hands and the right mindset of dedicated people. This can only be realized in an environment of consistent pursuit for better protection. From top management level throughout the complete organization, down through all levels of manufacturing.

Answering these questions clarifies why Arai remains exclusive with this crucial ‘’glancing off impacts’’ function, that offers real protection against real world impacts.