Arai and Shoei released new retro motorcycle helmets in 2020 adding to the ever-increasing options for custom and modern classic riders.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increasing number of retro or retro-inspired helmets come to the market. This fact is inextricably linked to the growth of the new-wave custom scene combined with the mainstreaming of café racer culture.
Retro Motorcycle Helmet Performance
Some of these helmets are not only retro-looking but offer retro performance. That’s not to necessarily say those helmets aren't safe, though that can potentially be the case in some instances, from a relative perspective.
However, in terms of ‘retro performance', more often than not, it's about the lack of features such as ventilation and adjustability of the fit.
It’s always interesting when an established brand enters a segment once perceived niche. Bell Motorsports, was an early player in the retro-lid segment, after picking up on designer Chad Hodges' retro helmet concept back in 2011.
Back then, the concept by Hodges had become the desire of nearly every vintage/custom rider with access to the internet.
And yet, it seemed unlikely ever to come to market, despite the rabid interest. It was Bell who took the design and made it into production reality. The Bell Bullitt still remains one of the best-selling retro lids.
Inspired by sales of the Bullitt, Bell brought the ‘Moto 3' out of retirement, to better cater to the aesthetic needs of the scrambler rider.
Shoei, taking notes, has also reached into its back catalogue recently, to revive the EX-Zero which is an evolution of the EX-5 from the 1980s.
This means a distinctly, retro silhouette, with bang-up-to-date construction and features.
Suffice it to say, the trend for retro-inspired helmets isn’t abating. And, with that in mind; here are two exciting new models that are coming to the market in 2020 – from Arai and Shoei.
Arai Rapide Neo / Concept-X Helmet
Let's start, with Arai and its new full-face retro offering; the Rapide Neo (or Concept-X in some markets).
Arai Rapide Neo Helmet – Features
As you would expect from Arai, there is no holding back in terms of, high-tech techniques employed to construct the shell. The ‘Rapide helmet uses the same PB e-cLc (Peripherally Belted e-Complex Laminate Construction), found across the entire Arai range.
In line with Arai’s philosophy; a hard, smooth and round shell is filled with a soft multi-density ‘EPS liner' which is formed as a single piece. The manufacturing process used to achieve this result is still a very closely guarded, trade secret.
Modern features continue further inside the shell with the use of a fully removable antimicrobial liner.
The FCS (Facial Contour System), features sprung cheek pads made up of multiple layers which enable 5mm of foam to be ‘peeled away’ allowing for a precise fit. The same peel-away system is used in the temple pads. The Rapide also features speaker pockets which allow the easy and comfortable fitment of earphones for a communication system.
Moving back to the exterior, the well-tested and efficient VAS visor system is used, but Arai hasn't fitted the side pods found on other helmets in the range, thus helping to maintain the retro look. The visor sports Pinlock pins and a max vision Pinlock will be in the box.
Another visor feature, that is carried over from other Arai helmets, is the very efficient brow vents, which allow airflow into and through a hidden multi-stage air channel, within the EPS liner. This means that you'll get cooling air running through the helmet without any vents in the forehead section of the helmet. Arai sees this as a key safety development.
The brow vents are supplemented by six slots in the broad chin bar, which have a mesh lining behind and a closeable shutter. This further aids the extraction of warm air from the helmet. There's an exhaust vent in the rear of the neck curtain, in addition to side exhausts and twin vents at the rear of the helmet shell.
Only a real-world test can prove the efficacy of this system but given how well other Arai’s vent, the likelihood that this particular system is effective is quite high.
Arai Rapide / Concept-X Colourways
The Arai Rapide helmet launches with 11 colourways, which include a number of suitably, mouth-watering retro designs, particularly if you ride a classic Kawazaki or Suzuki. The helmet hits the UK market in the early new year.
The next helmet to whet the appetite of retro and custom riders is the 2020 Shoei Glamster. Yes, it’s an unfortunate name. I'm yet to find anybody who particularly likes the moniker. However, name aside, this helmet is another retro-inspired, yet thoroughly modern piece of kit.
Shoei Glamster Helmet Features
The shell of the ‘Glamster‘ uses the same AIM construction found in the entire Shoei range. This multi-layer shell (which comes in 3 sizes) offers great strength, is lightweight and is paired with a dual-density EPS liner. The inner lining is also removable and features interchangeable cheek pads, to aid in a perfect fit.
The Glamster features a slimmer chin bar, reminiscent of the Bell Bullitt which should mean a wide aperture for great all-round vision. Yet, this still gives space for a ventilation slot – which takes the form of two mesh-back horizontal slots on either side and a chin curtain that sits below.
Ventilation for the body of the helmet comes in the form of a closable vent slap bang above the new CPB-1 visor. This vent allows air to flow through multiple channels in the EPS liner and exit from two small holes in the rear neck curtain. This leaves the rear of the helmet with a completely clean and smooth look.
The visor also features pins for a pinlock shield, which is something that most, if not all other retro-inspired helmets lack. This is an excellent addition to both of these new helmets and should make them more suitable for a variation of weather conditions.
Shoei Glamster Launch Colourways
At launch in March 2020, the Glamster will be available in eight colourways, predominantly solid colours, with a trio of graphic options. We may well see some others pop up ahead of the launch.
Of course, always great to see two new retro helmets come to the market – especially with performance to rival mainstream motorcycle helmets. The ‘Rapide' and ‘Glamster' seemingly take their styling cues from different sources. Nonetheless, we think their looks and quality combined will elevate them to the top of the retro helmet pile.
Which lid would you choose? See Tony's video overview, of both helmets below.