In 2021, if you read the words “penetration test,” the first thing that goes through your mind is probably cybersecurity. After all, everyone from banks to hospital systems to major U.S. gas pipelines has been getting hacked in recent years, so those news stories are everywhere. As riders, though, penetration testing is also important in the realm of motorcycle helmets, as well.
That’s just one of the things that six-time WSBK world champion Jonathan Rea included in his most recent video, where he took us all inside Arai’s European Inspiration Center. Rea has been riding in Arai helmets for most of his career, and even during his biggest crashes they’ve saved his head from serious injury every time.
When you first get a look inside the AIC, you see a room with a very high ceiling. The walls rising up to meet that ceiling are absolutely covered with all kinds of bright, colorful Arai motorcycle helmets. For anyone who loves to see helmet art on display, it’s quite a sight to behold. However, it’s only later in the video that you learn all those helmets have been crashed in and sent back to Arai so they can learn from those impacts. It’s heady stuff, indeed.
Down at ground level, there are three testing machines located toward the center of the room. Now, as an Arai representative informs us, this isn’t where Arai does its certification testing. Instead, all helmets that take part in that process are sent away to an independent testing facility. Instead, Arai’s on-site testing machines are meant to demonstrate how well Arai helmets protect your head for dealers, distributors, and select other instances, like Jonathan Rea showing up to do a YouTube video.
Like other helmet manufacturers, Arai is understandably a bit cagey about its shell materials compositing process. What it isn’t shy about, though, is showing you how well its formula can protect your head. Rea rather hilariously demonstrates this by inviting someone to come stand on his head while he’s wearing just an Arai shell and laying on the floor. As we see, the weight of an average adult human male doesn’t appear to make that shell flex even a little bit.
We also get to see a few tests with the machines, including an ECE-compliant 28 kilometer per hour speed drop, as well as the aforementioned penetration test. As the rep explained, Arai’s helmet design philosophy is pretty simple: If you deflect an impact as much as possible, then you don’t have to worry so much about absorbing the effects of that impact.