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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









PRODUCT REVIEW: Arai SZ/Ram III Helmet

Getting the proper fit

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor
1/23/2009

I'm often asked what helmet I prefer to wear. Well, I wear several different brands of helmets on a regular basis -- mostly Arai, Shoei, Icon, and Harley-Davidson. Occasionally, you'll see me in a half shell because I'm doing a photo shoot and like to be sure you can tell there's a woman riding the bike. But I always wear a helmet -- and when I'm on long rides, I'll choose a full face if the bike does not have a windshield or if it's very cold out. Most often I prefer a 3/4 helmet with face shield because I like the open feeling it provides. The Arai SZ/Ram III is my favorite 3/4 helmet. Don't ask me how it got that name. I don't know. 

The Arai SZ/Ram III looks good on. It does not look like it's sitting on top of my head.
The Arai SZ/Ram III looks good on. It does not look like it's sitting on top of my head.

You'll see me wearing this helmet a lot on my test rides. You can still tell it's a woman underneath because you can see my smile - and on my test rides it's important my readers can see it's a woman. I'm on my second SZ/Ram III because I like this helmet that much. Bottom line is, this helmet is very comfortable and it feels sturdy on my head without squishing my head or cheeks. I never have a problem with the helmet buffeting because it's planted on my head. 

Wearing the SZ/Ram III while test riding Harley-Davidson's CVO models.
Wearing the SZ/Ram III while test riding Harley-Davidson's CVO models.

It doesn't feel too heavy or wobbly - probably because I've ensured that I have a proper fit. Arai insists its retailers properly fit an Arai helmet when selling to a customer. (See "Getting the Right Helmet Fit" below.) If a helmet does not fit you correctly, it can't protect you like it was designed to do in the event of an accident. So Arai takes great measures to make sure its customers get fitted properly. When a helmet fits the right way, it doesn't move around your head and can't be pushed forward easily when applying pressure to the back of the helmet by the nape of the neck. The cheek pads must also fit properly. 

Wearing the SZ/Ram III while test riding the Victory Vision.
Wearing the SZ/Ram III while test riding the Victory Vision.

Arai researchers spend a lot of time on helmet construction and impact resistance -- there's a reason why you see a lot of the top motorcycle and automobile racers wearing an Arai helmet - so I feel comfortable that my SZ/Ram III will protect me as much as a 3/4 helmet could should I go down. I know a 3/4 does not protect the front of your face as much as a full-face -- I'm well aware of that.

I thought about going through all the finer points of the helmet listed on its spec sheet but you can find that out on Arai's Web site at AraiAmericas.com. For most people, helmet fitment is all about comfort and protection - and this helmet does it for me. I can pop out the liners inside when they get sweaty and smelly and clean them. I can also change out the face shield easily if I want a darker tint. There are plenty of vents on the helmet and on the face shield itself by the eyebrows to dissipate heat and condensation.

The SZ/Ram III runs about $440 - yes, I know that's not cheap. But a helmet to me is really good insurance and worth every penny, especially when I know I'm buying the best. As they say, you get what you pay for and that is never more evident than in helmet construction. To learn more about Arai, visit AraiAmericas.com.

Getting The Right Helmet Fit
We watched as an authorized helmet fitter, Kelly, fits customer Nikki on picking the right size for her Arai helmet. While this is Arai's method for achieving proper fit, these steps should be used when fitting any brand of helmet. Click on the images to make them larger.   


Step 1: The widest point of the head is measured just above the brow bone. That measurement corresponds with a helmet size indicated in a guidebook Arai supplies its dealers.
Step 1: The widest point of the head is measured just above the brow bone. That measurement corresponds with a helmet size indicated in a guidebook Arai supplies its dealers.

Step 2: The fitter then removes the cheek pads because what's important is how the helmet fits on top of your head, not cheeks at this point. Keeping the cheek pads in can distract from how the helmet really feels on your head.
Step 2: The fitter then removes the cheek pads because what's important is how the helmet fits on top of your head, not cheeks at this point. Keeping the cheek pads in can distract from how the helmet really feels on your head.

Step 3: Nikki then tries on the helmet without the cheek pads in place. She needs to be able to feel the helmet snugly all around the crown of her head without pressure points. The top of the padding should sit right at her eyebrows or right above them. It should not be in the middle of her forehead or at her hairline.
Step 3: Nikki then tries on the helmet without the cheek pads in place. She needs to be able to feel the helmet snugly all around the crown of her head without pressure points. The top of the padding should sit right at her eyebrows or right above them. It should not be in the middle of her forehead or at her hairline.

Step 4: Once the correct helmet size is determined, the fitter will then figure out what size cheek pads to pop into place.
Step 4: Once the correct helmet size is determined, the fitter will then figure out what size cheek pads to pop into place.

Step 5: Nikki then puts the helmet back on with the cheek pads in place. The helmet should not move around, but it should also not be so tight that she has chipmunk cheeks. Kelly says what you want are "slightly chubby" cheeks.
Step 5: Nikki then puts the helmet back on with the cheek pads in place. The helmet should not move around, but it should also not be so tight that she has chipmunk cheeks. Kelly says what you want are "slightly chubby" cheeks.

Step 6: This is the sign of a bad fit. You don't want to be able to push the helmet forward sliding up on your head.
Step 6: This is the sign of a bad fit. You don't want to be able to push the helmet forward sliding up on your head.

 

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