arai – pro shade review

In the last few years quite a few helmet manufacturers have been producing helmets with a flip down dark/tinted internal visor. It was one of those things that when I first saw it I couldn’t help but wonder why it hadn’t been done earlier. It certainly seemed a better (and easier) option than having to carry a spare visor and even though it’s rarely a big deal to stop and change a visor when weather conditions dictate, it’s still not quite ideal.

And if I’m honest there have been times when I ought to have stopped and changed my visor – whether in bad weather or the fading light of day, and I haven’t bothered and just carried on riding regardless.

In recent years I’ve found that my preferred helmets are either Shoei or Arai – my current helmet being an Arai Chaser V, which is maybe why I hadn’t come across the internal visor systems earlier.

I’m not sure when Arai decided to go their own way with the Pro Shade but the information on their web site says

‘A much asked question is however, why Arai did not use a build in sun visor. There are three good reasons not to use a build in sun visor:

  1. No reduction in thickness of the EPS inner shell is needed. When the visor is build in, the space for it is created by making the EPS liner thinner
  2. No weakening of the outer shell. The air space needed for a build in visor and the lack of bonding between the outer shell and the inner EPS liner will weaken the outer shell
  3. No operating mechanism needed. The operating system will also need space that is not available for the EPS liner any more. Furthermore it often contains metal parts within the EPS liner that could be dangerous in case of impacts..

Make of that what you will – it’s their words, not mine, but they have made their view on the safety angle of internal visors clear. Having bought one recently (in advance of my most recent European trip) I thought I’d write a few words on how I found it in day to day use.

It’s a quality item, which is exactly what you would expect from Arai.

The shade itself has a locking mechanism so that the shade will stay in the raised position as and when required and it takes just a moment to drop it down/move it up, so there is no need for a roadside stop to change the position of the shade.

Clearly having just one (dual purpose visor) saves the hassle of carrying a spare one. Fitting is easy, its exactly the same as a standard clear or dark visor and is removed/attached in the usual Arai way.

You do have a light/clear strip at the bottom of the visor, but to be honest it takes only a minute or two to get used to that and I didn’t find it to be any sort of distraction at all.

I don’t ride a sports bike any more so can’t really comment on how it might function if you are riding in a mostly head down position, my guess is that with the shade up, it could be slightly problematic and that there may be some wind resistance effect, but given that Arai themselves say that it is more suited to an upright riding position then the intentions are clear.

When you don’t want to use the shade it simply locks in the upright position and doesn’t fall down/forward. By the same measure when you do want to use it it simply pulls down. On a practical level I didn’t have any issue cleaning the main visor or the flip up shade either.

I paid a little under £80 for mine (online), you may well pay more at a dealers. It now comes as standard on a couple of the the new Chaser helmets and comes with a clear Pinlock insert as well.

I don’t think the tint is quite as dark as the regular Arai full dark visor but I’ve used it now for the best part of 5,000 miles in all weather conditions and I’d say it works well, it is a good piece of kit and I cant imagine I will bother changing back to a fully tinted visor.