Arai Rapide Vs. Shoei Glamster
Shoei and Arai are heavyweights in the motorcycle helmet game, and both have dipped their toes into the retro section of the market with the latest in their lineups, the Glamster and the Rapide respectively. Known for producing groundbreaking technology, both Shoei and Arai offer unbeatable safety and second to none features loved by casual riders, commuters, and motorcycle racers alike. With fans set very firmly in either the Arai or the Shoei camp, it can be hard to choose between the two, but we’re here to give you the lowdown on each. If you’re in the market for a retro lid that doesn’t compromise on safety, we’ve here to explain the key differences and features that set these helmets apart. Let’s go alphabetically and start with Arai.
Arai are a longstanding pillar in the technical helmet market, supplying professionals worldwide and even creating one of the current official F1 helmets, the GP7-SRC. They’re always seen in the winner's circle, and know what's up when it comes to tech and spec.
The Rapide (Concept-X or Rapide Neo as it’s also known around the world) is heavily inspired by streetfighter helmets of the 1980s; think stripped back, aggressive and no-bs, and luckily for us, Arai hasn’t spared any of their acclaimed technical details. The helmet boasts a proprietary PB e-clc shell that’s used across all of their collection and is reinforced with Arai’s Variable Axis System (VAS). It combines three layers of multi-density EPS lining for impressive strength, while the smooth and round shape helps with the dispersion of impact and glancing off of surfaces. Weighing in at around 1.5kg, the Rapide is relatively lightweight in Arai’s lineup, but certainly not the lightest in our section of the market.
Unbelievably with its understated and no frills exterior, the Rapide also packs a punch under the shell. Disguised under the shell is the internal ventilation system; cool air is fed into the discreet brow vents and through a hidden multistage air channel within the EPS liner itself. Air is then expelled from the side and neck exhaust ports, allowing for cooling, consistent airflow throughout the helmet. Much like most helmets on the market, ventilation grates have been added to the chin for extra airflow, or to shut out dusty road debris, and are operated from inside the chin bar.
The antimicrobial liner and interior can be fully removed for washing, and can be replaced when the time comes, and the interior has room for your favourite intercom thanks to the recessed ear pockets. Adding to the list of features, Arai understands that finding a comfortable fitting lid can be a difficult task, so to aid this the cheek and temple pads feature a special ‘peel away’ 5 mm layer that can be removed to perfect your fit. Also implemented is their Facial Contour System, which works with a smart spring support in the pads to alleviate excess pressure, and eliminate the dreaded hamster cheeks! Furthermore, the cheek pads have an Emergency Release System in place, meaning they will slide right out if ever needed; Just pull on the red tabs.
Arguably one of the most exciting features the Rapide boasts is it’s VAS-V Max Vision visor that, combined with the included Pinlock lens, eliminates fogging and misting and offers a crystal clear range of vision in all riding conditions. Easy to use, the 3D latch system has been borrowed from Arai’s legendary F1 helmet. It’s seamless and can be operated with a simple flick of your gloved finger, which securely seals the shield and protects your peepers from the elements and debris. The visor orientation is lower on the Rapide, gaining 24mm across both temples. This offers great vision, an aggressive street style slant and greatly increases the dispersion of impact, maximising the VAS system on the shell by helping with glancing off proficiency.
Unsurprisingly, the Rapide passes ECE 22.05 safety testing with flying colours, but it is also SNELL and ACU Gold rated, so is well suited to motorways and B-roads just as much as it is on the track. Thanks to a colour palette that’ll suit every rider, the Rapide comes in a multitude of different designs that look at home on your favourite bike. The understated colours come in at £449.99, while the bolder choices retail for £529.99, all paying homage to the coolest street helmets from yesteryear.
Shoei is a name every rider knows. Hailing from Japan, Shoei knows a thing or two about safety and style, and oftentimes set the benchmark for both. Their expertise in helmet crafting has them on the heads of many MotoGP and MXGP racers and road riders alike. Their entrance into the retro custom market has been a long time coming but definitely worth the wait. Meet the Glamster; an interesting name for an even more interesting lid, and currently one of our bestsellers. Inspired by the greatest retro helmets of years gone by, it’s classic in styling but with tech firmly rooted in the future.
The sleek and minimalist shell is free from the bells and whistles helmets of this calibre often boast, creating a truly naked and retro style that is aerodynamic and low in profile with that signature Shoei shape. The shell itself is constructed from Shoei’s proprietary AIM (Advance Integrated Matrix) technology, which fuses 5 layers of fibreglass and organic fibres for a super-strong composition. A multiple density EPS liner created from tough polystyrene that lines the shell, and provides maximum shock absorption and impact dispersion at all points of the helmet. The Glamster has a range of 3 shell sizes to help find the perfect fit and the lowest profile, and weighs in at a lightweight 1.2kg.
Under the shell is where Shoei’s tech really shines. Much like the Rapide, a multi-channel ventilation system can be found in the EPS itself, with intake vents at the brow. Cool air is pulled through these vents and is expelled through two hidden vents in the rear neck curtain. Additionally, the mesh vents on the chin bar offer excellent cooling for those hotter rides. Although they can not be closed, the side sitting orientation minimises unwanted debris and controls the airflow while adding to the vintage appearance of the helmet too. The addition of an inner chin curtain also discreetly takes care of unwanted draughts and noise.
The inner liner and pads can be removed, while the cheek pads can be swapped out for thicker or thinner ones depending on the desired fit and feel. Both are also washable and can be replaced overtime when needed. Like the Rapide, the Glamster also utilises a very handy Emergency Release System for quick removal of the cheek pads if ever needed.
The Glamster has a brilliantly wide aperture thanks to the slimmer chin bar, giving the wearer excellent peripheral vision that is backed up with a clear as day UV-protective visor. A Pinlock insert is included too, and can be fitted to stop fogging and misting, even in humid or rainy conditions. The visor itself is mounted on two brushed metal mounts, while a rubber trim helps keep the draught and drizzle out of the visor, and also aids with reducing additional fog. Similar to the Rapide, the Glamster implements a neat latch system to operate the visor. While it may not be from an F1 standard helmet it still works perfectly well, even with gloved hands!
Undeniably technical, the Glamster boasts an ECE 22.05 rating, as well as an ACU gold standard stamp of approval too, so you know it’s good to go in the streets and on the track. It does however lack a SNELL rating when compared to the Rapide. Absolutely nailing the basic colours, we love the Basalt Grey, and it appears to be a fan favourite too. The graphic designs are classically retro but we wish there was a little more choice. The sleek colourways will set you back £399.99, while the bolder choices are £499.99. Despite some of the colours not being as outlandish as the Rapide, the neutral look and feel of the Glamster means it’ll sit beautifully on any kind of motorcycle.
Overall both helmets will give you a classic retro look, with all the up to date safety features you expect. It just boils down to your checklist, aesthetic preference and what you feel you need on your head. The Rapide offers a thoroughly old school 80s appearance with A* spec and comes in a veritable rainbow of designs and colours, while the Glamster offers effortless 70s styling with exceptional functionality that would look ace on any kind of motorcycle in any given setting. It's a once in a blue moon occurrence when high profile brands release two helmets that tick both the look and safety boxes and are also a joy to wear. We’d be thrilled to be rocking either one on our rides, what about you?