As I mentioned in my update on my new Arai Astro GX helmet, one thing it doesn’t have compared to some other brands of similarly priced helmets is a sun visor. Arai has said this is because to do this, a manufacturer would need to either make the front EPS protection thinner, or make the shell more bulbous at the front, which would eat into Arai’s preference for more spherical lids (such as their R75 initiative).
Their solution is the Pro-Shade system, which is an external additional visor which attaches to a special primary visor. For me then, I had to buy another primary visor – in clear again – then a smoked Pro-Shade visor, and also a Pinlock 120 layer for the main visor. All in, it cost a little less than 10,000yen. I suppose it does mean that my original Pinlock‘ed clear visor is now a spare – never a bad thing.
I don’t think Arais have ever been famous for how simple it is to swap visors, though I have to say that this one is significantly easier than my previous helmet if only because the lever to release the visor hinge is a little better, and there are now short cables holding the hinge covers on to the helmet, instead of them just falling off as previously. Thus, getting the old visor off was quite simple – pushing the black levers in not only allows you to pop off the covers, but also to remove the visor from the track. We’ll come back to this in a few minutes.
Next up was putting the Pinlock in the new visor. It requires flexing the visor and sliding the Pinlock lens flush with it and fitting under the locking posts on each side of the visor and then turning them into a gripping position. It required a little bit of messing around, but it finally went in OK.
I will say so that the black and white Japanese instructions which came with them looked like something from the 1990s with grainy photos, but these looked great compared to Arai’s instructions, which looked similar, but with the added bonus of being a ninth generation photocopy.
So the Pinlock was now secured to the visor and looking good – the first time I somehow got a big fingerprint in the middle of the Pinlock lens and had almost secured it in place when I noticed and had to back it out and give it a clean.
Next up, install it back into the helmet. This is where it did get a little fiddly, borderline frustrating at times.
The reason for this was that I couldn’t get the copper looking pin on the visor to go back into its track correctly. Thus ensued a cup of tea, a couple of YouTube searches – which didn’t help – some gentle prodding, some more general prodding, some fairly choice language and another cup of tea.
Then I hit upon my error. The black lever I mentioned earlier which allows you to remove the hinge covers and visor actually has two positions, the first allows the panels to be removed, the second to pop out the visor pin from its track in the right position. I hadn’t noticed this when I popped the old visor out, but when I tried to put the new one in I only pushed it to its first position. Eventually I figured it out, a lo and behold, everything is in place, and with some silicone lubricant, moving smoothly.
(Oddly, despite all visors coming from Arai with a small bottle of silicone lubricant, the OEM one which came with the helmet had very little on the hinge.)
OK, so let’s get to how it actually works.
The smoked visor moves independently of the main visor on it’s own hinge, and clicks quite securely as it moves. It has a rubber guard at the top which performs the function of a bumper so it doesn’t scratch the main visor, and also stops water from getting between the two. I thought it might be difficult with gloves on to raise the pro-shade but actually it’s really easy. The main visor also has a slightly different vent for the front of the helmet, sliding up and at an angle rather than just open and closed on the stock visor vents. I find this to be a far better design for controlling airflow.
Whilst riding with the Pro-shade smoked area down, it does exactly what you’d expect – it really reduces that sun glare. For me that’s a great benefit on the morning runs down the coast but also on sunny days when I’m on a tree lined route and the sun flashes between the trees, which can be a distraction.
As you can see the shaded visor covers the top ~75% of the main visor. What this means is that there’s about a 3cm gap with the just the normal visor at the bottom. In practical terms, this is a good thing, since it makes it easy to see the speedometer, navigation screen etc.. It also makes it easy to lift the smoked visor without hitting the clear one.
One thing which I was concerned about was wind drag when the visor was up, but after a few hours on an expressway as well as around town I have to say it’s not a factor at all. There might be a minor drag when turning your head at speed, but it really is barely noticeable.
Overall then, it’s all positives, the visor works really well when down, and is easy to move away when not needed – it’s definitely a decent solution. Is an interior visor a better solution? Potentially I suppose, but the Arai Pro-Shade at least gives the option of different visors, and in theory, if they don’t change the design, it means replacing damaged units should be fairly easy to find and change.
If you have a compatible Arai helmet, you should definitely give it a go.