When I heard I’d get the opportunity to take a look at the latest Kabuto Aeroblade helmet at an exclusive Sydney unveiling, I was pretty stoked. I’ve run a Kabuto RT-33 as one of my helmets for a few years and was highly impressed with the overall helmet, as well as the price-point.
Of course when I first started wearing the RT-33, I had no idea of the long history of helmet production owed to Kabuto (or OGK Kabuto), or that it is in fact one of the top three manufacturers of helmets in Japan. I just assumed it was a more value-orientated brand, with competitive offerings, which as it turns out was still correct, but only part of the story. Kabuto’s introduction to Australia has been more recent, however that wealth of history and development explains why they have such great offerings.
I’ll go into a bit of history later, but first the Kabuto AerobladeV or Aeroblade-5, with Kabuto Executive Director Hiroki Kimura visiting from Japan for the launch, while Kabuto’s Ryohei Wada presented the helmet itself, and occasionally translated one of Kimura-san’s interesting anecdotes about the brand or a specific features’ development.
Straight up, this is a nicely styled, well contoured and attractive helmet. Helmets have come a long way in recent years from being basically a sphere with a hole cut in it and a visor, but the Aeroblade-5 is seriously compact, incredibly light and looks very cool, with an array of graphics to be on offer here in Oz. The shell is sporty and aggressive, with great lines and aerodynamics, and takes over from the Aeroblade-3 (there’s no four).
The challenge according to Kabuto’s Ryohei-san was one-upping the highly successful 3, providing a meaningful upgrade for those looking for a new helmet after the 3, or coming from another brand.
First and foremost Kabuto looked at their A.C.T. EVO shell, and made it both smaller and thinner, without trading off any protection, and where the 3 boasted two shell sizes and six overall sizes the Aeroblade-5 now offers four shell sizes and six overall sizes, broken down into a XS/S shell, M shell, L shell and XL/XXL shell. This essentially keeps weight to a minimum and ensures the shell is most closely tailored to the needed fit, which would otherwise be achieved with the liners/internals.
A.C.T. EVO (Advanced Composite Technology) is Kabuto’s shell manufacturing technique, combining hyper-glass fibre, high-strength organic synthesis fibre, high-strength and -modulus organic synthesis fibre, and high-tensile organic synthesis fibre, with individual shell designed developed for optimum weight, and strength and to meet all safety regulations and tests. Also featured is a Dual Density Impact Absorption Liner, with specifically optimised sections giving the ideal protection in the necessary areas.
Ryohei-san was particularly proud to mention that Kabuto goes out of its way to meet the various different regulations around the world, to ensure their helmets can be taken, and raced, anywhere.
The visor has also been updated with a new two-pivot ratchet system, 3D molded shield, all new rubber trims for the perfect seal and a centre lock system. This means quicker and easier visor changes, the perfect seal when closed every time, and easy access to the shield lock in the middle. Sure this will take some getting used to, coming from the older side mounted lock, but it ensures a more even and secure locking mechanism. Sheilds are also Pinlock prepared and there’s a good selection of colour options available.
Other features include fully removable and replaceable liners, which can be washed, a slit for glasses/sunglasses and a supplied breath guard and wind (chin) shutter, both of which can be useful in cooler weather. Even the ear caps are detachable, while the bottom skirt of the helmet interior is designed to provide a snug fit while worn, and prevent air incursion/noise, but also easily pulled aside via the straps for pulling over your head.
Kabuto is particularly proud of its Wake Stabiliser feature and venting system, which are systems it pioneered in the industy, ensuring strong airflow through the helmet and, in conjunction with their Wind Tunnel and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) testing, a comfortable, stable and aerodynamic ride.
Overall the Kabuto Aeroblade-5 looks to be one of the most exciting helmet entries for the year, arriving here in Australia in November and available for under the $500 RRP figure, with official pricing still to be announced.
It’ll be available in a Matte Black and the Akiyoshi, Reida and Yajiri colour-ways, with Australian importer Moto National Accessories working with Kabuto to choose the ideal colour schemes for Australian riders.
As I mentioned Kabuto has a long history, stemming from the OGK brand, which was established in 1948. Kabuto to this day specialises in motorcycle and bicycle helmets, and actually worked with Shimano on bringing bicycle helmets into in Australia.
Apparently competition was fierce due to the large number of imports which simply didn’t meet safety standards at the time, and it was a less than successful venture as a result. Motorcycle helmets are luckily more stringently tested and Kabuto, alongside Moto National Accessories, has been able to make in-roads as a result.
Talking with Ryohei-san, from their research they believe they were also the first company to develop the teardrop shaped cycling helmet, which went to Bronze in the LA 1984 Olympics.
Kabuto also patented the first helmet with a Top Ventilation System, which they later developed to include shutters, not to mention releasing the first helmet with a rear Aerofin and later adding the first Wake Stabiliser. Such was the success of these offerings, that they were approached in some cases by the other major helmet manufacturers in Japan, who asked to incorporate these features into their own designs.
Needless to say they answered in the affirmative, with Ryohei-san explaining that it is a great honour to be approached in this manner. It may seem strange from a Western perspective, but keep in mind these where family owned and run businesses at the time.
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