WHY does Arai still use Side Pods instead of Pod-Less systems?
Even though pod-less shield systems are easier to make - a simple deep, flat recess in the shell surface to hold the shield pivot mechanism - Arai's experience tells us these deeply-recessed pockets (some as deep as ½ inch!) aren't a good idea. Either the interior EPS liner must be thinner and harder in the recessed area, or the shell must be made larger to accommodate a thicker, softer liner. Mainly though, the deep recesses can have sharp edges that may impede the desired smooth dispersal of impact energy along the shell's naturally-curved surface.
Arai's pod system lets us maintain a shallow recess (as much of the pivot mechanism is within the shield itself) with round edges, so energy can fl ow more smoothly over the entire shell shape. The pod system isn't easy to design, or cheap to build, because the shell surface beneath the pod continues the three-dimensional shape of the shell with a series of difficult compound curves, that the pod's base plate mechanism must conform to. But it enables the shell do a better job of dispersing impact energy, allowing the use of a softer and more consistent liner thickness and allowing the shell to be smaller, narrower and more aerodynamic.
More expensive? Yes. More complicated? Definitely. But better? We think so. And the Arai Way is about better, not cheaper.