Review: Icon Airframe Helmet

Air conditioning for your head

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor

I dont usually wear a full-face helmet when I ride a motorcycle I prefer a 3/4 style but when I do it has to be super comfortable and light. I dont want to feel like I have a bowling ball on my head. Mostly I wear a full-face helmet when Im riding a motorcycle with no windshield. The helmet protects my face and head from the wind coming at me.

Here I am wearing Icon#39;s Airframe while testing Yamaha#39;s V Star 950 last fall. Pink flowers in the foreground bring out the pink in the helmet.

Icons Airframe style helmet introduced last year, is a highly technical helmet with the top of the line SNELL crash test rating and required D.O.T. rating designed to “take helmet design to the next level” states the press materials. Indeed it does in certain areas.

Chipmunk cheeks: That#39;s what a good fitting full-face will do for you. I don#39;t normally wear pink but when offered that color style called Regal because of the crown on the back, I said, “What the heck.” Every girl rider should have a pink helmet in her stable if not to wear, then to simply remind ourselves of how far we#39;ve come.

First thing I notice is that the Airframe is light. I dont want to have a neck ache at the end of a riding day from holding up a heavy helmet on my head. At 3.5 pounds, it was no heavier or lighter than what I am used to.

My Regal style size XS weighs 3.5 pounds, the average weight for a quality full-face helmet.

A challenge for helmet makers is keeping the weight down while adding features that make it a better helmet. Im told that starting in the fall of 2009 all Icon helmets will be moving over to whats called AWS (All World Standard). All World Standard meets or exceeds all the following: D.O.T. FMVSS 218 (US), ECE 22-05 (Europe), SG (Japan) and AS 1698 (Australia) helmet standards. In laymans terms it means a lighter weight helmet built to a higher safety standard. Thats good to know.

Sizing in a full-face helmet is determined by the combination of the shell size, the size of the shock absorbing helmet liner the Styrofoam looking shell shown in our photo below and the cheekpads. Icon makes three shell sizes and four liner sizes that allow for a generous range of sizing from XXS through XXXL. A quick glance at some of the other top helmet manufacturers and I see only the top brands make that XXS size which, with more women riding motorcycles, is becoming a popular size. Most budget helmet manufacturers only size to XS. That said, I usually wear an XS in a full-face (all my regular-wearing Arai helmets are XS) so its nice to see that an XS in Icon fit me perfectly. If the XS was too big, I could get different cheek pads to turn the helmet into an XXS. Thats how that works.

This is what the shock absorbing liner looks like, called EPS because it#39;s made from expanded Polystyrene. Different densities in certain areas of the shape act as a shock absorber for different parts of one#39;s head.

Icon prides itself on its ideal combination of densities in the EPS that work as a complete shock absorbing system for a riders head. The dual density styrene liner is specifically designed to absorb the more common moderate impacts on up to the more severe impacts. That gives me peace of mind.

The cheek pads are very comfortable. The soft Hydradry brand of wicking fabric is soft to the touch, almost luxurious feeling. It was nice to have that against my cheeks. When I sweat the fabric absorbs the moisture drying it quickly and leaving the surface of the liner cool and dry. Only some helmet brands use a wicking style fabric in its cheek pads. I insist on it these days. The worst thing is sweating inside your helmet on a hot day and feeling claustrophobic from your head roasting inside. This leads me to helmet ventilation.

The Hydradry inside liner with its fancy floral design.

Cooling System
A good helmet will have a decent ventilation system. Its one thing for a helmet to have vents but if those vents are not in the right places the hot air cant channel out of the helmet. What good are the vents then? The big deal with the Airframe helmet is its ventilation – hence the name Airframe. Icon had to literally build a new machine to construct the Airframe to make the vents do what it wanted to do force the hot air out of the helmet directly. There are large 20mm slat style vents on the front of the helmet angled in such a way as to ram air directly into the helmet without twists, turns and the wind-blocking detours that prevent so many helmets from properly cooling. In the rear are large 35mm slat style openings that expel the hot air from inside the helmet. I mention these are slat style openings because most helmets just have small round holes. For cooler days, there is a switch to block the vents to keep the warm air from escaping. Two additional rear holes (the more common size holes) on the lower part of the helmet expel air that comes in through the head opening.

You can see the slanted vents on the top of the helmet. In the middle is the button to close them. You can also see a chin vent that closes with that black button, and two more screened vents on the lower sides.
You can see the slanted exhaust ports here in the rear under an aerodynamic fin. Also in this photo are the lower exhaust holes hidden under the bottom aerodynamic wing that helps funnel the air outward. Note the pink crown graphic in this “Regal” style helmet.

Now that you know the interesting mechanics of how the ventilation works at least I think its interesting indeed I noticed a difference on hot days when I opened the vents. The helmet just felt like it was breathing and I wasnt feeling all hot and bothered inside. I really like that. The venting is superior and what sets this helmet apart.

Face Shield
This is my first time using a tinted face shield on a full-face helmet. Normally, I like to wear a clear shield so I can control the tint by wearing my favorite sunglasses and then take off the glasses when the day gets cloudy. I dont like wearing tinted anything on dark cloudy days. The darkness depresses me. (I actually wear yellow tinted glasses on overcast days so it seems brighter to me.)

The problem with wearing sunglasses in a full face is that only certain ones fit in the tight space. Most sunglasses are too thick to fit on your head inside a helmet. My first time with Icons tinted shield was well… exciting. Ive only been wearing it on very sunny days. I love the grey tint, and Icons Proshield Precision Optic Shield technology has a clear undistorted view. Again, this is something we should demand. Face shields should not distort your view.

The face shield releases relative easily. This is another feature that sets helmet makers apart how easy it is to take off and replace the windshield. Ive broken lots of nails trying to press the small clip that releases the shield. Pressing the little orange tab on the Airframe to release the shield was not that difficult as Im releasing the tension here, but pressing it back into place required using the closed end of scissor (or you could use a flat head screwdriver) to gain enough leverage to move it into the locked position. My fingers are small. Maybe others have an easier time at it, but the pressure needed to push that tiny orange tab to lock the shield into place uncomfortably digs the tab into my fingertip.

I need to use the flat end of a closed scissor to press the tab back into place.

I didnt have much experience with the face shield fogging fortunately. Could be due to Icons Fog-Free coating and the chin vent, or could just be that I didnt encounter climate conditions to produce moisture in my helmet.

For $330, a price well below the top-of-the-line brands that range from $500 to $700, the Icon Regal is a high quality helmet thats offered in fun colors and graphics much different that traditional offerings. Here are four styles we thought were interesting to showcase. There are a whole bunch more.

Burn Baby Burn
Seventh Seal

The Airframe is also available in a flat black and a white color for $275. Visit for more information.

All Icon helmets come with a thick fleece-lined helmet bag with straps to carry it as a backpack. WRN editorial assistant Laura McCarthy models how it looks carried that way. There#39;s an extra flap in the helmet bag for stashing small accessories like gloves.

Support WRN by buying from our preferred womens motorcyle gear retailer.

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9 thoughts on Review: Icon Airframe Helmet

  1. I am an owner of an Airframe helmet. It is a well-ventilated helmet as far as helmets go. I live in Kentucky; the summers are hot — sometimes triple-digit, and very humid. The winters are cold, often below freezing. I am an all-weather, all-season rider, and this helmet is my preferred one in all seasons but winter. The ventilation is so good that it can't really be blocked out, and I switch to a regular HJC with an added fog sticker on my shield to prevent fog.

    The ICON helmet will fog under the right conditions, but for most fair-weather riders it should be just fine. It might fog in the rain if the air hitting it is cold enough. The helmet is light, but I think the actual shell size increases for size of the helmet, but this may be different for newer models (mine is a 2006).

    To answer another remark, the helmet isn't loud under normal driving conditions, but I would highly recommend ear plugs for long distance/high speed trips (especially interstate) if you want to keep the vents open. You should be able to hear your bike under every other condition (and I have a Suzuki cruiser, not the loudest pig in the pen either).

    All in all, this is my favorite helmet of all the ones I've owned, and I would definitely buy another one. It has been worth the money, and the colors are really eye-catching. I chose a bright pink helmet, and to date I have not been involved in any accidents. I think I owe this to the helmet's high visibility. I also chose pink, and will probably always choose a more feminine design, because they are unique and in my experience, less likely to be stolen off the bike.

  2. I was very interested in this information, very will written. Answered all my questions and made me think of new ones. I really am not a fan of helmets but I would like to try this one out. The price is in the ball park. Thank you.

  3. Iam a new rider and this is my first helmet. I measured my head. I wear a large. I went to a motorcycle store and tried on three helmets before I tried my Airframe Regal In black and red. It is so comfortable and light compared to the other helmets I tried on. I love my helmet. It keeps my head cool and does not fog.

  4. Just wondering about the anti-fog capabilities of the face shield. I'm currently in the market for a new helmet and was convinced by a salesman at Femmoto 2007 that Scorpion had the best anti-fog shield available. For that reason, I have been planning to get a Scorpion.

  5. Thank you so much for the information on the Airframe style helmets. I've been looking at the Icon Airframe Siren helmet but was unsure because it looked heavier than the Scorpion full face helmet I currently have. The information provided has been most helpful in helping me decide whether or not to purchase the above mentioned helmet. It sounds like a winner so I will definitely be acquiring that helmet shortly. Thanks again!

  6. Thank you for such a complete overview of that helmet. You hit every point that is important to a lady rider.

  7. This helmet sounds like it's really nice. my one question would be: is it loud?
    Is the noise of the air passing through the helmet deafening? Can you hear your bike over it? I have an older Arai full face which is a great helmet but it is pretty loud. Just wondering if this Icon is the same. Thanks for a great review!

    1. Ya know… I can't remember. I'll need to wear it again while on a ride and keep the noise factor in mind. I'll do that soon and update the review when I get a chance. Good question!

      Right off the top of my head — I recall it was not loud, though, or else I would have noticed it and would have written about it.

  8. I always have my feelers out for a lighter weight, cooler helmet as I live in Florida. I wear a full-armoured jacket (mesh in the above 75 degree seasons), full-finger leather gloves, heavy boots, and a full-face helmet as our Women In The Wind chapter stresses safety first. I prefer a full-face helmet because a dragonfly on the cheekbone gives a nasty shiner and unexpected heavy rains (always anticipated in FL) are very uncomfortable even with a tall windshield to divert some of it. Now, I have something specific to go check out and the price seems to be in my ballpark (birthday money, you know). Thanks!

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