Icon Variant | Motorcycle Helmet Review

Icon Variant Adventure Motorcycle Helmet Test

One has to admit that the people at Icon are a happy group of apple cart upsetters. The Portland, Ore. company put out a retro MX-inspired boot – the Icon 1000 Elsinore – that it considers to be street footwear.

Now, we have the Icon Variant helmet – head protection for adventure by sight – with ads that show a guy on a fully faired vintage superbike sporting huge knobby tires and stunter crash bars. The apples are still rolling as we write this.

As admiring as we are of Icon’s ability to market its products in innovative and attention-grabbing ways, like so many motorcyclists, once we are comfortable with the image, it comes down to the quality of the product.

Sporting a huge plastic superstructure along the top that has aerodynamic, venting, and styling functions, the Icon Variant weighs in at a hefty four pounds even, despite a fiberglass/Dyneema/carbon-fiber shell.

That could be a quick deal-killer for many riders, though we were happy with the balance of the helmet once donned. Long rides, on-road and off-, didn’t leave us with the feeling that the helmet is too heavy. If that is an issue, a full carbon fiber version is available.

For adventure riding, we have taken quickly to the Icon Variant. We had a ride that hit 110 degrees in the shade (there was no shade) and the Variant’s four shell-intake vents and two chin-guard vents (all closable) passed through enough air to prevent sauna-like conditions—an arduous test for any helmet. No doubt, the moisture-wicking Hydra-Dry liner also assisted.

In the dirt, with the chin guard vents closed, the Variant, with its bug-eyed faceshield, provides a wide view of the terrain, while also keeping dust out of your eyes under normal circumstances. For pure off-roading with other riders in dusty conditions, however, the Variant doesn’t adapt well to the use of goggles, so that limits its capabilities in the dirt.

On the street, the aerodynamics of the helmet feel good up into triple figure speeds. There is a lot of air in the visor unit, so turning your head to check traffic doesn’t wrench your head around. When the sun starts to set, the peak does a great job of keeping the sun out of your eyes.

The apocalyptic appearance of the Icon Variant helmet, particularly with the bare finish on the Construct version, will be enough to attract a number of riders on looks alone. Fortunately, the performance of the helmet is up to the promise of its ready-for-the-end-of-the-world image.

The Icon Variant retails for $350 – $550, contingent on graphics/carbon design. For additional information, visit Rideicon.com.

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