The new Icon Airform full-face helmet is an interesting meld of the latest high-tech helmet design and a dash of old school look and feel. Let me explain.On one hand, the Airform has the technical strength to meet or exceed ECE 22.05, DOT (FMVSS 218) and PSC (Japan) helmet performance standards.
It has a unique shell configuration that is aerodynamically slippery making for a remarkably quiet, stable helmet at high speed, with a sculpted neck roll that works very well for the speed tuck sport bike riders love and prevents that collar-bind problem at the back of the helmet that nobody loves.It has some of those modern features that make helmet use more convenient and pleasant such as an internal tinted a drop-shield that says, “leave the sunglasses home, if you want.”It has a removable, cleanable Hydradry comfort liner with moisture-wicking capability and pockets for comm gear (see Icon’s Rau Bluetooth set), a closable helmet crown air intake vent with exhaust out the back. Most helmets with internal drop-down sun visors don’t have a vent opening at the very front of the helmet above the eye port because their sun visor may block air intake.The folks at Icon positioned the shell vent to align with the opening in the inner liner whether the sun visor is raised or lowered. Cool design. And, there are optional goodies like slick, reflective-coated face shields and matching rear spoilers and it comes standard with a fog-resistant Icon Optics clear shield that meets or exceeds VESC-8 and all shields work with Icon’s no-tools Rapid-release hinge system.On the other hand, it has a kind of spartan, basic look and feel to it. With few outward bells and whistles it reminds me a little of my first full-face helmet—a very early Bell Star 120. That helmet had no vents anywhere and certainly no internal sun visor, let alone pockets for comm equipment. The look of the Airform is sleek, clean and functional, reminiscent of those early competition-oriented full-face helmets.The shell is injection molded ABS and polycarbonate and the expanded polystyrene (EPS) impact liner is overlaid with the contoured Hydradry comfort liner. The retention system is an inch-wide nylon strap with double D-ring buckle and end snap to secure the loose strap end.The chin bar has three non-closable vents into the face area. The top-most of the three is horizontal and delivers airflow into the eye port and also has some ducting that opens between the breath deflector and the face shield to help keep the face shield fog-free when in motion. Potential down-side to non-closable vents is some water entering the facepiece when you have to ride in the rain.The crown vent above the eye port opens easily with gloves on. I was a little skeptical about how much ventilation such a small vent opening can offer. Indeed, the vent opening through the shell is only about ¾” by ¼” which aligns with an opening in the impact liner that opens into the air channels in the helmet crown EPS layer.Riding with a medium-height windshield where the helmet is in turbulent air, air flow was minimal, which I’ve noticed even with other helmets that have larger or multiple crown vents. Riding with no windshield the helmet being in less turbulent air, the flow into the helmet was more noticeable but still difficult to really assess. So, I rode with my hair damp, which allows better perception of airflow and in both cases I could feel the cooling effect, so air is moving in, though you won’t feel a rush of air coming in under most riding conditions.The Icon Optics face shields—both the standard clear and optional gold reflective we reviewed (there are multiple options for tints and coated shields)—change quick and easy without tools. The hinge has six solid detent positions to hold the shield in the position you select, even at highway speed. The shield can be kept at its lowest setting, slightly open, to allow more airflow into the eye port and it can be locked down by pressing the shield onto a stud on the left side of the chin bar. The Airform helmets can also use the Icon Tracshields that facilitate use of tear-offs as well as Pinlock shields and inserts.I had wondered as I looked the Airform over initially whether the spoilers at the back would potentially be the source of wind noise, vibration or whistling at speed. They are not molded-in integral parts; they attach by three tabs that insert into openings in the shell and with swatches of double-side tape at each end.I was pleasantly surprised to find that neither the original equipment smoke tint spoilers nor the gold reflective ones I installed when I put on the reflective shield caused those problems. Changing the spoilers is a matter of working the mid-point tab out of the helmet first, and then carefully peeling the double-face tape at each end of the spoiler away from the helmet and drawing the tabs out of the end slots. It is very tight at first and I thought I’d break one or the other since they have to flex some to do it, but the material the spoilers are molded from took the stress intact. A video is available to help with the technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci71ISmM028Weighing in at about 3.6 lb., the Airform is about in the average weight range for fixed-chin bar full-face helmets I’ve used. On that alone, I’d say it’s a good choice for all-day riding and that proved to be true in use, but the Airform seems to present less noise and buffeting than most, which could reduce fatigue on a long ride.Of course, that’s a very subjective thing that a lot of factors affect, but the shape of the shell and relative absence of protrusions from its surface seem to make for a quieter, smoother experience. Also, at speeds somewhat above typical Interstate speeds, there seemed to be virtually none of the lifting force that I’ve experienced with some helmets. Again, subjective and dependent on other factors, but that was my impression.The raised rear edge of the helmet—referred to by Icon as the “sculpted neck roll” not only helps prevent friction between the collar of a jacket, but improves the ease of the head tilt required to look forward when down in a speed tuck.I use an XL size helmet for most helmet types and that sizing proved to be right on for me with the Airform Solid. Shell shape is characterized as “intermediate oval.”The overall fit and finish quality of this Icon helmet is consistent with the many other Icon products I’ve used over the years—excellent. Seams, materials and finish quality, fabrics and workmanship are all high-grade and done with precision. The Airform Solid is an excellent fixed chin bar, full-face helmet with a range of upgrade options and a number of advanced standard features at a really affordable price.Quick specs (as reviewed):
Shield/visor: Polycarbonate, clear (standard) anti-fog with tinted internal drop shield. Reflective coated external visor options with matching spoilers also available at additional cost. External face shield meets/exceeds VESC-8.
Retention system: Padded nylon strap with double D-ring buckle
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!