Icon ties Arai in helmet satisfaction survey

Dailies -



Plucky upstart Icon has tied helmet giant Arai in the 2011 JD Power Helmet Satisfaction Survey. That’s a huge achievement for the brand, which originally set out to create safety gear for an audience that wouldn’t otherwise wear any. Tieing for first puts Icon ahead of Shoei, Scorpion, Bell, HJC and other brands more often associated with brain buckets.

The study measures owner satisfaction with helmet across 11 parameters: quietness; ventilation/air flow; de-fogging performance; face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out; face shield resistance to scratching; ease of replacing face shield; scratch resistance of shell; color/graphic design; weight; ease of fastening the strap; and fit and comfort.

JD Power reports that, while Arai continued to receive top marks for fit, comfort and shield effectiveness, Icon is close behind and exceeds the Japanese company in color/graphic design.

To conduct the survey, JD Power used responses from 4,820 people who purchased helmets in 2009 and 2010, asking them for their reviews last fall.

Other trends reported in the survey back up what we’re seeing elsewhere in the motorcycle industry. The median age of a helmet purchaser is now 48, one year younger than the average age of a US motorcycle buyer.

  • HammSammich

    Nice, this fits pretty well with my experiences (I hated my HJC and really like my Icon). I’m a little surprised that Scorpion isn’t better rated, though. People that I know who own them, including my wife, all seem really pleased.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

      with them, its usually more about being pleased for what you paid than being pleased over the other options (disregarding cost).

      • HammSammich

        That’s a good point, they are pretty cheap. Although, I’m jealous of my wife’s visor…it doesn’t seem to fog up under any conditions. My icon is fine when I’m moving, but anything below about 65F and it fogs up at a stop. Below 35F and it fogs up when I’m moving if I don’t keep the shield cracked open a bit (yes from October to February I frequently ride in 35F and below, as long as there’s no snow).

        • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

          they’re very good helmets, outstanding compared to others at their price point (i’m wearing an exo-700 til i can decide between the rf-1100, profile, rx-q, or can find an AGV without stupid shit plastered all over the sides of it).

          they’re just kinda noisy, kinda heavy, kinda ugly, don’t move air very well, and get blown around a little. you’d have to spend more than twice as much for anything much better though.

      • aristurtle

        I can see that; that’s basically how I feel about my HJC.

    • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

      massive irony.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    At first I was concerned that AGV was way below the fold, but its just not there at all. Maybe I still should be concerned.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Nah, it’s probably not large enough to have generated accurate results in the survey.

    • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

      I like the looks and the feel of my AGV Miglia, but the ventilation blows.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

        So the ventilation works great?

        Couldn’t help myself.

        • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

          No… I guess I mean it sucks.

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

            You never fail, Harry. (And now you are doomed to.)

    • Mr.Paynter

      I thought the same about Shark!

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      yeah, and Suomy. I LOVE my Suomy. Much more than Arai and AGV.

      Does Icon protect as well as a top of the line Arai or Shoei? It’s just customer satisfaction, not necessarily impact protection, right?

  • Adam

    I think that this is flawed because most of the Icon customers never owned $500 helmet before so there is no reference. I doubt that anybody owning Arai or Shoei would switch to Icon.

    • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

      Arai and Shoei aren’t the be all end all of helmets. I’ve yet to find one that fit me good enough that I wanted to wear it.

      During my last two helmet purchases I ended with HJC helmets over Arai and Shoei (no cost wasn’t really a consideration) they just fit me better.

    • Sean Smith

      One of them writes here.

      My last helmet, that I loved dearly and paid full-retail price for, was an Arai. My Icon is 95% as nice. If the new visor retention system that they have in the works is as good as they say it is, they’re helmets are about to get incredibly nice.

    • http://www.rideicon.com iconmotosports

      Or they have a $500 Icon helmet: Airframe Lifeform Carbon $514 retail. http://www.rideicon.com/product_details.jsp?category=3427&id=12188

  • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

    It’s interesting that Harley-Davidson scores higher than some of the helmet brands that they re-label.

    That bar and shield can polish more than anachronistic motorcycles!

  • Ben Rowland

    I always assumed that Icon was subpar and didn’t bother looking at their products. Time to rethink that assumption.

    • Eric

      ICON’s are banned at certain race tracks, or at least they used to be. Maybe they’ve improved. I would think that people buying ICON are more concerned with the image and not performance.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Icon now makes some seriously safe helmets. They’re the only company who’s helmets are certified both for Snell and ECE.

        • Eric

          Good to know, I guess I won’t just completely ignore them anymore next time I need a helmet.

  • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

    the Icon’s are super nice…..they’re just ugly. obviously, if you’re asking people who bought them, they dont mind the looks and are just reporting on fit and function.

    i’ll never own an icon, but i have nothing but appreciation and respect for the quality helmet they produce, especially at the price they charge.

    • Archer

      The areas where Icon scored well enough to bring it to par with Arai are very telling and contrary to your comment.

      Graphics and colors. NOT fit or function.

      • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

        like i said earlier, if people bought them, they obviously like how they look. this survey only asks people how they feel about their own purchases, not all helmets in general.

        attractiveness is a matter of personal opinion and for the most part, people find these helmets fairly ugly and directed at a certain crowd. the other information is far more important because that is more telling of their experience with the helmet than their intiail reaction to it’s appearance.

        if you ask a bunch of people who buy pabst if they think it tastes good, they’re probably gonna say yes.

        • Archer

          Well, allow me to retort.

          Here is what JDP actually says.

          “Arai ranks highest in customer satisfaction, and ties with Icon with a score of 852 on a 1,000-point scale. Arai performs well across all 11 attributes, particularly in fit and comfort and face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out. Icon performs particularly well in color/graphic design.”

          So, owners who own Icons like them beause of the paint jobs- disporportionately to the other attributes that make a good helmet.

          Furthermore, the HFL summary about this omits one important fact that is mentioned in the JDP release-

          “The study measures overall satisfaction of motorcyclists with their new helmet”

          This is a survey of NEW helmets. One wonders what a survey would show, say, six months or a year after the purchase.

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

            Archer, your criticism of the JDP survey’s value is solid. At the same time, Arai has leveraged the JDP record in their marketing strategy for years. It’s from that perspective that I think this is big for Icon. If nothing else, it provides a tremendous claim.

            Doesn’t make me love my Arai any less, mind you. Nor does it make me reconsider my betrayal of the brand with an AGV.

          • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

            Having just taken part in a JDP survey for a car I can assure you it’s neither timely nor brief. The car survey was over the period of two months and started nearly a month after I purchased my car. The “new shiny thing” effect had clearly passed by the time the survey took place.

          • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

            you’re point doesn’t negate mine. icon is like affliction. if you’re into that sort of thing (as you would have to be to buy one), then they are the cream of the crop and do the best job at making that style of helmet. but, ask 100 random motorcyclists to rank helmets based on color/design and I’d be shocked if you got anywhere close that response.

            they make fantastic helmets, they just fit a more specific niche and are going to have to work to get away from that perception.

            my point about the other areas being more important was because those are the areas that are effected less by style and are more universal standards. while we all may prefer different style helmets, their isnt much debate about wanting a helmet that is quiet or a helmet that breathes well or a helmet that is comfortable.

            i do agree that the study needs to reflect people’s opinions after owning the helmets longer.

  • Frosty_spl

    Are Icons made in China?

    • David

      I have an Icon Airframe (gloss black, clear visor- no cheesy graphics, thanks!) which is made in Korea. I can’t speak to any of their other products though.

      I’m extremely happy with both the Icon helmets I’ve owned; a Mainframe in their “rubatone” matte finish, and the current Airframe. Both fit well and except for the visor locking mechanism on the Airframe, are very high quality and quite safe (the Mainframe protected me from a potentially nasty wreck).

      I would definitely buy another Icon helmet, provided the style suited me and I found a good deal on it.

    • Patrick

      This what I was wondering as well. Not so much made in China as much as made by who? Are they a rebrand?

      • http://www.rideicon.com iconmotosports

        Patrick, Our helmets are not a “rebrand” and made in our very own factory located in South Korea.

        • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

          I’m so glad you’re here and answering questions. :-) I still have an almost religious attachment to my Suomy. Now if only they’d come out with some new graphics…

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

    Gotta give it up to Icon, this is remarkable. Arai’s touted the JD domination for years. Icon matching them is quite the statement. Bravo.

    • http://www.rideicon.com iconmotosports

      Thanks Ben. We’re pleased and gunning for the number one spot next year.

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

    Very cool. I had my eye on those air-frame helmets for a while; Sean’s review of them made me want one more.

    After my road trip this summer, I might ditch my crappy HJC and pick one up…

  • Gregory

    I just got a Scorpion EXO-400. Its graphic is called “rebel” and its colour is “matte white”. In XL, I guess that graphic wasn’t that popular. Motorcycle-superstore.com was clearing out that size/ graphic for USD ~60. Not bad.

    The D-strap is a bit slow to put on/ take off. The brand new cheek pads are super poofie and make my cheeks look fat: very good sound insulation, too. I also use ear plugs. Visor is super non-foggy. My glasses/ sun glasses fog up immediately. The visor’s always clear.

    Good (silent, tight) helmets let you go faster. Good gear helps.

    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    Cool! I’ve been rotating between my Icon Variant and Scorpion EXO-700 all this season. I have two Arai’s that haven’t even touched since I bought the Scorp. Best bang for the buck for sure. I need to try a “normal” Icon one of these days…

  • Philip

    I’d like to see a customer satisfaction survey on helmets that consumers have crashed in. To me, THAT”S what really counts!!

  • Ben

    I’ve crashed in an Icon Mainframe. It held up very very well accept all the funny fins and scoops exploding off. The shell did its job and my head was saved.

    I got it after trying it on at a shop. It felt so plush and nice on the inside that I shelved me Shoei because the Icon fit better.

    • Steven

      It’s probably supposed to do that when it crashes. It would probably be a disaster if those things hung up on anything.

      Besides, you’re not supposed to wear it anymore!

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

        It’s absolutely supposed to do that.

        • Archer

          That’s one reason why the air management protuberances on nearly all reputable helmets are thin plastic adhered to the shell with film adhesives. You want them to shear away in an impact.

  • Greg

    Icon? Seriously, Icon?

    • Alex

      seriously. they were hungry for it and it shows. props icon!

  • Mr.Paynter

    Through this site I find myself looking at Icons’s helmets a lot more seriously.

    I’m looking for my girlfriend, she’s keen to get on the back but I don’t really wanna splash for another Shark RSI Carbon in case she doesn’t really enjoy it. That airframe in the white/weave might just be my next import!

  • Ryan

    Icey hot stuntaz have opposable thumbs?

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    “polycarbonate injection molded” vs say… fiberglass/carbon fiber…

    I heard injection molded shells are not as protective as woven shells. nice to see Icon offers both, but I always wonder about those injection molded helmets…


    • HammSammich

      I recall reading somewhere that the Polycarb shells didn’t generally comply with the previous Snell ratings which necessitated a harder shell for better puncture resistance, but the fact that they were softer also means that all internal components being equal, they transmit less energy to your noggin on impact. There are polycarb shelled helmets now that can comply with the newest SNELL, ECE and DOT standards. I think that’s a reflection of improved standards that are focused less on puncture resistance, and more on impact absorbption, rather than an indication that there have been specific improvements in polycarbonate materials.

  • sanjuro

    I love my Bell Star, but I wonder what are some of the complaints are which put it below average.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      Possible answer: the other helmets in the Bell lineup.