What do you want out of a motorcycle helmet? All-day comfort? Good ventilation? A visor that won’t fog no matter what? Aerodynamics that keep it stable and comfy at high speeds, even when turning your head? Probably stuff like low noise levels, a light weight, good peripheral vision and the ability to control the internal environment too. What about sharp looks, a strong visor lock and an easy, reliable, strong quick release mechanism? Now what would you typically expect to pay for all that? $400? $600? $800? This new Icon Airmada does all of the above as well as most high-end helmets and even better than some, but it starts at just $180. Learn more in this Icon Airmada Helmet review.
The all-new Airmada is an extremely high value helmet that manages to avoid sacrificing quality and features in the pursuit of that sub-$200 price. The latest helmet in Icon’s lineup, it brings a couple innovations not seen even on their more expensive lids.
A lot of that newness is centered around the visor. Dubbed, “Icon Optics” (as opposed to the old “Pro Shield”) it adds 5 degrees of peripheral vision on each side. That’s then attached to the helmet using an all-new quick-release mechanism that should be easier and more durable than the company’s previous designs.
Wrapping the helmet’s base is a new, one-piece PVC neck roll cover. Visually reminiscent of a high-end basketball sneaker, it adds a welcome tactility and technical appearance to an area that typically becomes just frayed fabric. It also helps resolve the visual distinction between the large, tight neck roll and helmet’s shell. Oh, and that neck roll is super tight and secure, blocking out wind and holding the helmet very securely on your head. It’s not Schuberth SR1 tight, but it’s close.
The two main-intakes are triangular in shape and considerably larger than the industry-standard 10mm.
As you’d expect from a helmet with “air” in its name, the big deal here is ventilation. There’s seven switchable inlets on the front and six static extractors at the rear. The minimum size for any of those vents is 10mm, which is typically considered a large vent on other helmets. The two main, top intakes on the Airmada are triangular in shape and well in excess of 10mm in diameter as a result. The brow vents are also extremely large, you can actually feel them blowing fresh air onto your forehead at speeds above 30 mph. Additional vents on each side of the chin are equipped with three-position internal switches.
Inside a typical high-end motorcycle helmet like, say, my AGV GP-Tech, there’s two 10mm intakes on the top, a chin vent to flow air over the inside of the visor and two 10mm extractors at the rear. And that’s $600 race replica. The Airmada exceeds both the size and number of vents, adding brow and two additional chin vents at the front and locating four 10mm extractors at the top of the rear and two additional 10mm holes behind the ears. That is a ton of ventilation and the ability to chose between a combination of top, brow, chin and side chin at the front offers you significant ability to individually tailor cooling.
Four 10mm extractors at the top rear are aided by two additional 10mm exhausts behind the ears. That’s three times the extractor area most helmets have.
Of course, all those vents do create one concern: noise. I’ve been riding in the Airmada (both High-Viz and black-on-black Stack graphics) since August. The reason this review’s taken so long is that the helmet initially presented some problems with whistling. That first helmet was pre-production unit rushed to me in time for the Brammo Empulse ride, so I gave it a pass. The second, black version is production spec. On both the smoked visor initially failed to seal completely to the gasket, leaving a gap for air to annoyingly whistle through. The problem was apparently a batch of visors with the lock holes drilled just a smidge off. A new black visor has recently totally cured that problem, but we’ve seen reports of whistling from owners of the helmet. Our advice would be to order visors from an online retailer, which offers a no hassle return policy. If the visor doesn’t seal completely to the gasket, all the way around, when closed, send it back for one that does.
Icon employs a one-piece visor gasket that, when the visor seals to it properly, actually does an awesome job of sealing out wind and dust and other things you don’t want in your eyes. In addition to visors that, in stock form, absolutely refuse to fog, that’s some serious quality for any price level.
What isn’t high quality is the quick-swap mechanism. It works, eventually, but with a frustrating clunkiness. This is going to sound like a wimpy thing to say, but the levers you push with your fingers to pop loose the visor hurt every time you use them. Not a big deal for a tough guy like you of course, but still annoying. It’s really the only area on the helmet where the cost is visible.
With that visor seal issue resolved, the Airmada isn’t the quietest helmet in the world. You can actually hear the air rushing through the top vents at highway speeds. That leads to some nice cooling, but earplugs will be a necessity on long rides or any time you’re planning on sustaining highway speeds for more than a short period.
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