Gear: Icon Variant Construct Helmet Review

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So, in case you’re wondering: that guy in the adjacent lane, with the “extreme” graphics on his multi-colored helmet? Yeah, that isn’t me. I have an aversion to screaming logos and garish graphics. Is it too much to ask for full-face protection without X-Games styling? And is it overreaching to insist on a dual-sport helmet that works as well on the street as it does on the dirt? With its Variant Construct Helmet, Icon says yes to both counts. Lear more in this Icon Variant Construct Helmet Review.

The Gear
Designed as a street/dual-sport hybrid, the Icon Variant Construct has an intermediate oval shape, huge eyeport, elongated chin, and prominent peak to deflect dirt, rain, and sun. There are several variations of the Variant; the Construct is thusly named for its off-white, exposed fiberglass/carbon fiber finish, which contributes to the futuristic, industrial appearance. It’s seriously hardcore, like a Stromtrooper beyond Thunderdome.

As a hybrid, it offers the best (and worst) of both worlds. Like an off-road helmet should, its ventilation is top-notch and the fit is snug. And like a good street helmet, it offers superb optics and all-day comfort. Best of all, with looks and performance such as this, you might expect it to be a much costlier piece of gear. At $370 it’s pricey, but reasonable.

The moisture-wicking liner is removable and washable, as is the chin shield. The massive eyeport and bulbous shield provide superb field of vision, limiting the amount of motion required for head-checks – welcome, because the sharp peak can catch the wind, particularly at speed.

Icon Variant Construct

The Variant ships with both clear and smoke shields, treated for anti-fogging. Changing them is slightly tricky and time-consuming (it takes a few minutes), but once you get the hang of it, the process moves along. Still, the plastic screws that require removing for the swap don’t seem all that sturdy, and picturing one snapping off, rolling away, or bouncing clean out of sight isn’t all that hard to do. The helmet comes with a keychain tool to assist in the swap-out, but a coin would also do in a pinch.

The multi-inlet ventilation system is on full display when you remove the liner. All seven air channels are visible, including the one that shoots air to the shield to fight fogging (it also features chin vents for the same purpose). It works great; the downside of any dual-sport helmet is that they’re designed to ventilate like dirt helmets at low speeds, but they perform that way on the street, too – resulting in a lot of noise feedback above about 60 mph. The Valiant is noisier than a full-face street helmet, for sure – but not as loud as your typical D-S lid.

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  • Micah Christie

    I’ve been using a Variant (a matte black one and more recently the construct that’s featured) for more than a year on both a windscreen less Honda Magna and a Goldwing. I have had only a little experience going on logging roads on the Magna so I’ve no idea how it holds up for dedicated offroad riding but I’ve adored it for both jamming around town and even touring despite the wind issues. It *does* have wind issues, as was stated, an improper head check causes it to catch the wind like a goddamn sail. I felt it was tight as well at first but after a few months it’s very comfortable and at least I’ve never felt like it’s going to ride back on my head when it catches the wind. I hit the ground at around 25-35 mph wearing the matte black Variant and it held up great despite the crack that I heard when my head hit the ground sounding like a goddamn gunshot. It manages to look awesome, in a speeder bike chase sort of way, while still providing great protection and I imagine I’ll get another one after this construct reaches retirement age.

    • Khali

      Been using a variant Big Game since May. I really like it. I wouldnt say it catches wind so much…I mean, of course it does with that shape, but much less than I expected. In the summer I was very happy with its ventilation, and now thats winter and reaching 0ºC, I bought the “breathbox” to help with condensation (I ride with presciption glasses). Had to lower the screen on my bike to get appropiate ventilation, but now I am very happy with it. The breathbox helps keeping warm air around your face, while the screen area is ventilated by its own vents. The result is a sensation of warmthness while keeping the screen perfectly clean. Very confortable.

      Plus, it completes the Fighter Pilot look :)

      I would add to any review that the tinted shields that come with ICON helmets are not ECE rated. So if you are in Europe like me, use them wisely.

  • AHA

    Cool helmet. Couldn’t find one in the UK when Icon first released them so I bought an X-Lite 551 instead. Very happy with it. At the time it was the only dual sport helmet with an internal sun visor which I find really useful. A comparison review would be interesting. The Icon has a fixed peak/visor unlike most DS helmets; they work much better at high speeds with the peak removed. I used my like this on a track day & it was great. Only the Icon has a zebra graphics option however!

    • Strafer

      X-Lite looks interesting (flip down sun visor is something i’ve been looking for in a helmet)
      Especially now that I just got a ticket for being at a stoplight with my visor up and nothing over my eyes)
      However I don’t think you can buy in USA

      • Mr.Paynter

        I know they we’ve debated their availability in the US (I am South African) but keep an eye out for Shark helmets too, I am a fan and have had a few, and they also have built-in sun-visors!

      • Slacker

        All depends on price point you’ll be looking for… If you can find an older Scorpion helmet, those typically rock the drop down for a lower price point. If you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks there is the Schuberth S2 and the Shark (can’t remember off the top of my head). Those are just the full-faces though. Most modular helmets come with the drop down visor as standard as well.

  • William Connor

    I own this helmet and love it. I do agree it’s tight at the opening and it’s hard to put on and off. The ear ports are smallish as well so fitting a communicator speakers can be problematic. I use the uClear bluetooth setup and the speakers are larger than average so it’s a very tight fit.

  • Iceman

    After some research, I still can’t figure out if I’ll be safer in a SNELL rated RF-1200, or a heavier (but ECE rated) helmet like the Variant. Thoughts?

    • Slacker

      I’m thinking you’ll be safe either way… In both cases the manufacturer had to send a batch of helmets that were supposed to be destroyed by the testing and passed. While I’m a proponent of the “stick with SNELL” side of the argument, the ECE rating is still no joke as far as the safety measure goes.

  • josh

    I had a similar issue with the bottom being super tight, i bought the thinner lower liner pads from a XL (only 2 shell sizes, so they have 35mm and 25mm thick pads, the large gets 35mm pads, the xl gets 25′s. Worked great.

    http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/icon-variant-cheekpads

    • josh

      Might have been a XL helmet with 3XL pads. I will have to dig out that helmet.

  • VagrantCoyote

    Dig it. Full face standard version available too, looks great.

  • Geert Willem van der Horst

    Peculiar. That logo on the back of the helmet next to “construct” is exactly the same as the Dutch railway logo (www.ns.nl).

  • cocoa classic

    I own this helmet (ride a DRZ400SM) and absolutely love it for my use. Excellent fit and finish, exactly what I was looking for. Highly recommend it to anyone considering.