Icon Airmada Helmet Review


Category: Gear

The Airmada also continues to use Icon’s Monroe-style metal stud visor lock. They argue it’s simple and strong, which it is, but it’s also unnecessarily clunky, requiring a hand to stabilize the helmet while unlocking if you don’t want to push it up your forehead. There’s got to be a more elegant solution, but possibly not at this price point. Hey, it does lock the visor down very securely.

Another thing Icon’s skipped is a chin curtain. Those help seal off the helmet’s interior from the outside environment, blocking dust and debris from getting into your face an eyes and allowing you to have more say over ventilation by adjusting vents. The Airmada’s chin does dip down very far, achieving some of the same effect.

In Action The first time I wore the Airmada was on a three day trip that began with riding an NC700X through the Santa Monica Mountains in 100 degree plus temperatures, then two days on the Brammo Empulse up in Oregon, again in temps well in excess of 100 degrees. After the initial 45 minute highway ride up to Westlake Village, a couple forehead pressure points were causing trouble, so I removed the liner and conducted a trial and error approach to compressing the Styrofoam there. Unlike many other helmets, the Airmada doesn’t locate any hard buttons or similar to connect the removable liner to the forehead area of the Styrofoam (it instead slides in between the foam and shell, a far better solution). Five minutes of poking, trying it on, and poking some more resulted in a helmet that is now utterly comfortable for as long as I need to have it on.

The Airmada is a long-oval head shape. So think Arai Corsair V, Bell Star, etc.

Icon Airmada Helmet
Icon Airmada Helmet

At no point in three days of riding in such extreme heat did I at any point feel that my head was too hot nor fear putting the Airmada back on after a break. The antimicrobial, sweat-wicking lining stayed dry and cool throughout the trip. I can’t say the same about my cotton socks, undershirt or underwear, all of which went into my gear bag completely sodden at the end of each day. It’s seriously stinky in there now.

That time in Oregon was spent largely at speed on back roads, on bikes free of any windscreen or other aerodynamic aids. I’ve also since used the helmet on faster bikes, including an RSV4. Even at very high speeds, the helmet is extraordinarily stable, something that’s especially noticed while turning your head. In many helmets, doing so in excess of 100 mph takes real effort and causes the helmet to move around on your head. Not so in the Airmada, which makes high speeds head checks super easy and therefore makes you more likely to do them. Being able to quickly and easily check what’s in your blind spots, free of buffeting, is crucial to safety while riding fast. I was able to keep a good eye on what that Eric Bostrom character was up to as we passed and repassed each other for repeated photo takes.

One reason it’s so good is that this is one of the smallest helmets I’ve worn in terms of external dimensions. I’m in a Large and its perceptibly smaller on my shoulders than the same size Bell or AGV or even Icon’s own Alliance. Less surface area to catch the wind brings obvious advantages and it also eliminates that Q-tip look tall, skinny guys with enormous noggins like me are subject to. Some of that is down to the use of four shell sizes across the Airmada’s total sizes. Most helmets at similar price points make do with three, frequently resulting in large helmets padded onto small heads.

Add to those dimensions sharp lines and striking features like the pressed aluminum grilles covering the vents and you have an extremely nice-looking helmet. Additionally, the “Stack” graphic ($260), is the only non-plain stock helmet graphic I’ve ever been happy enough with to actually wear. I actually like the large Icon logos on the side, but could do without the messy logo on the chin or the fussiness of the grading they’ve added throughout. It’s stronger visually with just the lightning bolts, but it’s still a damn fine helmet. Bonus: in stock, $180 form, there’s absolutely no graphics and no contrasting logos of any kind. Just the body-color moldings on the brow vent cover and on the rear of that PVC neck roll cover. It’s probably the most stealthy helmet you can buy.

Safety and Weight Let’s see: visor stuff, vent stuff, aerodynamic stuff, looks stuff…that leaves us with safety and weight. Like all other Icon helmets, the Airmada is made to the ECE 22.05, DOT, Japanese and Australian safety standards. This results in a light, soft helmet that’s optimized to protect you against concussions.

With a $180 price point, it shouldn’t be surprising that the shell is made of polycarbonate plastic over a lighter, fancier tri-composite weave. This has no negative impacts on safety or quality, it’s just a little heavier and a little less worth of bragging rights. RevZilla weighed a medium and reports that it’s 1,550 grams. To put it in perspective, the lightest full-face helmet around is the Nexx XR1R Carbon at 1,200 grams, the extremely light AGV AX-8 Dual weighs 1,400 grams and an Arai RX-7 V is about 1,500 grams. The Airmada is the same weight as a $550 Bell Star.

The Verdict: So in the Airmada we’ve got an extremely nice looking helmet that’s available with either the best graphics out there or in plain colors with virtually invisible logos. It’s made to a better safety standard than most expensive helmets on-sale in America and it exceeds pretty much any other full-face on ventilation. Its visor will not fog and it’s all day comfortable. It’s a little noisy and the visor swap mechanism hurt my poor baby fingers. You need to put in a little effort to make sure you get a tinted visor that seals properly. All that together makes the Airmada as nice as any other helmet out there at any price point and nicer than many. At $180, why would you buy anything else? Heck, I can get any helmet I want for free and I’m still choosing to wear this budget Icon. Not just one of the best deals out there, one of the best helmets out there, full stop.

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