Icon’s notorious for tackling the problem of squids not using safety gear with loud, obnoxious products that look more at home in comic books than they do outside the world where chin strap beards and denim shorts are acceptable clothes for an adult to wear in public. And they’ve done that, providing an affordable, quality, safe range of products that now adorn wannabe Ruffryderz everywhere. Now, they’re targeting another emerging demographic of riders equally disdainful of safety — young people living in cities. And they’re doing so not with skulls and klowns and tribal graphics, but with some of the most credible, technically innovative, stylish riding gear ever seen. It’s called the One Thousand collection and it’s about to utterly reverse what you think of the brand.
Photos: Grant Ray
D3O done right
We’ve written about D3O a fair bit. But, this is the first time we’ve ever seen it incorporated into products in a manner that actually takes advantage of its benefits. To be very clear, D3O is not any safer than existing CE-certified armor. An elastomeric polymer, the material’s molecules lock together when subjected to an impact, turning the thin, pliable material into a solid. This then deflects impact forces off to the sides. You can read more about D3O here, but the general idea is that it can be much slimmer than traditional armor while being equally capable of ameliorating impacts.
Icon is by no means the first manufacturer to use D3O, but other gear makers have just stuck the armor into existing pockets and products, not designed around it. That means the thin armor is left swimming around in oversize pockets, failing to adequately locate on the pointy bits it’s supposed to protect in the first place. A new company, D3O’s shapes and sizes aren’t quite up to snuff yet. We’d like to see its area of coverage actually expanded over traditional armor, but instead they’re a touch smaller. Putting a crazy thin piece of armor in a pocket designed for something much larger just isn’t a recipe for success.
The above also means that, until now, motorcycle gear has failed to take advantage of D3O’s slimness and pliability to enhance fit and style. Why bother incorporating a super thin piece of armor if the jacket’s shoulders and elbows are still designed to bulk like football pads?
Icon One Thousand Chapter jacket
And that’s what makes this Chapter jacket 100 percent unique in the market. It’s literally the only motorcycle jacket in the entire world actually designed from the ground up to fully realize the advantages of D3O. Which is to say it actually fits.
It’s not just the armor that makes this jacket so special either. Wearing it, you enjoy all the advantages of a traditional leather motorcycle jacket — weather, abrasion and impact protection — but it’s so light and soft and comfy that it feels more like a pajama shirt than a bike jacket. All while incorporating CE-approved protection in the elbows and shoulders and a CE-1 D3O Vyper back protector.
The Chapter isn’t styled to disguise the fact that you ride a motorcycle. This black version comes with red logos and zipper backings that clearly identify it as a sporting good, then there’s accordion stretch panels, a body that’s shorter than the sleeves and fairly significant perforation too. Instead of hiding the fact that you ride a bike, it revels in the fact, making you a good looking biker instead.
There’s also a brown and a grey version that ditch the red highlights. That sneaky bastard Sean called dibs on the brown.
Riding along, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing a jacket at all. It fits closely enough that it doesn’t flutter in the wind, but adds barely any weight and essentially zero restriction to movement. Ventilation is excellent even with the back vents closed; there’s a quilted liner that blocks all that wind and adds a little ventilation too.
Off the bike, the shirt-style collar, minimal logos and, we can’t emphasize this enough, a cut that actually fits a human body with no additional bulk, makes it equally applicable to just wearing around town.
Absolutely beautiful detailing on the zipper pulls, stitching, pockets, tags and whatnot completes the package; it looks and feels a lot more expensive than its $600-650 price tag suggests. A relatively affordable price point made all the more surprising for the jacket’s absolute uniqueness. It’s not going to keep you dry or warm in inclement weather and it can only hope to be as safe as other motorcycle-specific jackets, but its fit, suppleness, comfort and looks make this pretty much the nicest bike jacket ever put in serial production.
Icon Variant Battlescar Helmet
Remember the Icon Airframe Construct? It bares the threads of its carbon/Dyneema/fiberglass shell, creating an organic, three-dimensional look that subverts the traditional high-tech feel of most other bike helmets. The Variant is sort of a dual sport-styled urban helmet with excellent vision and huge amounts of ventilation in addition to complete aerodynamic stability. Think of the Variant as a slightly heavier AGV AX-8 Dual that looks more post-apocalyptic than high-tech and doesn’t get blown around at highway speeds at all.
With three huge, switchable chin vents, two switchable brow vents and the usual pair of top vents, the Variant is cool even in stalled urban traffic and the shield never seems to fog. Contrast that with many more expensive helmets (we’re looking at you Bell and Shoei), which seem to fog at the faintest hint of sub-70-degree weather or slight humidity.
Icon is the only helmet maker to sell all its helmets with worldwide safety certification. Because they don’t like concussions and do like kids, they don’t bother with Snell, but do build to ECE 22.05, DOT, Australia’s SAI and Japan’s SG certifications.
Our only major issue with the Variant is its awkward visor mechanism, which means you have to pop off two side covers with a long, thin screwdriver, swap that for a short, broad driver to remove the retention screws, bend and manipulate the visor out of its holds, then repeat the process to install the new visor. Allow five to ten minutes and at least a dollar in the swear jar.
The quality of all the other components — vent switches; removable, washable liner; etc — is on par if not ahead of most other helmet in the $400 ballpark.
In addition to the Battlescar’s brown or green colors, the Variant is also offered in various graphics in addition to a nice white Construct that, again, Sean snagged.
Icon One Thousand Elsinore Boots
Footwear is one of those eternal problems that plagues the stylish motorcyclist. Anything vaguely acceptable offers shit for protection. Anything vaguely safe looks fucking retarded. These Elsinores meet that dilemma in the middle; one million percent better looking than any motocross boots, they bring that level of protection to a boot that still won’t fit under a single pair of jeans that I own.
And we do mean real protection. Both the toe and heal boxes are extremely solid, complementing the reassuring, steel shank-reinforced sole. The 12” height then secures your ankles, restricting their movement to guard against hyperflexion and extension and those ankles are also protected by sturdy impact protectors. The shin’s are also reinforced with a solid plate, again protecting you from impacts. I’d put these up there in terms of protection with any dirt bike boot this side of a real, high-end motocross boot with internal ankle support (think Astars Tech10s).
Despite that protection, they’re super easy to take on and off. The side straps are sort of a permanent adjustment, you then use the side zipper to slip in and out. That zipper doesn’t interfere with ankle impact protection and, like all the bits and pieces on the Chapter jacket, is super high quality, feeling like it’ll last for years. In fact, in this oiled brown leather and with replaceable Goodyear welt soles, these are pretty much lifetime quality boots.
Offering this level of protection, comfort, convenience and safety in a stylish, $230 package is essentially a revolution for motorcycle boots. If these would fit under skinny jeans, they’d be an absolutely perfect product.
Genuine style, amazing quality, great detailing and honest technical innovation in being the first company to sympathetically incorporate D3O into its products? All at affordable price points? With this new One Thousand collection, Icon has suddenly elevated itself to become, in our honest opinion, the premier maker of street motorcycle gear on the planet. Alpinestars, Dainese and everyone else have a lot of catching up to do.
I’m also wearing my Deth Killers Asphalt Resistant Jeans and the Icon One Thousand Rimfire gloves in these photos. And yeah, that’s a Yamaha Super Tenere. More on that bike soon, it’s great. OCD attention to detail will also reveal that I’m wearing knee armor. More on that shortly too.