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Icon Airmada VolareEditor Score: 86.5%
OK, I’ll admit I was kinda bummed when I ordered this Icon Airmada Volare helmet. The name brought back painful memories. You see, when I was a dateless early teen, I was certain that it was caused by the 1976 Plymouth Volare station wagon I was forced to drive. Fortunately, the Airmada Volare suffers from none of the lovelife killing issues of my adolescent transportation. This helmet is neither boring nor boxy, and when I wear it, I don’t feel like my mother dresses me funny.
Since I’ve recently been thinking about conspicuity, I decided to order my Volare in Hi-Viz Yellow. From the moment I opened the box, I was impressed with the helmet’s quality – particularly when I consider its $260 price tag. The yellow is definitely attention-getting. The graphics are flashy but not so much as to scare the neighbors. The finish is blemish-free and features retro-reflective panels on the front, rear and sides of the helmet. For someone who has, in the past, painstakingly cut out color-matched reflective stickers to overlay my helmet’s graphics, this bonus alone won me over before I even wore the helmet.
However, my excitement quickly faded as I attempted to put on the lid for the first time. The head opening was so tight that I stopped and removed the helmet to check that it was the XL I’d requested. It was. I’ve had tons of trouble, over the years, fitting my long oval head, and I was certain that this Icon was yet another example of a poor-fitting helmet for my noggin. With little hope, I decided to attempt donning the helmet, again.
The bottom opening is small, and sliding my head through was difficult. Surprisingly, once past my ears, the helmet slipped right on. In fact, it felt like it sucked down on my head. The fit, contrary to my expectations, was amazing – which is a good thing since I was leaving for a three day sport-touring ride.
Taking an unknown helmet on three full days of riding is a leap of faith, and the Airmada Volare didn’t let me down.
The Icon Airmada Volare is constructed of injection-molded polycarbonate which helps to explain its bargain price. Still, the Airmada doesn’t feel, to my hands, like it suffers from the extra weight associated with similarly constructed helmets. With four shell sizes available, Icon constructs the Airmada in sizes XS-3XL. We wouldn’t be testing it if it didn’t pass the DOT muster, but the Airmada also meets ECE 22-05 (European), SAI AS1698 (Australian), and SG (Japanese) protection standards.
The aggressively styled shape with a rear spoiler slices through the air without helmet lift – even at the unmentionable speeds our sport touring bikes prodded us into achieving. The snug fit also kept the helmet planted on my head when looking sideways or behind me into my blind spot.
The Airmada has impressive venting. The chin bar utilizes three openings. The one directly below the visor flips down easily with a gloved finger, leaving an upward facing scoop that captures the downward traveling air when the rider’s head is tipped forward in an aggressive posture. This air is directed towards the inside of the visor. The two large side vents deliver a decent amount of air to the rider’s face, but the sliders that seal out the wind are awkwardly placed inside the chin bar and are just about impossible to operate at speed.
Directly above the visor, another slider reveals two vents that cool the rider’s brow. The helmet top features a V-shaped Recessed Twin Channel Supervent which directs fresh air across the rider’s scalp. Four large exhaust ports – two at the top rear portion of the Supervent and two on the lower rear helmet sides – draw the hot air out of the shell.
Despite all those vents, the Icon Airmada Volare is fairly quiet, rating closely with much more expensive helmets I’ve tested. At one point during our trip, where we were stopping frequently for photos, I rode for an hour without earplugs – something I almost never do.
Icon put so much effort into the Airmada’s visor that it felt it was worthy of a few trademarked names. Although I didn’t get to test it in the rain, the Fog-Free Icon Optics lived up to their name, giving a clear view in a variety of temperatures. I also liked how the metal pin Prolock secured the visor with a noticeable thunk as it snapped into place. At high speeds the visor is secure and air-tight. When tooling around at low-speeds, I just rested the visor on the pin which allowed for easy adjustment for additional cooling.
Two areas of the visor bear an additional mention. First, the Rapid Release Shield Change System proved to be pretty fussy. If I practiced a bunch, I would probably get quicker with the shield swap. However, I have a hard time reconciling the word “rapid” and the need to swap the two decorative side plates on each shield change. Because of this consideration, I’d be more inclined to use a clear visor and wear sunglasses during the day, so that I wouldn’t need to change visors at dusk. Second, the white shield gasket and breath guard look really cool, but in certain lighting conditions, I found the reflection of the breath deflector in the visor to be bothersome.
When the ventilation wasn’t enough to keep me from sweating in hot weather, the Hydradry Moisture Wicking Interior helped to move the dampness away from my skin. If it starts to develop the dreaded helmet funk, the liner is easily removable and washable.
In daylong use, the comfort liner and the helmet’s long oval shape made for pain-free hours in the saddle. Although I’d call the fit just on the soft side of race track snug, I only got a slight hot spot on the top of my forehead after a full day in the saddle. Never once on our extended tour did I dread putting the Airmada back on after a gas stop, unlike a lot of helmets that I’ve worn because an art director wanted me to match the bike I was being photographed riding. In between photo shoots, those helmets remained untouched on the shelf. In contrast, I’ve found myself reaching for the Airmada Volare around town because I like the fit and ventilation. Also, the bright color is just about impossible to miss in traffic.
All-in-all, I’m pleased with the Icon Airmada Volare. It provides all of the features that I expect from a quality helmet: It’s light, comfortable, well vented, and quiet. The fact that it is also priced at only $260 makes it a huge bang for the buck. If you have a long oval head like mine, try the fit on one of these helmets. If you don’t like Hi-Viz Yellow, you can choose the Hi-Viz orange or pink. More subdued personalities can try the black or white versions. Whatever color you end up with, you can be certain that this Volare won’t restrict your love life.
Find your local dealer at www.rideicon.com.