Some First Impressions
I was really looking forward to testing out the Airflite Inky from ICON, and had it out of the box and ready for a test ride as soon as it arrived. I took a short ride on city streets to get the feel of the helmet, learn to locate the controls for the FliteShield and the DropShield as well as the venting quirks. After overcoming my phobia over the larger chin bar, I was ready to head out on a longer ride with Inky.
On the highway, my first thoughts were that the helmet provided great stability when facing forward and even when turning my head, the helmet remained stable. When I turned it up a notch and got into a very aggressive riding position, I discovered the benefit of the unique shape of the base of the helmet.
At the back of the helmet, there is a cutout or inset area about as wide as my hand. I already knew that this was a great way to carry the Inky, but the function goes far beyond a great gripping point. This inset let me tuck very tightly without the back of the helmet hitting the back protector in my jacket.
This is the first helmet that I have found that fit so perfectly with the back protector on my favorite warm weather jacket. It certainly helps that the jacket is made by ICON, an old style Overlord Resistance with a large backplate, but I know it will be great to accommodate any jacket with a larger back protector.
The point is that I could tuck very easily without the helmet being pushed forward by my back protection. If you find your own complementary gear, check out other great product reviews from ICON here.
My most recent ride in Inky was in the midafternoon and the temps were creeping up to about 90 degrees. This was the perfect opportunity to check out the airflow. I closed the vents and got noticeably warn but then reopened the forehead vents and could instantly feel the circulation of air through the helmet. And when I was stopped at a light, it was super easy to reach up and pop the Fliteshield open to get a full air exchange before taking off again.
The ICON Inky is available at the Revzilla website and is currently listed for $305 USD. That is also the price on the ICON website. Other color schemes and graphics packages range from $250 USD for the mono-colored selections to $320 USD for the Battlescar color scheme. The Airflite visors are listed at $35 USD, while the FliteShileds range from $40 – $50 USD and the DropShields range from $15 – $20 USD.
ICON Inky Helmet Features
Fit, Comfort & Sizing
The Inky is an intermediate oval helmet and fits a slightly wider head. The chin strap offers the pretty standard double D-ring and strap and is very easy to secure. Muscle memory takes over the strap is looped and snapped in just a second. I did notice that the larger opening with the extended chin bar had the chin pads sitting a little lower on my face than some more compact helmets but the fit was good and very comfortable.
The padding on the Inky is comprised of three separate pieces including the comfort liner over the top of the head and left and right cheek pad. Each piece is constructed of HydraDry material which provides great wicking. All three of the pads snap in place and can be easily removed for washing or replacement.
Even from the first ride, I enjoyed the fit of the helmet and the pads did not have any areas which rubbed or felt overly tight and created pressure points. The helmet was so comfortable that I was concerned that it might be a little too large, but when I got out on the first ride and it remained secure and in place at speed and in the wind, I was confident that the sizing was correct.
I wear an extra small and the sizing fits me well. The Airflite is offered in 3 shell sizes XS-S, M-L, and XL-3X and the fit is adjusted with the various pads. Many helmets offer only two shells so the person who needs an extra small helmet is wearing the same shell as the person who needs a large helmet.
With the ICON Airflite, the extra small and small helmets are actually smaller and lighter which helps to reduce the bobblehead feel that can be created with a large helmet shell and extremely thick padding to accommodate a smaller head.
The Airflite helmets offer an injection-molded polycarbonate PC-ABS shell. The dual-density Expanded-Polystyrene liners provide maximum impact absorption and force dissipation in the event of an impact and are also channeled to work like a duct system to provide awesome airflow.
The Airflite is engineered to the ICON WORLD STANDARD, which meets safety standards for:
- DOT FMVSS 218 (US)
- ECE 22.05 (EUROPE)
- SAI AS1698:2006 (AUSTRALIA)
- PSC (JAPAN
Overall, over 50 countries officially recognize these extensive head protection standards.
The Field Of Vision
The chin bar on the Inky is a little larger than some helmets that I have worn and it took me a few minutes to get used to that when I turned my head to see at a 90-degree angle, but it quickly became just a natural motion. The other potential concern with a larger chin bar is that it will block your view of your instrument panel when looking forward. But the Inky offers plenty of field of vision to glance down at your instruments and not create any obstruction.
The exterior screen on the Inky is a clear ICON Fog-free FliteShield which meets the VESC-8 regulation. Riders can choose from dark smoke, light smoke, RST Silver, RST Yellow, RST Dark Gold, RST Blue, RST Red, RST Purple, RST Green, or clear when replacing or ordering an extra FlightShield. The tinted Fog-Free DropShield is activated with the flip of a lever on the left side of the helmet and offers great relief from bright sunlight.
Additional DropShileds can be purchased in dark smoke, light smoke, yellow, RST clear, RST gold, RST silver RST red and RST blue. The Inky includes a clear FliteShield and the RST blue DropShield. Both screens can be replaced without the use of any special tools. The replacement instructions are included in the box with the Inky and can also be viewed online.
This is the first helmet that I have ever owned with the integrated sun visor. This allowed me to wear my normal glasses instead of sunglasses when riding during the day. As a creature of habit, I wear prescription Oakley sunglasses under my helmet on most days. And in many cases, the glare from the clear visor is just something that I had to get used to and try to ignore.
But that issue was eliminated by using the sun visor on the Inky. And with the smaller size of my regular glasses, I found that they fit better in my helmet and remained more secure than my Oakley Halfpipes do on a bumpy ride or if my helmet is moving at all due to the wind.
Another item that I initially thought might become an issue, actually turned into a perk of the Airflite. The FliteShield is pretty massive as compared to many helmet screens. It extends all the way down to the bottom of the chin bar. That is where the shield locking knob is located, rather than at the lower edge of the eyeport, as with most helmets.
It did take me several rides in the Inky to relearn the location of the tab to lift the visor/FliteShield. But once I began to relearn that location, it became second nature and is very easy to locate with either hand to flip the clear screen up. I actually discovered that this location and the size of the knob is much easier to operate with motorcycle gloves than the tinier dimple-like tab on some smaller visors.
The Air Flow
For me, airflow covers two very important factors in a helmet. The first is the air circulation inside the helmet. Living in Phoenix, good airflow is critical in the summer months. The air intake on the Airflite is split into two locations. The mouth vent is located in the chin bar and is opened and closed by sliding a tab on the inside of the chin bar up or down.
The FliteShield closes over the mouth vent but is slotted to allow plenty of airflow when the vent is open. The second intake is on the forehead with a left and right side vent. These vents are easily opened and closed by sliding the vent cover forward and backward. The hot air exits the Airflite via the rear exhaust ports which are located under the rear spoiler.
That brings me to the second factor concerning airflow, the flow of air over the helmet. I ride a sport bike and she is a breed that just likes to go fast. So the air coming off of my bike screen will either be my best friend or my worst enemy, depending on how it matches up with my helmet.
The ICON Airflite Inky was very easy to settle in and pick up the airflow coming off of my bike screen. The slight depression between the forehead vents carries the air smoothly back to the rear spoiler and provides ample downforce to keep your head stationary.
It is not difficult to turn your head to look to the right or left, even at speed, but you can feel the airflow encouraging you to return your head to the forward position. When you comply, there is instant stability again from the spoiler.
A final note on the airflow, even at track worthy speeds, the Airflite was very quiet. I never noticed any excessive noise or wind rush sound with the vents open or closed and the FliteShield provides a nice seal with the eye port gasket.
A side note about the forehead vent covers is that these covers are constructed of the same durable polycarbonate material that is used to make the entire helmet shell. This is something that I had always thought was pretty standard, but have discovered is not always the case. I recently tested a much more expensive helmet and was disappointed to find that the forehead vent covers were made of far less substantial material. So kudos to ICON for that tiny extra attention to detail and durability.
The ICON Airflite can be outfitted with the Airflite Visors to add to the look and function of the helmet. In addition, there are neoprene pockets on the base of the cheek pads near the neck roll that are designed to hold earbuds or earplugs. And If you are interested in adding a comms system (our latest reviews here), there are recessed areas that will accommodate the speakers.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the function of the ICON Airflite Inky. And I know that after this hands-on helmet test, the bar will be set a little bit higher for all other helmets that I test. I am a fan of the integrated dropdown sun visor and the notch at the base of the helmet to accommodate a back plate or armor. I am also now a fan of a slightly bigger chin bar which allows more access inside the helmet.
Currently, there are 19 Airflite helmets on the ICON website, that range from a plain flat black wrapper to the Battlescar camo graphics and the Inky octopus graphics. And I would be lying to say that anything but the octopus graphics is what got my attention.
So regardless of your taste, flashy or low key, the ICON Airflite line has something for everyone. The Airflite is a go-to helmet that offers great protection and features at a price that I consider to be very reasonable for all that you get for your money.
The ICON Airflite line of helmets offers riders who prefer a more oval shaped helmet with a great variety of color and graphics options. And not only do these helmets look great but they also provide great airflow and aerodynamics. This line of helmets is DOT certified and at a price range of between $250 to $350 USD, they are very affordable.
The Inky specifically, is a great looking helmet that will definitely get you to stand out from the pack. But there is more to the story of Inky than just a cool ocean themed helmet. Inky is a real deal octopus who managed to break out of the National Aquarium of New Zealand and make his way back to the ocean.
Inky’s trek included eight feet of the auditorium floor and then scaling 164 feet of drainpipe to regain his freedom. That is a cause that any motorcycle rider can relate to and support. So this Inky helmet pays homage to a creature who is known for its strength, dexterity, intelligence, and resourcefulness.
- Polycarbonate Shell
- DOT Certified
- Large Fog-Free Main Visor
- Large Field of Vision
- DFP Fiberglass Shell
- Removable/washable Hydradry lining
- True sizing
- 3 helmet shells to accommodate XS-3X
- Insets for comms system
- Good ventilation
- Awesome graphics and color scheme options
- Integrated fog-free sun visor
- Slightly heavier than some helmets at 3.75 pounds
- Larger chin bar
- Manufacturer: ICON
- Price (When Tested): $305.00
- Made In: Vietnam
- Alternative models & colors: There is only one Inky, but there are 18 other varieties of the Airflite
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
- Review Date: April 2019