Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Full Face Helmet: Hands-On Review
Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Full Face Helmet Review Summary
Icon has been creating flashy riding gear since 2002, and the Airframe Pro is their top offering when it comes to full face helmets. Stepping it up from the standard Airframe Pro to the Pro Carbon results in a weight savings of about 100 grams.
The design is aggressive and insanely good looking, with Icon claiming the shape will decrease drag and interference with your riding jacket. The airflow is certainly excellent, but it’s also very loud—and certain details, like the visor lock, leave a lot to be desired. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a high-quality helmet. However, there’s some room for improvement (especially given how much it costs).
Sizing & Comfort
One of the best-looking helmets available
A Carbon lid for those with a Long Oval head
Handmade 4Tress carbon fiber shell
Four unique shell sizes for minimized mass and drag
Sculpted neck roll reduces jacket/suit interference
Five-piece modular liner with moisture-wicking HydraDry
All world standard, meets or exceeds the following: DOT FMVSS 218 (US), ECE 22-05 (EUROPE), SAI AS1698
Removable breath deflector and chin curtain
Multiple options to fine tune the 5 piece liner for a perfect fit
9 air intakes and 7 exhaust ports for massive airflow
Not designed to accept a Bluetooth Comm system
Very loud helmet
Very easily scratched—the shell and RST visor are very delicate
The sizing guide is inaccurate (fits small by more than 1 size)
The visor lock is not good
A Good Buy
Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Full Face Helmet Image Gallery
The Icon Airframe Pro Carbon is the brand’s top-of-the-line full face helmet. It’s nearly 100 grams lighter than the standard Airframe Pro, and looks like nothing else out there.
The helmet flows insane amounts of air, but this comes with a lot of noise (especially at higher speeds). The visor lock is also not as good as you might expect.
The multiple shell sizes and modular liner make it easy to get a great fit—but take note that the sizing guide is off. The Icon Airframe Pro Carbon consistently fits small by nearly an entire size.
This helmet is also scratched easily, and isn’t designed to take a Bluetooth Comms system. It’s a very good piece of kit, but it has a few limitations that you’ll want to consider given its high price.
Introducing the Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Helmet
For the 2022 review season, the Icon Airframe Pro Carbon was the one helmet I was most excited to get my hands on. Icon is an American brand based in Oregon and has been stirring up the Powersports world with their unique gear since 2002. They proclaim that Icon is a company of riders who understand our kind with products designed to address our unique needs. A lofty statement, which has me trying to temper my high expectations for this flagship helmet.
The Airframe Pro series helmets are described as being “designed with [Icon’s] ‘Angle of Attack’ philosophy” and “uniquely outfitted for an aggressive riding posture.” It’s clearly aimed at the sport/naked rider. Most helmets in the Airframe Pro lineup are easily recognized with the distinctive rear spoiler and jaw-dropping graphics. No one does graphics quite like Icon; these are helmets for extroverts.
Taking the Airframe Pro up one notch further, Icon has 2 Carbon versions. I chose the Carbon red. Its $550 USD price raises it into the premium zone of motorcycle helmets. The competition includes the Shoei RF-1400, AGV K6, and Aria Regent X—not to mention other carbon fiber helmets from Scorpion, HJC, and Nexx.
At this price level and among this competition, there’s a high bar for build quality, features, airflow, safety, weight, and quietness. I could not wait to get the Airframe Pro Carbon on my head and out on the road.
Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Helmet Fit
Pulling the Airframe Pro Carbon out of the box and out of the soft bag, I took a minute to roll it around in my hands and tried to contain my drool. This is one gorgeous-looking helmet even with the clear visor fitted.
I admit I have zero patience; I had to get it on my head, right now. Holding the base and pinning each side of the chin strap back with my thumbs, I could tell this lid would have a snug sport fit. I pried it as wide as possible and brought it down over my melon. There were a few grunts, possibly some breath holding, but I squeezed it on.
My son was standing beside me admiring the glossy carbon finish, and I turned and said “ I fink thith muhh be a bith smallllll.” He found it very amusing that I could not close my mouth due to the pressure from the cheek pads forcing my head into an entirely new conformity. More grunts, a few curses, and I managed to pull my brains back from the vice-like grip of the Airframe Pro.
I have had many helmets and I have a head that measures in right at 24 ¼”. Checking again on the Icon sizing guide, this puts me right into the XL category. Seems right, XL is what I pretty much wear in all the helmets I have, and that is what I received from Icon. Not sure how Icon measures, but this wasn’t even close.
Adjusting the Fit with the Modular Liner
A quick search on google revealed that I am not the first to note this issue. One very nice aspect of the Airframe Pro helmets is the 5 piece liner, and the fact that Icon makes an incredible array of liner size options. In Icon’s own words:
“Internally, the traditional three-piece liner has been upgraded to a five-piece liner, providing a greater amount of fitment combinations for each unique head shape. Crown, lateral, fore, and aft padding components allow for a possibility of 27 fitment combinations in a single shell, double that of the AIRFRAME PRO’s competitors.”
A quick call to the awesome customer service crew at RevZilla, and I was deep into the array of HydraDry™ liner choices. The helmet itself is available from XS thru 3XL with 4 shell sizes to cover that range. The XL and up are the same shell and Icon offers HydraDry liner choices in tight/standard/loose for each size. I ordered a 2XL loose/3XL standard.
I swapped the cheek pads and the right and left sides. This was a much-improved fit. Now to be fair, I am an intermediate oval head shape and the Airframe is a long oval, and I can feel that. I still have not been able to adjust the fitment to a comfortable zone; the cheeks still have a higher level of cheek pressure (which is typical of a more sport-focused helmet).
In the end, what I ordered was an XL. The Icon size guide lists me as an XL. When the dust settled, I was effectively in a 3XL. Part of this is a long oval issue, but this is still a problem—especially if you tend to order online, as I do.
Thankfully RevZilla (who supplied this helmet) is fantastic to deal with, and I was able to sort it all out quickly. If my normal size was above an XL, there is no way I could wear an Airframe Pro.
Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Helmet Features
In the box, Icon shipped a clear visor to go along with the fantastic-looking RST TracShield™ visor. There is also a removable breath deflector and chin curtain, plus the obligatory soft bag for storage.
Icon has taken a serious approach to ventilation. There are no fewer than 9 air intakes and 7 exhaust ports coupled with deep channeling in the interior energy-absorbing EPS foam.
I rather rambled on in the Fit & Comfort section regarding the 5 piece HydraDry liner and that Icon offers multiple variations for improving the fit. On the surface this is a good feature; it certainly helped me refine this helmet for my head shape. Now the kicker, why are some additional pads not included? It was $45 USD for the additional liner kit, putting the total cost of this helmet up to $595.
Not as Feature-Rich As I Expected
Asking this much cheddar must mean there is a ton more being offered with this helmet… right? Sadly no. That is all I can really come up with for features. Drop-down internal visor? Nope. Bluetooth comm system already integrated? Nope. Oh well.
OK, this helmet must be quite easy to add a system into, yeah? Again, that would be a no. Icon hasn’t even designed the Airframe to accept speakers. Must be a helmet designed specifically for the track, then. Right? The Carbon Pro does not list a Snell or FIA certification—but it does have ECE 22-05, which many tracks will accept.
All right, Icon. Well, this is a Carbon Fiber helmet, so I will shoot for one last premium-level expectation—it must be quite light. Let’s have a look at the construction of this helmet.
Construction of the Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Helmet
Finding information about the process Icon uses to create the Airframe Carbon Pro shell is a challenge. I will share what Icon provides straight from the product manual:
“Using industry-leading pneumatic molding processes, the AIRFRAME PRO’s fiberglass, Spectra® and Carbon Fiber composite shell sports a proprietary interlacing system crafted to emphasize superior strength along with centralized mass and minimal weight.”
Icon refers to it as the “handmade 4Tress carbon fiber shell” and has produced 4 shell sizes to keep the helmet as compact as possible, regardless of size. There is no doubt that the finished shell is gorgeous.
I have not seen another helmet that I feel looks quite this impressive. The aero-tuned shape with the rear spoiler and angled feature around the bottom of the shell, all work to provide a stable helmet. There is a supplied chin skirt, and it does help to control the egress of wind under the lower edge of the helmet, so I preferred to use it. Fans of D-ring chin straps will like the anodized ring Icon fitted. It’s simple, effective, and nice to use.
Internally, Icon has a quality EPS core, with excellent channeling to direct the air, and there is a copious amount of air to direct. The venting is plentiful; Icon lists 9 intake vents and 7 exhaust. Starting on the jawline, there are 2 mesh covered intakes, these have no flow regulation.
The chin and temples each have a simple-to-open port, and then the forehead has a long regulator (which slides up, revealing 4 openings). With everything open, there was enough airflow to dry out my eyeballs.
It is quite straightforward to make adjustments and find a comfortable amount of cooling. The EPS lining does a great job of channeling all the air out through the largest exhaust port hiding under the rear spoiler. The finish on the sliders looks fantastic, matching the metallic theme and enhancing the style of the Carbon.
I wish the plastics didn’t have an entry-level feel to them. They move with a slightly loose feel, and I openly admit I am nit-picking here—but this helmet has a premium price, so I have premium expectations.
I appreciate that Icon includes both the clear and the RST Tracshield visors. The visor system attaches easily via the Icon Rapid Release system. Icon claims this is the easiest visor change system on the market. It was quite straightforward, but I only swapped once, from the clear one it shipped with to the RST. It looks so good I cannot imagine changing it back anytime soon.
The visor plastics themselves are good quality, but I did not like the visor lock. It is simply a pin that holds the visor down when you slip the hole drill in the lower section of the visor down over it. It is simple and it works, but I found it far from the elegant solutions competitors use. To seal the visor to the shell, Icon has a basic single gasket seal. Riding at higher speeds produced some whistling here, due to the way air flows off my windscreen.
Icon created a unique 5-piece liner for the Airframe Pro, made from moisture-wicking HyraDry material. The comfort of the helmet can be customized by replacing your existing cheek pads with thinner cheek pads (for a looser fit) or thicker cheek pads (for a tighter fit). As stated earlier, this feature was one I needed to test out right away after receiving my helmet. The upside is that this system allows riders to substantially tune the fitment of the Airframe Pro, even going so far as to fit my rounder head inside this long oval helmet.
The performance of the HydraDry material was good. I wore this helmet during temperatures nearing 30 °C, and the moisture-wicking liner and substantial airflow kept it comfortable under the lid. Against my beard, the liner material is about average at resisting piling.
When I compare the liner against other premium class helmets, I wish the HydraDry had more of an elevated feel like products from AGV or Schuberth.
Generally, when comparing the carbon fiber version of a helmet to the standard version, it is common to see weight savings between 50-100 grams. The Airframe Pro Carbon (based on information I find online) shows this to be true when compared to the standard Airframe Pro.
In the largest shell size that I ordered, the Pro Carbon weighs in at 1614 grams. This is not bad at all and feels comfortable in almost every riding condition. It sits about midpack with similar helmets. A Shoei RF-1400 is a bit heavier, and an AGV K6 or Scorpion R1 Air Carbon is lighter.
SHARP testing shows a 4-star rating for the Icon Airframe, but nothing for the Pro Carbon. The overall construction of the shell seems very well executed. It’s obvious that this is a quality helmet with an exquisite level of finish.
Riding with the Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Helmet
Sliding my head in the Airframe Pro Carbon, I felt as badass as I knew I looked. I am vain when it comes to my riding gear, and I want to look good and turn a few heads when I ride. The gorgeous styling of the Icon helmet absolutely garnered envious looks from other riders and longer stares from the cagers. I always enjoy the mysterious nature you gain when behind a mirrored visor, and each time I caught sight of myself in a storefront window, I kinda loved it.
But how did it perform? I will just get it out of the way, I was not impressed.
Thankfully I ride with Earpeace earplugs; there is no way this helmet could be used responsibly over 50 mph without ear protection. As it was, even the excellent Earpeace plugs were not enough at 70 mph. The Airframe Pro Carbon is the loudest helmet I have ever had on my head.
Icon has provided many air vents, and that is much appreciated—but for me, the path of the air particularly over my face was something I was never able to dial in. My eyeballs were drying out; the flow in front of me was so strong. Fortunately, the anti-fog performed very well, which allowed me to keep the chin and forehead fully shut and helped with this.
I love the amount of flow, but Icon needs to improve how that air moves inside the helmet. I will say that it did not matter if all vents were opened or closed; they were not adding to the noise level.
Visor Optics & Performance
The visor optics were very good, and I can’t state enough how much I love the red/gold mirrored look, but that visor lock is terrible. It works—I cannot say it ever failed to keep the visor in place, but there is just nothing elegant about how it functions. A pin through a hole is what you have here.
I can get past the lock design, but I cannot ignore the weak gasket around the eyeport. At higher speed (possibly above the road limit, but I admit nothing) the gasket would whistle. I keep coming back to the fact that this helmet is competing at a premium price point. Why is there not a double gasket?
Lastly, I understand I can be a tad fixated. I love the finish of this helmet, but it is delicate and prone to fingerprints and marks. I would polish up all the metallic surfaces and they try like hell to not touch them—because any touch would just stand out in stark contrast to the mirror finish.
The shell itself also needed some caution. I found more than a few scratches appearing and had no idea what I could have done. I was treating this lid like the crown jewels.
Final Verdict on the Icon Airframe Pro Carbon Helmet
It may seem that I am throwing a lot of shade at the Airframe Pro Carbon, and I freely admit some of that is due to the high expectations I had for it. I own multiple Icon products, and I really like most of what I see from the brand—hence the bluntness and critical nature of this review.
The Airframe Pro Carbon is the best-looking helmet I have seen in a long time, but does any of that matter if it is so noisy I never want to ride with it? Icon brands itself as the gear for the modern performance rider. I don’t know any modern performance rider that isn’t looking to have a Bluetooth system in their helmet. The Airframe Pro makes no allowance for this, and for me that is a major oversight.
I will always be the first one to throw down the cash for high-quality kit, but I would struggle at this premium price level. This helmet is so darn easy on the eyes, but it needs a few improvements to stay with the competition.