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Oh, No, They Didn’t: Icon Goes There With the Airframe Statistic


Motorcycling is risky. No spit, you say, right? But did you know how risky? It’s really risky. As much as thirty-five times more risky than driving a car in 2010, in fact, according to the National Motorcycle Training Institute (keep in mind this averages all skill levels, including beginners, and the risk is far lower for experienced, highly skilled riders).

Would you have made the decision to start riding if you had known that? Maybe. But maybe not, and that’s where the motorcycle industry starts squirming. Traditional motorcycle safety training programs might be more likely to tell prospective riders it’s risky, without getting into the details. Don’t expect to hear exactly how much more risky, according to any particular study. How many people (who don’t understand how truly awesome motorcycling is, of course) in their right minds would set foot in a motorcycle shop if they heard that?


Although displaying different risk statistics, Icon Motorsports kind of stunned me when I saw the new Airframe Statistic graphics scheme. It’s a helmet superimposed with the famous diagram from the Dietmar Otte helmet-impact study that shows 66 percent of helmet impacts strike the chinbar and forehead. The black-and-white graphics also identify parts of the skull like temporal, occipital and sphenoid bones that are in peril on an unhelmeted—or helmeted—rider.

Such a stark reminder of risk is a little past what even Icon usually does (a side note—Icon used to sew St. Christopher medallions into its jackets). Icon is a brand owned by Parts Unlimited, one of the major parts and accessories players in the powersports industry. Hardly a small, outsider company trying to shake things up. As far as I know, only one other outfitter, LS2, has made an attempt to educate riders with this information—see the YouTube video LS2’s Reg Kittrelle did below.


The reality is that though all that fancy, expensive riding gear we wear will certainly attenuate some injuries, especially roadrash, it does way too little to prevent severe injuries. Only a helmet is proven to reduce fatalities and head/brain injuries in any meaningful way. My kudos to Icon for having the courage (or is it just clever marketing?) to remind prospective (and current) riders of the risk we face every time we ride.

The Icon Airframe Statistic is avaialble through any dealer that carries Icon gear for an MSRP of $390.

*MSF Basic RiderCourse Rider Handbook, 2008, page 5.

Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of CityBike Magazine, and a frequent contributor to


  1. Motorhead says:

    Looks like a diagram of the cuts of beef.

  2. goose says:

    I have a helmet I keep to remind me to wear a full face helmet. I was wearing it while I was flipping end over end at the race track formerly known as Sears Point back in the late seventies.

    It has hits in the 5.7%, 6.1%, 5.5% and one that straddles the line between 19.4% and 15.2% areas. It has been more than 30 years, so far it has kept me out of any helmet that doesn’t protect my face. I’m no George Clooney but the parts are all in roughly the right locations, I’m pretty sure the 5.5%, and the 19.4%/15.2% hits would have ground off my nose and a few other areas of my face. If I had been wearing an open face helmet I could very well have been killed instead of walking way with a “strawberry” on my shoulder and bruises. If I’d survived I would look like something out of an SF movie.

    Pay your money, take you chances, I’ll keep my full face lid,


  3. Norm G. says:

    marquez knows a thing or two about chin impacts. see entry for the 2013 digger taken on the 200mph straight of Mugello.

  4. Mars says:

    One comment above rates reiteration – Icon has got more squids wearing gear than all the other companies combined, with the possible exception of Alpinestars, which I see on more experienced riders. I have worn Icon gear because it performs and it is cool. I stopped because they now only make it for fat guys. The belly is always the same size as the chest. WTF Americans? Never seen a bag of Dorito’s you could pass up? Come on – get with the Italians and ride for coffee instead of burger/fries/beers. But you won’t. And Icon gear is still good, no matter. But not the helmets. Heavy.

    • Krisd says:

      Yikes! And Im not even American…….

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I resent that! We ride for coffee all the time! I love a little coffee in my cream and sugar. Great for dunking donuts in.

  5. TexinOhio says:

    It’s a great idea, but I’m not sure it’s a big issue with Icon’s target customers. It’s missing the requisite stick on horns or spikes.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Icon has probably been more successful than any other brand at getting squids into good riding gear. They pay attention to what Icon puts out, and I believe this will get a few of the naysayers thinking.

      • TexinOhio says:

        There’s no doubt that Icon has reached some riders that would not other wise wear protective gear (age, style, mindset). It’s that this graphic is not the standard MO for Icon.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          You may be right. From my past marketing background, I would say that Icon is all about making an overt statement with your gear. This helmet makes a statement. Is it one that Icon loyalist care to make? Perhaps not, but I suspect some will. Or maybe the idea is to bring another type of rider into the Icon brand.

  6. Paul says:

    Glad to see Icon do something that’s a little less doom and gloom. The stats makes for a sobering reminder of how important a helmet is. Though I do wish they would also address visibility and make this helmet in white with black accents. Helmets are one of the best ways to be visible on the road; make this in white or high viz and it would be a great dual purpose statement.

  7. Auphliam says:

    That’s actually a pretty damn good looking helmet, IMHO.
    As someone that generally doesn’t weaar a lid, I would rock that thing daily.
    I love it.

  8. foster says:

    For a three quarter helmet with good chin protection, check out Arai’s CT-Z.

    • Gabe says:

      There’s no chinbar on the CT-Z. Am I missing something?

      • foster says:

        There’s no FULL chin bar on the CT-Z, but if you aren’t gifted with a Jay Leno like chin, the CT-Z design does protect the lower jaw quite well.

        Had a Bell full face once, 30 years ago, and thought I might as well be in my car. Worse than having all the windows rolled up. To me, motorcycling breaks the yoke of confinement of a car and there is no oneness with the environment if my head is totally encased in a helmet.

        My enjoyment of riding would end if I was forced to wear a full face helmet.

    • Daven says:

      When you highside your bike and slam down face first on the pavement at 40mph, you’re going to wish you’d had a full face helmet. Ask me how I know this (and am alive with face intact to tell you about it).

      I have a friend who downed his bike at near walking speeds in a half helmet and came down on his face… We could ask his opinion on not wearing full face helmets.

      The CT-Z will not save your face from anything more than wind, bugs and bits of gravel. it might help in a side impact, but hit straight on your mug will be road pizza.

  9. Krisd says:

    “66 percent of helmet impacts strike the chinbar and forehead” is a bit misleading I think- what you meant to say is that 66.3% of helmet strikes are on the front side (full frontals) of the helmet (and not isolated to chinbar and forehead).

    Interesting that 51.6% of strikes are on the right hand side, 48.4% the left…. then again, maybe not.

  10. ApriliaRST says:

    This is not news to me; old stuff. I’m about as likely to wear this helmet as Google Glass. Chuckle. Good to know, but as the piece’s title said “oh no…”

  11. Brian says:

    great idea and sobering statistics. Hope it sinks into the brains of the younger riders that like to stunt on the freeway without helmets.
    When I took the motorcycle safety course, the instructer pointed out the chin as a high risk for injury, hence the full face helmet importance. 1 week later, Ben Roethlisberger was face planting after being cut off by a car. His chin took the force of the asphault. He would have been sore, but okay if he had a helmet. My lesson learned.

  12. Fangit says:

    35% of all impacts on the chin! Full face helmets are the only way to go.

  13. dino says:

    I’d love to see just how well many brands of Modular (flip front) helmets do when they strike that moveable chin bar.. I bought one of the old Schuberth’s way back when they were a bit more affordable, and they were the only ones I saw with metal latches for the chin bar. Now, several have metal latches, but they often are flimsy looking metal, or the plastic it is probably glued to does not look trustworthy.

    Well, how do helmets really stack up? Take all the DOT and/or Snell full face helmets, some have got to be better than others. Give them a rating system, like 1-5 stars? And not just the hard hits, but low impact hits to make sure they are soft enough. A hard helmet made for big hits can allow too much force to the skull and sloshing that brainy matter around violently. A softer helmet might not work as well in an extreme crash, but protect better at common crash forces.

    This Icon helmet just confirms my “fears” about any of my helmets, what happens if I hit something face first… Will that chin bar stay in place, at least enough to save some face? Good info however, and good to start dialogues about it. I have only had one serious crash, totaled my bike as I struck the rear quarterpanel of a car that turned in front of me (after looking like they stopped to let me pass first!). I hit either the car or the pavement with my shoulder (don’t remember the impact, just waking up on the pavement). Luckily walked away with just bruises thanks to the jacket, boots, gloves, etc… Jacket had road rash on the shoulder, just above my hips, pants and boots had some rash too. I expected to have some nice damage on my helmet, but NOT A SCRATCH! I walked away, but felt a little cheated of a trophy to show my friends who didn’t wear helmets!! (not that I’m complaining about surviving a crash like that).

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Try This related to European helmets, which may or may not be the same as the ones manufacturers market here, but it gives you a good idea. There is a 5-star rating system, different ratings for different parts of the head, and it will give you a percentage of impacts the chin bar remained closed if it is a modular helmet.

    • bikerrandy says:

      There isn’t a helmet made at any cost that can guarantee it can save your brain over a direct impact over 25 mph. If you don’t believe me, ask Snell. Your brain is like a yoke in an egg. It’s that sensitive to impacts. Luckily most helmet impacts are not direct impacts but glances where your brain might survive.

      I’ve had a major head injury w/o a helmet, that’s how I know this stuff from personal experience. My injury was not on a MC.

    • Blackcayman says:

      That is precisely why I “invest” in the best made helmet money can buy. You only have the one brain, there aren’t any do-overs.

      I hope I never have to use my Arai RX-Q, but if I do, I prefer to know I have the best made helemt protecting my brain; after all you use your brain to control everything you do.

      I can’t imagine the level of regret one would suffer should that person require the full use of a helmet, have it fail and suffer the consequences.

      For all the haters who say they are just too much – I say its all about priorities.

      Here’s the other thing – we all have the freedom to choose what makes the most sense to us. Half of my riding friends don’t ride in an Arai helmet – and I don’t bust their balls about it – unless they read my post on MCDaily

      • Glenn says:

        I was pretty sad for about an hour when I wrecked my Arai a few years ago in a relatively minor crash. Then I did the math. If I wreck my brain I lose the ability to earn what I earn today. I can buy 2-3 high end Arais for what I earn in a day. Not a bad investment. I wouldn’t say though that the Arai is the only helmet that offers such protection, it just happens to fit my head well, which is a large part of the protection equation.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I am curious as to why you feel an Arai is the best helmet money can buy?

        • Blackcayman says:

          Excellent Build Quality, Light Weight, Hand made, Different helmet shapes for different shaped heads = best fit, best materials, lasting build quality of materials….. etc etc etc…

          read this blurb down the side of the page on this link, its a taste of what I have come to know over the years…

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I used to buy Arai for the fit alone, but I have grown tired of the quality problems. I expect more from helmets that cost that much. I was also surprised to see them perform poorly or marginally in impact tests. I am glad to see they are still getting it done for you. I am in a Shoei RF-1200 now, and I like it.

        • TexinOhio says:

          This is more a personal preference. I could say the same things about AGV with regards to everything in their helmets if I liked.

          Bottom line is how does the helmet fit? Is the fit correct? From DOT,Snell,ECE or BSI, there are many variables to consider.

      • dino says:

        How did I miss that one??? (Insert grand DUFUS sound effect)

        Been reading MD for years, love the site! Must have been on vacation?? Thanks for the reminder!
        (Thanks to Jeremy in TX as well)

  14. falcodoug says:

    Love it! Wish they would make it in a neon, then I would have to buy it.

  15. Buzz says:

    I’m gonna start riding backwards.

  16. Starmag says:

    I’m thinking they’re not going to sell too many of these. It’s sort of like wearing a dart board or “kick me” sign on your back. That said, I live in a hot spot and like wearing my 3/4 to get the wind in my face, but I may start wearing my Arai with no shield after seeing those chin guard stats. Yikes. Kudos Icon.

  17. Blackcayman says:

    I confess, I rented a 2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited on Maui three weeks ago for the crater road ride. I wore the free half helmet for that ride.

    Later that day while just cruising (pun) along the beach with my happy pillion in tow, we went…..without helmets. FOR Shame!!!

    Normally I wear one of three Vanson Leathers and always my Arai RX-Q and Held Phantom gauntlets with stingray leather…

    What can I say…I was seduced by the warm humid air and pervasive sunshine

    • Blackcayman says:

      don’t worry, I’ve already reported the above comment.

      …hopefully I won’t be treated as harshly as Don Sterling

  18. Motowarrior says:

    I have a photo of myself on a Honda SL350, taken in 1972, and in the photo I am wearing a full face (Bell?) helmet. In all my years of riding I have been fortunate to have only a couple of accidents, and I rode away from both. I have also worn proper gear, including full face helmets, that saved me from major injury on both occasions. As an aside, taking at look at the helmet illustrations, you can see just how little protection a bicycle helmet offers!

    • John says:

      “As an aside, taking at look at the helmet illustrations, you can see just how little protection a bicycle helmet offers!”

      I’m not sure the same statistics hold true for bicycle crashes – I’ve had many bicycle crashes over the past 30 years (both on and off-road) and always struck the ground with the top part of the helmet rather than my chin or any other part of my face. Perhaps it has to do with the relatively lower average speeds of a bicycle crash versus a motorcycle crash …

      • Eric says:

        I used to race road bikes. Saw a few crashes where guys had smashed faces and missing teeth. Also plenty of other head injuries – most didn’t wear anything more than a paper cap back in the 70’s.

  19. widdy says:

    Very cool. And here I thought I might one day go with a chinless helmet. That chin bar takes a LOT of hits! Thanks Icon, for educating me.