Icon Airframe Ghost Carbon Helmet Review

I’m a bit of a motorcycle accessories addict and the Icon Airframe Ghost Carbon Helmet is probably one of my prized possessions. Living in Thailand where most things are so cheap allows me to splurge every now and then and I think a helmet is definitely a motorcycle accessory worth splurging on. And while you can certainly buy cheaper helmets that offer just as good protection, I personally think the Icon Airframe Ghost Carbon is worth every dollar.

Icon can make some pretty gaudy gear, especially some of their jackets that look like dirt bike gear converted for street use. Bright and tacky in my view and while i wouldn’t call the Airframe Ghost Carbon understated in its appearance, it doesn’t yell out, “Look at me” like some teenager with an unhealthy dose A.D.D . In fact from a distance it really looks like a plain black helmet (albeit with a tinted yellow visor – more on that later). Up close however and you can see this is a helmet with a lot of attention to detail.

I think the carbon looks great. It looks modern yet I think will date well. And while the design does look aggressive, to me it’s still a matter of function over form – there’s nothing unnecessary about what Icon have implemented here. The air intakes and exhaust ports may look comically large on first glance but you grow used to them and after wearing the helmet for a while, you’ll appreciate their purpose.  That carbon used on the shell means the helmet only weighs a smidgen over 3 pounds (1.5kg) and it really helps reduce neck fatigue on long rides.

The name Airframe may give you a clue as to what this helmet excels at and that is air flow. Damn, it’s good. There are two massive vents on the top of the helmet and they really do a great job of keeping the temperature down at speed. The downside is that you also get a fair bit of wind noise because of that, but it’s a compromise I’m happy to make in a tropical climate. Just put in ear plugs. Icon go a step further and line the helmet with a quality wicking material called HydraDry. It’s removable and washable and not only helps keep the sweat off you, but reduces that lovely helmet smell we all endure.

Despite that noise generated by the helmet when riding fast, I was surprised at how stable the Icon Aiframe Ghost Carbon is at high speed. I’ve generally found that a noisy helmet equals a helmet that tries to rip my head from my body at anything above freeway speeds. But no, it’s surprisingly aerodynamic. Icon has really designed the air vents well so that the air flowing through does so in an efficient manner. Kudos to them.

The yellow visor is another great feature and not as gimmicky as I thought it would be upon purchase. Unlike a tinted visor, the yellow optical visor can be used both day and night. It cuts down glare in the day like a tinted visor and actually enhances your vision in darker light. You’ll probably still want to wear sunglasses in extremely bright conditions but I gotta say I’m a convert – no more tinted visors for me if I can help it.

At $500, it certainly isn’t cheap and considering the normal Airframe helmets cost almost half as much, you could still get a great helmet and save yourself a few hundred bucks. But as I said, I like to splurge and I have no regrets with the Icon Airframe Ghost Carbon.

Purchase from:

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REV'IT Airwave Textile Jacket Review

If you live in a tropical climate, a textile jacket like the REV’IT Airwave Jacket is essential. It’s all too easy to just ditch a jacket in favor of a t-shirt when the temperature is well over 100° every day and the moisture in the air is so thick you can almost drink it. Living in northern Thailand, these are the conditions I live with for over half of the year and given the dangers present on Thai roads, you really don’t want to leave yourself so exposed by not wearing a jacket.  And therefore I’m so happy I found the REV’IT Airwave.

Just by looking at the jacket you can tell that it lets through a tremendous amount of air. Almost the entire front and back of the jacket is one big mesh panel. There’s also mesh on the inside of the sleeves to keep your arms cool too as well as down the sides of the jacket to just below the armpits.  There’s by far and away more mesh on this jacket than not, which is why it’s so good for a hot climate.

And obviously why it’s not good at all for a more moderate climate. When I took this jacket back to the US for a trip home at the start of Fall, it was actually a bit too cold to use.  It’s definitely a Summer/Spring jacket and you’ll obviously need something else during the winter months. Thailand’s winter is the US spring, so, no issue for me.

REV'IT! Airwave Textile Motorcycle Jacket Back

And if you’re wondering how it handles a crash, I can (un)fortunately tell you. Quite well is the answer. There’s a bit of false information out there that textile jackets are only good for one accident. No doubt in certain circumstances a textile jacket would probably get shredded in a crash (dependent on speed and road surface), but I’ve come off using this twice (once on the road, once at the track) and it’s held up fine. There’s no holes or tears in the mesh and the stitching on the REV’IT Airwave is top notch. In fact, despite this jacket being at the free Cialis coupon cheaper end of the scale, it really doesn’t skimp on qualify or features. It even includes a zipper at the base of the jacket to attach to a pair of REV’IT pants, like the REV’IT Airwave pants (which we’ll review soon).

The only complaint I can really make about the jacket is the collar.  It’s just too small. Buttoning up the collar, you feel it rubbing against your Adams apple and if you don’t button it up, it flaps around and irritates you in a different way.  But for the airflow you get from this jacket with the protection it still provides, I can live with that.

The REV’IT Airwave Jacket retails for $199 at the Motorcycle Superstore.

Honda CBR300R Review

The new Honda CBR300R isn’t due for release in the United States or much of the world for another few months, but it has just come out in its country of manufacture – Thailand.  And we’ve had a few days to ride Honda’s new beginner bike and bring you the world’s first ride review.

The new baby CBR has been a while coming.  It was announced back in October 2013 and its release was expected early 2014.  But for unknown reasons the bike was delayed by around six months, perhaps due to demand for Honda’s new in-line four middleweights (the CBR650F and CB650F) or perhaps because of Thailand’s troubled political climate.

It’s therefore a rather belated return of fire from Honda, who felt their hand was forced by Kawasaki announcing the release of the Ninja 300, the first capacity change for the Ninja 250 in almost 26 years.  The Honda CBR250R was never really in the same league as the little Ninja performance wise, as Honda’s entry into the beginner sports bike market was more an all-rounder rather than a focused track bike.  But given the even larger gap created by the upgraded Ninja 300, Honda probably felt they had little choice but to make a move.

Despite the capacity upgrade, the CBR300R is still an also ran compared to the Ninja 300 when it comes to straight line speed.  Firstly because the Ninja still has the capacity edge – the CBR300R is actually only 286cc, which is a displacement increase of 37cc from its predecessor.  It’s the exact same single cylinder engine as before, but it contains a new crankshaft and connecting rod to create a longer engine stroke (up to 63mm from 55mm).

The other major mechanical change is the exhaust, which bears a striking resemblance to the cans on the bigger brother CBR500R.  It features an increased internal volume to also help with increasing power.  Don’t get too excited, it still sounds like a single cylinder engine.  To Honda’s credit, weight for the bike remains exactly the same as the 250R meaning none of that extra performance has been lost from gaining any extra pounds.

 

So how does all that add up in real life?

The upgrades are good without being amazing.  Our tests saw the bike hit 100kp/h (62 mph) in just under 8 seconds with a top speed of 170kph, which is definitely an improvement over the 250R, but not by a huge amount.  However, you definitely feel the increased capacity lower down the rev range.  With the CBR250R, you constantly needed to downshift one or even two gears to get the speedometer moving in a positive direction, now the engine feels much less anemic.

 

Paton S1 Strada Review. Classic Styling, Modern Poise.

The Paton S1 Strada was unveiled at EICMA in November last year.  It was to be the first ever road legal bike from Paton, an Italian manufacturer of motorcycles that has a rich heritage in Road Racing and Grand Prix racing.  The Paton S1 Strada promised to be a classically styled bike but with thoroughly modern engineering.  Yes, it looks beautiful.  But does it actually have the go to match those looks, both in a straight line and in the curves?

Thankfully, the answer is yes.

That this isn’t a show pony for cashed up try-hards with more ego than ability was demonstrated at this year’s Isle of Man TT, where it placed a highly commendable 6th out of a field of 38 competitors in the Lightweight category (it was book ended by Kawasaki ER6’s, which have the same base engine).

The Paton S1 Strada has all the styling cues of Paton motorcycles of the 60’s and 70’s, but under that svelte green metal fairing its all 2014 technology.  The motor is the exact same unit you’d find in a Kawasaki Ninja 650 (or ER-6n) – a 649cc parallel twin making 72 bhp and 64 nm of torque at 7,000 rpm.  It’s a solid engine and it was supposedly chosen by Paton because it most resembled the characteristics of the four-stroke engines that the company used in the 1960’s.

While to many it may sound like an uninspiring engine to be using on a Tadacip 20mg bike like this, take note that it sits in a bike that weighs a massive 110 lb less than those aforementioned Kawasaki’s.  That propels the bike to a maximum speed of 134 mph and 0-60 mph in around 3.8 seconds.

Stopping ability is equally as modern, with twin 295mm Brembo’s up front and a 190mm single on the rear.  Suspension quality is certainly a high priority for the Milano firm, with both front and rear fully adjustable, and Ohlins shocks at the back.

This all translates into a wonderful bike to ride.  Turn in is quick and the steering is light, though not too much.  Perhaps its greatest strength is its predictability – this is a very stable bike that communicates with you extremely well.  You never feel at any stage that you and machine are ever anything but in alignment.

As this is designed essentially as a road legal race bike, don’t expect to be feeling refreshed after a long ride.  The seat sits low at only 810mm, so taller riders may feel a little cramped.  The overly sculpted windshield deflects a lot of wind right at your helmet unless you’re tucked, too.  The seat thankfully is well padded and comfortable.

Perhaps my only real criticism is the dash.  It doesn’t look modern and it doesn’t look retro classic either, more like a piece of technology from the late 80’s or early 90’s.  Given how the rest of this bike oozes Italian flair, surely they could have done better here.

The Paton S1 Strada starts at €16,000 for the ‘Standard’ version and goes up to €23,000 for the 1° Factory Signature, which for the massive price increase, only gives you higher range Ohlins plus some nicer paint.  You can also choose between a full and partial fairing, and one bug headlight or two.

Visit Paton for more information.