The Variant is a hybrid helmet that provides comfort and protection both on the pavement and off. Find out why in this Icon Variant Construct Helmet Review.
So, in case you’re wondering: that guy in the adjacent lane, with the “extreme” graphics on his multi-colored helmet? Yeah, that isn’t me. I have an aversion to screaming logos and garish graphics. Is it too much to ask for full-face protection without X-Games styling? And is it overreaching to insist on a dual-sport helmet that works as well on the street as it does on the dirt? With its Variant Construct Helmet, Icon says yes to both counts. Lear more in this Icon Variant Construct Helmet Review.
Designed as a street/dual-sport hybrid, the Icon Variant Construct has an intermediate oval shape, huge eyeport, elongated chin, and prominent peak to deflect dirt, rain, and sun. There are several variations of the Variant; the Construct is thusly named for its off-white, exposed fiberglass/carbon fiber finish, which contributes to the futuristic, industrial appearance. It’s seriously hardcore, like a Stromtrooper beyond Thunderdome.
As a hybrid, it offers the best (and worst) of both worlds. Like an off-road helmet should, its ventilation is top-notch and the fit is snug. And like a good street helmet, it offers superb optics and all-day comfort. Best of all, with looks and performance such as this, you might expect it to be a much costlier piece of gear. At $370 it’s pricey, but reasonable.
The moisture-wicking liner is removable and washable, as is the chin shield. The massive eyeport and bulbous shield provide superb field of vision, limiting the amount of motion required for head-checks - welcome, because the sharp peak can catch the wind, particularly at speed.
The Variant ships with both clear and smoke shields, treated for anti-fogging. Changing them is slightly tricky and time-consuming (it takes a few minutes), but once you get the hang of it, the process moves along. Still, the plastic screws that require removing for the swap don’t seem all that sturdy, and picturing one snapping off, rolling away, or bouncing clean out of sight isn’t all that hard to do. The helmet comes with a keychain tool to assist in the swap-out, but a coin would also do in a pinch.
The multi-inlet ventilation system is on full display when you remove the liner. All seven air channels are visible, including the one that shoots air to the shield to fight fogging (it also features chin vents for the same purpose). It works great; the downside of any dual-sport helmet is that they’re designed to ventilate like dirt helmets at low speeds, but they perform that way on the street, too - resulting in a lot of noise feedback above about 60 mph. The Valiant is noisier than a full-face street helmet, for sure - but not as loud as your typical D-S lid.
I can’t help thinking that much of the cost must come from the Variant’s extravagant packaging; the box comes with two user manuals, clear and smoked shields, a shield cleaning kit (spray bottle + micro fiber cloth), chin curtain, helmet bag, poster, dedicated keychain screwdriver for swapping the shields, and a sticker. I guess all that stuff combines with the extra cardboard and bubble wrap to prevent jostling. But it’s a huge, cumbersome package.
The Variant meets all world safety and testing standards, meaning it meets or exceeds DOT FMVSS 218 (US), ECE 22-05 (Europe), SAI AS1698 (Australia), and SG (Japan). It comes in sizes from XS-3XL, and is also available in Covert Green or Dark Earth.
Great looks - tons of industrial curb appeal.
Superb field of vision.
Quality, appearance, and attention to detail of a more expensive helmet.
Ultra-tight; narrow at the bottom, hard to doff/don.
Visor catches a lot of wind at speed; keep your head down when head-checking.
Changing the shield quickly takes practice, and the screws appear easy to break and/or lose.
Noisy at freeway speeds.
Does not enjoy cross-winds.
The Variant is a fine hybrid helmet that provides comfort and protection both on the pavement and off. Because you never know what the day may bring, it’s a single option that serves multiple needs. And did I mention it looks hardcore?