Review: Tammy tests Icon

About to embark on an epic road trip through the Americas, I was excited to pick out ICON jacket, pants, rain pants, and helmet. The weather and conditions between Newfoundland and Guatemala vary widely, even in summer, necessitating durable, adaptable gear.

Summer riding meant that I would be dealing with heat, especially on my stopover to the Horizons Unlimited meet-up in California. With this in mind, and my trusty Warm and Safe heated liner, I went about choosing my new riding apparel from the Icon website.

The Gear

After lusting after the leathers, and the super-fitted women’s line of riding clothes, I settled on the more practical Citadel jacket and pants. This ventilated riding gear was designed for extremely hot conditions, and like other Icon products, has a sport fit, with large-hole mesh for maximum ventilation.

Off the bike, at the Four Corners in the American southwest.
Off the bike, at the Four Corners in the American southwest.

The jacket has removable D30 CE-certified elbow and shoulder pads and back protector; the pants have removable D3O CE-certified knee pads. The gear has double-stitched seams, reflective trim, a quilted vest liner and loops for attaching the jacket to the pants – everything I needed. Following the sizing charts, I ordered the large pants, and jacket for my 5’8”, 150 lb frame.

To stay dry in rain (the suit is not waterproof and does not come with liners), I added PDX pants with bib. I used a waterproof shell I already had under the jacket.

For a helmet, I chose the new Variant in a glossy grey. The Variant is a street helmet built with an elongated chin and a sun-visor, imitating a dual-sport helmet but with a street look. I chose this helmet for sun-protection and the extra ventilation it affords. I expected to be getting some off-road riding in, and this helmet looked like it would be comfortable for hauling a loaded KLR through the dirt.

Performance

I left Newfoundland in early September, and picked up my new gear at the CMG’s secret base in Sackville, New Brunswick. The helmet fit perfectly, while both the jacket and pants were noticeably loose and felt large and baggy. Despite this, I really didn’t notice this while riding, just when walking around. In hindsight, I could have gone with a medium, even with my heated jacket underneath.

Tammy, roadside mid-trip with her KLR and her Icon gear.
Tammy, roadside mid-trip with her KLR and her Icon gear.

While riding, the Citadel jacket was loose around the neck, and didn’t have a collar. As a result, wind not only went through the mesh, it went in and under the collar as well, making it super-cool for hot days. However, on cooler days I found that I often used my heated jacket (with its high collar) unplugged to provide insulation – with the exception of the mountains in Yosemite, California which demanded a fully-cranked heated jacket.

As for the Citadel pants, the protective padding rode high above my knee while riding, and when used with the foot straps, caused excess pressure on my knee-cap from the bottom of the padding. As there is no adjustment capability for placement of the knee-pads I found the easy fix was to just not use the foot-straps.

Tammy found the PDX rain pants easy to get in and out of, with lots of handy pockets, but they were bulky additions to her luggage when not in use.
Tammy found the PDX rain pants easy to get in and out of, with lots of handy pockets, but they were bulky additions to her luggage when not in use.

The PDX rain pants have full-length zippers for easy on and off, and the bib kept rain and wind from getting down the back of my pants. However, they were on the thick and heavy side, and took up a lot of room in my luggage when I wasn’t wearing them.

The fit of the Variant helmet was perfect – good and snug with enough pressure on the cheeks but lots of circulation. The extra room in the mouth area made for very comfortable air-flow and a feeling of space, and proved much better than other street helmets that I find can be a bit claustrophobic, especially when it is warm.

On the highway, while facing forward, the aerodynamics were perfect. I did not even notice there was a sun visor, unless I did a shoulder-check to pass, at higher speeds. This gave me a free chiropractic neck adjustment when the wind suddenly caught the visor. After a couple hours of riding, I decided to remove the visor until I went off-road.

With the exception of a bit of glue, the sun visor came off cleanly and easily. After removing the visor there were a few small open holes that I considered duct-taping should I encounter rain. I didn’t notice any extra wind-noise unless I tilted my head at a very specific angle.

Conclusion

Right: The Variant comes with a handy sun visor, but at highway speed, Tammy removed it to make shoulder checks easier on her neck.
Right: The Variant comes with a handy sun visor, but at highway speed, Tammy removed it to make shoulder checks easier on her neck.

I rode over 18,000 kms wearing the Icon jacket, pants and helmet, through rain, sun, heat, wind and cold. I came off the bike twice – once in dirt and once when I hit a bus in Mexico City without any damage to the gear.

Despite this, the Citadel gear shows no wear whatsoever, dried quickly after torrential rain, is lightweight and very durable, with no seams or zippers showing any issues. The black jacket and grey pants also hide road dirt very well, and look great after all the abuse they were given, even without a wash.

I followed the sizing instructions, but the fit was not good for me; a medium would have been better than the large. Had I been able to try the gear on in person, this could have been avoided, but this is the danger of getting one’s motorcycle gear over the Internet.

She's right - the gear is a bit baggy! As always, trying on something before you get it is preferable, as sizing sheets don't always mean the gear is a good fit.
She’s right – the gear is a bit baggy! As always, trying on something before you get it is preferable, as sizing sheets don’t always mean the gear is a good fit.

On such a long trip, another item that would have made this ensemble better is pockets. The jacket had two small pockets at the waist that held my keys – but were angled in a such a way that I was afraid of my credit cards and or cash falling out, so I could not use them, making my gas stops a little slower as I had to dig my cash out of my tank bag.

The Citadel pants had two zippered pockets in the back that were completely inaccessible as my hand simply did not fit in the pocket while I had the pants on. In order to get anything out of the back pocket, I had to unbelt and unzip them. Since this was not very ladylike and attracted unwanted attention, I simply stopped using the back pockets.

The PDX rain-pants, however, have awesome cargo side pockets, perfect for sunglasses, wallet and a knife. My trip through Canada and the US was completely dry, so I didn’t need the rain-pants, and the torrential rain in Mexico would hit suddenly, and I often didn’t have time to put them on before the rain passed. They were completely waterproof except for the mysterious wet crotch syndrome that seems to happen no matter what rain gear I wear.

Although she'd personally prefer more pockets for adventure riding, and she'd go a size smaller, Tammy reckons the Icon kit is good buy for your buck.
Although she’d personally prefer more pockets for adventure riding, and she’d go a size smaller, Tammy reckons the Icon kit is good buy for your buck.

Overall I was very impressed with the durability of this gear, and how quickly the material dried. Although maybe is was not  ideal for traveling long distances on a KLR, I was comfortable, protected, and looked clean – even if I hadn’t washed the gear in 18,000kms. 🙂

This gear is an excellent value for street riding and day commutes, however, for longer trips I would opt for alternatives with lots of pockets.


GALLERY

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8 thoughts on “Review: Tammy tests Icon”

  1. Hmmm… I guess I was thinking of something along the lines of Lois Pryce’s book about her trip from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile on her dirt bike (“Lois on the Loose”). She described her encounters with people along the way, including other bikers she’d ridden with, challenging situations, and the places where she’d stayed (displaying her acute sense of humor). I enjoyed Ted Simon’s classic around-the-world “Jupiter’s Travels” book, as well. ‘Something for us armchair travelers, in other words? I always enjoy reading solo motorcycle travel stories, such as these. Thanks for asking.

      1. Uh, how about, “My dog has separation anxiety, and I don’t like sidecars.” That’s true, actually, but really, I’m getting up in years and value comfort and stability – and a good travel book (you’ve put me on the spot, now). It’s exciting enough riding county roads on my Bonneville.

  2. When my wife needed new gear I had three non negotiable stipulations and one that was. 1- made for a woman- so it would fit properly. 2 water proof. 3- vents. and preferibly not black- to hot. We did find what we were looking for but it wasn’t easy. Klim.

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