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First Ride - 100% Launches New Aircraft 2 Full Face Helmet 3

100%'s newest lid screams speed and improves on its popular predecessor.

First Ride - 100% Launches New Aircraft 2 Full Face Helmet

Just over six years ago, 100% diverted from being an eyewear-only brand with the release of their highly stylized Aircraft full face downhill helmet. One of the fastest-growing brands since that time, they have launched multiple other helmet options, a full line of body protection, and riding gear for most disciplines of cycling. Not to mention maintaining an always impressive selection of goggles and glasses. However, since their first dive into mountain bike protection the Aircraft has remained mostly unchanged. It has only received minor updates and the addition of MIPS over the years. Given the timeline and continued progression of helmet technology, it should come as no surprise that 100% hasn’t been standing by with idle hands. Rather, they have taken the time to test, develop and evolve their current offering to bring riders an exciting new full-face helmet: The Aircraft 2! Still aimed at downhill or BMX riders, their newest helmet takes design cues from the original Aircraft and improves ventilation and visor adjustability while also ditching MIPS for 100%'s own safety protection systems.

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Aircraft 2 Highlights 

  • Carbon fiber shell with Patent Pending injection molded chin bar integration
  • 14 point Smartshock Rotational Protection System
  • Dual Density EPS injection molded with polycarbonate in two size-specific molds
  • 20 ventilation ports
  • Washable, anti-microbial suede comfort liner
  • Multi-point adjustable visor 
  • D-ring buckle
  • Includes helmet carrying case with goggle storage
  • Includes extra cheek and liner pads with different thicknesses for customized fit
  • Sizes: Small (52-56cm), Medium (56-58cm), Large (58-61cm), X-Large (61-64cm)
  • Weight: 1045grams (size Medium, tested)
  • Colors: Black, Black/White, Red/White, Black/Light Yellow
  • Certification: ASTM (F1952-15), CPSC (16 CRF 1203), CE (EN 1078: 2012+A1:2012)
  • MSRP $400 USD

Strengths

  • Awesome ventilation
  • Wide field of view
  • Clean, sleek aesthetic 
  • Comes with extra pads and liner for custom fit
  • Solid, preset visor locations keep visor in place

Weaknesses

  • Cheek pads/neck roll pad held in with small, slide-lock pins 
  • Snug fit
  • No visor quick-disconnect feature


Initial Impressions

At first glance it’s very apparent the Aircraft 2 shares similar design DNA with the original Aircraft helmet. The ‘ledge’ where the top and back edge of the helmet meet has always distinguished the Aircraft amongst other helmets. This aesthetic feature has carried over with the Aircraft 2 along with sleek, raised carbon ridges on the side of the helmet that double as guides for goggle placement. 

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Other similarities to the original Aircraft include large vents on the chin bar, forehead, and rear of the helmet for ventilation and airflow. Although the Aircraft 2 has 20 vents as opposed to 25 vents on the original Aircraft, the helmet feels like it breathes better than before. This is likely due to the lack of external wire mesh or internal headliner obstruction of the vents that leaves riders' heads fully exposed to outside air. The previous generation Aircraft had a one-piece, full coverage liner and exterior mesh vent covers that did limit airflow. Moving toward the front of the Aircraft 2, 100% has kept the chin bar relatively short and stout with a very open vent at the front. Again, no wire mesh covers the vents to improve air intake and exhausting your breath when breathing hard. While the Aircraft 2 does not come with a spare visor, 100% has changed how the visor mounts to the helmet compared to the original Aircraft. Previously using two aluminum screws and one plastic screw to adjust the height, there are now four press-in, plastic posts that mount the visor to the helmet with three preset height options. There is also no visor quick release system in place to quickly separate the visor from the helmet during a crash.

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The Aircraft 2 ditches the MIPS system used previously and is instead equipped with 100%'s own proprietary Smartshock Rotational Protection System. This system uses 14 shock absorbers located between the helmet shell and liner that compress and absorb impacts independently. When an impact does occur, these rubber absorbers work in unison to reduce energy transfer over a wide range of speed and impact types. Additionally, the Aircraft 2 uses dual-density EPS foam for even more head protection against varying impact speeds. There are two size-specific molds with small and medium helmets sharing molds while large and X-large helmets share their own. Included with the Aicraft 2 is a helmet carrying bag as well as extra anti-microbial cheek pads, liner, and neck roll pad in varying thicknesses to allow for fine-tuned fitment. For reference, the original Aircraft did not include extra pads or liner. Read below to hear how we fine-tuned the fitment of our medium test helmet.

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The last noticeable change on the Aircraft 2 is the use of molded plastic along the bottom gasket of the helmet which used to be a harder rubber. This change can also be found around the edge of the frontal face opening. Both changes make for a nice upgrade from the previous model that should improve durability. The new Aircraft 2 comes in at the same $400 USD price tag as the previous MIPS, carbon shell Aircraft, and weighs around 25grams less (when comparing the weight of medium helmets). That minimal difference in weight does make the Aircraft 2 feel very light on the head just like the previous model. 100% has four colorways to choose from, all with a modest design approach to match any gear or goggle combination.

On The Trail

For starters, we absolutely love the look of the Aircraft 2! 100% has always stood apart with their race-influenced designs and this helmet is no exception. The sharp edges, sweeping lines, and compact shape screams speed and should make any rider stand out on the trails. We actually spent a few years wearing 100%’s first-generation Aircraft helmet and naturally chose to test the same medium size we have always worn. Out of the box and onto our noggin we did find the Aircraft 2 to have a more snug fitment than the previous Aircraft.

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The size medium comes stock with 28mm cheek pads, 10mm headliner, and 20mm neck roll pad. Luckily, 100% does provide extra pads with the Aircraft 2 for customized helmet fitment. We ended up only swapping the cheek pads for thinner 24mm pads. This allowed the ‘squeezing’ feeling to subside on our face and kept us from looking like a pufferfish. The extra 12mm liner and 25mm neck roll pad did not make the helmet any smaller so we left the stock pads installed. When swapping the cheek pads it is worth noting that 100% is still using the same peg and hole locking system carried over from the original Aircraft. While the cheek pads do stay securely in place, we’ve always found this design more difficult to install the pads compared to other helmets. Not a big issue for some, but for those who sweat a lot and are washing helmet pads often, you may spend some extra moments ensuring pads are completely reinstalled. Overall, fitment is on the snugger side and left a bit to be desired comfort-wise for us. After about an hour wearing the Aircraft 2 we did notice small pressure points beginning to form on our temples from two of the Smartshock absorbers. Knowing this now, we would have gone with a size Large Aircraft 2 to ensure a snug but more comfortable fit. With a significant 10mm increase in liner thickness between a size medium and large, there would undoubtedly be an improvement in comfort which would likely fix the slight discomfort we had with the Aircraft 2.

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Designed for downhill and BMX racers, all of our testing time was spent banging out downhill laps. That’s not to say the Aircraft 2 cannot be used for enduro riding or other cycling disciplines, but 100% does offer helmets in their range catered towards those disciplines. With scorching summer heat hitting the Pacific Northwest, we had no trouble testing the airflow abilities of the Aircraft 2. As mentioned above, updates to the venting ports have improved airflow with no inner liner or outer metal mesh blocking airflow. This resulted in noticeably better heat management when compared with the original Aircraft. When moving down the trail, the large front vents above your brow pull air onto your forehead. Combined with the very spacey, open design of the chin bar we were fans of how much air rushed our face and head. However, we do wonder how many bugs or dirt chunks one might consume with such an open design. (Luckily no bugs were harmed while performing this test.) Another benefit of having such a large air intake front and center was how unrestricted breathing felt when sucking wind down the trail. With hot breath moving out and airflow moving into the helmet, this will likely help limit fogging in cooler climates as well. 

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During our first few test rides, temperatures were so hot and dry that we never experienced any fogging in our 100% Armega goggles. We were unable to test how the Aircraft 2 accommodates various goggle brands but from the size of the frontal opening, we’d expect most goggles will fit just fine. Moving onto the visor, the new mounting tabs and present height options are an improvement over the original Aircraft visor. Previously, the cheap plastic screw used to adjust visor height was not sufficient for the job and often would strip out. The new center slide mount allows for endless visor height adjustments without the risk of stripping any threads. The press-in posts used to mount the sides of the visor do their job but are cheaper than the aluminum screws used prior. We did not crash in the Aircraft 2 during testing and cannot comment on the durability of these post mounts during a crash. However, we would expect them to be more fragile than the aluminum screws used prior. Speaking of crashes, we were surprised to not see some type of instant visor disconnect feature included with the Aircraft 2. Not a necessary feature but a common one seen on many modern helmets said to improve safety during a crash.  With the Aircraft 2 being 100% 's premier full-face helmet, we would have expected them to jump on the bandwagon as well. Lastly, we enjoyed the ability to remove and wash all interior pads and liners, including chin strap pads, which is always appreciated to keep a helmet running stank-free for years to come.

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What's The Bottom Line?

Building on the awesome aesthetic of its predecessor, 100%’s new Aircraft 2 evolves the stylish DNA of their original Aircraft to offer downhill riders a sleek, light, race-bred full-face helmet. Key improvements to vent openings greatly increase airflow while new visor mounts are a welcomed change for on-the-fly adjustment. The switch to 100%’s own Smartshock Protection system and the use of dual EPS foam place the Aircraft 2 toward the top of the list for safe, premium full-face bike helmets. While fitment was snug during our test and left a bit to be desired for overall comfort, we believe most riders will be able to fine-tune an Aircraft 2 via pads and liners to comfortably fit their head. Overall, with plenty of positive updates and still being priced at $400 USD with extra helmet pads included, 100% has definitely taken a step forward with the Aircraft 2 in performance, safety and value.

For more information on the Aircraft 2, head over to www.100percent.com.

To view key specs and compare helmets, head over to the Vital MTB Product Guide.


About The Reviewer

Jason Schroeder - Age: 26 // Years Riding MTB: 15 // Height: 6' (1.8m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

A once-upon-a-time World Cup downhill racer turned desk jockey, Jason has spent years within the bicycle industry from both sides of the tape. A fan of all day adventures in the saddle or flowing around a bowl at the skatepark, he doesn't discriminate from any form of two wheel riding. Originally a SoCal native now residing in Boise, Idaho you can find Jason camped out in his van most weekends at any given trailhead in the greater Pacific NorthWest.

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