100% Aircraft 2 Review
Cons: A couple fit/comfort quirks, expensive
Compare to Similar Products
100% Aircraft 2
$400.00 at Amazon
|Check Price at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$279.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$249.00 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$109.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Excellent airflow for burly DH helmet, light for DH helmet, good visor||Breathable, more robust than other enduro-focused options, lightweight||Extremely light, versatile, comfortable||Protective, reasonably priced, comfortable||Impressive price tag, comfortable, available in seven sizes|
|Cons||A couple fit/comfort quirks, expensive||Not suited for frequent bike park duties, a little expensive||Not the most protective, mud can clog up the chin bar bar attachment system||Average ventilation, heavier weight, no rotational impact protection system||Warm, poor ventilation, fit is a little loose|
|Bottom Line||A true DH helmet that offers serious protection and spectacular ventilation and airflow||A dialed enduro-oriented helmet that delivers excellent breathability and solid protection||An extremely light and well-ventilated convertible full-face helmet suited for aggressive trail and enduro riding||A full-face helmet that boasts a strong value and high levels of protection||A respectable full-face helmet at a stunning price tag|
|Rating Categories||100% Aircraft 2||Smith Mainline MIPS||Bell Super Air R MIPS||Troy Lee Designs D3...||7Protection M1|
|Specs||100% Aircraft 2||Smith Mainline MIPS||Bell Super Air R MIPS||Troy Lee Designs D3...||7Protection M1|
|Weight (size medium)||40.1 oz||27.0 oz||14.9 oz - half shell 23.8 oz - full face||41.0 oz||33.4 oz|
|Number of Vents||20||21||18 helmet, 8 chin vents, 4 brow ports||13||17|
|Shell Material||Carbon Fiber||Aerocore||Polycarbonate||Fiberglass||Polycarbonate|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The 100% Aircraft 2 is the updated version of the popular Aircraft downhill helmet. The combination of the relatively low weight paired with well-executed ventilation make this a great lid for bike park laps or shuttling when the temperatures rise. This helmet offers real protection and despite its looks, is more of a true DH helmet than an enduro helmet. There is no doubt this helmet is expensive, but we feel the quality and performance are up there.
The Aircraft 2 is a robust and substantial helmet. Upon slipping your head into this bad boy, it feels burly and makes its gnar-shredding intentions very clear. The fit is snug and it cradles the head nicely, although it isn’t the most pillowy or plush feeling on the inside. The lack of excessive amounts of bulky, cushy padding contributes a bit to the airy, well-ventilated feel.
The Aircraft 2 comes in 4 sizes, S-XL, and we found our test helmet to fit true to size. The fit is pretty consistent throughout the helmet although we did experience some minor pressure above the temples. We found the crown and rear of the head to be exceptionally comfortable, and it comes with two sets of pads of different thicknesses so you can dial in the fit to your specific head shape. We swapped the thicker cheek pads with the thinner ones to get our desired fit around the cheeks. The rest of the padding is relatively thin but comfortable with the SmartShock elastomers holding it in place, and the anti-microbial suede pads feel good against the skin. The pockets for the ears are perfect and you can hear quite well. We also found the chin strap to be comfortable and not cause any irritation, even when cinched down tight.
The main opening of the helmet appears to be optimized to fit 100% riding goggles. We tested it with Smith Squad goggles and found them to fit well enough. The helmet didn't push them down on our noses or rattle on the goggle frame when the going got rough.
The Aircraft 2 features a high-end carbon shell lined with dual-density EPS foam and it has an injection molded chin bar. It provides a touch more coverage at the back of the head than the previous version and overall it feels extremely sturdy and substantial. 100% has also equipped it with a 14-point SmartShock rotational protective system, and it is ASTM, CPSC, and CE certified for downhill mountain bike use.
The shell construction feels solid and the dual-density EPS is well bonded to the outer shell. Dual-density foam should theoretically help to protect the head from both high and low-speed impacts better than a single density would. The injection-molded chin bar is stout, and it sits relatively close to the face compared to some other models. The vents on the chin bar are wide open, so it is possible for debris to pass through them, but the closer fit to the face reduces the likelihood of much flying up from underneath. A D-ring buckle secures the chinstrap for maximum helmet retention in the event of a crash. Overall, the helmet feels very solid, secure, and protective on the head.
Inside the helmet, 100% has employed a 14-point SmartShock rotational protection system. SmartShock is a proprietary impact technology developed by 100%, and it is basically small rubber elastomers that suspend the helmet around the head and are intended to absorb both linear and rotational impact energy. This design is similar to Leatt's Turbine 360 and some other rotational impact protection systems on the market. You might be more familiar with MIPS, or the Multi-directional Impact Protection System. SmartShock is a different approach to the same theory. When the helmet is on the head, the SmartShock pods go virtually unnoticed. When you grab the helmet and try to rotate it on your head, the SmartShock doesn't rotate quite as freely compared to a MIPS layer. We can only speculate on the actual effectiveness of this or any rotational impact protection system. Regardless, we think features like this are better than none.
Our size medium Aircraft 2 weighed in at 40.1 ounces or 1,137-grams. While it's certainly no featherweight, that makes it the lightest, heavy-hitting, full-fledged DH helmet that we've tested. This reasonable weight paired with the plentiful amounts of vents, make this helmet feel light, airy, and much more tolerable in warmer temperatures.
Other top DH options are only a couple of ounces heavier than the Aircraft 2. That said, we mountain bikers can get hung up on weight and an ounce or two could be a deciding factor between two similar helmets. Of course, there are also much lighter DH-certified enduro and convertible models, but none that have the substantial feel of the Aircraft 2.
For a burly downhill helmet, the Aircraft 2 really stands out for its excellent ventilation. Make no mistake, some lighter enduro helmets will breathe better, but in terms of true DH helmets, the Aircraft 2 breathes exceptionally well thanks to its 20 well-designed vents. It is similar to the lighter 100% Trajecta in this regard, but in a burlier package.
The upper part of the helmet is very impressive in terms of ventilation. There are four large intake ports above the brow that draw in some serious air and a series of exhaust ports at the rear of the helmet. Channels within the helmet move the air from front to back, and at high speeds, you can really feel the air passing through. We were thoroughly impressed by the airflow which was much better than we expected for such a robust and protective lid. Some of the other helmets in this category have fewer vents and much thicker padding and consequently don't ventilate nearly as well.
The chin bar also has a healthy amount of vents that are wide open and do not have a mesh or foam covering. At the center of the chin bar there is a cluster of five vents with one large horizontal vent off to each side. While the open vents don't protect from debris or bugs, they do provide an excellent supply of air.
The Aircraft 2 has a quality visor. It isn’t the longest in our test class but it is nice and broad and it effectively blocks the sun when it's in its lowest position while remaining out of the field of vision. The visor has a couple of cutouts that could allow a little air to pass through to reach the brow ventilation ports, though it was hard to tell how effective this was. The visor is about average in terms of rigidity. You can manipulate it and bend it easily, but it is a bit firmer than other options.
The visor has a multi-point adjustment system and it can be shifted up high enough to accommodate goggles when not in use. The visor has three anchor points, one at each temple and one at the top of the head. The anchor points at the temple allow the visor to pivot while the center point has two channels with three stop points to select from. To adjust the position, simply push the visor up or down until it moves and pops into position. Small plastic posts hold the visor on at its anchor points, and they don't appear to be specifically designed to pop out in the event of a crash.
Throughout our testing process, we observed no signs of premature wear or breakdown. The visor adjustment system is still operating perfectly. The central contact point with the adjustment channel is still tight. The D-hook buckle is simple and bombproof. All of the lining and padding inside of the helmet is still sitting flat and the SmartShock elastomers are still well connected to the helmet.
We wore this helmet a healthy amount. After being set down in between laps, transported, and simply handled a lot, the finish on the carbon shell looks very clean. There are no chips or significant scrapes or scuffs and the bottom edge of the helmet is in great shape despite some heavy use and careless transportation.
The Aircraft 2 comes with a helmet carrying bag and a full set of pads. The extra cheek, liner, and neckroll pads come in different sizes to allow you to fine-tune the fit of the helmet for your specific head shape.
This helmet is expensive, there is no doubt about it. There are DH-worthy full-face helmets that cost half as much that will get the job done. That said, we feel the Aircraft 2 is still a solid value. The quality of construction is there, it is relatively lightweight, breathable, burly, and we think it looks darn good too. Yes, you can spend less, but few, if any, true DH race helmets can match this level of airflow.
The 100% Aircraft 2 is a true DH helmet that sets itself apart with excellent ventilation. This protective lid has a carbon fiber shell, dual-density EPS, and it comes with 100%'s own SmartShock rotational protection system. The helmet has clean lines and distinctive 100% styling that we think looks pretty awesome, but it really stands out for its outstanding airflow that can’t be matched by other burly DH helmets. We feel the Aircraft 2 is an excellent option for bike park and DH riding when the mercury rises.
— Pat Donahue
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More