The 100% Aircraft helmet is a fiberglass composite or carbon shell helmet. It’s not the latest Aircraft model anymore, and thus available at a discount everywhere. Especially compared to the 100% Status helmet line, which hasn’t been updated in years, the Aircraft 1 is a great deal for under $ 300 MSRP.
I’ve had it for three years now when it replaced my 100% Status full-face lid. The jump up in look, feel and comfort was instantly noticeable. It’s a full-face helmet that can be worn all day long and never feel too heavy or too hot.
Here’s what I like and dislike about the Aircraft V1:
- Great price to performance.
- Safety ratings.
- Removable, washable cheek pads.
- Replaceable comfort liner.
- Lightweight & comfortable all day.
- Good ventilation for a full-face.
- Flat surfaces for helmet camera mounts.
- MIPS or Smartshock only for carbon model.
- Hard interior.
- Fitting can be tricky.
- Not entirely compatible with neck braces.
- Spare parts expensive or hard to get.
Design & functionality
Apart from the distinctly aggressive design of a 100% helmet, somewhat reminding of a fighter jet (hence Aircraft), the helmets come in very interesting, attention-grabbing or stealthy paint jobs. The selection is huge between the carbon and fiberglass models.
It has a standard D-ring closure system with additional padding under the strap so that it doesn’t cut into the neck. Once the helmet is on it sits pretty snug and secure while it still feels fairly roomy at the top.
Obviously, my 100% goggles integrate very well, as they should, so I tried tried a number of other brands like FOX and Melon and they all work quite well. They fit the slide into place nicely and stay where they should. Combined with the high peak and high brow the field of view in the helmet I am definitely a fan of.
A quick sidenote: The bottom of the visor was silver originally. It was distracting enough while wearing, that I painted it black to better fit the color theme of this paint job. Light colors tend to stand out more in the corner of the eye.
Comfort & breathability
The part actually touching your head is very comfortable padding on the inside, even if overall it’s substantially harder than the Status model. It’s something to get accustomed to quickly, but worth noting. The antimicrobial removable, washable cheek pads come out via emergency eject lashes. If you are in a serious accident and your helmet needs to be removed by someone else without risk of further injury, these pads flip out pretty nicely.
They clip into the helmet by three contact points and sit in there securely, but become loose when pulling on the emergency lashes. So there is no risk of losing them by accident. The attachment seems to be downgraded on the Aircraft 2, where they tend to break off easily. On the V1 these are regular click buttons.
Something that you’ll notice beyond the beautiful design, is the insane number of 25 ventilation ports. Especially in the summer months, this makes the helmet very bearable during long days in the bike park. So much so, that I only take it off during lunch and wear it continuously all day apart from that. Even in the gondola.
As you can see, there are vents in the chin bar, over the brow, on top and you’ve got some intake vents out back as an exhaust. The openings are nicely placed which makes for an overall fairly well-ventilated helmet for a full-face downhill-rated mountain bike helmet.
Even with that level of ventilation, I’ve never had the issue of mud, roost or gravel getting into the helmet through the ports since there is mesh to prevent exactly that. This is an issue with the larger vents on the V2 Aircraft that expanded on the vents both in number and size to look more like the Trajecta enduro helmet than the original Aircraft.
Even the visor has “ventilation” holes to match the theme. The visor is also adjustable so you can change how that pitch is. If you know you get some end-of-the-day laps of the bike park and you’re staring going right into the sun you can drop that and get sun protection. A lot of the other helmets don’t have adjustable visors and while I understand some of the reasons behind it, it’s really nice to have one here.
One aspect that comes with the large field of view is that the helmet feels high up on the forehead, kind of up near my hairline. It’s not something I think about or notice much, but when I do I wish it was a touch a little bit lower. But not by much, it’s still something worth noting touching on safety.
Safety & protection
Let’s take a look at the inside of the helmet and the safety features it brings to the trail. This helmet does not yet have the proprietary 100% “Smartshock” rotational protective system. And in my case, the fiberglass helmet also doesn’t come equipped with the MIPS system like the carbon model does. Those systems are designed to create a little bit of slip and movement to help decelerate your head and brain in the event of an impact.
Either of these systems means that there are roughly 15 points inside the helmet that are these little blue or yellow rubber grommets. They are clipped into the helmet as well as the inner lining and they essentially are designed to offer a bit of rotational impact protection, which is a common cause for brain injuries like concussions. Without independent third-party stress testing, it is difficult however to have any definitive statements of the efficacy in real-world crashes compared to other helmets.
Although 100% lists this as a feature, I found it to be not neck brace compatible due to the high cut rear of the shell. This design makes it well-ventilated, but also means the back of the helmet is not going to come into contact with the neck brace enough to prevent overextension. I tested this with my Alpinestars BNS. Like any other helmet tho, it does rub on the brace when going through berms when looking up and into the turn ahead. (My thoughts on neck braces in general here.)
Back to the padding, I mentioned earlier. Not only are the chin pads emergency-removable, but the helmet also features an integrated compartment that accepts inflatable emergency release systems. These are used to push the helmet off instead of pulling. Systems like these are more common in racing environments, not really utilized by us weekend warriors.
There are two size-specific shells and three EPS sizes for the x-small and small, medium, and large and x-large shells. Further sizing customization is done via internal pad adjustments. Finding the correct size can get a little tricky. A look at the official sizing chart reveals partly why: With 5 sizes and small increments between them, it’s easy to be in between two sizes.
|20.8 – 21.2 in
|53 – 54 cm
|21.6 – 22.0 in
|55 – 56 cm
|22.4 – 22.8 in
|57 – 58 cm
|23.2 – 23.6 in
|59 – 60 cm
|24.0 – 24.4 in
|61 – 62 cm
In addition to 5 general sizes, there are 2 cheek pad sizes (25mm, and 30mm) and 2 inner liners (12mm and 14mm) available to fine-tune. So it is possible to pick the larger of the two sizes and get thicker padding to play around with. Flexibility is limited though, as size Medium is not compatible with other liners.
For reference, I got a 56cm head circumference and wear a size Small with 25mm cheek pads. Initially, I thought it was a little too snug, especially compared to a small Status model. But I’d rather have it sit tight than flop around on rough tracks. And again, I wear this thing all day long so comfort isn’t an issue.