Review by Marlon Slack.
There’s two sides to Icon. Half their of their apparel draws from a colour palette best described as ‘kids sneakers’ while their motocross jerseys wouldn’t look out-of-place on a 90’s football team. I guess this is what most people like – but it’s not for me. The other half of their products belong to the 1000 line – blacked out and earthy tones on military-inspired cuts, held together with buckles and press studs you could beat a man to death with. The Icon 1000 line is equal parts On Any Sunday and Mad Max. So when I found out the Basehawk jacket I was being sent to review sat firmly within their 1000 collection I was ecstatic.
And it well and truly fits in with the 1000 line – all black with a synthetic frame, ballistic nylon across the main impact areas and leather protection on the shoulders and elbows makes for a mean-looking motorcycle jacket. The ¾ length and hood helps it appear a little more casual, but there’s no mistaking it for a motorbike jacket. For my 5’9”, 70kg frame the small fits perfectly – and the shoulder armour helps it look like I actually have muscles there. ‘Traps’ or something, I think they’re called.
Looks of the jacket aside, the main feature of the Basehawk is its cooling system. It has venting across the top of the upper arms, down each side of the chest and long exhaust zippers running down the armpits. When not in use rubber-covered ‘invisible’ zippers hide them from view, which also helps keep out rain. Compared to some other vented jackets I own the system is clean, subtle and doesn’t scream I’M WEARING A MOTORCYCLE JACKET when you’re off the bike.
When moving at speed the vents work spectacularly. The air ruins down your chest, down the outside of your upper arms and out past your armpits, ensuring that you’ve always got a cool breeze running through your jacket. It works better than any other vented jacket I own. Just make sure you take it off when you come to a stop.
Because you’ll discover those vents are really necessary – I’ve found wearing the Basehawk in stationary traffic is akin to sitting in an oven. The synthetic material that makes the up the bulk of its construction traps heat in against the body, and after getting stuck city traffic, or even walking on warm days, you’ll end up with sweat patches down your back and around your armpits that would impress a CrossFit class. So if you’re off the bike, it’s best to roll it up and stick it in a backpack.
Which is easy to do because of the light D30 shoulder, elbow and back armour. Increasingly common in motorcycle and sports gear, the bright orange D30 protectors are thin and malleable when at body temperature and only really stiffen when subjected to a sharp impact. The armour sits in exactly the right spots too, covering my joints perfectly and not riding up and down when moving about.
As a result of my daytime studies and general career cul-de-sac I work night shifts. After a 20 minute commute I’m stuck in the office for 12 hours from 7pm until 7am. I often ride to work in the afternoon heat but come out to morning frost, rain and the heavy feeling that I’m doing nothing with my life. I wear the Basehawk in with the vents open, stuff it in my locker and after my shift I zip up the vents and ride home. The jacket is perfect for my commute and has become my go-to jacket for day rides that take me through changing weather. It’s not the greatest for extended rides in the cold – eventually wind and rain will find its way in past the zippers. But for shorter trips through rain it holds up fine.
For me, some of the best features of the jacket are the little touches. And speaking of ‘little touches’, if you’ve been subjected to a Catholic upbringing you’ll appreciate the St Christopher medallion attached to the inside of the Napoleon pocket. I haven’t set foot inside a church for 10 years (fearing that if I did I’d instantly catch fire) but my inner guilt-ridden Roman Catholic likes that feature. The Basehawk also has an ‘In Case of Emergency’ card which I’ll get around to filling out one day when I get loved ones. Inside the jacket are large, elasticated open pockets that are perfect for stashing things away when you don’t have time to take your gloves off.
The Basehawk also has elasticated loops at the cuffs. With these around your thumbs it makes slipping on gauntlets a hell of a lot easier – with no bunching or riding up of the sleeves. It’s a great idea and works unbelievably well. I’ve got much more expensive jackets than this that are Gore-Tex lined and solely designed for winter riding and I’m always battling to get gauntlets onto them without the sleeves riding up my arms. That being said the tight sleeves can make short cuff gloves a pain to wear with the jacket – it causes material to bunch up around your wrists and some gloves won’t do up around the sleeves at all.
The final question is how protective the jacket really is. In most accidents it’d hold up fine but with so many zippers and alternating panels of fabric – the leather to ballistic nylon, for example – I do worry about how it would fare in a really big, arse-clenching highside. There are a lot of points to fail. And in my painful experience in an accident it’s often not the material itself that will wear or scratch straight through but entire panels of material being separated at the seams. As such it’s not a jacket for track days.
I’ve owned a pair of Icon Elsinore 1000’s (which I love) and I’ve also got a pair of their excellent Rimfire gloves, but the Basehawk is the first Icon jacket I’ve owned. After wearing it for the last 3 months and seeing the attention to detail, the excellent build quality and the perfect finish of the jacket, it won’t be the last offering from them. With its murdered-out flat black finish it looks just as good riding through town as it would hurtling through the desert and throwing a Molotov at Lord Humungus.
Full disclosure: Icon Motorsports gave us the jacket for the review. They also support us by advertising on the site. All reviews we publish are done with the same guiding principle – if it sucks, we’ll say so. Guaranteed.