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26th April 2005
Kit: Nolan N100 - Caberg J1 - AGV - Schuberth Concept Flip Fronts
You want Flip Front Helmets, we got 'em. BrosRider tests and rates a Nolan N100, a Caberg J1, an AGV and a Schuberth Concept. Flippin' fantastic...
Nolan N100 flip front helmet
Bought to replace a Caberg J1 which had a meeting with the floor, I had my eye on a Shoei Syncrotec but I couldn't get it on my head.
The shop I bought it from had one of these in my size, in a beautiful metallic maroon which would have been nice but it would have clashed with my bike! So I had to ask them to order a white one; I was impressed with their service straight away. The helmet turned up in 2 days and they responded favourably to my usual bartering technique allowing me to get it down from the £120 marked price to 98.50 (due to some odd percentage of discounts.)
Handling the helmet it felt more solid and better built than the Caberg, the trim and fittings seemed better attached and the padding was a lot more sumptuous. As soon as I rode away I noticed the helmet was appreciably noisier; whilst this is a good thing in town allowing me to use my ears more to warn of approaching dangers, on the motorway it was a pain and I had to buy some earplugs very quickly as I was commuting a long way, often. The other thing I noticed about the Nolan was that the peripheral vision was a lot better than my Caberg; the visor wrapped back almost all the way to my ears and I was able to perform quick glances over my shoulder without stretching my neck round too far!
Once I'd had the helmet a few days (it had already done about 1000 miles) it was well and truly bedded in and was very, very comfy; none of the pressure the Caberg exerted at high speed. I had noticed however that the ventilation was poor compared to the Caberg. Unless the visor was kept open 2 notches it would steam up badly in all but the hottest weather, the pin-lock anti-fog inserts for the visor cured the misting, but at an extra cost of 12.50. It was now possible to leave the visor down just one notch at junctions and in the cold, which was fine and quite pleasant except in the rain.
When it rained it poured, literally. At low speed in town water ran down the front of the helmet from the top and down the inside of the visor, and at high speed (with the visor open one notch to keep it from misting) the water was driven up the visor, where it proceeded to drip down the inside, closing the visor solved the problem and it sealed nicely, but misted horribly, catch 22.
So far, the helmet is 2 years old and has stood up well to my abuse, it has very few visible marks to the shell and the visor is still in good condition. The chin and nose baffles have expired, splitting within days of each other, but the helmet is still perfectly wearable and usable and I am still using it.
Caberg J1 flip front helmet
I bought this helmet at the time when flip front helmets were the preserve of Shoei's Syncrotec, which was 2 or 3 times out of my price range, likewise the BMW system helmet. I had had a system helmet before, but sadly there were no more forgotten ones left in the back corner of CW in Dorchester for me to acquire cheap!
The Caberg was cheap, at the time, for a flip front, Oh boy, was it cheap! I parted with 90 notes for it at a show and rode home with it on and I was impressed, to be honest I wasn't expecting a lot from a flippy helmet for that money; I was expecting noisy, I was expecting it to not be that comfortable (although it was much better for my head than the AGV that was also kind of in my price range), I was expecting to get wet… etc, etc… but none of that happened.
The helmet fitted well, although I later discovered it was bit short of padding at the front and that at motorway speeds it pressed down onto my forehead hard enough to make an embarrassing T pattern. It was very, very quiet, I had been using a 'golf ball' BMW system helmet and they were reckoned to be pretty quiet, but the Caberg whispered, where the BMW muttered!
Vision out of the Caberg was better than the BMW helmet too, the sides of the flip front were thinner and the visor didn't flex in the breeze, unfortunately the reason it didn't flex much was because it was very stiff, and someone shoving past me in a corridor knocked the visor against the wall and it cracked, so a new visor was purchased, which despite being genuine wasn't as good, it had slight distortion at the edges and made everything look very tall.
It was very good in the wet and the cold; the ventilation was excellent and the visor steamed very little despite the best of the English weather. The only downside to that excellent ventilation was that it let in a bit of water down the chin vents at motorway speeds, and if you sat in traffic, or had to ride very slowly a bit of water dripped in through the top vents. But then, you get what you pay for, or rather you get quite a lot more than you pay for in some areas!
I was quite sad when a puddle of heating oil sent me through a hedge; the helmet, which was always prone to getting a bit scratched due to a pretty soft finish on the polycarbonate shell, got very scratched and looked like it had dented - although I don't remember hitting my head. I decided it was time, for safety's sake, to buy a new helmet!
AGV Flip front
I actually had this helmet lent to me by a shop, and I looked a right plonker as I walked around town for 20 minutes in it and then took it for a 20 minute test ride. I didn't get to try it in the wet, but what I saw was enough for me!
For a start the correct size pinched a bit on the sides of my head above my ears, I guess I should have probably decided there and then that it wasn't the helmet I was looking for, but the sales guy was so enthusiastic, and so willing to let me do just about anything to prove to myself that it actually was this helmet I wanted I felt I had to humour him for a bit.
I assumed the padding would give a bit, but later inspection showed there wasn't very much padding there to give, and that I was up against the inner shell of the helmet. The latch was dead fiddly on this helmet, and dead stiff as well - I expect the stiffness would have improved with use, but I very much doubted the sloppy action of the flip would. When you unclipped it, it felt like it may have been about to drop off. The rest of the helmet was finished to a high standard, it was shiny and the surface looked pretty hard so resistant to scratching, and I've had a friend corroborate the fact that this is the case.
The visor was awful, out of the box it had several 'patches' in it were it distorted, 2 were in places I would normally be expecting to look on a regular basis, checking other helmets in the shop showed no problems and the sales guy offered to change it, which I took him up on. I wish I hadn't bothered, as the visor change was laboured and involved the use of several screwdrivers as pry-bars to prise the trim pieces off.
I was too polite to say I really had seen enough, and the salesman had finished changing the visor by then. I walked around town for about 20 minutes with the front flipped up and it was OK to wear except for the pinching at the top of my head,
When I took it out for a quick ride, good grief! It was like having my head stuck out of a car window. The ventilation was good to the point of being positively draughty, which was a right pain above 30mph, and the wind noise was awful, something in the design of the helmet, possibly the trim pieces which had been removed and replaced earlier was making it whistle like mad above 40 and despite being on a v-twin with a loud exhaust I could barely hear the engine over the wind noise.
I cut my ride short and took the helmet back, collected my £20 deposit and my own Nolan helmet and beat a hasty retreat before the enthusiastic salesman tried another tack!
I have since spoken to several friends and acquaintances that have these helmets and they have all complained about the noise although none experienced the whistle I had. They also confirmed that it does not mist easily, but that it does leak like mad through the huge vents!
BMW System/Schuberth Concept
Borrowed from a dealer in much the same way as I borrowed the AGV, only much nicer!
I really, really wanted one of these helmets. I'd had an old golf-ball system helmet and it had been superb until I had it knocked from my hand and it fell down the stairs. It had taken me a while to save up enough to consider what is probably the Mercedes of helmets; unfortunately, through the fault of my genetics this was just not to be.
The fit was terrible, but only on me. The three people I was with all tried on the concept helmets and found them to be very comfortable, so ignore the fact it didn't fit, and let's talk features.
The booklet that comes with the helmet is big, and it needs to be. The helmet has lots of little features to explore, the vents, the internal dark visor, the easy change outer visor, the stabilising lip on the back, which when riding a sit-up bike works a treat.
Once I'd got it on, I stood and played with it for a bit. Everything was dead stiff, but felt like it was bolted together really well, the finish was nice and looked hard and durable. The one-handed claim to open the flip was not true of this brand new helmet, you needed both hands, one to push the button forwards and one to lift the chin bar, I am informed that this improves with use. The slight spoiler on the overall feel of the helmet was that the internal visor mechanism felt a bit cheap compared to the excellent quality of the rest of the helmet. It was notchy, didn't slide well and needed a wiggle to make it lift. I tried it on some of the other display helmets and it was about 50/50 notchy - smooth.
When I went out for a pootle I was impressed, the helmet is near silent below 50, and then there is a slight rushing noise above that. Moving on towards the top end of legal speeds the helmet does get a bit noisier but it's still a load quieter than anything I've ridden in before. The lip on the back does seem to make a difference as long as you are fairly upright, but when I had a stint on a friends Norton with clip-ons it felt like my head was being dragged backwards slightly if I looked down at the dials I guess that's when it presents to the air flow and acts like an air-brake!
The sun visor seemed to be okay in use, if you weren't too gentle with it.
The vents are a bit fiddly to use in gloves they could do with having something a bit bigger to push on.
I never got to see how it was in the cold or wet, but I am told it is largely impeccable; it doesn't fog easily and doesn't leak. The only concern I have had mentioned to me is that on cold bright mornings when you might conceivably have the sun visor down that tends to mist a bit, it seems that bit isn't anti-fog coated.
I'm just very sorry it didn't fit me properly.
Tried any of these yourself?
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