RealClassic.co.uk Home

Bikes | Opinion | Events | News | Books | Tech | About | Messages | Classified | Directory

Back to the Kit menu...

29th August 2012


Nolan N43 Air Helmet

The quest for the perfect crash hat continues. One which doesn't look out of place on an old or a modern motorcycle. Rowena Hoseason tries not to wreck this one within six weeks of buying it...

The best lid I owned in recent years was a very spiffy Roof full-face. I bought it to tackle the Land's End Trial and I thought - just to be on the safe side - that as my old one was a little tatty, it would be sensible to splash some cash on new protective gear as I'd be in the saddle for 48 hours, pretty much non-stop.

Ho hum. Roof lid, meet Cornish cliff.

Roof lid worked perfectly. Head totally intact. Shame I wasn't wearing a Roof lid around my lungs…

So I converted the Roof lid to scrap in record time. What next? I used to choose Shoei full-face lids, but as my style of bikes and gear has migrated from race-reps to roadster and from crashers to classics, so the current range look a bit weird and garish next to the rest of my gear and the bikes I own. I've also gotten tired of throwing away a very expensive lid every couple of years, not because its worn out, but because a couple of careless moments / drops onto hard surfaces mean I'm not sure how safe it is any more.

So next I tried a different strategy and bought a previous year's helmet, still ACU gold rated, but a much cheaper brand. Sadly, it only lasted a single season - the foam inner felt wonderful to start with but compressed really fast. In no time at all the helmet was loose (and so virtually useless) on my head.

Nolan N43 Air. You can insert your own air-head jokes if you wish...

Next attempt: the N43 Air. Love the shape, style and colours of it: understated but still eye-catching (shades of Star Wars storm-troopers in there). It's a full-face lid with a detachable chin-piece, although I rarely bother to take off the chin-piece. At first I thought that all the tricksy features were just gimmicks; then they all turned out to be surprisingly effective...

It's extremely light (around 1.7kg) and offers an amazingly wide field of vision through the massive main visor. The view isn't restricted at all: really useful for checking over your shoulder and at awkward turns. By far the widest view I've ever had on a full-face lid: you wouldn't know that the crash helmet was there. On the downside, it can be tricky to get the visor to stay open by just a notch, to avoid fogging.

Nolan N43 Air, in the big shed, showing the big aperture...
Nolan Helmets on Right Now......

An inner, flip-down tinted eyeshield is operated by a lever on the side and turned out to be way more useful than I expected - genuinely handy when riding into the sun, because you can lift/lower your head instantly to match the light conditions. The lever is big enough to use quickly when riding one-handed, and even with thick gloves. The inner visor itself is a bit of a pig to clean, though, and does need regular cleaning as it suffers from condensation.

The N43 has three different airflows and multiple vents. The result is a cooler helmet than on most conventional lids; it meant I could ride for longer on a couple of the extremely hot days this year. However, even with the vents shut there is still a fair bit of airflow which means it's not going to be the warmest helmet to wear in the middle of winter…

After my experience with the cheap helmet which became too loose very fast, I went for the smaller size option on the N43, and it was a very snug fit initially. Too snug, to be honest. This meant that the first couple of long journeys were uncomfortable: the lining isn't very squishy, and my forehead became quite sore. Had to persevere, and now it's far more comfortable, although still a tight fit. So it's worth bearing in mind that there isn't a great deal of flex in the lining. The lining is supposed to be removable and washable, although I've not tested that yet.

Funky colour scheme, and chin-bar removed...

The securing chinstrap uses the current ratchet/release system which is by far the best I've used. Instant release but entirely flexible.

The N43 comes with built-in comms, so you don't have to add headsets if your system is compatible. If that's your thing. It's so NOT my thing. I ride motorbikes in order to not have to talk to anyone else…

Wind noise at 80mph on a faired bike is excellent: very quiet. Minimal buffeting and no nasty squeals or shrieks from the airflow which suggests that (despite the levers stuck on the side), Nolan have got the aerodynamics about right.

Replacement sun-visors (the small ones) cost around £17, while the big outer visors cost about £35.

Overall: brilliant value for money. Not a top of the range, luxury lid, but very practical and stylish. Very happy with it. If I spot another one at a similar price in the right size and in the swirly greys colour scheme then I'll buy it and keep it for when I inevitably drop this one while attempting to do too many things with an inadequate number of hands…

---------------


Like this page? Share it with these buttons:

Home


More helmets, on eBay.co.uk Right Now...

Home


Like what you see here? Then help to make RealClassic.co.uk even better

Back to the Tech menu...

Bikes | Opinion | Events | News | Books | Tech | About | Messages | Classified | Directory

RedLeg Interactive Media

© 2002/2005 The Cosmic Motorcycle Co. Ltd / Redleg Interactive Media

You may download pages from this site for your private use. No other reproduction, re-publication, re-transmission or other re-distribution of any part of this site in any medium is permitted except with the written consent of the copyright owner or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.