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Nolan N91 S n-com Hot

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Brand Name Nolan
Price 170
Year Purchased June 2013

A flip-front helmet with built-in sun visor and ready for N-com Bluetooth communications.

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Average user rating from: 1 user(s)

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Shinglekicker Reviewed by Shinglekicker
June 13, 2013
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Last updated: September 12, 2013
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Having a large odd shaped head, I was looking for a flip front helmet that was comfortable, offered a good range of features and fitted my budget. The choice of flip-front was a change from my last helmet but the ease of use at toll booths, fuel stations and just when pulling up to talk to people won me over. I was not wanting to ride with the front up for personal reasons having seen the result of an accident with the helmet in that configuration so dual certification/homologation was not an issue. Not doing a huge amount of miles each year meant that I was not looking for the quietest helmet around but I wanted a nice mid-range helmet with sensible features at a sensible price.
Having seen the review of a Nolan helmet in ABR I thought that I would take a closer look. Some digging online led me to a trip to my local Hein Gericke store and the choice of the N91 S which to my surprise- after trying about 12 other helmets in the weeks before- was very comfortable to put on and seemed a very good fit from the start.
Close fitting and well padded without allowing much movement once on, the lining and padding is soft and comfortable to wear. The flip front operates with Nolan's 2 stage opening system which I like as an additional safety feature and is certified for use with the front up (with a lock on the side to stop the front from slamming down) and as a full-face helmet. There is a built-in sun visor which operates on a system that allows for variable adjustment unlike the spring-loaded on/off system on some of the other Nolans I tried. I prefer this system as it allows the visor to be used as a sun screen to block glare from above without bringing the sun visor right down into the field of view.
Which brings me to the deal-breaker as far as I am concerned with this helmet - the visor, which is close-fitting and gives a good field of view. Mine had Pinlock fitted which is a new experience for me but the good weather during my limited use of the helmet to date has meant that it has been nice to have but not needed. From 10 minutes into the ride home it was obvious that the visor was not like any that I had encountered before on helmets over the last 25 years or so. On every other helmet I have owned or worn, from a "Crivet" from Lidl through the price range up to BMW helmets, I have been able to ride at UK road legal speeds with the visor in the "up" position and it stays there, allowing me to feel the breeze on my face and wear ballistic military spec sunglasses. On all previous helmets I have been able to adjust the visor down through the detents in the mechanism and it has been capable of staying in the position at speed. Not so with this Nolan. At a variety of speeds from 35mph up to 70mph the visor would slam shut unexpectedly. Trying a number of seat/windshield positions made no difference. If passing a truck or box van then it could slam shut at relatively low speeds, but given an even acceleration the closure would take place at anything from 55mph through to 70mph. And with such a force as to be startling. As the speed at which it occurs cannot be predicted it becomes, in my view, a safety issue - a startling event occurring at an uncertain point becomes dangerous as it is a distraction which could be fatal if it occurs at the wrong time. Thus far a change of visor and a change of springs has not solved the issue - which seems to be to do with the mechanism gliding smoothly over the detents rather than fully engaging with them. This makes for a nice feel and an easy to lift visor but not a good result if, like me, you like to ride with the visor up if the weather is good - unless you want to risk your jaw and (possible) good looks in the event of an accident (not to mention neck ache from the buffeting) by riding with the front open. This is an issue that does not seem to be an advertised feature and does not seem to be covered in the accompanying literature.
With both retailer and importer being unable to solve the problem with new springs, change of visor and so on the helmet was returned to Nolan in Italy who (apparently - I have not seen the letter) say that this is not a manufacturing fault. So what is it? It is not a feature as it does not appear in the advertising or the accompanying literature. The retailer and importer obviously considered it to be a problem as they have tried to fix it. Currently it is unresolved. It could be that the mechanism was not designed to hold the weight of the visor with the Pinlock in place - which was an extra that came with the helmet. In which case, is it a design flaw? Anyone considering buying this model, or any other Nolan helmet, in my opinion should bear this problem in mind as it might affect other models.
All of this has made marking the helmet difficult. Is this a one-off? is it a wider problem? As far as I am concerned this is a nicely finished, good looking helmet with plenty of features at a good price that is spoiled by the visor mechanism. Were it not for that it would score more highly from me on performance, reliability and value for money. The issues with the visor also affect my score on protection which is lower than it would otherwise have been.

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