Summary: A well constructed flip-up helmet with no massive foibles. Useful internal sun visor, good ventilation and great Pinlock anti-fog visor. The only moans being it’s quite noisy and the micro-lock strap can be a bit clunky and uncomfortable.
SHARP 4 Star safety tested (out of 5)
Good for glasses
XXS – XXXL Sizes
Prices typically range from £190-£250 depending on model/retailer
Looking to buy a Nolan?
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The Nolan N104 is a flip up injected polycarbonate helmet that Nolan say is 100% made in Italy. But don’t hold that against them (:-) because Nolan also say it’s been designed and created by engineers who are first and foremost bikers. So it should be extremely user-friendly right? Let’s have a look…
First off, it’s got a pretty distinctive look – much more angular than most modern helmets. Reminds me a bit of the stormtrooper look – especially in white. Looks are generally subjective so we’ll leave that there – if you like it, you like it, if you don’t, have a look at our other flip-up helmet reviews to find one that floats your boat.
Comfort & Noise
It’s widely regarded as very comfortable by users. Like any helmet, it’s important to check it’s the correct fit when buying any new crash hat, and Nolan do offer replacement cheek guards to help customise the fit. If you find yours is too tight/loose, get in touch with your Nolan retailer and they should be able to find you some.
The inside of the helmet is treated with antibac and is fully removable for washing/cleaning. If you look inside, you can see the ventilation channels and you can also see cut-outs for the stems of glasses (so they’re not pressing against your head) and for Nolan’s bluetooth intercom.
One of the only downsides reported by N104 owners was that, like many flip-up modular helmets, it’s is a bit noisy. That probably won’t be too much of a problem for most of us who use ear plugs but it’s nice to have the option (Nolan!). Modular helmets do suffer a little more than full-faced helmets in this respect as they’ve more latches, buttons and sundry other fiddly little bits to pop up into the airflow and generate noise. So if you’re looking for peace and quiet above all else, you’re probably best staying away from modular helmets. There’s also the issue of a great whacking chin-guard and visor mechanism sitting sail-like on the top of your head from time to time too. However, stick in your plugs and you’ll be OK.
Reports are that the Nolan’s a comfortable place to be and has decent ventilation for hot weather riders. For those of us in colder places, the vents do a decent job of keeping the visor mist free too. There’s a chin vent and, unusually, separate forehead vents, both operated by the one slider. Click the slider one position and the top vent opens, scooping up air and directing it over the head to exhaust via the vents at the rear. Move it one more notch and it opens the other forehead vent just above the visor. This one does a grand job of directing air over the visor too. The slider’s OK to use with gloved hands, so no problems here.
The Nolan N104 comes with a main visor and a drop-down sun visor. A sun visor is pretty de-rigeur these days with most flip-ups but it’s a dead useful feature nevertheless. Nice one Nolan’s biker/engineer chaps. The main visor itself is wider than most, giving excellent peripheral vision. I’ve never had problems with peripheral vision in any of the helmets I’ve owned, I’ve gotta be honest. But I do know that racing helmets tend to have wider apertures than most road helmets so I guess the wider the better, as long as it doesn’t compromise safety. The visor itself comes with a Pinlock anti-fog insert as standard and it’s optically very good. Combine that with the good ventilation and there’s no reports of problems with fogging.
The sun visor is optically good too – it’s not the darkest visor but is good for general sun shading in most situations. There’s a big nose cut-out at the bottom of the sun visor which means that those of us with Romanesque honkers will be OK but the flipside is that some folks complain that it’s a bit too invasive on the line of sight, especially when you’re getting racy and ducking down a bit. Then again, there’s slight issues with all the alternatives – the fiddle of replacing a clear visors with a smoked visor (and getting caught out when the sun goes down) and the reflections/frame of sunglasses. In the scheme of things, the sun visor’s pretty good.
The sun visor has two positions – up and down. Press the button on the lower left of the helmet and the spring-loaded sun visor pops down, then slide the slider to retract it again. Dead simple.
The main visor movement is a little disappointing though. It secures closed by means of a little tab in the centre of the visor. Undo this and it ‘ratchets’ up in a few steps to the fully opened position. If you’re like me and like riding with the visor cracked, then this is tricky as the first ratchet position is about 3 cms open (1 inch or so). So it’s either closed or too far open. Having said that, when the visor’s closed, the ventilation is really good so it’s not as much of a problem as it is on some other helmets.
And finally on the visor (crikey, isn’t there a lot to talk about with visors – almost as much as talking about tyres!) the visor release mechanism on the N104 is cracking. I like Shoei’s and Arai’s for this – but Nolan’s is arguably even better. Simply press a button in the centre of the pivot and the visor releases, then just press it back into place – job done.
No problems reported here. There’s a couple of plastic buttons at the bottom-centre of the chin guard that you need to squeeze together to release the front of the helmet and the chin guard and visor then spring up together. The mechanism works nicely – I’m not sure whether it’s because of Nolan’s patented elliptic movement gubbins which is designed to make the opening simpler (and to reduce the ‘sail effect’ of wind catching the open flip-up when it’s on the top of your head) but it’s good, with no complaints from users. There’s also a small lever to lock the guard in the up position. It’s all dead simple and effective.
Shell & Safety
Apart from scoring a nice four out of five in the SHARP safety test, it’s also passed Nolan’s own internal testing regime and of course is ECE 22.05 tested (as all helmets for sale must be) but that doesn’t tell you much because there’s a wide range of prices, forms and performers amongst all those that are ECE-approved. So, the N104 is amongst the safest helmets on the market, so you should be fine there.
There are two shell sizes available for the N104 which is good for fit, look and safety. To check out the colour schemes available, click the link to the Nolan website on the right hand panel.
In Conclusion – Nolan N104
If you’re after a mid-priced flip-up (system/modular, call it what you will) helmet then this could be the one you’re looking for. Flip up crash helmets are a competitive market and there are several great ones available (check them out here) but the Nolan is holding it’s own. It’s a great price and is popular among those who have bought one with few problems reported. It’s comfortable, has great ventilation, is excellent for hot/cold riding and demisting and has an excellent dual visor system. It’s a tad noisy and the occasional person complains that the microlock/micrometric chin strap is fiddly/clunky or not well enough padded. But all in all for the money it’s a great easy to use helmet which is wholeheartedly recommended as well worth a look.
It's available at our two recommended retailers below (recommended for great customer service and competitive prices) - or you can also find it at Amazon if you prefer to buy there. Please click below to drop onto their Nolan helmets pages or *quick view retailer T&Cs here.
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