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Gear Review: Nolan N44 Modular Helmet

Jenny SmithOctober 27, 2016
The Nolan N44 "crossover" helmet is six helmets in one!

The Nolan N44 “crossover” helmet is six helmets in one!

Open face? Full face? Adventure? Yes! In much the same way that “crossover” vehicles are meant to fill multiple roles, deftly juggling soccer practice, date night, camping trips and commuting, the Nolan N44 is a quick change artist that looks at home on just about any bike, from adventure to cruiser to sport to scooter. With its removable chinbar, face shield and peak, the N44 can be configured in six different open- and full-face variations, perfect for riders with multiple bikes or who just want a little flexibility in what they wear from ride to ride.

In addition to its incredible versatility, the N44 also boasts plenty of convenience features, like a drop-down Dark Smoke sun shield with one-touch retraction (Amber, Light Blue and Light Smoke are available separately), a removable and washable inner liner, a removable neck roll, a removable mesh chin curtain and a Pinlock-ready face shield (one Pinlock insert is included). The N44 is also compatible with Nolan’s Ncom communication system.

The N44’s chinbar and face shield are made from super-strong GE Lexan plastic, the same stuff used to make the canopy for the new F-22 stealth fighter. The chinbar is also EPS-lined, and attaches via sturdy Lexan hooks that latch onto stainless steel posts inside the main helmet body. The combination is strong enough to earn both DOT and ECE22.05P (the European standard for lower face protection) certification.

Venting across the crown is quite good, with two large three-position vents in the center flanked by two venturi channels that pull hot air from inside the helmet. The three-position face shield vent is not as effective when the chinbar is attached, however, and the helmet can get a bit stuffy in slow-moving traffic or at stops. Even with the vent in the most open position, the face shield fogged whenever I was sitting still. It’s not a showstopper—I just popped the shield open to its first stop, which creates a 3⁄4-inch opening. Using the included Pinlock insert might solve the problem as well.

Thanks to its unique design, the N44’s cheek pads extend down rather than forward, cradling my jaw instead of squishing my cheeks together. In tandem with the massive eye port created by the aggressively sloped chinbar, the N44 is the most spacious-feeling full-face helmet I’ve ever worn. If you shy away from full-face helmets because they make you feel a bit claustrophobic and reduce your field of vision, give the N44 a try. Wearing it was like going from a conventional theater to an IMAX movie.

Despite the “sound-reducing” aerodynamic wings attached to the chin curtain, on the highway the N44 does get a bit noisy, especially with the neck roll removed, but with earplugs installed it wasn’t an issue at all.

In full-face form, my size small N44 weighs in at 3 pounds, 11 ounces, and in its most minimalist open-face form it’s 2 pounds, 13 ounces. It’s available in six solid colors and “Outlaw” matte black for $389.95, and in Hi-Visibility for $419.95, in sizes XS-3XL. The Como graphic is available in sizes XS-2XL for $419.95.

As one of the only true “crossover” helmets on the market today, because of its versatility the N44 will remain on the shelf above my desk as a go-to option for just about any bike and ride.

For more information, call (866) 243-5638 or visit nolan-usa.com.

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