Italian helmet maker Nolan, along with sister brand X-Lite, gets high-profile, worldwide exposure on the heads of MotoGP and World Superbike racers such as Jorge Lorenzo and Marco Melandri. Here in the States, the company is best known for its flip-up helmets, such as the N104 introduced last year. After a hiatus, Nolan has re-entered the American full-face helmet market with the N85, a lightweight, fully featured, mid-price lid.
Nolan helmets are designed, tested and manufactured in Italy, which allows the company to maintain rigorous quality-control standards. The N85’s polycarbonate shell has a well-rounded, aerodynamic shape with a built-in rear spoiler for stability at high speed. Closable chin and crown vents bring in fresh air, and hot air exits through vents in the spoiler. The optically correct, scratch-resistant face shield offers UV400 protection and comes with a Pinlock anti-fog insert, and the shield’s pushbutton removal system is among the easiest I’ve ever used. Inside the helmet is a retractable, fog- and scratch-resistant sun shield, which Nolan calls the VPS (Vision Protection System). It is as thick as a regular face shield and is designed to protect the rider’s eyes when the outer shield is up. Although the main face shield has détentes to keep it up in various positions, wind makes the shield flop around or slam closed, frustrating efforts to ride briefly with the shield up to get more fresh air.
Wrapping around the rider’s head is a removable, washable Clima comfort liner, which is breathable, wicks moisture and has an antibacterial treatment. Wrap-around cheek pads are designed to reduce wind noise, to good effect, and can be swapped out for a custom fit. What I really appreciate about the comfort liner is that its temple padding is designed to accommodate eyeglasses or sunglasses. On the other hand, the interior shape is a bit tight front-to-back for my long oval head. With some maneuvering, I was able to find a sweet spot that eliminated pressure on my forehead and the back of my skull, but I recommend trying one on before purchasing. The N85’s chinstrap has velour padding for comfort, and it secures using a Microlock adjustable quick-release buckle.
Weighing in at a modest 56.8 ounces, the Nolan N85 is available in sizes XS-XXL for $249.95 in solid colors (Platinum Silver, Flat Black, Black, Metal White) or $299.95 with graphics (Virage or Vortex in several colors)—a very reasonable price for a high-quality helmet such as this. It has a built-in compartment and port for Nolan’s exclusive N-Com Bluetooth communication system, which is sold separately.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
See your dealer or visit nolan-usa.com
(This Gearlab item was published in the April 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)