Nolan N86 Motorcycle Helmet Review

Our last full-face helmet buyers guide (Rider, July 2013) featured 18 helmets, including the Nolan N85. At $249.95-$299.95 and 3 pounds, 7.9 ounces, it was midpack in terms of price and weight, praised for its comfort, its easy-to-deploy and effective sunshield, and its user-friendly Microlock quick-release retention system, but criticized for poor ventilation. And, as I noted in my review of the N85 (April 2013), fit was less than ideal and the face shield flopped around when partially open at speed.

Nolan’s updated N86 carries the same price and only an ounce of additional weight, but it has been greatly improved in terms of ventilation, comfort, function and appearance. The polycarbonate shell has been reshaped and includes two rear spoilers for stability. Nolan’s head of racing development redesigned the interior for better fit and the Clima comfort liner, which is removable, washable, antibacterial and wicking, is now softer. Wraparound cheek pads and a neckroll reduce wind noise, separate cheek pads allow customized fit, and special channels in the liner accommodate eyeglasses. Although the N86 is a mid-priced helmet, its interior comfort is on par with some premium helmets. Vents on the chinbar and crown are now larger and flow more air, further adding to interior comfort, and they are easier to open/close with gloves on.

Nolan N86 Helmet
Nolan N86 Helmet, Overtaking graphic
in Black/Red/White

The mechanism for the anti-scratch/anti-fog coated face shield, which is also Pinlock-ready (insert sold separately), has heavier springs to help it stay open at various heights while riding, and shield removal/installation remains pushbutton-simple. The Vision Protection System sun shield is easy to operate and has effective tinting and coverage. A reflective patch on the back neckroll adds nighttime conspicuity, a chin curtain keeps the cold out and the Microlock2 adjustable quick-release retention system is easy to use.

Nolan’s N86 helmet offers everything I want in a full-face helmet: good value, satisfying comfort, reasonable weight and interior noise, useful features, and style. It is DOT/ECE-22.05 approved and available in sizes XS-XXL for $249.95 in solid colors (Platinum Silver, Flat Black, Black, Black Graphite Metal or White) or $299.95 with graphics (Deep, Overtaking or Rapid in several colors). Helmets in solid colors or with the Deep and Rapid graphics have a built-in compartment for Nolan’s N-Com Bluetooth communication system, which is sold separately; helmets with the Overtaking graphic are not N-Com ready. Every component of every Nolan helmet is designed and manufactured in Italy, and the company’s warranty covers five years from date of purchase or seven years from date of manufacture.

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  1. Bought this helmet the moment it came out last year and it has been a great purchase. The only thing that has happened with it is the inner sun shield decided to scratch itself when retracted up into the helmet after about 4 or 5 months. Contacted Nolan and they had me ship it in and they replaced the sun shield and the mechanism that moves it up and down for free.


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