If you favor an open-face helmet but still want a lid that can do double-duty as a full-face when needed, this helmet can be your best friend. The polycarbonate N44 is an upgrade to the popular mid-priced N43. Features include a vastly larger view port, a removable chinbar, improved ventilation, a Pinlock visor and a clever helmet buckle. The larger view port is nice. My regular helmet has a much smaller eyeport and avoiding freeway blind spots requires a concerted head turn. Not so with the Nolan.
The visor (face shield) has a four-position ratchet detent: Fully closed, open one inch, fully open and down one inch. The visor is large enough to cover the rider’s chin when the chinbar is removed. Nolan says that ventilation is improved over the N43. Large forward-facing vents on the helmet crown allow fresh air in, and a rear spoiler draws warm air out. Three sliders control the airflow; all are easily manipulated with gloves. The chin vent is located on the visor and has three positions—open, closed and half volume; plenty of air enters. When the visor is closed against the rubber gasket and the vent is fully open, the fresh air is diffused and directed upward by the shape of the chinbar to control fogging. It would be nice to have a bit more air in the forehead area. I ride with prescription eyewear and fogging can be a problem without fresh air.
The VPS system is a dropdown sun visor that is lowered by a slider on the left lower edge and retracts instantly by pressing a spring-loaded button. Being able to ride without having to swap out sunglasses is sweet. With the chinbar and clear shield removed, an off-road type peaked visor can be snapped on and the helmet used with goggles. After a play day in the dirt, the removable liner can be washed.
I didn’t try it, but the N44 comes ready for the installation of Nolan’s clever and proprietary N-Com Bluetooth communicator system inside the helmet, not out in the airflow where it contributes to ambient noise. Note that if you already have an expensive investment in communicators, unless you use an adhesive mount there is simply no easy location on which to clamp an aftermarket communicator on the N44.
The N44’s removable neck roll seals well, denying chilly wind much access. The underside of the helmet also has two small winglets that are said to diffuse air away from the interior. The helmet fits well on my long oval skull and the ear pockets are comfy if a bit snug. The helmet strap is a quick-release buckle with a pre-adjustable ratchet system that can be manipulated with gloves on…sweet.
All at a good price. The Nolan N44 comes in many solid, hi-viz and graphic colors in sizes 2XS-3XL and lists for $389-$419.
For more information: Call (866) 243-5638 (866-2HELMET), (630) 701-1601 or visit nolan-usa.com
(This Gearlab review was published in the September 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)