Monday, June 03, 2013

Nolan N91 Modular Helmet Review

It has happened. A friend said i am suffering from "early mid-life crisis" but I beg to differ. Truth is, the decision to "ride a (motorized) bike" is more of a need than a want. I promise to write about that later, along with a review of the bike that I bought. Today's review is to share the purchase of the motorbike helmet as the single most important safety equipment when riding a motorcycle.
How Much Does Your Life Cost?
Apparently, to many due to the budget constraint that they have, not much. Bearing in mind that not everyone is as lucky as me to be able to fork out a substantial amount of money to purchase this helmet. But it has to be done if i decide to ride as safe as the equipments allow. Of course, Personal Protective Equipment or PPE is the last line of "Engineering controls".
Any HSSE consultant will say you should start with "Elimination" aka not having to ride a bike and then "Substitution" aka drive. If this first two can't solve the problem, then we have to look at "Engineering Control" in this case having a safer (but not necessary) bigger machine, hence a 200cc bike. Add in "Administrative Control" where I will inform the family of my departure time and arrival time and the path I will be taking and finally, the PPE.
As I could not avoid the first two controls and has sorted the next two controls, I've decided to make sure I get the best PPE my money can buy. In come the Helmet.
More Than Just Helmet
Nolan N91 Unboxing
It surprised me how cheap some helmet with Sirim sticker cost and how they are actually given out free with motorbike purchases. For as little as RM50, you can get a legit looking helmet to allow you to ride a bike legally. What I meant by this is a hard shell helmet with Styrofoam padding and cloth lining that will offer minimal level of comfort of the wearer. As I said earlier - our life cost more than just this RM50. Fair enough that the motorbike shop I went to offered me a decent looking full face scrambler type helmet for my motorbike purchase (oh, did i just give the type of bike i bought away?)
This is the unboxing of the helmet. Be reminded though, I have no other prior reference and at this point of time, this is the best i have.
Nolan Made in Italy. I've checked inside, no China parts.
More than just robot helmet
Comes with a helmet bag, a pack of manual and a "Pinlock" anti-fog lining (which not shown here as the shop i bought installed if for me
The Nolan comes with the Pinlock Fog Resistance Inner Visor which acts to prevent fog from forming when you are wearing it and breathing in the helmet. I am not sure how long this will last. I will update as it comes along normal usage.
Fog Resistance Inner Visor
This is my first motorbike helmet. I had the bro at the shop I bought this from to help with the fitting. As I have big head, i am wearing a L sized helmet or anything between 59-61cm circumference. Having a head this big obviously will also load up on a heavier helmet. This N91 comes in at 1.780kg. Heavy but offer superb protection.
The helmet bag is nice with inner sponge lining to protect the helmet.
Here is the manual and other items included in the box. Nothing to shout about, but good to know stuff on how and what to do with the helmet. Understandably, for noobs like me (and an engineer to boot), I read through each page.
Toilet reading stuff. :)
One of the item/feature that caught my eye was the visor being made from Lexan. It claimed to be tough and virtually unbreakable. This is very important in case (touch wood) of accident where the visor comes in full contact with the road. The last thing you want is the visor breaking into thousand pieces and entering your eyes.
Lexan it is!
Here is a 360 degree horizontal view of the helmet in various configuration. Please take note that this helmet comes with double visor where the inner visor is actually a sunscreen to cut out glare and yes, you actually skip the whole sunglasses ritual with this feature.
Horizontal 360 view
This Nolan has the brand name stamped at the rear of the helmet. One way to spot the fakes. With these safety equipments, you do not skimp on fakes.
Back left
The N91 comes with choices of finishing and I opted for the shiny/gloss black. All Gloss surface helmet is treated with a protective hard-coating. This will prevent small scratches from appearing; as long as helmet is not dropped to the ground. Having said that, after a week, the helmet rolled off the seat, i managed to cushioned it with my feet and it rolled off, scratching one part of the helmet. The visor, however, did not show sign of scratch or damage! Nice.
Insurance against scratches, but not against carelessness
The helmet is covered by 5-years guarantee on normal usage. That works out to slightly below RM200/year or 70sens/day. I say that's a bargain!
I would had replaced it by then for safety.
One of the reason I decided to splurge on this was the ability of the helmet to take in a communication system. I was told that the N-Com system cost double what you can find out there (China made bluetooth units), but it will be worth it. I am yet to explore this option as I feel distraction in form of noise/music at this stage of my riding is bad.
N-Com, soon?
One of the cool feature of this helmet is the availability of a second visor. This second visor will remind you of a "pilot-like" helmet where a "drop-down" visor can be activated with a slide or button.
VPS - Vision Protection System
Push the slide UP and...
...I am Sexy, and I know it
The Nolan comes with a fog-reducer known as Pinlock. It is essentially a layer of rubberlike material inserted behind the main visor and will prevent/reduce fogging during raining season (in Malaysia) as you breath warm air in the helmet. I did try blowing warm air and the visor stayed clear. Win!
Amongst the other stickers...but look at PINLOCK
Noticed the white lined Pinlock?

I have been exclusively wear this helmet for the past two weeks of ownership and riding. It is comfortable without being too overwhelming. For a first time user, the claustrophobic feeling will be there as the modular portion locks down transforming the helmet from an open faced helmet to a full face helmet. There are however features on this N91 that does make wearing this helmet something to look forward to (since wearing one is compulsory to ride a motorbike legally) 
To start with is the helmet locking system where it can be quickly adjusted, locked on and released. Known as the Microlock Retention System, it allow for smaller and more accurate adjustment as no two heads' shape are the same.
Microlock Retention buckle. Red tab is the "quick release"
The other end of the retention system
The process to secure the helmet is easy. Just insert one end into the other and you are done!
To release, just pull the red tab up and the buckle come loose
Being in a "confined" space meant that air circulation will be an issue as well. Nolan N91 has a well placed vents on the front and top of the helmet to aid air flow. Activation is by pressing the part down (front) and sliding an activation switch (top).
Ventilation near nose/mouth - Close position
Top Vent closed
I forgot to take a photo of the top vent mechanism. Once activated, the flap will open about 5mm wide to allow for airflow.
As this helmet is what is known as a Modular System (as explained, used as a fullface or open face), the lock and release function is more enhanced on the Nolan where it requires two steps to release it.
First, find the lever at the bottom near the chin and pull it forward, it will reveal the other red lever on top
While holding the bottom lever, press the top lever and the front portion opens up
Another safety feature build into this N91 is the open face lock. When this helmet is used as an open faced helmet, there is always worry that the top portion will close down when you hit a bump. To prevent this, you can LOCK the upper portion when the helmet is opened.
I removed the sticker after this review ;-)
The lining of the helmet are made from breathable material known as Nolan Clima Comfort.
Notice the thicker padding and internal construction
Wearing it, I can still feel the heat but i reckon for a full face helmet it is negligible. I wear a balaclava over my head and that help with some sweat wicking, apart from keeping the internal dry ;-).
I was told that one of the "upgrade"  from the N90 to N91 is the wind barrier at the chin area (it actually rhymes). It does cut out significant windnoise when I wore it and travelling at speed limit.
And many of you know my obsession with reflective thingy as well. The noise barrier has reflective lining! Woohoo!
This is how it looked like from the bottom.
Covered and sealed!
There is an additional reflective lining on the underside of the helmet. I believe the logic to this is that in riding position, the head will never be straight but moved slightly down and forward, which will expose this part to vehicles' light, illuminating it. Similar to the reflective lining at the chin area, it comes to play when the helmet is used as an Open face helmet where the reflector will catch lights from the from incoming vehicle.
How do i Look like in various usage (helmet) position? Enjoy.
Safety First!
Unmistakeably Nolan
I purchased my Nolan N91 from a local distributor based in Pertama Complex. It was my first time there and the owner/supervisor of Mecinda was helpful and informative. He carries a lot of riding gears and I was told that they only have original items. Most important as cheap imitation will not perform as well as authentic safety wear. One must not only Look Good, but be safe as well! This helmet retail for RM1,100 (plain single color) to RM1,200 (Stripe). I got mine a bit cheaper after some bargaining ;-)
Three Weeks Later
It has been a good 600km since I rode the bike and it was with this Nolan N91. I'e dropped it three times (so, i hope no more) and ended up scratching (ouch) the surface pretty badly. The good thing about it is that the helmet has officially went past the "new" stage and apart from keeping it dry and fresh (airing is key after each wearing. I fabricated my own helmet holder at home and in office), remember to wipe clean it after each use because a smudged visor is a dangerous visor. Keep a microfiber cloth handy. 
Specific to the helmet, my only complain is that the reflective cloth on the chin and back is chipping away. Could be from the abrasion against the skin/helmet when riding at speed. 
:( Guess replacement to be done in a year's time?


  1. Wow 1,100.. Most people i know opt for a bike since it is relatively cheap compared to a car.. But the price of the helmet, well defeat the purpose. But then like u said, its cheaper compared to ur safety.

    1. Hey bro Zul.

      Indeed. if cash is a problem aka getting a bike as a mean of transport, i believe Givi, being a certified helmet producer has ranges that is affordable as well. RM200 to spend on a good helmet is nothing compared to our life.

      I am a bit luckier to spend that much on a Nolan. For sharing, not for showing.

    2. Hi OP
      Any update on this helmet? I'm looking for a modular type too...either a Nolan or the more expensive Shoei Neotec. Have not made a decision though.
      OP Murad 69G

    3. OP Murad sir. Nolan N91 has been serving me well. My primary helmet. The pinstop liner still work great in rain. No fogging. I feel safe using it. Not exposed.

      Shoei make superb helmet. Have you heard of Shark? It is more contemporary and nicer looking too.

    4. Hi newboy
      I haven't heard of Shark but I've heard of Schubert....way out of my budget.
      I've decided on Nolan N104. I've placed an order for a matt black. I should get it within this week.
      OP Murad 69G

  2. Wow 1k tu bro.. :) worth for serious biker huh.. :)

    p/s: apa cerita kawan2 lama yea?

    - man xfullflex :P

    1. Man! not for serious biker...but for biker yang sayang nyawa. :)

      Kawan2 lama semua i kept in touch. All ok. :) You semua ok?

  3. Hi, bro... do you remember what is the shop's name and on which floor inside Pertama Complex? I'm currently trying to decide either to choose Nolan or Caberg...

    1. Mechina. :) Lower ground floor next to The Ship. :) It's facing Jalan Raja Laut. Not sure if he have Caberg there.

      I noticed Caberg has larger vision of view. :)

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