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Got Lucky with a Nolan N42 3/4 Helmet


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Why lucky? Because after ordering a helmet online sight unseen and not tried on--something I have never done and would not recommend--I received the helmet and it's a perfect fit.


Normally I wear an HJC AC12 Carbon full-face year-round. This year, however, I decided I couldn't take another season of having to choose whether to swelter in 100 degree temps in a full-face helmet or not ride at all. After a good deal of serious thought and weighing the unknowable what-ifs, I decided to crank up the risk factor a notch and try a 3/4 helmet. Though I do ride a Harley, a beanie-type half-helmet never entered the equation.


After a great deal of research, I decided to go with a Nolan N42 . It has the communication capability, but to all reports that part doesn't work very well, and since I'm a solo rider anyway I dedn't care about that part of it. Mainly, I liked the face shield-sun shield combination. I'd had something like that on my Caberg helmets some time ago, and had liked it.


I ordered the helmet online for $140 shipped, which was a pretty good price, and received it in a week. I ordered the so-called "Outlaw" model as it doesn't have a big Nolan sticker across the front. As soon as I got it, I wore it around the house for an hour or two before removing the tags and stickers. It seemed to fit perfectly--no hot spots anywhere--so the next day (yesterday) I wore it on a 120-mile loop through the twisties and on the freeway from my home to Ojai, CA, on a 95-degree day.


As for venting, there's only one real vent at the top of the helmet, which is easy to open or close with gloves. I realized that this was a 3/4 helmet, not a full face, so the vents were less important. After the fit, I noticed how much wider my peripheral vision was. Compared to my full-face, I only had to crank my neck about halfway as far around as I did with the HJC (and at 63, you better believe that every crank counts!).


At speed, plenty of air came up under the face shield, but not enough at any speed to cause any sensation of lift in the helmet. The shield is tinted very slightly blue, and there seems to be no distortion at all. It extends all the way down to the bottom of my chin. It has a number of detents, and can even be worn pushed all the way up if you're wearing the right eye protection.


Along the top of the shield, outside it (unlike the Caberg where the shield is inside), is a sunshield which can be raised or lowered independently of the face shield. However, it can only be lowered all the way if the face shield is lowered all the way. In its all-the-way-up position, it acts as a visor. Some have found the sunshield to be too narrow, but I liked being able to see the tank-mounted speedometer and idiot lights and the handlebar-mounted GPS through the clear face shield. The only disadvantage, this being a Harley, is that with the sun coming over my shoulder it glared off the chrome instrument bezel on the tank, which never happens with the HJC and its dark shield.


At what passes for freeway speeds (65-75 mph) on a Harley, the helmet remained very comfortable with no wind noise whatsoever. Keep in mind that this is behind a rather large windshield, as well as fork-mounted wind deflectors.


The seal between the shield and the helmet with the shield fully down seems very tight, so I imagine that this would effectively keep rain out. The inside is more plush than I expected at this price point, and is easily removable for washing.


The clasp is interesting, in that it's neither a D-ring nor the tongue-and-latch we usually see. Rather, one end is a grooved tongue that slides into a latch, and clicks as it goes through. I found it simple and intuitive to use; I liked it.


As to shield removal, I haven't gone there, so I can't testify as to its ease of use. However, one wouldn't change shields very often because of the built-in aspect of the sun shield. Don't need it, just push it up out of the way.


All in all I like this helmet very much. Aside from being comfortable, it allows one to "breathe free" on extremely hot days, has great peripheral vision, and has a few unique features.. It doesn't have a chin bar, of course, but for the type of riding I do I'm prepared to risk riding without one for the sake of the everyday benefits.


That said, once the weather turns cool again I'm sure I'll go back to my HJC full face. But for the summer, this one's a keeper.


Oh, I wear a medium, and if you have an "HJC head" order your usual size--it will fit nicely.

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Thanks for the review, Phil. It is nice to hear evaluations of products that are lesser known. I like the Nolan helmets I have. They are a great value.

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