Replacing my HJC Motorcycle Helmet with a Nolan N103

My Nolan N103 full face motorcycle helmet keeps me in the minority of Cruiser Riders who wear a helmet of any sort.

At least it seems like I'm one of the few cruisers wearin' a bucket, when I'm splittin' the wind.

I keep playin' with thoughts that maybe I'll go to ridin' bare headed... and 'bout that time... WHACK! Some bug the size of an apple commits suicide on my face shield and I think; "Uhhhh... maybe I'll defer that lil' decision juuuuust a couple more days!" :-)

Anyhoo... the HJC helmet that I've been wearing for something better than 3 years is pretty much used up. A lot of Helmets would be just fine after that amount of time... but where others might just ride once or twice a week...

I'm splittin' the wind ever' day, year 'round... at least when the road ain't iced up, so I put the wear on some of my gear... in three years, that a lot of other folks are gonna take 6 or 7 to equal...

So... Back in September, at the Thunder in the Rockies Motorcycle Rally, I did some business with Air Rider and bought my new Nolan N103 'Modular'/Flip up style Helmet.

I figured I'd ride it for a while... before I did an official, Motorcycle Touring the Good Life... Nolan N103 Helmet Review.

You're lookin' at right around $350 for the helmet, which puts it about mid-range on price compared to everything else out there.

I'd been considering a flip style replacement 'cause of the difficulty in squeezing my solid, full face, HJC Helmet on over my winter hood. I ride all year, leaving the road, only, if it's iced up. To combat the chilly wind I wear a fleece hood... which takes some pokin' an' packin' to get squeezed into the helmet before I take off.

I figured a modular style helmet, with the flip up front would make gearing up a lot easier in the winter.

So far so good.

With something like 6 weeks daily riding in heat, wind, rain and snow... This Nolan N103 Helmet has produced few complaints from me.

Nolan N103 Logo



Nolan N103 Helmet



Nolan N103 Chin Guard Raised



Nothing in this world is perfect... at least that I can afford... so getting the quality I've seen so far, for a mid-range price seems a pretty good deal to me.

Compared to my old HJC helmet, at least to me, the Nolan is more comfortable and stability at speed, 80 mph +, seems improved... though (one of my few modest complaints)... I'd say it is no quieter than the HJC.

Since the weather's turned cold here on the Northern Plains, I can say, the light "Wind Protector" that mounts under the "Chin Guard" of the Nolan N103 has shown itself affective to me in reducing the cut of the cold winter wind. I'm thinking a fella just might want to leave this accessory off in the summer or in normally warm climates.

Nolan N13 Wind Guard



Here on the cold Colorado Plains, where riding temps commonly cut below 25 or 30 degrees in the winter, every bit of cold cutting equipment you can find usually gets used! :-)

Another piece I really like on this Motorcycle Helmet is the retention system. They're name for it is "Microlock". The D ring strap on my old HJC required removing my gloves to either put it on... or take it off, and always struck me as clumsy. Both Nolan's "Microlock" retention system and the mechanism for raising the face/chin guard operate easily and positively, with no need to remove your gloves.

Nolan Microlock Retention System

Nolan Microlock Retention System

Operating Nolan Helmet Controls with gloves on



All you need do is adjust the Microlock Retention system the first time you use it. After that, it's plug it in and ride! At the end of the ride... or for that Hooters Stop part way... :-) ... a quick flick and it's loose.

No hassles. Sweet!

On the left side of the Nolan N103 is a black slide, which again is easily worked with gloved hands. This operates the internal "Vision Protection System"; a Lexan, molded, anti-scratch-treated, Sunscreen. Since I've been riding this helmet, I've not worn separate sunglasses... though some might still want to under the right conditions.

Nolan N103 VPS control slide


I've been very happy with the performance of the Nolan, VPS, internal visor... A really nice touch... and a lot easier to deal with when entering a tunnel or some such... just a flick of your hand and wa la... gone!... exit the tunnel... another, Flick! and wa la again! Sunscreen!

Sweet!... a whole lot easier than lifting your face shield... ripping off your dark glasses... so you can see... doing something with them... until you exit the tunnel... and then putting them back on.

One last thing, that I've as yet been unable to gain any experience with is the commo capabilities built into the Nolan N103 Helmet.

Again, on the lower left side, just below the VPS control, is a small cover. Removing that cover reveals a 'port' built in, for the locating of a selection of Radio/MP3 and intercom hardware... You can set up Bluetooth Cell phone, your ipod... a variety of electronics, with dedicated equipment that mounts cleanly on the side of the Helmet.

Nolan N103 N-Com cover

Nolan N103 N-Com port

Well Done!... Now, all I need to do is come up with some more dinero to add those doo dads... though, mostly... all I want is a good hookup for my Ipod... so Bob Seeger can serenade me with "Roll Me Away"... as I... Roll Away!

If you're looking for a new Motorcycle Helmet I'd look close at one of those built by Nolan... and the Nolan N103 in particular, before you spend your money.

Motorcycle Helmet Review:

    Nolan N103 Pros:
  • Fits well
  • Stability in the Wind
  • Function of Modular Chin Guard
  • Function of the Microlock Retention System
  • Function of the VPS / Vision Protection System
  • Value for your Dollar

    Nolan N103 Cons:
  • Not as quiet as I would have liked
  • Even the large size doesn't allow my big, honker of a nose the space it would like!


*** Review Update***

After using this helmet for several months I developed a complaint;

Once the weather got cold and/or wet enough I started having a severe fogging problem... bad enough I had to keep opening the visor to try and clear it...

It didn't matter how I adjusted venting etc... It'd fog up badly... I was kind of disappointed.

Several weeks later I was looking at some of Nolan Helmet's paper work/manual/catalog. I noticed that an "Anti-fog Visor Liner" was supposed to have been in the box when I bought the helmet.

That Inner piece is made of an anti-fog/Fogging Resistant material... Nolan's answer to helmet visor fogging problems... and unknown to me, it was missing from my helmet...

Well... I apparently had some 'technical' problems getting in touch with Air Rider ... and it took me a few tries... BUT... once I actually got a hold of 'em... their response was... "Sorry you had trouble getting to us, but the missing anti-fog liner is in the mail."

Great... "The Check's in the Mail"... Have you ever heard that before? :-)

A couple days later though, there it was, just as they promised.

Once it was snapped into place... the visor fogging problems I'd had, No longer existed... That anti-fog visor liner performed just as Nolan and Air Rider had promised...

Bottom line? anyone can look good when things go fine... it's when there's a screw up that their true character emerges... Both Nolan Helmets and Air Rider get a thumbs up from me.

Air Rider took care of their customer and made it right. Sweet!



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