Nolan N100-5 Review

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I’d be lying if I said this helmet doesn’t come across as too good to be true on paper. It’s got that coveted cafe racer style, an ultra-cool modular chinbar system, and the aerodynamic profile of a modern supercar. My sticker-shock experience wasn’t at how much the N100-5 cost, but how much it DIDN’T. 

The Nolan N100-5  has features and looks you don’t see unless you are willing to shell out significantly more cash for something that cannot compare to its style, features and design. Let’s dig into the details of this amazing find from Nolan, and you’ll soon see why critics and owners are calling it the best value modular helmet on the market right now.

Nolan N100-5 Solid Helmet Flat Black (Black, X-Large)

Ratings

Comfort:

95%
Comfort

Visibility:

95%
Visibility

Ventilation:

95%
Ventilation

Quietness:

90%
Quietness

Specifications

Outer shell material : Lexan Polycarbonate

Shell size : Small (XXS-L) and Large (XL-XXXL)

Liner : Anti-microbial, removable and washable Clima Comfort microfiber

Weight : 4 lbs.

Pinlock : Yes

Strap System : Micrometric ratchet

Safety Ratings

DOT : Yes

ECE : Yes

SNELL : No

SHARP : Not tested


Shape and materials

As a fan of the modular helmets sold by the likes of Shoei and Schuberth, the N100-5 hits all the right buttons for my sense of style. I love the simple, sleek, ultramodern look that seamlessly blends elements of the old-school Italian cafe racer helmets to create something bold and unique. Moreover, Nolan has graphics and color schemes to suit any style and taste.

All this beauty isn’t without some brawn, however: the N100-5 outer shell is constructed out of molded polycarbonate Lexan, a high durability material with a proven track record for impact performance. The visor is similarly well-made and is complemented by an internal UV resistant sunshade. Most important of all though, the helmet exterior doesn’t fingerprint easily and offers better than average scratch resistance for a helmet in this price range. All in all, it’s a well-built, classy helmet.


Overall comfort

So much of buying a comfortable helmet lies in the proper shape and sizing selection. The N100-5 is an intermediate oval shape helmet, but owners with round oval head shapes have expressed it is quite comfortable, indicating it may be built more towards the specifications of the intermediate oval 7scale.

Now I know all you modular helmet fans out there probably want to know about the power-assisted chinbar. I will warn you it’s difficult (if not impossible) to put this helmet on with the chinbar down. That being said, it has a multi-button system that allows one-handed operation from the left and right side of the chin bar and at the top of the mechanism itself. The spring assist also helps you open and close the chinbar smoothly, and I have to say it fits and functions as well (if not better) than far more expensive modular helmets 

The need to open the chin bar may lie in the padding design. I felt it was a bit snug but not uncomfortable, and few wearers complain of any pressure point issues or hot-spots while riding. Padding can also be swapped out for more precise sizing if needed, and it all breathes nicely. Additionally, the padded neckroll is one of the most comfortable fitting neck rolls ever. 

One feature that may take some adjustment (literally and figuratively) is the micrometric chinstrap system. Allowing you to quickly and easily regain that perfect fit each time you put your helmet back on, this closure system isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It also has metal as opposed to plastic teeth, and some have complained it is less comfortable than other ratcheting strap systems they have used in the past. On the whole, the N500-1 is a very comfortable helmet with some tweaking.


Things I liked

  • Top-tier construction materials
  • Included pin-lock system
  • Exceptional cost to value ratio 
  • DOT and ECE approved
  • Lighter than most modular helmets
  • Elegant fit and comfort
  • Ultra quiet
  • Superb airflow

Things I don’t like

  • Chin bar needs to be open to put the N500-1 on
  • Potential cheek pad anchor problems (an issue reported by on other reviewer) 
  • Only two shell sizes to cover a wide range of head shapes and measurements

Visibility

It’s evident a good amount of thought went into both the visor and power-assist chinbar design for the N100-5. I don’t say this purely because it's the 5th generation of the design, but more because there have been consistent improvements with each release. For example, the quick change visor system makes changes on the go quick and easy, but each new version of the N100 seems to find new ways to refine the process. 

Open it up all the way, pull down the release tab on each side, and you are ready to clean and exchange the visor. Reinstallation is just as easy, and there is very little fiddling or adjustment required. That speaks to engineers and designers who put a lot of thought into owner feedback from previous generations and their experiences with visor exchange. Moreover, aside from being a bit loud when adjusted, the visor is easily adjustable with either hand even at speed.

The internal sun visor also has an updated quick retract system that lets you pop it out of the way as needed before smoothly sliding back into place. If you frequently ride through tunnel country, this is a must-have feature that adds significant convenience and comfort to your ride. Not many helmets include this option, and I have to say it’s a new favorite for me. Best of all though, the N100-5 has an included pinlock system (usually an added feature) to deter fogging. It’s a rock solid little piece that sets this helmet apart as not only an excellent value, but also a top performer in the visibility category.


Quietness

Modular helmets are not known for their low internal noise profile. Vents open or closed, most riders who use a modular will tell you even the most expensive models like the Schuberth C4 or the AGV sport models are hardly quiet. The Nolan N100-5, conversely, is exceptionally quiet. There’s little to no wind noise with the visor fully closed, and even with the vents wide open it still dampens road and engine noise exceptionally well.


Ventilation

Even without the pinlock engaged, this helmet keeps fogging at bay in any weather. Most of the airflow via the vents seems to be aimed at the visor as opposed to your face, and it’s this intentional design that helps keep it so fog free while you ride. The chin vent, top vent and rear exhaust vents all function flawlessly, and the internal temperature and humidity stay comfortable with only minor adjustments as weather conditions change. Considering how quiet this helmet is, the volume and quality of airflow is truly impressive.


Safety

Some might find the lack of a SNELL or SHARP test rating a matter of concern, but any worries about safety you may have are quickly dispelled by an examination of the helmet’s design and features. 

Not only does the N500-1 have high DOT and EE ratings, but this helmet also includes safety reflectors and is pre-configured to add an in-helmet turn signal and emergency blinker system. 

For those who commute to work via bike or ride extensively and regularly, this compatibility is a significant selling point. I think the reason there’s so much to love about the Nolan N100-5 is that it includes plenty of high end features and offers plenty of upgrade options, too. Personally, it’s my considered opinion you’d be hard-pressed to find a helmet that offers  both this level of comfort and quiet with better safety options.

Conclusion

I did not anticipate liking this helmet as much as I do. Upon my initial once over, I expected it to be a decent mid-grade modular helmet with a few convenient options that are nice to have. What I found was an elegantly designed, comfortable and easily upgradeable helmet that exceeded almost every expectation. 

The only feedback I’d offer Nolan is they need to find a better way to deal with the noise the visor makes when you are making adjustments. You can hear and feel a loud clunking sound with each adjustment, and while it’s a minor complaint it’s still moderately irritating. If you’re ready for your first modular helmet or you are looking to buy an extra, the Nolan N500-1 is my first choice for both value and quality. I highly recommend picking one up if you’re in the market.

Where to buy this helmet :