by Glenn W. for webBikeWorld.com
The Nolan X-1002 flip-up helmet is relatively expensive, louder than average and somewhat uncomfortable due to a thin liner.
Two hands needed to rotate the flip-up visor. Includes an external sun shade.
Someday, maybe, we'll see the perfect flip-up motorcycle helmet.
It would meet all worldwide safety standards, with a comfortable and removable liner, have excellent ventilation and it would be as quiet as the best of the full-face helmets.
It would weigh in the neighborhood of 1550 to 1600 grams and have plenty of chin room, along with a visor that rotates with one hand yet closes as tight as a vault.
And by the way, it should sell for around $250.00 to $300.00.
Will we ever see one?
In the meantime, flip-up helmet design seems to be going in the opposite direction.
The recently released KBC FFR is one of the latest designs, but as we discovered in the recent webBikeWorld review, it's somewhat disappointing, mainly due to its mass and inability to control noise.
The Nolan X-lite X-1002 also promises something unique and different. Nolan is well known for its N100 flip-up, marketed under the Nolan brand.
Nolan also owns the X-lite brand name, which is more commonly known in Europe than in the U.S., and Nolan markets a line of helmets using that name.
As often happens when companies mix and match corporate brands, the end result can be confusion for the consumer. The X-1002 helmet has a big "Nolan" logo on the front, and a smaller "X-lite" logo underneath.
But the owner's manual, helmet bag and other information make no mention of the Nolan brand. Who knows what strange compulsions lurk in the minds of the marketeers who think up these strategies?
In any event, the X-1002 is a relatively unknown step-sister of the more common N100, at least in the U.S.A. Maybe price is a factor, because the X-1002 retails at a whopping $359.99, which makes it one of the highest-priced flip-up helmets available.
Considering that our favorite flip-up so far has been the Vega Summit XPV at only $129.99, is the X-1002 two-and-a-half times as good?
Sure, the Vega has its faults also, but we'd rather be a victim of the "under-promise and over-deliver" experience than vice versa.
We're not sure about the logic behind Nolan's U.S. pricing model. Perhaps it's the beating that the U.S. dollar is taking against the Euro (the X-1002 is made in Italy)?
Or it may have something to do with the X-1002's feature set, which probably adds to the cost -- an external sun shade, a unique chin strap retention system and a dual latch arrangement to lift the visor.
Motorcycle helmet manufacturers must have some research indicating that motorcyclists are clamoring for rotating sun shade visors, because the sun shade concept seems to be getting lots of attention lately.
Unfortunately, we haven't found a helmet with a sun shade design that has been executed successfully, including the cost-no-object Schuberth S1.
We can't help but feel that the rotating sun shade concept is simply a way to justify a higher price for the helmet. The X-1002 is the latest iteration of sun-shade mania. This time, it's attached to the outside of the visor, with its own rotating mechanism.
We're not sure if the placement of the sun shade on the outside of the X-1002's clear visor does the trick, but it does seem to be free of the distortion that plagues every other sun shade equipped helmet we've tried.
The distortion problem, when present, can range from annoying to painful -- we've tried at least one sun shade equipped helmet that has enough distortion to give the wearer a headache.
With the flip-up visor closed, the external sun shade can be rotated through two positions, from fully raised and out of the line of sight, to half-closed, to fully closed, where the top of the sun shade rests against the top of the clear helmet visor.
The bottom edge of the sun shade on the X-1002 can end up in the rider's line of sight if the rider is sitting in a more-or-less upright riding position, like on a touring bike.
However, the bottom edge of the sun shade does seem to move down below the line of sight (but is still visible) when the rider's head is tilted even slightly forward, as it would on a sport or sport-touring bike.
Nolan has designed a new type of chin strap retention system for the X-1002. Visitors to webBikeWorld know that we're fond of the classic and proven motorcycle helmet retention system: the simple, uncomplicated, infinitely adjustable, no moving parts D-ring.
There is no better mouse trap, as far as we're concerned. When Valentino Rossi starts using a quick release on his AGV, we'll reconsider. Until then, why spend money, time and resources on redesigning something that has worked well for decades?
Nolan (or X-lite) calls their new chin strap retention device the "Microlock Retention System". They have issued a separate owner's manual, printed in 12 different languages, that covers the operation of the system.
Unfortunately, although a line in the owner's manual states "In order to have the maximum protection and to appreciate the advantages of the 'Microlock' system...", it never tells us what those advantages might be.
The "dumb" end of the chin strap in the Microlok system has a plastic or nylon serrated surface. It is designed to fit through a ratcheting lock mechanism on the matching chin strap.
The lock (orange/red lever in the photo above) must be held open while the strap is passed through. When the orange/red lever is closed, it catches in between two of the serrations and secures the chin strap.
It works, but it's more complicated than a D-ring system and it has a greater number of moving parts.
We're not sure how long the serrations will last after they've been pulled through the latch many times, but wBW visitor "L.C." (see comments below) had no problems with his after several years of use.
We think that the latch is difficult to remove with one hand. In addition, the half of the chin strap with the serrated piece has a separate length adjuster, and this half of the strap must be adjusted so that the serrations will be correctly located for the individual rider's head size.
There's one more feature on the X-1002 that's worth mentioning. Nolan has developed a different type of flip-up visor latching system for this helmet.
Rather than simply add a one-handed latch in the middle of the flip-up visor, the X-1002 has two latches, located on the underside of the flip-up visor.
The visor can be lifted by flipping both latches on either side or by pushing only the left-hand latch forward. We found this to be overly complicated and somewhat strange when compared to single-latch flip-up helmets.
The flip-up visor appears to be spring loaded, and it moves upward when the latches are released. There's no solid "click" when the visor reaches the full vertical position, and this may bother some owners.
The visor can actually be flipped back down and locked into place with a vigorous (and not recommended) head snap.
The visor has no tab or indentation to grab for raising or lowering, so it takes two hands to pull the top of the visor down from above to get it to close. It does have a solid locking sound when it's shut, and the latches look like they're manufactured from metal stampings.
Our X-lite X-1002 had some problems right out of the box. The liner was detached from the helmet, which must have occurred either during manufacturing or shipping, and the external sun shade was hanging by only one side.
We were able to put everything back together, but this episode didn't give us much confidence in Nolan's quality control system.
The removable liner is very thin. Pick up an edge and the foam padding in the helmet's shell is immediately visible.
The lack of liner padding is apparent when wearing the helmet -- the helmet isn't very comfortable and the absence of liner padding could be the cause of the high noise levels we experienced.
We always wear earplugs when riding (see the wBW Earplug Reviews page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs), but the X-1002 is one of the noisiest helmets we've tried recently.
The noise levels aren't helped by the visor's design. When the external rotating sun shade is in the "up" position on our helmet, it catches the air and makes a high-frequency whistling noise.
The extra parts necessary to rotate both visors add bulk to the sides of the helmet, and the extra pieces also catch the wind and add to the noise levels.
This is somewhat mitigated by the vinyl chin curtain that has been added to the bottom of the flip-up visor, helping to prevent some of the turbulence which can cause low-frequency "booming" noises.
Most of the volume is caused by a variety of whistling type noises which are probably caused by air passing over the visor and its associated parts.
By the way, the clear visor has a centrally located tab, which makes it easy to open or close. It has 4 clicks from fully closed to fully open.
The clear visor is also provided with studs for a Pinlock anti-fog visor system; see the wBW review of the Pinlock system.
The X-1002 has a chin vent and a top vent. Each are easily opened or closed by pressing directly on the vent covers. They provide an average amount of air flow.
The chin vent directs air up on to the back of the clear visor, and there are a few vent holes in the helmet shell, located around the top of the visor opening, and these direct air up through the top of the helmet. However, our helmet's liner does not fit correctly in this area, blocking some of the holes.
We ordered our X-1002 in size XL, and our opinion, based on this helmet, is that the sizing runs slightly small. Our size XL is probably the equivalent of a size large in other brands.
Our feeling is that the X-1002 will fit neutral to round shaped heads best (see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet), with one exception.
The middle of the inside of the helmet seems slightly narrower than normal, and it can place a lot of pressure on the temples and upper jaw of motorcyclists with "earth" shaped heads (i.e., wider in the middle in the area above the ears).
We measured the X-1002 in size XL at a hefty 1855 grams, or 4 lbs., 1-3/8 oz. See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for a chart that compares the helmet weights of every helmet we've reviewed.
The X-1002 is only 12 grams (0.5 ounces) lighter than the heaviest helmet on the list, the KBC FFC.
On the plus side, the X-1002 does not feel anywhere near as heavy as the KBC.
In fact, we were surprised when we put the X-1002 on the scales, and we re-weighed it using a different scale as a cross check. The helmet carries its weight well and doesn't have the heavy feeling of mass that characterizes the KBC FFC.
We wanted to like the X-1002, but the combination of the relatively high price, the lapses in quality control, the noise levels and the overly-complicated (in our opinion) latching mechanism and chin strap retention system conspire against it.
The X-1002 is available in only a few basic solid colors, and although the finish appears to have good quality, it's otherwise unexceptional. A nice graphic pattern or other colors would have been nice.
We still recommend the Vega Summit XPV flip-up as our favorite compromise of cost, weight, comfort and performance. The Vega isn't perfect by any means -- the perfect flip-up doesn't yet exist, in our opinion.
|wBW Review: Nolan X-lite X-1002|
|Manufacturer: X-lite Helmets||List Price (2006): $359.99|
|Colors: Silver, Gray, Black, Blue in gloss and matte.||Made In: Italy|
|Review Date: April 2005|
From "J.D." (regarding the Nolan N102): "I recently purchased this helmet (the Nolan N-102) and I have to say that it's one of the best I've worn. The noise is not bad at all even after 2 hours continuous riding.
The vents seem to cool well, including the front chin vents and the padding seems comfortable.
As for the microlock...it's nice and easy to use and won't pull apart even with extreme force (a friend and I played tug of war in the store before I was convinced).
The flip up front has a security feature that's rather nice. The button under the chin can't just get bumped...you have to pull it forward and then pull down on the exposed button that gets exposed on the front of the chin bar.
As for the VPS system, it may seem a bit cheesy but I like it. It doesn't occlude my FOV (field of view) as well as negates a need for sunglasses. At night it's not too dark to use on the freeway as it helps cut down on headlight glare while letting me see my speedometer without obstruction.
I have read your site extensively before buying any helmet and want to thank you for such in depth reviews as it made my shopping easier. I knew which ones to avoid as well as some aspects to look at that I never thought of.
I must say that after your review of the Nolan X-lite 1000 I was very skeptical about buying any Nolan product.
The Cycle shop was very accommodating and let me wear the exact helmet I bought around the shop for a while (as you suggest) as well as letting me buy it with the caveat that I could return in a few hours if it didn't work out (as long as I didn't screw it up).
You may want to give this helmet a shot to see what you think as I would be quite eager to see your take on it. Not sure if size matters as you have spoken about in many articles....mine is a medium."
From "P.G.": "I read your Nolan X-1002 review with trepidation, since I had such a miserable experience with mine despite calls from Nolan and the distributor trying to convince me I was nuts.
(I attached an) email thread with the importer for your amusement, although I lost interest in the whole thing and sold the helmet on eBay for $100 just to be rid of it. I bought a Scorpion EXO-700 based on yours and others favorable reviews, and I just love it.
I agree with most things you said, but several issues deserve more derision:
From "L.C.": "I read the recent review of the Nolan X-1002 and couldn't help but wonder why you would think so poorly of the micro-lock system.
My N100e that I've been riding with for the last three years has the same retention system and it is by far easier to use than a double D-ring.
It takes two seconds to attach, releases easily (yes with one hand) and can be adjusted easily with gloves on. I often use the bike for running errands which means a lot of helmet on-helmet off.
I can't imagine having to run the webbing each time, which is why I put quick release buckle on my two Shoei helmets. The Nolan micro-lock isn't worn at all after three years. I'd really miss it if I switched to another brand. Just my two cents."