wBW Owner Report
by Brian Z. for webBikeWorld.com
The Nolan N43 "Air" (review) was originally reviewed in 2009 here on webBikeWorld.
The newest version is called the N43E.
I am not going to completely re-review the helmet overall, as a majority of the helmet is the same.
So feel free to re-read the original review for all the details.
My feeling is that some of the changes to the helmet are good and some, well, not so much.
Let us cover some of these one by one.
Starting with the chin bar, it seems to now be molded with an additional "spoiler" lip that appears to be lower than the original design to cut some of the wind from coming in from under it by deflection.
It also adds the nice additional mesh curtain to aid in this. I have another helmet, a Shoei Hornet DS (review), that seriously benefits from this seemingly simple but effective feature.
Unlike other helmets though, the spoiler on the N43E snaps in securely, rather than having to force a hard plastic wedge into a separation between the shell and the liner.
The next thing I want to touch on are things I noticed about the N43E face shield. I read a few owner comments stating that they were having issues finding the Pinlock visor for the previous generation, but it now comes included in the box with the N43E.
The face shield removal system appears to have been changed, and not necessarily for the better. There is an included tool for removing the locking plate on each side as a "Step 1".
Once that plate is removed, you can then turn/unlock the retainers for the visor and go forward with the removal of the visor in the transformation of the helmet.
This to me seems like a problematic system with the potential to break and/or lose the locking plates, as they tend to not just simply pop off with the tool, they want to fly off...
And the matter of having to carry the tool with your helmet parts as well (which isn’t so bad as a screwdriver can perform the same function).
The face shield was initially weird to open with the gut reaction to reach to the middle of the left side for a tab that wasn't there.
The actual lift tab is below the center vent that goes into the lower portion of the face shield, which was a bit confusing at first.
I think that somewhat comes with the period of acclimation to any new helmet in how and what it does when you are "getting to know it".
I also want to touch on the vent that is integrated with the visor. While I haven’t a previous generation helmet to compare it to, the vent in the N43E appears to be slightly larger than previous version.
I also wish (not that I want more parts to carry around or lose) that there was some sort of plug to cover the vent for those times when I don't want as much air flowing in.
The finish on the N43E is beautiful, with a pearl-like metalflake that catches glints nicely off the light, but isn’t very easily photographed.
The hardware all seems to be uniform and identified with Nolan stamped proudly on it. The N-Com integrated Bluetooth intercom system looks pretty easy to access for putting it into use if that is an option you choose to use.
The closure system works well, but seems to take some getting used to for release. I think a slightly raised lip on the red release pull for grabbing with a gloved hand would be ideal.
I also think that the padding for the strap could be a touch longer as the hard plastic of the retention system strap can be irritating.
The air flow on this helmet was an amazing surprise in how much air I can feel around my entire head. The visibility with the N43E is amazing; the brow line at the top virtually disappears and makes me feel like I'm wearing a space helmet in terms of how open it feels.
The face shield, when flipped up and open, reinforces that feeling for me in how big it is overall in comparison to a "normal" helmet.
My major gripe was originally with the operation of the tinted drop-down internal sun shield. It didn't feel smooth as it rotates and there may be something between the shell and the mechanism that seems to be leaving a greasy residue on it.
I used the instructions and pulled it out and cleaned it.
After reinstalling it, I found it operated much more smoothly and as it should. Perhaps it was just a result of assembly line manufacturing and someone just not entirely installing it correctly to begin with.
The other thing that I realized then, was some of the previous comments about how short it is in terms of coming down into your field of vision, which isn't the biggest problem with it.
The biggest problem with the VPS visor/sunshade is the subtle but still noticeable distortion to your view. It is much more noticeable when you have it down along with the clear face shield.
I really like this helmet and the potential flexibility it offers.
From "D.V." (May 2013): "As I can see, you did not use Nolan N43(e) in the rain because it is more useful (a matter of safety as the rain enters inside, beads and fog, really poor design and not tested before reaching the market) to have a plug as I built for that purpose and not to limit airflow (piece of neoprene cut to fit air inlets).
Hoping this will help. Beside this flaw , it’s a very good helmet but it’s a big flaw (car manufacturer would have to correct and recall for a safety mess like this one)."
From "S.G." (September 2012): "Is the new chin bar on the N43E interchangeable with the old N43 helmet?"
Reply from Nolan: Yes.