The Nolan N40 is a very nicely made helmet with several useful features.
The shell design has a city/scooter/touring style with some angular creases that give it a modern look.
The helmet is also very comfortable and the relatively thick padding helps control noise levels.
The large face shield provides nearly unlimited sight lines; a real safety factor. An internal sun visor is easy to use and the deployment lever has several detents, so the sun visor can be used in intermediate positions.
The N40 is Nolan N-Com ready and it also comes in an MCS version, which can be connected to Harley-Davidson or Honda Gold Wing on-board radio systems.
The price splits the difference between the low-end open face helmet you don’t want and high-end helmets from Shoei and Arai, which are too expensive for what they are.
The Nolan N40 is my new favorite open-face helmet.
Nolan N40 Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
If the N40 looks vaguely familiar, that’s because it is. It takes much of its design language from the Nolan N43 Trilogy (review), the 2009 webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet of the Year award winner.
The N40 was released in Europe in the Fall of 2013 and one year later in the U.S.A.
The Nolan N40 is a different helmet from the N43 however; it’s a modern version of the classic 3/4 open-face helmet. It works for touring, general riding, scootering and heck, even adventure-touring. Why not?
The helmet’s overall fit, finish and feel are all top-drawer. The pearl white version shown here has tiny diamond specks of metalflake and it looks fantastic.
The molded angled creases give it a modern look that’s far removed from the plain round open-face helmets of old.
And the black detailing really works against the white; especially the separate black molded belt that continues around the back of the helmet. It’s a very nice styling touch.
All of the moving parts have an exceptionally good feel for an open-face helmet.
The very large face shield has outstanding optical quality and also provides an outstanding field of view; a real safety feature that may even counterbalance the absence of a chin bar.
The face shield also has nice, tight detents, as does the internal sun visor, which can be stopped in intermediate positions with the click-type rotator on the left-hand side.
The liner and padding are comfortable and thick, making the N40 a very nice helmet for general tooling around on anything short of an all-out sportbike.
The liner is also removable and washable. It’s the Clima-Comfort type with an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and moisture-wicking fabric.
If you get the feeling that I’m impressed by this helmet, you’re right. I had no idea what to expect and I’m not really an open-face helmet kind of guy, but the N40 is the best I’ve tried.
Helmet Fit, Internal Shape and Liner
The N40 has a “Neutral” internal shape that is just shaded slightly towards round.
The sides at the cheeks and the cheek pads provide good coverage over the lower part of the jaw, but as this is an open-face helmet, the sides have more flex than a full-face design.
This gives the helmet sizing a bit more tolerance and the N40 should fit most head shapes. Heck, it even fits the Editor’s round/square head!
The padding feels very thick and the liner material is soft, which gives the helmet an overall comfortable feel with no pressure points that I can feel on my head.
The thick padding and the excellent fit also help control noise levels.
This N40 is a size large and it fits slightly big. I couldn’t find a size chart for the N40 on the Nolan website and the retailers’ list the size large as with sizes ranging from a 59 cm to 61 cm.
I think a 59-60 cm size is about right and that’s just about in line with the standard size large.
Overall, the N40 just feels comfortable to me, with no quirks, no hard spots and no pressure points. I could see wearing this on a long tour on a big Harley or Gold Wing for sure.
The ear pockets are a little different, without the typical sharply-defined ear “cup”, and this adds to the comfortable fit. It also helps eyeglass wearers, as my sunglasses fit without much problem.
More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.
Also, see the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: We’ll give the N40 an “Outstanding” rating for shape, comfort, padding and fit.
Face Shield, Eye Port and Outward Visibility
One of the best features of an open-face helmet is the virtually unlimited outward visibility most of them provide.
The N40 is outstanding in this regard and every dedicated full-face helmet owner should try a helmet like this just once to literally see what you’re missing.
The N40’s face shield is also large enough to cover almost the same area as a full-face helmet and this greatly reduces wind blast and keeps noise levels low.
The rotating mechanism for the face shield also is noteworthy. It has a very precise click through its four detents.
The N40 has an internal sun visor that rotates with a small lever on the left hand side, to the rear of the side cover. It also has detents and the sun visor can be stopped in one of 6 intermediate positions, another bonus.
The 2.19 mm thick face shield has excellent optical properties and Nolan manufacturers the face shields and all of the other helmet parts in their factory to keep close control over quality levels.
This was described in the “How to Make a Motorcycle Helmet” article on webBikeWorld during the Editor’s visit to the Nolan Group factory in Brembate di Sopra during the 2010 EICMA show.
Score: The Nolan N40 has outstanding outward visibility.
Top Vents and Ventilation
The N40 has a low-profile horizontal vent cover and there are two ports underneath that flow air into the helmet.
The vent operates with a single slider that has two positions. The slider is easy to find when wearing gloves and it works well.
The air flows down into the helmet and along channels in the EPS, then on to the rider’s head through 6 holes. The holes are uncovered, so the liner does not get in the way of the air flow.
It’s an efficient system and although I can’t feel air directly flowing on to the top of my head, the ventilation is good and a fresh stream of air flows through the helmet and out the exhaust port in the back.
Score: We’ll give the N40 ventilation system an overall “Outstanding” rating.
The combination of the tight tolerances around the helmet parts and the large face shield, along with the thick padding, mean that the N40 is quieter than you’d expect from a helmet of this type.
In fact, it’s even quieter than many full-face helmets I’ve worn.
When riding behind a large windscreen on a BMW R1200RT, with the air passing over the top of the N40, the noise control is very good.
The helmet also has good noise control when riding on a motorcycle without a windscreen.
With a shorter windscreen that tumbles air along the top half of the helmet, some increased noise levels are apparent but this is also true with pretty much any helmet.
This type of turbulence can also cause some vibration to the N40’s peak, so the cure is to remove the peak, which is easily done by rotating the two side covers.
The thick padding and the comfortable fit also help control wind and engine noise.
So overall, I rate the Nolan N40 as exceptionally good at controlling noise levels for a helmet of this type.
Note that our helmet evaluations are a combined effort of several riders over time on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.
Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).
Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.
Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit, the type of motorcycle and windscreen, wind speed and direction and even the rider’s clothing.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: I’ll rate the N40 as “Excellent” for noise control.
This N40 in size large weighs 1576 grams (3 lbs., 7-5/8 oz.). This is heavy for an open-face helmet, although we were all surprised to discover the actual weight because it’s not very noticeable during use.
However, considering the internal sun visor, the N40 compares well with the size large Shoei J-Cruise (review) at 1610 grams and the size large Arai CT-Z (review) at 1564 grams.
Another open-face helmet with an internal sun visor is the AFX FX-50 (review), which weighs 1525 grams in size large.
Note also that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page.
Also, see the chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: I’ll give the N40 “Very Good” rating for its weight with good balance.
The N40 is Nolan N-Com Bluetooth ready. The N-Com intercom system can be purchased separately and snaps into the recess on the left-hand side of the helmet, which is covered by a black plastic blank otherwise.
The N40 is available in the “MCS” (Motorcycle Communications System?) version shown in our photos.
This has a port in the rear and a connector cable can be purchased separately to connect the helmet to the communications system on a Harley-Davidson or Honda Gold Wing.
We tried but could not find a Harley or Honda with the system, so I can’t report on how it works with the N40. Perhaps some webBikeWorld N40 owners can provide some feedback on this.
The N40 has the Nolan “MicroLock 2” quick release chin strap retainer, which works well and is appropriate for this type of helmet. The padding under the chin strap is thick and comfortable.
Nolan provides a five-year warranty on the helmet, which should cover it for the effective life. The N40 meets the DOT safety standard in the U.S.A. and ECE 22-05 in Europe.
- Outstanding build quality.
- Modern styling with nice detailing.
- Outstanding paint and finish.
- Excellent ventilation.
- Comfortable liner.
- Good noise control.
- Outstanding visibility.
- Relatively heavy for this type of helmet.
The Nolan N40 is a modern take on a classic motorcycle helmet design. It is comfortable and surprisingly quiet for a helmet of this type.
The build quality is outstanding and although styling always has a personal bias, I think it looks fantastic, especially in white and black.
The outward visibility it provides is a real safety factor, something that has been mentioned in other webBikeWorld open-face helmet reviews.
All told, it’s hard to figure what the much more expensive Shoei J-Cruise or Arai CT-Z offer that the N40 doesn’t. My take on it is that the N40 is the open-face helmet to own in 2015.
Owner Comments and Feedback
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From “H.R.” (September 2016): “Since the helmet is discontinued, I guess this doesn’t matter much as a review, but I changed my mind on the helmet.
I bought the open-faced N40 in Summer 2015.
But I didn’t realize right away that the motion of lowering the internal sun visor has the danger of catching the glove on the lever that releases the cover that holds the shield and peak in place.
had hit it a couple times and had to stop to tighten it back in. Yesterday, I must have hit the cover loose and not realized it.
Somewhere along the way it came completely free and I lost it – I can’t tell where because the peak stayed in place for a while without the cover.
And now, since the helmet is discontinued, I can’t find the cover anywhere. It is no longer listed as available at the Nolan USA web pages. The face shield is still on, but can eventually pop loose without the cover.
So good-bye expensive helmet.”
From “H.S.” (April 2015): “Kudos for another great helmet review from WebBikeWorld!
It seems though that in all the excitement of introducing this new model you’ve overlooked a feature which to me [and touring riders everywhere] is an extremely important one.
Namely when it rains what happens? Steamy visor?
There’s no Pinlock mentioned [standard on the J-Cruise] and I’ve yet to encounter anything comparable to it for visor fog control.
Before readers jump the gun on this point I hope they’ll consider the wide variety of weather that long distance riders encounter.
Besides the J-Cruise you mentioned I also own two other open-face lids, an Arai and a Bell, neither of which have Pinlocks and both fog up so bad it’s impossible to ride in a downpour. With the visor down that is.
In anticipation of reader responses I’m familiar with aftermarket wipe-on anti-fog products and homemade remedies but truthfully they’re a PITA to deal with, especially while on the road.
Given that I sincerely hope Nolan has made allowances for foul weather riding, perhaps by making the Pin-Lock an option?
To date the J-Cruise remains the best open-faced lid I own albeit the price is definitely high.
But…it works better than any of the others and that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Thanks again for all the great reviews, I look forward to your comments.”
Editor’s Reply: To be honest, I have never experienced fogging with an open-face helmet, due to the amount of air that flows up from underneath. Maybe a specific set of conditions is needed for this to happen?