The Italian N104 N-COM modular motorcycle helmet from Nolan is a feature packed marvel of helmet engineering, and it’s a great choice for riders of just about any style of motorcycle. Its shell comes in a myriad of colorways including matte finishes, gloss finishes, hi-viz colors, and graphics. Nolan utilizes two shell sizes which allow them to offer a huge size range. This N104 Helmet is available in sizes double extra small all the way to triple extra-large. The shell is constructed of injection molded Lexan polycarbonate. This is a very durable material that will stand up very well to the wear and tear of daily commuting. The helmet is DOT approved here in the States, and ECE approved in Europe. The U.S. version and European versions of this helmet are exactly the same, so the U.S. version satisfies the ECE requirements; it just isn’t indicated on the helmet for the U.S. market.
Let’s take a look at the feature that makes a modular helmet modular, the chinbar. This chinbar setup has some features that really set it apart from a good deal of the competition. First, let’s check out the Centromatic latching mechanism. This system is dual stage, to prevent the chinbar from opening unless the wearer really wants it to. To disengage the latch, you first pull out on the tab at the bottom of the chinbar. This will expose the tab on the front surface. This is the portion of the mechanism that actually disengages the latch. Pinch the two tabs together between your thumb and forefinger and raise the chinbar to the up position. This chinbar hinge mechanism is elliptical, which draws the chinbar close to the helmet when raised. This reduces turbulence and wind noise while riding with the chinbar in the raised position. Riding with the chinbar up is made possible by yet another chinbar feature. This switch here next to the hinge locks the chinbar in the raised position so that it won’t slam down if you turn your head to check your blind spot.
The next feature I want to take a closer look at is the face shield. This shield is optically correct, and incredibly large. Top to bottom, this shield measures 6 3/8 inches tall. Most face shields are closer to five inches in height. This shield also offers UV protection and is Pinlock ready. Removing the shield is easy. With the shield in the full raised position, slide this switch forward. I found that the shield releases much easier if gentle upward pressure is applied to the shield. Once it releases, slide the shield forward to remove it from the base plate. With the shield removed, you can more easily install the included Pinlock insert. Remove the protective film from the inside surface of the insert. Install the Pinlock insert into the shield one side at a time, with the silicone bead of the insert seated against the shield. Reinstall the shield onto the helmet opposite of the way you removed it. Now you’re ready for a fog free ride.
Yet another feature that received an upgrade over the N103 is the VPS, or Vision Protection System. This interior sunshade is scratch and fog resistant and the controls are mounted low on the helmet. This lowers the helmet’s center of gravity. Lowering the helmet’s center of gravity makes the helmet feel lighter on your head. Removing the shade is incredibly easy. With the chinbar in the raised position, lower the sunshade to the down position. Pull down slightly and out firmly on the shade, disconnecting one side of the shade at a time.
The next set of features I want to take a look at is the vent scheme. The ventilation on this helmet is incredible, especially considering how few vent ports this helmet has. The chin vent flows air to the face shield to reduce fogging, which is pretty standard stuff. The forehead vent, though, is part of a new vent scheme Nolan calls the Airbooster system. The vent switch operates both the forehead vent and the top vent independently, to allow you to fully customize the airflow. Once the air enters the helmet, it is channeled through the helmet in plastic tubes that I’ll show you when I remove the liner. This air picks up moisture from the inside of the helmet, and expels it out of the exhaust vents.
Lastly, let’s get a look at this new liner system. The Clima-Comfort padding is breathable and moisture wicking to keep you cool. It’s also fully removable and washable. The padding is treated with silver salt, making the material antibacterial and antifungal. This liner system is fairly sophisticated, but it’s easy to remove with a little patience. You have to start by removing the cheek pads. Notice the three dimensional padding. This helps the cheek pad to break in evenly, and apply equal pressure to the face. This design also reduces wind noise, and makes wearing prescription eyewear more comfortable. With the cheek pads removed, you can now remove the neck role. The tabs that hold the liner components into the helmet are made to be very light weight, so it’s important to pull these tabs straight out of the slots, to make sure you don’t pull them off of the neck role. The cheek pads can be reinstalled without the neck roll if you want, to make the helmet a little cooler on hot days. With the cheek pads and neck roll removed, you can see the cutouts in the EPS liner that are designed to accommodate the N-Com Bluetooth communicator’s speakers. The N-Com communicator is easily installed into this receptacle, and the battery installs into this port on the rear. Removing the headliner is easy, but it also requires some patience. Start at the rear with these tabs, then pull out the front by pulling gently and steadily on these tabs. With the headliner removed, you can pull this mesh material aside exposing the plastic vent channels we talked about earlier. The retention system is called Microlock and is an easy to use quick release system.