This helmet has filled a cabinet with awards since it was released in 2015, and it didn’t take me long to discover why it’s proven so popular.
The Nolan N87 is the Italian company’s staple sports-touring helmet, which costs £180 at the time of writing (that’s in plain colours, where a graphic design is up to £199.99 and a race replica gets up to £219.99). Keep it simple on colours and the N87’s spec means it punches well above its weight.
There’s also the matter of comfort that cossets the head far more tenderly than we have any right to expect from a helmet with this sort of pricetag.
So that’s why it won Motor Cycle News Product of the Year in its first year, followed up with the prestigious RiDE Best Buy award from the product-specialist UK magazine and then added a ‘Very Good’ rating from respected German magazine Motorrad.
Within seconds of putting it on my head for this review it felt right, and just a step above the normal quality of helmets costing a similar amount.
The lining, with its classy faux leather trim and red contrast piping, makes for a firm yet snug fit that grips the head closely.
The micrometric ratchet-type strap fastener, which along with the thermoplastic shell give the only real clues that it’s a ‘budget’ helmet, is a step up in class from most thanks to its metal clasp construction.
The visor change is gloriously simple and easy, self-explanatory enough to render any instruction manual diagram redundant.
Perhaps the only area that doesn’t live up to the classy feel is the notchy operation of the internal sun visor. There is even an upside to this, though. Those notches act as steps that mean the rider can treat them as intervals to leave the visor only partially down if they prefer.
That relatively minor issue is far outweighed by the positive news that the sun visor is treated with an effective anti-mist coating. Too many helmets come with a Pinlock insert to protect the main visor from misting but then the sun visor is an easy-mist wonder that leaves you unable to even see the main visor, let alone see through it. There’s no such trouble with the N87.
And, for the record, the N87’s outer visor has a Pinlock insert that covers virtually the whole viewing aperture and it worked a treat throughout my test, which involved riding through every weather condition from 5°C to 25°C and from bright sunshine to power shower-style rain.
The vents are effective enough and easy to use and there are recesses for intercom speakers.
For the money, the N87 is a cut above its competition. Yes, spending £100 or so more will yield a lighter composite-fibre shell and the D-ring strap fastener that a large percentage of British riders prefer. But for those looking to make the biggest bang with limited bucks, the N87 is the current go-to helmet.
The Pinlock MaxVision visor suffered zero mist and the anti-fog coating on the sun visor was both effective and very welcome. The peripheral vision is good enough, but not on par with the very best helmets, which explains the lost marks.
Two vents on top and one big slider on the chin are easy enough to operate and do an adequate job without causing the head-chilling breeze of the best helmets.
Fit & Comfort
It’s quite compact inside the N87, which comes in two shell sizes (one for XXS-M and the other for L-XXXL). The lining comfort is superb for the price level, with plush padding lined with a sanitised material.
For a helmet in this price category the quality of build stands out. From the soft and comfy lining through to the anti-mist sun visor and metal clasp for the strap ratchet, the attention to detail is clear.
A composite-fibre shell, a lever to hold the visor slightly open and some emergency cheekpads would all be great additions. But the first item in that list alone would add around £100 to the pricetag, so everything is relative.