It’s always nice to return home from travels to find a much-anticipated parcel outside your door.

The one that awaited my return from a motorcycle tour in Cuba three days ago couldn’t have been more appropriate, as I’d gifted my well-used Shark helmet to a needy Cuban harlista (Harley-Davidson enthusiast) in Cuba.

I opened the box and pulled out a Nolan N44 Crossover High Vis modular helmet. I’d fallen in love with this model at first sight. Especially it’s brilliant high-vis fluorescent yellow.

Italians can’t be beat when it comes to design. To my mind Nolan, which is based in Bergamo, Italy, makes the best-looking motorcycle helmets on the market… and the N44 Trilogy High Vis wins the prize.

Nolan N44  crossover high-visibility helmetBeyond good looks, this Day-Glo beauty is a true “crossover” helmet, with six possible modular configurations. You add or subtract various elements for a full-face or open-face helmet, etc. As I discovered, that’s both good and bad.

The helmet I reviewed at BMW MOA International Rally, in Buffalo, NY, last month, featured the huge full-face shield and removable chin bar. When I asked the salesman if an optional peak (shown affixed to other helmet models) was available, he said that a peak was automatically included with all sales. Great!

Except… back home, when I assembled the modules I discovered that the peak and face shield can’t be used together. It’s either/or. Bummer! That’s a major design flaw. Fortunately, the only one.

I donned the helmet.

The lightweight, aerodynamic polycarbonate shell felt solid and supremely well manufactured. Not least, all the moving parts fit together and functioned with Ferrari-like precision. This is especially true of the shift mechanism to interchange the peak and visor, to each side of the helmet.

Wow! In full-face guise with face shield in place, the N44 provides such vast visibility I found it easy to forget I was even wearing a helmet. A major plus! The UV protected shield—which has three positions, including fully elevated—also fits over the chin bar and features a large defogger vent (it also comes Pinlock-insert ready).

I live in the desert, so ventilation is an important requirement.

The helmet shovels in the air in spades through multiple closeable vents controlled by sliders, while rear exhaust vents (permanently open) wick hot air from the head and helmet. Additionally, a large rocker switch chin vent is built into the lower part of the mammoth face shield. Compared to the Shark, this is one heck-of-an air-flow friendly rig!

One click on a slider button to the left side of the helmet and the internal sun visor snapped down. Another push on an adjacent button and it flew back into retracted position inside the helmet. Nice!

The helmet felt well-cushioned and comfortable. And its antibacterial, antifungal and moisture-wicking “Clima-Comfort” fabric felt smooth against the skin. After an hour-long ride I’d noted no points of irritation, such as I’d occasionally noted with the Shark. I remember feeling guilty when I handed over my stinky, sweat-soiled Shark to my Cuban pal. By contrast, the N44’s liner is removable and washable.

However, the N44 has no ear-chamber pockets, as is typical on most helmets. The liner pressed up against my ears, reducing hearing capability. Thumbs down. That said, my eyeglasses slid in easily without obstruction.

Living in the desert, I chose to remove the detachable bottom collar for better air flow… but I can well imagine that in cooler climes, it will be a boon for better draft and noise protection.

The helmet comes Nolan N-Com Bluetooth intercom ready.

Overall verdict? A supremely comfortable and beautiful helmet with virtually unrivaled visibility.

Now, all Nolan needs to do to improve it is to make it possible to use the full face shield and peak together.


Christopher P Baker


Christopher P. Baker, one of the world's most multi-talented and successful travel writers and photographers has been named by National Geographic as one of the world's foremost authorities on Cuba travel and culture. Winner of the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 as 'Travel Journalist of the Year,' he has authored more than 30 books, leads tours for National Geographic Expeditions, Edelwiss Bike Travel, and Jim Cline Photo Tours, among other companies, and is a Getty Images and National Geographic contributing photographer.