This flip-front helmet from Nishua is a bit of an odd-looking beast, it has to be said. But below that slightly unconventional exterior lies a comfortable and very useful helmet that is definitely worthy of consideration.
First and foremost, its construction; the shell of this model is formed in carbon fibre, so it is strong and light. In fact, it weighs in at well below 1,700g which is slightly lighter than you’d expect for a flip. However, it is not as light as you’d think and part of the reason for that is its overall size; it has a definite girth to it, looking, feeling and being significantly larger than a comparable full-face lid.
The shell only comes in one size, so it is the largest of all helmet sizes with the internal lining making up the right head size, leading to a large overall helmet for smaller sizes, like the Medium I tested. This makes it feel a little ungainly on your head, particularly when it comes to shoulder checks though the aerodynamics seem to work well and it doesn’t generally get pulled around too much.
Another function of its smooth design is noise - or the relative lack of it. It is quiet and stable in smooth, laminar flow like you would get on a naked or screen-less bike. It can start to get a little choppy if you are in turbulent traffic – for example, lots of trucks or vans breaking the air up – or you are on a bike with a screen that notoriously creates a noisy ride, as the older Yamaha Tracer 900 GT does for some people, myself included.
Once on, it is comfortable, and the lining is plush against the skin. The neck seal is snug without feeling tight or constrictive and this also helps to reduce the noise, as the seal can be more form-fitting since you don’t need to get your head through the aperture – you put it on from the rear with the flip up.
Vision out of the odd-shaped visor is excellent – is it wide and deep and the visor itself is crystal-clear. The cut-out section of the visor is particularly useful for a quick glance at the bike’s dash or sat-nav instructions without dipping the head and both the visor and the chin-bar are easy to find and operate even with gloves on.
One strange feature though is that if you lift the chin bar when you have the visor raised, then the chin bar and visor remain in the same relative positions – the visor simply gets higher.
On most flip-front helmets, if the visor is up and you raise the chin bar, the visor usually stays in place and the chin bar rises to meet it and the visor ‘closes’ itself on the chin bar. This does add a fair bit of height to you when it’s all open – you just need to be aware of it if walking into shops, fuel stations or indeed, home.
Ventilation is pretty good, thanks to a decent-sized chin vent, two on the top of the helmet and two exhaust vents at the rear. The chin one actually admits a huge amount of air – sometimes too much, as it can make your eyes water but rather that than not enough.
If you need more, you can always crack the visor a little as well – it will stay open where you leave it. Generally, it is draught-free though there is a gap between the chin-bar and the main body which allow a brief blast of air in when you are doing shoulder checks, though it is okay with the head straight ahead.
It comes with a drop-down sun visor that has good coverage and a nice smoked tint and which, like the vents, is easy to find and operate.
The only real criticism of this helmet is that, when the chin-bar is raised, there is a surprising degree of flex in the shell on either side of the cheeks. However, once the chin bar is down and locked into place, it feels as rigid as you would expect – this presumably is why it is not dual-homologated and hence, you should not ride with the chin bar opened.
The NXF-3 is a decent flip-front helmet that would suit a touring bike or a longer trip very well. It wears comfortably and is not overly heavy, thanks to its carbon construction but the fact that it only comes with one shell size means it ends up a bit larger which is ideal.
That said, it is quiet and isn’t affected by turbulence unless in dense high-speed traffic. The shaped visor allows a glance at the dash or sat nav without dipping the head and vision is excellent. It is also pretty good value, at little more than £200.
Quiet and comfortable
Visor cut-out gives dash view
Larger than ideal as single shell size