Nolan N43 Trilogy helmet

Update July 2010 After a ride of over 4,000 miles, in very hot temperatures and very heavy rain and hail:

This helmet is noisy. If you’re looking for a quiet helmet, this isn’t the one. Around town it may be all right, but earplugs are necessary for any long distance riding. That’s no problem for me since I wear earplugs all the time.

It’s also somewhat hot. Thankfully, the liner is removable for washing. I wear welding caps underneath, rather than the silk liners. The welding cap seams are sewn flat, unlike the bulky silk liner seams, which will cut into your bald head after a couple of hours.

Behind the fairing on my FLHT the water beads up on the visor. It didn’t appear to be a problem at speed, nor during low-speed riding around town. Very heavy rain and hail presented no problems as far as I’m concerned. I was concerned about having the visor fog over at low speed under these conditions, but fogging was minimal at low temperatures in the rain.

Wearing this helmet in the rain presents a multitude of problems. It fogs and beads with water. I don’t recommend it at all in the rain.

The sun visor is a definite bonus during early-morning or late-evening riding, and actually very nice to have all day.

I prefer to have the removable chin bar installed for around-town riding. I actually like that feature a lot.

The Microlock system is by far a much better arrangement than the D-ring, since it allows fastening on or off while wearing gloves.

An added bonus: My Aerostich Darien jacket and pants kept me warm and completely dry in the most vicious thunderstorm cells I have ever encountered while riding. An all-day heavy rain didn’t even test the suit. I bought these years ago, and they continue to perform flawlessly.

Nolan N43 Trilogy, brand-new from Italy, complete with DOT certification for North America.

  • It’s a polycarbonate shell.
  • It looks like a full-face helmet, and in fact it is, but…
  • The chin bar is removable. Thus it can be worn as a 3/4.
  • It has a built-in tinted sun visor with a nose indent. The sun visor can be flipped down or up, or partially in either direction.
  • The main visor has only two positions: down, or full up.
  • It comes with my favorite fastening system – an adjustable quick-release Microlock chin retention strap. The Microlock is easy to use with gloves. I really dislike those D-rings so predominant on North American helmets.
  • The liner is removable and washable. That beats putting the helmet in a dishwasher to clean the liner every year.

Best of all? I sized it according to an old Shoei Synchrotec that I own, and they both match perfectly as a size Large.

Nolan N43 Trilogy

The Nolan N43 Trilogy

A built-in sun visor

The N43 Trilogy has a built-in sun visor, accessible with the flip of the left-side slider. Here it is with the chin bar removed.

With the chin bar installed, I can’t put the helmet on while wearing glasses. With the chin bar removed, I can pull the helmet comfortably past my sunglasses. Fortunately, if I want to install the chin bar after putting on the helmet, its easy enough to do.

If you’ve got a protruding chin, this isn’t the helmet for you if you want to wear it with the chin bar installed.

There’s plenty of lateral visibility out of either side due to the wide cutouts.

With the chin bar attached

The ability to remove the chin bar is a nice feature out on the highway. Believe it or not, I prefer the chin bar for around-town riding. There's just too many left-turners blowing through lights.

The visor is either down or up; there’s no in-between. It does come down the full length to cover my chin. It’s also UV400 protecting according to the documentation.

I wear earplugs. Even so, this helmet has noticeable wind noise, and I sit behind a fairing on my bagger. It doesn’t bother me, but the wind noise could be annoying to others.

For highway riding, I prefer the chin bar removed from the helmet. That removable chin bar is a nice feature, and part of the reason that I bought this helmet.

I like the ability to install the chin bar for around-town riding. There are just too many cagers blowing through lights, and I appreciate the value of a full-face helmet in those situations.

Motorcycle boutiques

I almost forgot about this.

In an earlier post I proclaimed how great it was that H-D dealerships would take a long-distance rider in and do things like oil and tire changes without appointments. And yes, it still is a great accomplishment for most dealerships.

Well, subsequent to the oil change that I received at that dealership in Winchester, Virginia, I happened to have run another 5,000 miles, thus a requirement to change the oil and filter back in August. Lo and behold, the dumbass responsible for doing that oil and filter swap in Winchester managed to completely screw it up.

No, there was plenty of oil in the bag. I checked that out in their parking lot before I pulled out.

Lets make a list.

  • After removing the magnetic plug on the oil pan to drain the engine oil, the maintenance tech proceeds to wrap Teflon tape around the threads and re-insert.

The stupidity in this is that there’s an o-ring on the plug to prevent leaks, thus negating the need for any kind of sealant on the threads. Additionally, Teflon tape isn’t a friend of oil, and it will dissolve due to the heat and composition, thereby causing possible blockage of an oil passage. There are proper compounds available to seal such plugs, but obviously the individual wasn’t aware of them, and whether they were needed or not.

  • When installing the new oil filter, the filter was torqued on so tight that on removal, the filter was attached to the adapter plug and it came off with the filter. Red Loctite is used from the factory to hold the filter adapter in place, so you can imagine the torque that the tech used to hold the oil filter in place.

I had to use a power bar to remove the oil filter, and as noted, the adapter nut came off with the oil filter. Now, attaching an oil filter is not rocket science. Whether it be car or motorcycle, you screw the new filter on hand tight, then apply a quarter-turn past that. Can someone show me where it says to torque down an oil filter so hard that you need two men and a boy to get it off?

Nope, didn’t think so.

So, while happy with the Winchester dealership’s ability to get me in and out quickly for a basic oil and filter change, I must take exception to the competence – or lack thereof – of their service department’s capabilities. Obviously, competent professional motorcycle technicians aren’t something Winchester H-D is capable of employing.

I thought of sending an email or making a phone call, but do I really care if they screw up their local customers’ motorcycles in their shop? They’re a boutique, after all, and what should one expect from a boutique other than doo-rags, dog leashes, suspenders and fingerless gloves?

Tired tires

Last fall I replaced my rear Dunlop 402 motorcycle tire on my ’95 bagger because of wear. The bike shop owner where I was getting the work done told me that the Metzler would last at least as long as the D402. A bonus for me was that the Metz was a bit cheaper than the Dunlop 402, so I told him to throw on the Metz.

Well, I should have known better when he also told me that mine was one of very few motorcycles he’d seen with so many miles on it. In fact, I absolutely do know the following:

  • not many riders put any miles on a motorcycle these days, and that is especially true of American-made motorcycles;
  • many riders don’t maintain their tires at the correct pressure, thus negating their self-inflated (if you’ll pardon the pun) tire mileage statements;
  • consequently, anything most riders tell you about motorcycle tires and their experience with said tires is bullshit, and not worth the time spent listening.

Why I didn’t listen to my own voice of experience, I’ll never know, but I do know this: I rode 5,000 miles less on the Metzler 880 than on my previous Dunlop 402.

Yes, that’s right.

Based on the 15,616 miles I put on my last Dunlop, I got 1/3 less on the Metzler 880 – a measly 10,432 miles.

I’m anticipating another 15,000 trouble-free miles with my new Dunlop 402 rear tire.

Here’s a link to a previous post about motorcycle tires.

Looking for a Metzler tire inflation chart? Go here.

Bearings can skate, apparently

On the road, I never stop at any of the H-D boutiques I fly by, unless I need an oil change or a part. I’m an oil-change fanatic in the sense that at every 5,000 miles (8,000 km), the old oil and filter gets dumped, no matter where I am. I use synthetic oil – anything but the H-D brand when I do it myself. After all, the engine in my bagger is air cooled, and the proven high temperature protection against oil breakdown provided by synthetic oil versus dino oil gives my engine all the heat protection that it needs.

Volumes have been written about the differences between synthetic versus dino oil. Early on in the motorcycle synthetic oil debate, mechanics would declare synthetic oil to be “too slippery” for the H-D evo and twinkie engines and their bearings, and thus “bearing skate” would occur. That statement was, and still is, a complete crock of shit, of course. Synthetic oil works just fine, and in fact, H-D now sells its own brand of synthetic oil which comes installed from the factory in many of their newest engines. How times change.

I must give the H-D dealerships their due. In most instances, their service departments will take a traveler just riding through and give him priority for things like tire changes in the event of a flat, or an oil and a filter change. My last flat tire was down south in New Mexico a couple of years ago. I got priority then in Santa Fe.

I was in and out of Winchester’s H-D boutique dealership in an hour, which gave me time for a sandwich in their deli. Not bad, since the deli was completely unexpected.

To make it all easy, I use H-D’s atlas for an annual up to date listing of dealers in all of the western hemisphere. Handy as hell.

My only wish is that indy’s would provide some kind of a listing of their locations, but of course that’s an impossibility. I would prefer to use and support an indy and his business if I could.

Gypsy, tramp, nomad…

With a 2,300 mile ride coming up on Wednesday morning, I’m starting to get a little edgy to get on the road. To take my mind of the fact that the trip is still three days away, I’ve been prepping the bike. Nothing serious, of course, since I believe it to be well-maintained by yours truly:

  • cleaning and oiling the air filter;
  • draining the carb;
  • checking primary chain and drive belt tension;
  • taking a look at tires and tire pressure;
  • checking my route on a map.

How I love maps. Even if not going anywhere, I can pour over an atlas for hours at a time. In East Africa I had the only map of the area — a Michelin road map, believe it or not, that showed no actual roads, but only trails. To this very day my faith in their maps remains inviolate, particularly as their accuracy pertains to that part of the world.

Occasionally in a book store I’ll pull out the most recent version of that old Michelin map, open it up and discover that the old routes haven’t changed any. They’re still marked as trails, and trails they were, heading mostly north and south and plied by camel caravans and nomads on foot migrating from point to point depending on the season and passing by our campsite, stopping only for water.

I miss those old and still-familiar days as though they were only a yesterday away.

Switched fuse block install

To read about my installation, go here.

The switched harness from

I should have done this years ago, but I only just recently discovered Jim’s wiring harness site. The quality of his work is amazing. Had I the ability I couldn’t have built a harness of this quality – and all for approximately U$37.00 which includes shipping.

Here’s the finished easternbeaver Power Center 8 fuse block product that fits under the left side cover. Centech also makes a nice little fuse block. easternbeaver’s wiring harness is, of course, unseen, but it appears in the illustration at the top of this page.

The installed fuse block

easternbeaver's Power Center 8 fuse block

easternbeaver's Power Center 8 fuse block

Keeping electrical gremlins at bay

Please note: If you’re reading this on any site other than, the content has been scraped and stolen in its entirety, without appropriate attribution.

Over the years I’ve added a few electrical accessories to my ride. I dumped the terrible stock horn for an air horn that fits inside the stock horn cover. I’ve added gps and heated jacket relays. There’s a Powerlet outlet for my cheap and very portable air pump for tires. A digital voltmeter is the crowning touch for a check on the highly inaccurate stock meter.

Blue Sea Systems marine-grade fuse blockAfter all that, I’ve decided that I need a switched fuse block harness from to make sense of the wiring nightmare I’ve created. The fuse block harness comes with a relay and socket that allows it to be powered on and off with the ignition switch when wired into the bike’s electrical system.

I already have a marine-grade ST blade fuse block from Blue Sea Systems that I’ll hook into the electrical system using the harness. Centech also makes a nice little fuse block.

More to come when the harness arrives and I install it.