During my recent ride in Mexico, I spotted the Nolan X-551 helmet and got to try one on. I liked it but they didn't have the paint/size I wanted or I'd have bought it. They're not available here since not DOT approved, so I ended up (reluctantly) ordering one from FC-Moto.de in Germany. My previous experience with FC was not good but a fool and his money are soon parted. At any rate I decided to try my luck again. This time the Nolan did arrive in about 2 weeks. Just opened the box today and haven't had a chance to ride in it yet but will give ride impressions tomorrow, weather permitting. A few pics and initial thoughts from the unboxing: (Ok motoweirdos - time to turn on the sexy stripper music ) Bubble wrap would have been nice The box contained the helmet wrapped in a tight fitting bag, the Nolan Pin-Lock shield attachment, lube for the shield and instruction booklet. Finish / Overall look and Feel Unwrapping the helmet, paint is well done and I like the graphics and style - didn't see any bubbles or goobers embedded. Overall impression is that it's a quality helmet. It feels a little lighter than the Arai XD3 I have. Nolan Visor in its lowest position - XD3 in its highest Strap is the classic D-Link style. Chin curtain is removable with 3 snaps and two velcro tabs. Liner removes easily as well, and you can take the neck roll/curtain off it seems. Shield: EXTREMELY happy to report the shield is clear of optical distortion - for real. The detents for the shield positions are firm and click in very solidly - unlike the XD3 which seems to rely entirely on the pressure of the mounting screws to keep it in place. There are 4 shield positions when the visor/peak is in it's highest position and 3 when at it's lowest. The first position opens the shield about 1" - I'd prefer a slight opening of 1/8-1/4 so we'll see how it works. 3rd detent puts the shield edge line slightly higher than the XD3 and in 4th position clears the sight line entirely. Visor/Peak: Held on with three plastic thumbscrews that are very easy to adjust. The lowest visor position is about the same as the lowest position on the XD3. In it's highest position, it sits a little lower than the Shoei Hornet peak. From wearing it around in the house, it looks like the positions are perfect for me. Highest position gives good visibility, but would still be enough to block some sun. Measuring the vertical visor movement from the eye port line of vision, the 551 has roughly 2" of vertical travel, compared to my XD3 which moves up and down roughly 1" to 1-1/4" BTW, Nolan says to run the visor at it's lowest position at highway speeds. Flip-Down Sunscreen: Never ridden with one, but after wearing sunglasses I'm hoping this is a good alternative to simplify life. The smoke grey screen moves up and down with a slider tab on the left side of the helmet, and it seems a little mushy. The screen doesn't "snap" up and down crisply, but since they've been on Nolan helmets for a while I'm guessing they work well enough. The mushy factor doesn't inspire confidence but we'll see. The screen position, when down, sits closer to my nose and cheeks than any other helmets I've tried on, including the Schuberth C3 most recently. The gap on the Schuberth was really big and lots of sunlight bleeding under the dark lens would be distracting. Eye-port Visibility: About as wide as the XD3 - possibly a touch wider, but with slightly less visibility at the lower right and left sides peripherally. The eye port has a different cut and raises slightly as it comes to the rear. Not much, but a little less visibility in those areas. You can see the area I'm talking about in the nose to nose XD3 / X551 pic above. Sorry guys, but I don't have a set of MX goggles to try the eyeport with. Just eyeballing it looks like the XD3 cut was designed for goggles specifically and I doubt the Nolan would work with them since the port tapers back. Possibly aviator style goggles with a narrow strap... Vents: There looks to be three vents - the nose vent and two on top of the helmet with one rear exhaust that remains open. The front opens downward with a crisp click, and the two top vent opening tabs are large and really easy to find. They click open and closed easily and positively. Fit: Ok, I'm guessing I have a XXL head that must fall on the medium oval shape, because I can wear either an Arai or Shoei. I'm guessing the Nolan is a medium oval, as it fits me snugly but with no pressure points. Swapping between my XD3, Shoei Multitec and the Nolan, the XD3 has more forehead pressure for me but not enough that I can't wear it all day, the Shoei feels good if not slightly loose and the Nolan just very snug with no immediately noticeable pressure points. The rep in Mexico told me the Nolans fit snug but break in well. We shall see. In Mexico, when I tried on the XL and XXL, the opening was very tight and felt like I was tearing my ears off sliding my head in, but once in it fit great. That was my only concern with the helmet. Today however, when I slipped it on it didn't seem as tight slipping over my head. Maybe I pulled the straps harder to spread the opening, but it wasn't the painful experience I remembered. Trying it on several times vs the XD3, it's a little tighter through the opening but not much. My XD3 is 3 years old as well so the padding is not as stiff either. How the Italians remove a helmet Some other thoughts I'll make no bones about it, I haven't found the right helmet yet... hoping this Nolan turns out to be a good one. In the past I've looked at almost every DS helmet out there - the Shoei Hornet fit well and had almost no distortion, but the visor was too short for anything but decoration. The Joe Rocket I tried briefly was cheap and had bad habits in wind. I've also rigged visors onto my Shoei full face helmets with varying degrees of success. They worked well within limits. I've tried on the AFX version as well as Icon and others but they weren't right for me. The XD3 was the best compromise at the time, but I feel it's significantly overpriced for its design. It looks good, the visor actually works as a visor, it has a bunch of vents and it's built well, which is good but, the shield has significant distortion down low and minor up high. Not terrible when closed, but when opened for ventilation when you're sweating in some tight tricky stuff and trying to judge inches and hits, it's like looking through a coke bottle. The bottom edge of the shield lies directly in your sight line and blocks a lot of visibility when open. The shield does not stay in position due to detent design other than fully closed when at highway speeds. I also find it slowly works it's way down when open until you finally realize your vision is blocked. The vents, though good, aren't easy to adjust with gloves or when riding. Arai XD3, Nolan X-551, Shoei Multitec w Giro visor Initially the Nolan looks good - seems like a lot of helmet and features for the money, which 2 weeks ago was around $298 including shipping. I also loved the XD3 initially so time will tell if the Nolan works. I'll do a ride with it tomorrow and post results here.