Nenki NK-316 Dirt Bike Helmet Review | A Philosophical Choice
When it comes to motorcycle helmets, you have a wide variety of perspectives. Some people view them with religious reverence—not a bad idea, given that its job is to protect your brain.Others see helmets as something you need if you are going to ride, but saving money is an important objective. This goes for off-road riders, as well as street-going motorcyclists.
That brings us to the Nenki NK-316 off-road motorcycle helmet, which definitely appeals to the budget-conscious dirt bike rider.You have probably never heard of Nenki. It’s a company that manufactures helmets in China’s Heqing Industrial Zone in FoShan City, just northwest of Hong Kong.Founded 10 years ago, Nenki makes a wide range of DOT-approved on- and off-road motorcycle helmets that the company sells directly from its website, as well as via Amazon.The Nenki NK-316 motorcycle helmet lists for $99, and that includes a matching pair of Nenki’s Motocross goggles that also sells independently for $26. By any standard, that is inexpensive.Obviously, the Nenki NK-316 is not intended to get someone out of his Shoei, Arai, or 6D helmet. With a fiberglass outer shell and single density EPS liner, it meets DOT standards, though it’s not a helmet I would wear for racing speeds and conditions. However, I did some fairly aggressive trail riding, and truly never gave the Nenki helmet or goggles a second thought.Having said that, I cannot make any judgment on the safety of the helmet. Nenki says it’s DOT approved, so it is a legitimate motorcycle helmet. Beyond that, as with any DOT-only helmet, it’s up to your judgment. We don’t test the safety of helmets, and the design of a motorcycle helmet is an art, as well as a science. You’re on your own in this department.The fit and finish of the Nenki NK-316 is impressive. The graphics do not look cheap, so you aren’t advertising that you only spent $99 on your helmet (and goggles). The double-D strap is fine, and has a retaining button. At an ounce over three pounds in size M, the NK-316 is neither unusually light nor heavy.Nenki gave the NK-316 an impressively plush interior that is easily removable, washable, and reinstalled. I have a long-oval head and the NK-316 was a perfect fit. We normally tell people to try helmets on in person to make sure they fit properly. That is not an option with the mail-order only Nenki NK-316, but for me the helmet sizing was as expected. Keep in mind that the NK-316 only comes in M, L, and XL.Testing in the heat of the Southern California summer revealed that the helmet flows a bit of air—not a huge amount, but enough to prevent my head from cooking. There are a number of small vents in the forehead and crown area, as well as exhaust vents in the back, and a closeable one in the upper rear. The adjustable visor also directs air toward the intake vents.Speaking of the visor, it’s a cool-looking unit. Unfortunately, the second time out a collision with a branch took out one of the snap-in pieces in the front. Worse, Nenki does not sell visors individually, so there’s no replacing it—a major deficiency in an off-road helmet, regardless of price. You have to either ride with a broken visor or buy a new helmet—not a great choice.The included Nenki Motocross goggles were a nice surprise. They are more than basic goggles, featuring triple density foam against your face, nose protection, a flexible frame with isolated strap mounts, silicone on the inside of the straps, and standard strap adjustability.The reflective lens looks great and has a light tint that works in open shade, as well as sunlight. There are posts for tear-offs, though I doubt many people will race in these goggles, regardless of the Motocross name. You can get fresh lenses in Blue, Red, or Clear for $10 each, while tear-offs are $10 for a pack of five.All of this makes the included Nenki Motocross goggles a great value—they’re free with the helmet. Even on their own for $26, that’s a good deal. Durability has been fine in a few rides, with no sign of the foam breaking down. Importantly, they look good and don’t feel inexpensive.That brings us back to the Nenki NK-316 helmet itself. Buying any helmet is always a leap of faith with the safety issue left to the government standards and the reputation of the builder. Certainly, Nenki Helmets hasn’t built a reputation yet. Instead, it is selling a helmet to off-roaders for $99 and throwing in a nice pair of goggles as an incentive.The good side to the Nenki NK-316 helmet is that it is quickly and inexpensively replaceable should you fall and hit your head—helmets are one-and-done in head-contact falls. That alone may encourage riders to buy a new helmet, rather than continue to ride with a helmet that has suffered dangerous, often invisible, damage. A fresh inexpensive helmet is safer, in our opinion, than an expensive helmet that has been compromised in a crash.I’ve ridden multiple times off-road with the Nenki NK-316 and felt safe and secure. Whether a $99 helmet (with goggles) suits your needs is up to you. However, should you buy the Nenki NK-316, you will get a comfortable off-road motorcycle helmet that looks good and appears to be competently constructed.Action photography by Kelly CallanNenki NK-316 Helmet Fast Facts
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