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.
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 Callan
Nenki NK-316 Helmet Fast Facts
- Sizes: M-XL
- Weight: 3 pounds, 1 ounce (medium shell)
- Colors: Black/Yellow/Red; White/Blue/Red; White/Blue/Yellow; White/Red/Blue
- Nenki NK-316 Helmet Price: $99 MSRP (includes matching Nenki Motocross goggles)
- Website: https://www.nenki-helmets.com/