The Lazer Monaco Carbon is the lightest modular helmet on-sale in the U.S. right now. But can a relatively unknown brand delivery the kind of fit, comfort, quality and features to rival the established premium brands?
It’s fair to label me as a collector. Mostly motorcycles, a few weird cars, tools, stuff like that. But, my biggest collection is likely the motorcycle helmets I've kept dating back prior to the original Bell Star 120. I've held on to most of them not to wear, but to display. They show a kind of cool progression in technology and design through time.
Helmet collecting is a dying exercise, unless you simply like the pretty outer shells. As a RideApart reader, you're likely aware that the guts of your helmets decay with alarming rapidity. After a few years of use or, worse, sitting alone on the shelf, the interiors crumble, they're useless to wear, and they're really ugly to display 'cause if you pick one up to show it to someone, its guts fall out. Undaunted, I continue to pursue this, the saddest of hobbies.
It’s like trying to support a mayfly colony.
Ubermeister Siler one day hands an acquaintance of his (my son) a new Lazer Monaco Carbon Modular Helmet and says, "Here, test this and tell me what you think." The thinking being that the lid’s interior is almost completely spherical and the Blank family is renown for its perfectly round heads.
Since it’s a modular and the lad feels one must yodel to be seen in one, he comes home, hands it to me and says "Here, you can yodel. Wes wants to know what we think of this Lazer. It’s light, but it’s noisy and squeezes my head. You use it."
Since I'd only had one modular in my absurd collection, an old Schuberth that, according to the same kid (above), made me look like the Jack N' The Box dude, I was anxious to give it a shot.
I feel it important to note here that my dear wife felt that I looked more like Lancelot, post-joust. Clearly, she is a much better judge of these things than that kid.
At $529, the Lazer Monaco Carbon firmly occupies a top-tier price position amongst modular (flip-up) helmets. But, a study of its pros and cons may lead you to believe it’s the one for you.
Firstly, the quality, fit and finish are top-drawer. The helmet details are properly executed throughout and it beautifully highlights its carbon fiber main shell construction. One can definitely wear it with pride.
All fittings and accouterments are equally lavish and go further to justify its price. Bluetooth-ready with convenient speaker pockets and sub-wiring are a plus.
Also included is a unique, removable rear reflector bar.
Fit And Comfort
The fit of this helmet is quite tight at the temples even though it appears to use a rounded upper head mold. The helmet is close to impossible to put on unless it is opened. While this aspect may vary with user, as with any helmet, the potential buyer should really do a try-on before purchase. Helmets are very, very personal things and an ill-fitting one is an item sure to live in the closet.
Visibility and Noise/Sound Attenuation
Modulars are noisy, more so than standard full face helmets. But the Lazer Monaco is strangely noisy. Noisy in a "Beautiful Mind"/John Nash sort of way. Usually, a helmet creates a gathering crescendo of wind noise proportionate to speed, but this helmet talks to you. The gabbing starts at about 16mph (most days) then comes and goes from 35 to 50 mph (inconsistently). Some days it doesn't talk at all. Be advised, its not just wind noise. It sounds like someone trying to hold a conversation with you from the back of a cave.
The venting is spectacular. This is easily the coolest helmet I've ever ridden in short of an open face and is truly superior on hot days. The top intake must have been patterned after the one on an old F-86 Sabre. And the exhaust vents at the sides and the back are enormous too. Even in full-face mode you'll not likely be wanting more ventilation than this helmet provides.
Weight and Balance
Conforming to current D.O.T. and ECE 22.05 standards, the Lazer Monaco Carbon is an extraordinarily light piece. Weighing in at a airy 1350-1500 grams depending on size, the maker claims it to be the lightest modular on the planet. And it feels as such. Multiple 300-500 mile days have resulted in virtually no neck fatigue amongst its testers here.
Graphics and Finish Quality
The finish, in clear-coat carbon on the main shell, is really trick and all the trim, including a removable rear reflector, is high quality.
In open face mode, the chin curtain is said by the maker to be reflective to on-coming traffic. As I've got a strong sense of self-preservation, I've yet to experiment with the effectiveness of this feature. Please let me know how it works for you if you get one.
Factory equipped with a pricey pin lock ready SolFX "Transitions" photochromic shield, the helmet stands head and shoulders above the competition by providing the best of both worlds in one visor. The speed at which the "Transitions" shield morphs is impressive and fast changing light/dark situations appear to create little, if any problem for it to handle. This shield of course eliminates the need to carry a clear spare should your riding span the day to night period. Take care with it however, as replacements run in the $120.00 range. Some fogging is noted on damp or humid mornings which likely would be solved with an appropriate no-fog, Pinlock insert.
The open/closure of the helmet is accomplished in typical fashion through an easily accessible chin bar button. Closure feels snug and secure when snapped down smartly but care must be taken to ensure positive lock-down. In a few instances, we have found that the retaining lock arms hadn't reached complete engagement and the face bar was not fully closed.
The shield is a very trick SolFX "Transitions" photochromic piece, Pinlock-ready, that reacts to changing light/dark scenarios really quickly. Our local haunt, the Angeles Crest Highway, has an area called "the shadows.” Most auto-darkening shields won't react quickly enough to that area of light and dark, but the Lazer is really pretty good.
It also utilizes a great strapping mechanism with graduated detents that both snaps closed and releases easily with gloved hands.
The fit at the temples is courtesy of Vice Grip. Until it breaks in, you'll feel like you were a forceps baby and you've traveled back in time.
The Monaco produces less of the familiar "rushing" sound, but rather varying whistles and pitches at different speeds and without specific consistency.
Both of these niggles can be with 500 miles of break-in and a set of those 3M E-A-R earplugs they give out at nuclear test sites.
Finally, while the flip up release mounted on the inside of the chin bar is not hard to use, it is somewhat obscured by the lower wind curtain installed as factory equipment. You have to stick your thumb up and under the curtain to press the release. This is a rather clumsy exercise. I question how long the curtain can take such stretchy abuse without falling apart.
I can report to you that this is a hot-damn good helmet with some really nifty features and current state of the art build quality. Whether the problems noted are large or small in your evaluation will make this offering either a top choice or a non-contender. For us, the Lazer Monacao Carbon is an excellent blend of value, quality and features but with a few, albeit livable, problems.