This was my first experience with a modular helmet and I was excited to give it a try. Coincidentally, it was also my first experience with a carbon fiber helmet so this was a certain double-dose of awesomeness that I was eager to test.
At first glance everything looked great! The carbon fiber shell was clean, free of rippled weaves, and well clear-coated. The chin bar was not carbon fiber but finished in a smart-looking metallic black. Personally, I think it would be cool to see the chin bar finished in other colors as well to add some variety to the product line: silver, red, blue, etc. I was impressed to see that the standard faceshield had SolFX Transitions technology and a PinLock lens. What more could you ask for? For as nifty a bunch standard features such as these are, the fit was also refreshing. While modulars have traditionally had a fit that erred on the round side, we’ve seen many new modulars come out like the Monaco with an intermediate-oval fit. I put about 12 hours (at least an hour at a time for my commute) in this helmet over the course of a week and never had a hot spot on my slightly-narrow noggin. Speaking of fitting my noggin, I found the cheek pads and liner to be very soft and comfortable. The Monaco seems true to size; I measure 59.5cm and donned a perfect-fitting size Large that is recommended for 59-60cm.
This helmet is designed to operate with Lazer’s proprietary bluetooth system. In its absence for this test, I decided to fit a Cardo Scala Rider G4. Installation was straightforward and the shell easily accommodated the G4 clamp (great news for Cardo and Sena fans... no adhesive mounting necessary!). In a triumph of forward-thinking, the helmet is pre-wired for the Lazer system; each ear pocket had a plug for speakers as well as had velcro pre-installed for securing said speakers.
The chin bar mechanism felt solid and confident as evidenced by the metallic strikers and latches. The included chin curtain had a cleft in the center to ease the navigation of the chin bar release button that was nestled behind it. I was concerned that this would cause some noise or wind issues when riding but I’ll get to that later.
I was initially baffled that there is no quick-release mechanism for the face shield as there is with many of its competitors. I came to realize, however, that this is a non-issue because the included Transitions shield and Pinlock lens negates the need for constant shield changes. I surmise the lack of quick-release mechanisms also helps reduce the overall weight of the helmet by a few grams.
Speaking of weight savings, it’s a common knowledge that most modular helmets are on the heavy side. Usually we find weights in the 3.5 to 4.5 pound range (roughly 12-16% heavier than most full-faced helmets). The carbon fiber shell on this helmet brings its weight down to an astounding 3lbs 1oz. I double-checked, re-calibrated the scale, and triple-checked. In disbelief, I got a second opinion from another scale. Confirmed. At an ounce over 3 pounds it’s the lightest modular we’ve handled.
OK! Let’s get on the road!
This helmet spent about 99.9% of its time on the highway on a naked bike in a forward riding position. The helmet felt very aerodynamic, well balanced, and, when combined with its ultra-lightweight construction, I rarely ever noticed it was there.
I mentioned earlier my concerns over the chin curtain. No problems with this at all; I did not notice any excessive air or noise leaks with this or with the neck roll. It seemed to all make a good seal around my neck to keep the wind noise down from the bottom of the helmet.
Visibility through the eyeport was good and I did not have a problem with peripheral vision.
There were a few disappointments with the faceshield and vents, however. The SolFX faceshield seemed to leave me wanting more in terms of tint. While it was clear in the absence of sunlight, it was dismally tinted in broad daylight. It was a light tint at best. Also, it did not make a very good seal when closed at all. The shield could stand to have a stronger closing detent to make it feel more secure. Many times I found myself closing the shield (when having it open at a stoplight, for example) and then tapping it several times afterwards to make sure it was closed. It just never closed with any confidence. On that note, the top gasket makes no seal whatsoever with the shield. This resulted in a constant flow of air direct at my eyes. This is a bad situation for folks who wear contacts and don’t want dry itchy eyes. Otherwise, ventilation was non-existent. The Monaco has 3-position chin and forehead vents but they appeared to be more for show than for function. The bottom line, plenty of airflow where you don’t want it, but fixing that will require fixing the vents as well. The switch on the chin vent also has a rubberized grip on it that is already half falling off. I would recommend not having it at all as I don’t think it adds any aesthetic value.
In terms of noise, it is not the quietest helmet I’ve ever worn but certainly not the loudest. I think if Lazer addresses the seal issue with the faceshield then it could be considered a relatively quiet helmet for being a modular.
All in all, I think this is a quality lid worth considering. It’s well built, pleasing to the eye, comfortable, feature-rich, and insanely light. If LaZer addresses the ventilation and noise quirks then it really becomes a homerun, making the Monaco Carbon Helmet an easy rival to the premium modulars from Shoei, and Schuberth.
- Joel P.