In gathering modular helmets together for the past 2 months of Gear, we realized that we overlooked one example. European brand LaZer offers a modular option, the Monaco Pure Carbon, and on paper it’s an impressive package. It has a full carbon shell, SOLFX photochromic face-shield, and wiring for a communicator system, to name just a few features.
The Monaco’s chin skirt uses a section of spandex that stretches to accommodate the latch.
Besides looking decidedly high-end (ours is bare carbon), the carbon fiber shell means a total weight of 3 pounds, 4 ounces, making it lighter than any of the other modulars we tested over the past 2 months, regardless of price. Much lighter, in fact, nearly 16 oz. in some cases. A secondary benefit of the carbon shell is that the Monaco is noticeably stiffer than most modulars when the chin bar is flipped up. Reassuring, more than anything.
The only downside we found with the stiff shell is that the helmet is very difficult to put on or take off with the chin bar down. For any amount of comfort donning the lid you will want to flip the bar up, but luckily LaZer has made that easy. Unlike complicated latch systems we’ve tested before, the Monaco uses a simple button, easy to find by pinching the chin bar with a forefinger and thumb. Also, the same chin skirt has reflective material integrated into the non-spandex portion, so when the lid is open a forward-facing piece of the helmet is reflective. Smart.
RevZilla, the U.S. importer, calls the shape of the Monaco an intermediate oval, which we found to be true, though none of our testers truly beamed over the LaZer’s fit. We all agreed the Monaco was tight along the crown of our heads, especially near the rear, which worsened the problem of the chin bar sitting a little too close to our faces. There were also a couple of tight spots in the jaw/temple area, but it broke in well over the course of a few weeks and the pressure lessened.
Venting is satisfying; if anything, it’s a little too good. The Monaco suffers the same fate as many modular lids in that it is drafty at speed, a problem that is accentuated by a chin vent that lets air flow through in any of its three (open, middle, closed) settings. Even still, the face shield is highly prone to fogging until the provided Pinlock insert is installed.
The functionality of the photochromic SOLFX shield is terrific, automatically tinting to dark smoke in bright sunlight and going clear at night, but we did encounter an interesting dislike. The trend with modular helmets is to utilize a clear shield with a drop-down sun-visor, which besides the instantaneous and manual benefits also allows the lid to be open but still offer eye protection. A nice perk if you like feeling the wind on your face and enjoying increased peripheral vision at low speeds. No-can-do with the Monaco.
While we’re sweating the small stuff, it should be noted that the Monaco has a few nice touches as well. A red reflector on the back of the helmet, for example, is unique and practical, and can be removed if you choose. Each helmet also comes wired for an optional LaZer Link Bluetooth Kit ($129). Unfortunately the kit wasn’t available in time for us to test it, but the wiring in the helmet is meticulous and will undoubtedly be less of an eyesore than most systems.
At $529, the LaZer Monaco Pure Carbon is not cheap, but falls in line with the level of performance it displays. It’s slightly more expensive than HJC’s RPHA Max and Nolan’s N104, but comes prepared with more equipment standard and is, of course (did we mention this?), lighter. All told, the Monaco is a considerable value, and we can’t help be excited for an updated version in the future.
|LaZer Monaco Pure Carbon Modular Helmet
|Verdict 4 out of 5 stars
|A high-quality and innovative product that only needs a little refinement to be class-leading.