Lazer Century Helmet Review
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
This was the very first motorcycle helmet review published on webBikeWorld (Spring of 2001).
webBikeWorld was started in 2000.
Riders who wear eyeglasses sometimes find it difficult to wear full-face helmets.
Putting on a full-face helmet involves taking off your eyeglasses, putting on the helmet, and then trying to squeeze the eyeglass frames between the sides of the helmet and the rider's head, in the hopes that the eyeglass arms hook over the ears.
I've never been able to do this -- I guess I have a weird shaped head or ears or something.
I usually settle for leaving the eyeglass arms outside my ears, which can cause some pain after a while from the pressure of the helmet against the frame arms.
I was pretty much resigned to wearing open face helmets because of this problem. But "flip-up" helmets have recently become popular with eyeglass wearers and others who like the convenience.
It's not clear whether they offer better protection than open-face helmets, but it seems logical that they do, and a flip-up is about the only way that eyeglass wearers can get the look, style and protection of a full-face helmet with a minimal number of compromises.
Each flip-up brand seems to have a different design for the latching mechanism. There does not seem to be a standard design used by the industry, so perhaps this is a problem area. Some of the helmets use metal latches, some are plastic. There is no clear proof that one is better than the other.
Even though most of the flip-ups, including the Lazer Century, are DOT safety standard, users would feel much better if Snell designed some type of test to evaluate these type of helmets.
It's a mystery why they don't -- Snell claims that no manufacturer has yet submitted a flip-up for testing, but it would be nice to get some idea whether the flip-up design is better or worse than, for example, an open-face helmet. (UPDATE: this review was first written in 2001; it was rumored that a Snell-approved flip-up helmet would be released by a manufacturer during the first quarter of 2004, but it didn't happen).
There are several choices when it comes to flip-ups, but they all seem to have the same compromises. Any test I've seen in the media usually rates the flip-ups lower than the full-face helmets in comfort and noise reduction. It seems that all of the flip-ups are noisy -- although it seems to me that with good design, this problem could be eliminated or at least greatly reduced.
Also, it sure seems that a good design, using metal latches and reinforcement, has the potential of actually making these type of helmets as strong as or stronger than full-face examples.
I think what we're seeing is the first generation of flip-ups, and I wouldn't be surprised (and I hope!) to see great strides made in the design and engineering of these helmets in the future. Their increasing sales should prompt some competitive designs to start flowing any day now.
In the meantime, my opinion, after trying out several different brands, is that they're all about the same. I purchased this Lazer Century model when they first became available for sale in the U.S.A. in 2001 for $229.00.
The cost has since dropped to $170.00 direct from the importer (AGV/Lazer USA), which I think is a very good deal. Since AGV purchased Lazer Helmets recently, hopefully we can expect that the engineers at AGV will soon improve the design and functionality of all Lazer Helmets, including the Century.
One thing I've always liked about this helmet is that it has been very comfortable right from the start.
I normally take a size large, but the Century seems to run a bit small, and the XL fits me nicely. I've never experienced any hot spots or lumps since I've owned this helmet.
The liner in the Century isn't made of some kind of exotic material; it's pretty basic, but it does its job well and I don't have any complaints.
The cheek pads are removable, which is unusual for this type of helmet, and I ordered a set of thinner pads when I first got the helmet and have been using them since. I always wear a helmet liner, so the lining has stayed nice and clean and in good shape.
The retention strap doesn't have a D-ring latch, but uses the European style quick release system. This has been very easy to use and it ejects the buckle with a one-handed push, but I never feel as secure with these type of retention systems as I do with the good ol' D-rings.
It came with a cheap plastic ring to hold the extra chin strap from flapping in the breeze, which broke off soon after I purchased the helmet and hasn't really been missed.
One other nice feature is the positive "click" opening of the visor. There's a little tab on the bottom of the visor on the left hand side that allows me to quickly reach up and snick open the visor when it starts to get fogged.
There are about 8 stops to all the way open, and I really like this ability to customize the amount of air I'm getting into the helmet; it's amazing how few helmets, even the most expensive ones, don't allow a small opening for defogging.
The flip-up front part of the helmet is held on with a bolt on either side that can be tightened with a coin. Opening the Century is an easy single-handed operation.
One complaint is that when the flip-up is closed, the visor has lateral "ears" that stick out into the breeze and I think cause some wind noise.
There's no doubt about it, this helmet is noisy, although all of the flip-ups that I've tried have been pretty noisy anyway. I always wear earplugs, so it doesn't bother me that much, but it is definitely noticeably noisier than any other helmet I've tried.
That said, I must admit I probably have the bike for evaluating helmet noise -- my BMW K75 with the BMW windscreen creates an enormous amount of turbulence around the helmet (Editor's Note: The K has since been sold!).
K75 owners have been wrestling with this problem for years (see the wBW article "BMW K75 Windscreen Buffeting Fix"). Every helmet out there is noisy on this bike, and the Lazer seems especially prone to noise with this buffeting.
But when I ride any other bike without this buffeting problem, i.e., a "naked" bike, the Lazer helmet really isn't that bad. As I mentioned, I always wear earplugs (see the wBW Hearing Protection and Earplugs page), so your results may vary.
The Century seems to fit down lower around my chin and head than other helmets I've tried, which is good -- I feel secure in it because it fits so well around the lower part of my head.
This is unlike the Schuberth and especially the Nolan; those helmets seem to be so short that my chin actually sticks out from underneath, which is totally unacceptable to me in terms of safety.
Although I will say that my chin just about touches the inside of the chin bar on the Century, so if you have a long head or a big lower jaw, this helmet may not be for you.
This helmet can get hot -- there is no top air venting. The only venting is a very small chin vent, but I can't tell if there's any difference whether it's open or closed.
When it starts to get a bit toasty, I pop open the visor a notch or two to get some fresh air, and I've gotten into the habit of completely opening the visor when I come to a stop sign or stop light.
Other than that, there's not much more I can say about it; I've used it a lot over the past two years -- it's become pretty much my every day helmet, and it's served me well.
I think it's a good value for the money, and have no problem recommending it, as long as potential owners understand its limitations.
Oh, one more thing -- Lazer used to carry an electric defogger for this helmet, which is kind of interesting, but I'm not sure if they still sell these or not.
By the way, since this review was first posted, we purchased a scale. The Century weighs in at 1645 grams, which is lighter than I thought -- one gram less than the HJC Sy-Max.
I'm hoping for the next generation of flip-ups to arrive soon, hopefully with some type of Snell approval. The Shoei Syncrotech and others haven't been updated in quite a while, so we'll see what type of improvements are made.
I certainly wouldn't pay much more than $200 for a flip-up; I think you're better off with a full-face helmet once you start getting up over 200 bucks, so the Century is about as good as any for the money.
UPDATE: After reviewing and trying a new batch of helmets recently, I have to say that every time I go back to the Century, I'm really impressed with how well it fits me and how comfortable I feel in it. It's weird -- kind of like meeting an old friend, or like the comfort you get from an old, well-worn, broken in pair of jeans.
I really like the way the helmet shape comes down below my chin and jaw; it makes me feel much more secure than other helmets. If the Century was just a bit quieter, and had slightly better venting, I'd say that it would be close to perfect!
|wBW Review: Lazer Century Flip-up Motorcycle Helmet|
|Manufacturer: Lazer Helmets (Belgium)||List Price (2001): $170.00 USD|
|Colors: Black, White, Burgundy, Steel Gray.||Made In: Belgium|
|Review Date: 2001|
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From "C.M." (4/10): "I've owned a Laser Century ever since they first came out with them. I think I got turned on to them via the webBikeWorld review, way back when. I've never had a problem with it.
Yeah, it's hot...wish it did have better venting, but I usually just pop up the visor a notch and that takes care of that. I have never really been concerned about the noise, as I wear ear plugs all the time.
I bought some sunshade stick-on vinyl from the auto parts store that I cut to shape and place it over the top portion of the visor. That goes a long way in helping cut down on the sun glare.
I get a bit of fogging when it rains and have had to pull over during a tropical storm I was riding in...but, then again I probably should not have been riding in that storm in the first place. Usually though, I just pop the visor a notch and that clears the fog away.
What can I say? I really like this helmet. It fits securely to my head; doesn't want to ride back/tilt upward; has never given me any problems. I think it's time to get another, as I've worn this one for close to eight years and have gone down twice with it on. I'll end up paying close to double for a newer one compared to this one, but I feel it'll be worth it."
From "E.J.": "I just read the comments from "T.W." on the Lazer Century helmet. I was actually logging in to tell you what happened to mine when I saw his comments. I had the same thing happen with the entire inside of the chin guard. The single dollop of glue came loose and the padding and breath guard fell out when I opened the helmet. Fortunately, I was parked and taking my helmet off when it happened.
I contacted Lazer and received an RMA number to return the helmet. They promptly refunded the cost of the helmet, but I'm out shipping to and from the distributor. I was very disappointed. Now, having read that another rider experienced the same problem, I am disgusted. I would not recommend this helmet to anyone else at this point."
Editor's Reply: I've discovered that the problem of helmet chin padding coming loose is not unique to Lazer. Even some of the most expensive helmets seem to have this problem. I'm not sure why the padding seems to be so hard to keep in place, but usually the piece can be re-inserted.
The problem is apparently difficult to resolve in flip-up helmets, probably due to the latching mechanism behind the chin padding. I have to say that if you can get over some of the quality problems with the Lazer, it really isn't that bad of a helmet.
Even though I have probably a dozen or so helmets around here, I still end up reaching for the Century a lot, I guess it's gotten to be kind of comfortable and I know exactly what it will and won't do for me.
From "T.W.": "I purchased 2 ea. of these helmets since the company was offering such a good deal on them. I was wearing one for about a week and I pulled open the chin bar at a long light, temperature was about 85 degrees outside.
As I opened the helmet the entire section of chin padding fell out, and the nose guard jammed in the mechanism so I couldn’t completely close the helmet. Having your helmet partially fall apart at a light, and not being able to completely close (or open after it jammed) does not instill confidence in the devices ability to protect my “Head”, let alone the vision problem I incurred while getting myself off the road.
After I pulled over and retrieved the material it appeared that the padding was just slapped on with a blob of glue that eventually worked it’s way loose, the glue was “sticky” and appeared to be affected by the heat. I don’t think I can trust the other helmet I purchased, but I will wait to hear from the distributor before I send it to the DOT, possible very VERY dangerous...I wonder if the QA has gone down hill since they merged with their parent company."
Editor's Reply: You may want to try contacting the distributor to help resolve the problems.