Lazer Monaco Helmet Review (CE Version)
The new carbon-fiber version of the Lazer Monaco is claimed to be the world’s lightest flip-up motorcycle helmet and we have no reason to doubt it.
In fact, it’s one of the lightest helmets of any type we’ve ever reviewed on webBikeWorld.com.
Light weight does make a difference — especially in a flip-up — but the Monaco has many other features, including what is probably the best ventilation system we’ve experienced in a flip-up motorcycle helmet.
The history of Lazer Helmets spans the age of the motorcycle, going all the way back to 1919.
That’s nearly a century, and while the company has been through the iterations typical of any 100-year-old firm, motorcycle helmets have been a constant.
Not many helmet manufacturers can say that they started production back when leather helmets were still in vogue!
But Lazer has always been associated with innovation in motorcycle helmets. For example, how about those aluminum helmets that were considered leading edge some 65 years ago?!
Let’s just say thank goodness the aluminum craze didn’t last. Next came the more familiar thermoplastic, then full-face helmets in 1972 and injection-molded helmets after that.
And today we have fiberglass composites, the unique Lazer “Superskin” (review) and the latest material of the age: carbon fiber.
By the way, and just for the record — Lazer also makes protective helmets for sports as varied as bicycling, hang gliding, jet skiing and just about any other outdoor activity you can think of.
And while we’re at it, here’s one more historical factoid: a Lazer Century flip-up (review) was the subject of the very first webBikeWorld motorcycle helmet review, published about 12 years ago. Lazer Helmets were sold in the U.S.A. at that time, and Lazer hopes to re-enter the U.S. market soon.
So in a manner of speaking, the new Lazer Monaco flip-up brings us full circle!
The Monaco is a flip-up and it’s a motorcycle helmet, so in that regard, it’s similar to that Lazer Century of a decade ago. But in every other way, it couldn’t be more different.
The Monaco is available in both the “Pure Carbon” (carbon fiber) version shown here and a “Pure Glass” (fiberglass composite) version.
Burn and I have been riding with a production version of the helmet for the last few weeks and this is our report.
The Pure Carbon version of the Monaco at the EICMA show felt very light, but without a scale handy, it was difficult to tell exactly how light.
Lazer claims 1350 grams for the size S and that is indeed accurate. In fact, this size large Monaco Pure Carbon weighs but 1406 grams (3 lbs., 1-5/8 oz.), making it the lightest flip-up helmet by far that we have reviewed on webBikeWorld.com. (See the Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a listing of all helmet reviews ranked by weight).
And it’s also among the lightest helmets of any type we’ve reviewed out of 178 helmets to date.
Of course, weight isn’t everything when it comes to motorcycle helmets — but it sure makes a difference.
The Monaco gets its light weight from the carbon fiber shell, but there are also a few other tricks that have helped shed a gram here and a gram there, and I’ll be describing those in this report.
So let’s take a closer look at the new Lazer Monaco in “Pure Carbon”!
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The Lazer Monaco: Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
AA carbon fiber helmet is usually left unpainted but with a nice, glossy clear coat to show off its assets, and this one is no exception. No extra paint or graphics are needed here, because the carbon fiber has a beautiful sheen and the thick clear coat looks and feels protective.
Carbon fiber technology and production techniques have come a long way, and the Monaco is a good example. There’s nary a flaw to be found but, if you don’t care for the “raw” carbon fiber look, the Monaco Pure Carbon is also available in white or matte black.
It would be a shame, though, to cover up such a technological marvel!
The helmet shell feels strong in both directions and the rotating visor doesn’t creak and it clicks open and closed with a solid “thunk”, which helps to give the shell a quality feel. There is a slight misalignment, however, of the metal hooks that lock the visor shut on this example.
And it isn’t the equal of the newly redesigned rotating visor on the HJC Sy-Max III (review), with its silky-smooth rotation.
The Monaco rotating visor seems a tiny bit loose and it also has a bit of flex when it’s raised, but overall it isn’t much different from the average flip-up helmet visor and the weight savings is a good tradeoff.
The Monaco’s rotating visor is not made from carbon fiber but from a plastic material. It’s painted black in this version of the Pure Carbon Monaco, which is a good match for the carbon fiber cloth.
The Monaco is also dual-homologated as both a full-face and jet (open face) helmet.
It can be worn with the rotating visor in the raised position and the visor is designed to break away towards the rear of the helmet in case of a crash to help minimize rider injury.
Also, the screws that hold the visor are designed to provide impact resistance to the front but to bend if the helmet is impacted from the side, again to help limit rider injury of a screw being driven into the head.
The other plastic bits are of good quality; simple but solid and everything works as designed. The top vent is a large single unit, which is easier to use than a dual vent system, and a lip along the rear of the vent cover makes it easy to find and operate when wearing gloves.
The rear vent has a minimal appearance to save a gram or two of weight, and it’s nicely integrated into the overall design and helps to give the helmet a smooth look.
TThe chin vent operates with a nice, big, utilitarian slider lever that may look a bit clumsy but the design makes it very easy to quickly locate and use when wearing gloves.
The Monaco comes with the Lazer “Lumino” face shield, which is actually a SolFX Transitions photochromic face shield. The helmet does not have an internal sun shade.
Installing a photochromic face shield rather than an internal sun shade definitely saves some weight and adds to the quality impression given by the helmet. The SolFX face shield also has Pinlock studs and a Pinlock anti-fog insert (review) is included with the helmet.
The interior of the Lazer Monaco is comfortable but a bit of weight was saved here also, as the padding isn’t quite as plush as, for example, the new HJC y-Max III (review). But the flip side is that the design of the padding allows better ventilation in the Monaco than any other flip-up helmet in recent (or distant) memory.
Score: I’ll give the Lazer Monaco an “Excellent” rating for paint, clear coat and moving parts. The shell feels sturdy and it looks great. The inclusion of the SolFX Transitions face shield and the Pinlock insert is also a plus. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
I’d classify the Monaco as having a very neutral fit, neither too narrow nor too round. The size large shown here fits my round head and it also fits Burn’s narrower head without a problem.
TThe Lazer size chart lists the size large as fitting a 59-60 cm head and we agree that’s right on target. The bottom line is that the Monaco should comfortably fit a wide range of head shapes.
The Monaco is fitted with the Lazer “Morpho System Plus”, which means that the various internal padding sections and cheek pads are available in a variety of thicknesses to create a bespoke fit.
The Dri-Lex moisture-absorbing liner material is also treated with the “Aegis” anti-microbial product to prevent the nasties and reduce odor.
Although the liner padding isn’t quite as plush as some of the competitors, it’s perfectly comfortable. The surface material is smooth and feels comfortable next to the skin.
The surface area of the liner has been minimized, probably to save some weight. But the upside is that the design allows the free flow of air inside the helmet and there are very large and very direct vent passages from the top vent that provide outstanding ventilation.
Once again, this demonstrates that an exotic ventilation system isn’t necessary; just pay attention to the basics and create an unencumbered air passageway and everything should be just fine.
The ear pockets have an adequate shape and size and the helmet is ready for the Lazer “Blue” Bluetooth intercom system.
The split line between the cheek pads and the crown section of the liner is higher than normal, and this can make it a bit difficult to fit eyeglasses. This is more noticeable when fitting a round head in the helmet and less noticeable for riders with narrower heads.
The helmet has good coverage along the bottom and for the chin, so no corners were cut here and this also helps keep noise levels low.
More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: I’ll give the Lazer Monaco an “Outstanding” rating for fit, comfort and internal shape. The padding and liner feels comfortable and the helmet should fit many different head shapes.
Lazer Monaco Eye Port and Visibility
The eye port of the Monaco has a full-surround gasket, which isn’t always the case with flip-up helmets.
The SolFX Transitions face shield measures 2.31 mm thick on this helmet and it seals tightly against the gasket along the top and sides on this example. The face shield doesn’t lock closed but if fits snugly along the bottom edge of the eye port gasket also.
We ran the helmet through the webBikeWorld face shield “leak down test” by pouring water along the top of the closed face shield and no water leaked into the eye port past the gasket.
The water is directed down along the sides of the gasket and exits out the bottom of the face shield before it can get past the gasket and into the helmet.
A large lift tab is located at the lower left of the face shield. The system has four detents and there is some flex when lifting the face shield but it’s about average. The first detent is too large for defogging but the face shield can be cracked open slightly before the first detent if desired.
The SolFX Transitions photochromic face shield (the “Lumino” face shield) seems surprisingly impervious to fogging when riding in the current winter weather here and we felt no need to install the Pinlock anti-fog insert (review) that is included in the box.
It has outstanding optical properties and I’ve finally realized how nice it is to ride with one of these shields installed.
Lazer said that besides adding weight, an internal rotating sun visor uses some of the EPS crush zone inside the helmet, so the decision was made to use the Lumino (Transitions) face shield.
Also, the photochromic face shield reduces the need to change face shields from clear to tinted, eliminating the need for a quick-change face shield mechanism that also adds weight and can intrude on the crush zone.
The eye port provides slightly better than average in the vertical plane and about average in the horizontal plane.
Score: The combination of the SolFX Transitions face shield and the design of the eye port give the Lazer Monaco an “Excellent” rating in this category.
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Lazer Monaco Ventilation and Air Flow
TThe top vent on the Lazer Monaco looks simple and it is — which makes you wonder why so many other flip-up (and full-face) helmets have it wrong.
First of all, a single slider is all that’s required to open the vent — not two separate vents that are usually more difficult to find and operate when riding. Two separate top vents are unnecessary when one will do the trick.
Think about it: when is the last time you opened one side but not the other? I didn’t think so…
The other no-brainer is having a direct air passage from the vent opening through the EPS and liner and on to the rider’s head. The Monaco design is simple and straightforward.
Add a crown liner that also doesn’t block the air and throw in a few vertical vent passageways through the EPS for good measure, and the result is some of the best upper ventilation to be found in a flip-up helmet — far better, for example, than that HJC Sy-Max III mentioned previously.
The air flows into the top vent and if the head is titled forward just slightly, a lot of air can be felt rushing into the helmet.
The effect isn’t quite as dramatic as the rider’s head moves to a more upright position, but there’s no doubt this is one of the best flip-up helmet ventilation systems around.
The chin vent is nearly as successful; it has a big lever that, when positioned in the center, opens the vent along the top of the chin bar. Move the lever to either side and the “dragon’s teeth” close the vent. No air flows directly through the chin bar; typical of flip-up helmets.
The Monaco has a large chin curtain underneath the chin bar, which greatly reduces the amount of unwanted air flowing up into the helmet from below. The chin vent works well, all things considered, and it also helps to keep the inside of the face shield fog-free.
The Monaco includes exhaust vents on either side of the helmet, just behind the rotating visor.
A portion of this vent stretches underneath the rotating visor along the rider’s cheeks. A narrow exhaust vent in the shape of a slot is located along the upper rear portion of the helmet shell is nicely integrated into the design.
Overall, I’d rate the Lazer Monaco ventilation as above average.
Score: I’ll give the Lazer Monaco ventilation system an “Outstanding” rating.
Lazer Monaco Sound Levels
Now you might think that an ultra-lightweight carbon fiber helmet shell and a relatively minimalist liner design would mean problems controlling noise. But the Monaco is actually fairly quiet; much quieter than I expected and even a bit quieter than average.
The turbulence around the bottom of the helmet is well controlled due to the good fit and larger than average chin curtain. The smooth helmet shape with minimal protrusions also seems to help flow the air around and over the helmet, reducing turbulence.
So overall I’d say that the Lazer Monaco is quieter than average, with some general wind noise around the helmet but no additional noise from the vents. Turbulence is well controlled also.
Note that our helmet evaluations are a combined effort of several riders over time on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.
Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).
Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.
Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit, the type of motorcycle and windscreen, wind speed and direction and even the rider’s clothing.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: I’ll give the Lazer Monaco an “Excellent” rating for relatively low overall noise levels.
The Lazer Monaco Pure Carbon in size large weighs a mere 1406 grams (3 lbs., 1-5/8 oz.), making it the lightest flip-up motorcycle helmet we’ve ever reviewed by far. It’s even lighter than all 173 flip-up and full-face helmets we’ve reviewed to date!
That puts it in the top 5 lightest weight helmets ever.
This makes a big difference — just imagine your neck muscles fighting, say, a 2003 gram (4 lb., 5-5/8 oz.) Suomy D20 (review) helmet on a four-hour ride, compared to the 1406 gram Monaco that weighs almost a pound-and-a-half less.
That’s a huge difference in anyone’s book.
Other examples include the previous light-weight flip-up champ: the SCHUBERTH C3 (ECE Version, Flip-up, size L), which weighed 1550 grams. The ROOF Boxer (L), a very minimal flip-up design, weighed 1558 grams.
In full-face helmets, even the flyweight carbon fiber Akuma Phantom II MFR (XL) weighs 1367 grams, only 1.4 oz. less than the Monaco.
The equally light-weight Nexx XR1R (L) weighs 1382 grams, while the composite shell and no face shield of the AGV AX-8 (Off-Road, size L) weighs 1394 grams and the recently reviewed SCHUBERTH SR1 (XL) weighs 1438 grams.
So the big selling point of the Lazer Monaco is its light weight — it is the lightest flip-up helmet we’ve ever put across a scale; surely meeting Lazer’s claim of being the lightest flip-up helmet in the world. That it beats 95% of all full-face helmets too is icing on the cake.
Note also that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: The Lazer Monaco obviously gets an “Outstanding” rating for very light weight with outstanding balance.
The Monaco has a micro-lock chin strap locking system with a large plastic release strap. The padding under the chin strap is thin but it’s long enough to cover the neck and keep the chin strap from chafing.
The adjustable end of the chin strap has a nice rubberized tip but there are no loops or system to secure the extra length of strap after it’s adjusted to the rider’s neck, which is unfortunate.
The helmet meets the ECE 22.05 safety standard and is sold in Europe only.
The Lazer Monaco has a five-year warranty, which effectively covers the helmet for its usable life.
The new Lazer Monaco is one of the lightest weight helmets of any type that we have reviewed.
But it’s more than a lightweight helmet; it has some unique features designed for safety and utility and it also has probably the best ventilation of any flip-up and may be equal to some of the best full-face helmets also.
The price is actually very reasonable, considering the technology, features and warranty. It’s early in the year, but it will be tough to beat the Lazer Monaco in 2012!
See Also: Lazer Monaco DOT Review
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Owner Comments and Feedback
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From “B.W.” (January 2015): “I bought my LaZer Monaco helmet about a year ago and accumulated over 5000 miles so far in different weather conditions. This is the second time I considered your reviews.
I normally wear size small and also the LaZer helmet is this size. It fits better then my previous helmet and I have no sizing issues. My concerns about the photochromic face shield are not valid anymore and the view is fantastic in any condition.
This helmet is comfortable to wear even on a long days ride because of the light weight, good ventilation, photochromic face shield and is also one of the more quiet onces. I did not experience any problems in rain or wintery weather.
I’m used to a micro-lock chin strap locking system and it works just fine. I think for this price you can�t beat the features of a LaZer Monaco helmet.”
From “D.M.” (December 2014): “I think a revised model is close to release, because RevZilla is selling them on discount ($299). So this review may apply to what will soon be the old model. Read on.
Plus: it�s light for a flip-up. That�s good. The transitions face shield is great. Current price seems like an excellent value if you value light weight and appreciate the photochromic visor. You know who you are.
Minus: One shell size. If you are an extra large, great. If you have a small melon, you will look like a spaceball. Jaw clearance is smaller than most. George Clooney might not like this helmet. Martin Short: no problem. I have a bigger than average jaw and am OK, but it�s close.
Weighs more than the ECE version, but still light. I wish I knew if ECE or DOT is safer (UK testers help us out!). Neither good nor bad: graphics are loud and a bit goofy, but visible and the Harley guys won�t laugh too much. Runs a bit small (If you are on the line between sizes, order larger). The webBikeWorld review description of fit seems right for me.”
From “C.W.” (January 2013): “In spring I was forced to get a new helmet (Lazer Monaco) and your page gave me the hints which one to buy. I was very pleased with your conclusions and I could reproduce a lot of them — thanks.
Within the season 2012 I was able to aggregate experience over 30,000 km in any possible weather condition.
Beside all positive features: self-darken visor, weight, flip-up mechanism, inlets, etc., there exist some disadvantages: heavy rain showers coming though in thunderstorms and “heavy rain” conditions water is leaking through the upper ventilation valve. the amount of water is surprisingly large and dropping on your head 🙂 which probably freeze your brain.
Closing the ventilation has no positive effect 🙁 – snap-mechanism to hold the visor in open condition I used to ride with the visor snapped in position 1. for the first few months the “locked in” was perfect. but with the permanent usage the locking get a little bit weak.
Sometimes riding with speeds about 80-100 kph suddenly the visor closes. Just for statistics, my bike is a Honda Africa Twin 750. Thanks for the work.”
From “D.W.” (November 2012): “…I received my Lazer Monaco Carbon Fiber helmet from Designer Helmets of the UK a few days ago. (…)
I ordered the helmet in white (the “Be Seen” philosophy) with a clear face shield as an extra order due to my uncertainty about the Lazer�s “Transitions” photo sensitive face shield
Upon arrival, the first thing I did was weigh the helmet with my super duper hand held “hanging” digital scale made by AWS. I�m sure it�s not perfect, however, from my tests with known weights, I think it�s damn close. My Monaco weighed in at 3 lbs 3 oz. This is, in my mind, truly excellent for a size XXL (63-64 cm) helmet and one of the primary reasons for my purchase.
I finally got to try it out this 2012 Thanksgiving morning for a short one hour ride. First, my bike is a 2009 R1200GS Special Edition with an Aeroflow tall shield. I�ve always had good air protection with the Aeroflow, so I can�t speak to the helmet�s virtues on an open bike. However, my experience was that the helmet is quiet, even when standing up above the shield on the bike�s foot pegs at about 60 mph.
The helmet comes pre-wired for earphones, so the ear sockets are bare to accommodate the speakers. The helmet does have padded ear inserts which I used and which provided a surprising amount of sound insulation. The paint, fit, and finish of the helmet are really first rate. No complaints on that score at all.
I was a little leery of the Transitions photosensitive face shield. I�m not much for tinted shields to begin with. In the shade the Lazer shield is clear, but as soon as I hit the sun, it changed to a light, then darker, but never too dark, tint. The face shield gives excellent sun protection, and has as good if not better optical clarity of any clear shield I�ve experienced.
I frankly am not a fan of separate sun shields. I�ve never experienced one that had good optical quality. However, my experience is limited to the ten or so helmets I�ve owned so I can�t claim to be any expert. Also, I don�t like the mechanics of separate sun shields and seem to feel more comfortable simply placing electrician�s tape at the top and bottom edges of a clear face shield for glare protection. Sort of a farmer�s bailing wire solution, I know, but it works.
However, I�m going to keep going with the Transitions shield on the Lazer. I found that if I hit a shady stretch, I just flip the face shield up and I�m good. In fact, with my bike, I most often ride with the face shield up anyway.
One thing that I did notice is that although it transitions quickly from clear to tint in the sun, it does not transition very quickly back to clear when in the shade. One other thing about the face shield. The tab on the lower edge of the face shield is generous and easy to find. I had no problem at all flipping it up or down, or in between. It felt solid and the detents sure but not “clanky”.
I did find the Lazer not so user friendly for my eyeglasses, however, the problem is not one that I haven�t overcome simply by experimenting in how to best put the helmet on. I did notice that the collar of the helmet with the chin piece up, at the “Adam�s apple” area, if you will, has a smaller “gate” or opening distance than, say, my Nolan N102. My Nolan size XL N-102 has an opening with a distance of 8.75″ tip-to-tip at the collar, whereas the Lazer XXL Monaco has a distance of 5.25″.
The Lazer helmet feels “tight” putting it on, however, once on it is extremely comfortable. No tightness at all. In fact, it feels like a perfect fit. The chin strap buckles with the slide-lock mechanism, which I also prefer over the D-ring style.
Well, that�s about it as it goes for first impressions. As I indicate above, I find the quality of the helmet to be first rate. But, my biggest and loudest cheer goes for its light weight. I have a bad back and neck, and grow tired on long rides with anything in the 4 lb. range of helmets.
Any time I can find something that gives me full head protection with a lighter weight, I go for it. Having a 3 lb. full face modular helmet is a Godsend. Thank you Lazer for an excellent helmet, and thank you guys for your review of the helmet on which I based my purchase. I couldn�t be happier with the result.”
From “J” (May 2012): “I bought this helmet without seeing it in person, I only had seen older Lazer models and was not very impressed with finish quality or feel.
I’ve had it now for couple of days and trying to be objective I can say it is a fine helmet, first of, the finish quality inside out is very good, riding with it feels like a very light full face helmet.
Visibility is great, aeration is great, the photo thingy visor works. I am very happy with this purchase, for the price and even higher priced helmets nothing beats it ( I am thinking of the SCHUBERTH C3 which I’ve tried on ). Love the carbon look!”
From “A.B.” (February 2012): “The Monaco really felt very light on my head, even when moving my head fast side to side. The interior is quite good as the reviewer states, but eyeglass compatibility is bad. The helmet has almost no flex, so pulling it open on the chin straps in order to put it on without removing my glasses doesn’t work. It’s just too tight, and folds down my ears dragging the glasses along.
Also putting my glasses on reveals that there are no eyeglass channels, which also creates pressure against the frame of the glasses. If you don’t wear eyeglasses you should definitely consider this helmet before you spend your hard earned money on something else.”
Rick’s Reply: I wear eyeglasses also and didn’t notice a problem with the Monaco, so it may depend on the match between the head shape and internal fit, or sizing differences.