I know a lot of you out there have been enjoying watching Thomas Voeckler tearing it up this season. If you’re anything like me, you’re not only paying attention to his inimitable attacking style. And I’m not referring to the French length of his bibshorts, I’m referring to his helmet (and not that either). The helmet that Petit Blanc and his Europcar team have been wearing is the Louis Garneau Quartz. Garneau has been a part of this team since it was Bouygues Télécom. I however, have been riding mine for half a season longer than they, and this is what I’ve found.

Cycleboredom | Thomas Voeckler rocking the short shorts!

Cycleboredom | Louis Garneau Quartz Helmet On Voeckler

Helmet design that’s simple and PRO

What drew me to the Quartz was its simplicity. At a certain price range, all helmets gulp air. That’s a given. But if it’s going on my head, it’s got to have PRO style in excess. But PRO doesn’t always mean expensive. When my former LG rep asked me what helmet I wanted to try from their line (we had just started carrying them), he wondered why I didn’t want one of their more expensive models.

Cycleboredom | Top View Louis Garneau Quartz Helmet

At the time, the Diamond was the only model above the Quartz. But I felt there was way too much was going on with it, preferring the uncomplicated lines of LG’s cheaper model. The white colorway, thankfully, was devoid of unnecessarily obtrusive graphical elements. A tastefully subdued silver carbon pattern covers the exposed black polystyrene along the top.

Cycleboredom | Louis Garneau Quartz Rear View

The Quartz doesn’t sit high on the head, nor does it bloom irregularly from the sides. Its profile isn’t so compact that it looks like it’s jammed forward onto your forehead. An all-around even look. At 260g, it’s not an ultralight helmet, but it definitely isn’t heavy. I didn’t detect any hot/trouble spots when contacting my head. Padding is adequate in the usual places. Sunglass placement is wide and low. A little different than you may be used to if you’re coming from a Giro Pneumo or Atmos but still easy to store eyewear when you’re attacking on a sunless mountain pass. Or ordering espresso.

Cycleboredom | Quarter View Louis Garneau Quartz

Cycleboredom | Louis Garneau Quartz Helmet Sunglasses Placement

Spider Lock retention system

Upon first look, the Spider Lock fit retention system is a little different. Many systems are functionally separate of the straps, but the SL is attached. For me, this does a few of things. It obviously saves some grams (although probably not much) and sheds some extra bulk. The fit around the base of the skull is magnetic. In fact, you can actually make it too tight. I ended up with a headache from my first ride after ratcheting it down too much. Needless to say, it’s TOIGHT. Lastly, it has an unexpected benefit. Since the retention structure is partially created by the straps, the Spider Lock can tuck up under the helmet when you place it on a surface. I always worry that I’m going to break a retention system on most of my helmets, but with the Quartz you can throw it into a bag without a second thought.

Cycleboredom | Louis Garneau Quartz Spider Lock

Final thoughts and rating

I gotta be honest, there wasn’t much I could fault on this helmet. I’m not a huge fan aesthetically of the smaller vent holes, but all of them, especially those in the front, are useful. So that’s kind of a pointless complaint. If forced to find an opportunity, it could stand to shed some grams, but that’s what Garneau’s 190g X-Light helmet is for. It’s actually a pleasure to see an équipe pro helmet retail for USD$ 139.99—very refreshing.

PRO FACTORS: Solid, simple, and PRO design aesthetic. Effective retention system.

OPPORTUNITIES: Could shed some grams?

RATING: 95% – The Louis Garneau Quartz helmet is fully Euro-PRO quality and Voeckler approved.

LINK: www.louisgarneau.com

IMAGE SOURCES: The Telegraph and The Australian

  • Ron

    Cool, I have actually been thinking about picking up this helmet myself and this review was worth reading. Thanks!

    The funny thing is that I’ve seen Voeckler wearing it as well, which is how it originally caught my eye. I like watching that guy race & it’s easy for me to cheer him on since we’re the same size; I like the lil’ blokes in the peloton.

    One question: I usually prefer the look/fit of Specialized helmets. The front channel just seems to look better than most helmets. But, this Quartz looks pretty awesome. Have you worn Specialized helmets? Can you comment on the fit/look/feel of the Quartz in comparison?

    I already have a white helmet so might go for black. And I might just have to go ahead and give myself an early birthday present with this one. Hey, safety gear is always a good purchase!

    Glad I came across your site and this review. Hmm, I might even know you – I used to live in DC and frequent the Revolution on M. Street.

    Thanks for the review!

    • Hey Ron, thanks for reading and the comment!

      Re: the fit/look of the two helmets, I’ll try to balance the subjective (aesthetic taste) with the objective (skull shape)! I still have a Specialized Decible which I liked, but not loved. I like the aggressive look of Spesh, but their mold doesn’t fit my skull as well as the Quartz. The Decible contacts me more along my temple area than the Quartz. I’m also not able to comfortably fit a cycling cap underneath the Decible. I’m sure Specialized has improved their retention system since ’06, but regardless I think you’ll be impressed by how magnetic the Quartz is. The Spesh trademark front “mouth” definitely has an advantage over the 3 small holes on the front of the LG, but I haven’t noticed a lack of airflow even when riding in the DC Metro humidity. Lastly, Specialized helmets typically sit high and forward on my head which is not my preference. I think that’s a combination of personal aesthetic taste as well as an issue with coverage.

      Hopefully that helps! Your best bet is finding an LBS that carries it, and try it on. Then you’ll know for sure.

  • Ron

    Cool! I went for it and picked up the helmet. None of my LBSs had it in stock so I’ll just have to wait and see. Got it for $125 shipped, not bad.

    Yeah, I have loved the Specialized “mouth” since I got a M series around 2003 over at Capitol Hill bikes. Really liked that helmet, still using it for my around town lid.

    Two years ago picked up the Specialized Echelon. Actually fit me better than the S-Works or Propero, and far less money. That’s a really nice helmet for $50.

    Hopefully the Quartz fits me well. It’ll be my main riding helmet, the Echelon will become back-up/around town, and the M series will be phased out.

    Thanks for the reply! I went for black, as my Echelon is white/silver. Gotta have the matching (or contrasting) lid with the right kit.

    Now I just need the short bib shorts…and I’ll be riding like Tommy V! 🙂

  • Ron

    My helmet showed up. Pretty sharp looking, feels pretty good on my head when wearing it around the house a bit.

    A few concerns:

    1) One side of the internal strapping has popped off a few times when putting the helmet on. Happens where the plastic webbing meets the fabric strap. What is the point of the little slit in the webbing, right next to the hole that snaps onto the little nub of the other webbing piece? Almost reminds me of a slot in a master link, but doesn’t seem to work like that.

    I don’t know if I got a defective web strap or what.

    2) Sunnies arm contact. I ran into this last time I bought a new helmet and was one reason I didn’t get an S-Works. I always wear sunglasses when cycling. I have four different pairs.

    With the Quartz helmet I either need to shove the arms under the plastic webbing, which sometimes causes them to kick up off my nose, and might lead to discomfort from the arms being pressed against my head so hard. Or, I need to go over the webbing. Hmm…not so sure how much plastic frames like being stretched. Some of my shades are pretty expensive and can’t imagine plastic likes being flexed like that. Might decrease the lifespan of my eyewear.

    Have you run into this issue?

    I see you own some Rudy shades. Maybe it’s an Oakley problem, as those are what I wear?

    I don’t think I’m pulling the webbing down too far. When it sits comfortably on my head the lock in the back is near the base of my skull, where my head is turning into my neck.

    • Hey Ron, I’d say contact LG re: the strapping popping off. I haven’t had anything like that happen to mine, so I imagine it’s just a defect on yours. The glasses issue is a roll of the dice. I don’t have Jawbones at the moment, so I don’t have any experience with them in terms of fit. None of the glasses I use (several different Rudy and Briko models, plus an Oakley Racing Jacket) contact the helmet whatsoever. I’ve had issues with the Specialized helmet and glasses contact. But that was resolved by wearing a pair that don’t touch.

      Don’t know if that helps, but I know what you’re going though!

  • Ron

    And…I’m back! Been wearing mine in small/black for over a year now and absolutely love it. Tried out a Limar Ultralight but it didn’t fit my head quite right and, more importantly, my shades just won’t sit right. That’s not gonna cut it. Would also have to cut holes in the bug netting to tuck into the vents when not wearing. Also not good.

    Gonna go for it in white-ish silver this time. Love the simplicity and awesomeness of a black helmet and then they also look like old hairnets. But, one black and one white offers some variety! And, now the black can be my dedicated CX helmet with the white strictly for road rides.

    The Quartz fits so nicely, feels so good, and definitely looks PRO but not too over-the-top like a Catlike. Plus, my shades all fit well when on, no straps/webbing issues and also tuck in the vents easily. Nothing to fault with this helmet…and just found the white one on a great sale!

    Oh, with the strap issue. I called LG and they sent me a new spider-loc. It’s been fine for over a year so guess I got a defective one.

    Rock on, buddy!

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