With MIPS solidifying its place in the mainstream, it was only a matter of time until someone brought another eye-catching safety feature to the table. Last year, Bell forged ahead by introducing its dual-layer Progressive Layering technology, which returns in the Bell Z20 MIPS Helmet, the brand's new all-purpose road model. Bell claims that this construction method, which utilizes two layers of variable density foam instead of the traditional single density layer, better dissipates impact forces in some crash situations. Pairing Progressive Layering with the thin, low-friction MIPS liner means Bell puts impact management firmly at the forefront of the Z20's design.
Safety is always a priority, but Bell knows that riders won't wear even the safest helmet if it's ugly and uncomfortable. Like the Zephyr, which was the original Progressive Layering lid, the Z20 features a modern, highly vented, and streamlined design that just plain looks fast. Inside, the highly adjustable Float Fit Race system integrates with the MIPS liner to minimize bulk while movable padding adds a final customized touch on fit.
Bell finishes the helmet with its Sweat Guide Padding and No-Twist Tri-Glides, A pair of features that only make sense to people who have suffered from the ills they address. Sweat Guide is a simple extension of padding under the front of the helmet that ushers sweat forward so it drips in front of your glasses instead of on them. This sounds like a small detail at first, until you remember that mid-summer interval session that left you squinting into the sun with salt-covered lenses sitting unusable in your helmet vents and realize that a tiny patch of padding is a pretty big deal. The No-Twist fasteners help prevent the obnoxious tendency for helmet straps to twist. We're not embarrassed to admit that we occasionally spend far too long trying to straighten the straps—after all, those twists often seem to be contrary to the laws of physics.
- An all-purpose road helmet with updated impact technology
- Dual layer EPS helps dissipate impact force
- MIPS technology reduces rotational force in certain crashes
- Aerodynamic shell shaping reduces drag
- Large air vents promote cooling airflow
- Sweat Guide Padding keeps sweat droplets away from your lenses
- No-twist side straps stay comfortably in place
- Integrated Float Fit Race dial allows adjusts vertically and laterally
- Item #BEL00FK
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: Medium
I did a lot of research and tried a lot of helmets before I decided on the Z20, which I did mainly for the ventilation, comfort, sweat guide (which truly does work), and tech. I wanted something that would be a true all-around helmet. I essentially narrowed my search to the Synthe, and Bontrager Velocis. The Synthe seemed overpriced and dated, and I really just opted for the Z20 due to the overall attention to detail seemed to be slightly above the Velocis.
While subjective, the fit is very comfortable for me. I tried on other helmets such as the Synthe, Aro5 & 3, Bontrager Velocis, POC Octal, Specialized Prevail & Evade, Lazer Z1, and other competitors from Scott, LG, and Kask. While none of these helmets were truly uncomfortable (sans the Evade), the fit and finish and overall attention to detail of the Z20 is second to none. The overall profile of the helmet does feel a bit wider and fits a bit taller on my head, but it's marginal. I think some helmets with the Boa system may be a little more evenly distributed, but not by much.
The Sweat Guide truly works and I'm a believer. I'm a heavy sweater and suffer through Texas heat during the summer. While aero is important, suffering through sweat all over my sunglasses and my eyes as well as suffocating in 95+ degrees & high humidity are both two big factors that take the fun out of cycling for me. The retention system is very comfortable and provides an even distribution across my head. I can't speak to the tech behind the protection, but the fit and finish as stated before is definitely a couple steps above the Bell Stratus (which is almost the same helmet for much less).
In comparing to my Giro Atmos, and LG Course, ventilation is leaps and bounds above both of these. The Float Fit Race helps in airflow flowing over my head and thru the helmet.
The main pitfall of this helmet is sunglasses will not fit or stay in place in the front. The vents are too large and the pads designated for sunglasses are useless. While this is somewhat minor as sunglasses hold on fine in the back vents, I've never held my sunglasses in the back and it's a shame to have a feature designated for something that is more or less useless. There may be other pairs of sunnies that work for this feature, but my Oakley Jawbreakers and Smith Pivlock Max don't work at all.
While there are no statistics or claims to support the aero prowess, I think this helmet values ventilation over aero, differentiating itself from some others on the market.
Overall I'm very happy with this helmet. It's not perfect due to the minor annoyance of the sunglasses in the front vents, but the comfort and ventilation are great. While I can't compare to many other helmets in terms of performance, I'm still very happy with the features and overall performance of the Z20.
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: Medium
At this price this helmet misses the mark. I need to be able to place my glasses in my helmet when climbing and I sprang the extra money because the ad copy said It had access for this. Considering the 2 other Bell Gages and 2 Bell Volts i owned worked perfect for this the Zepyr/Z20 will not hold glasses. In fact I talked with others who have bought the helmet and pretty much every person had their glasses fall out of the helmet the first time trying it, unfortunately for me I scratched a $100.00 Oakley lens. This thing sits in the closet while I still use my older Bell Gage while I try to decide what to do with it.
- Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
- Size Bought: medium
This is a great helmet, but the fit is too round for my head. The integrated MIPS is seamless and the styling is very good. One small negativity for me is that Oakley Jawbrakers will not fit in the front vents--only in the rear vents which is a bit awkward, though it might not be a problem for other people.
Does anyone know what the changes are in the Z20 over the Zephyr? I heard there was some issue with moisture causing shell separation around the occipital area. I also know some of the colors showed extreme fading after exposure to sunlight.
The Z20 is a new helmet that has the great innovations of the Zephyr, including a lightweight bifurcated liner, high ventilation and cooling, with premium fit, finish and style. Plus it features enhanced impact attenuation and structure [making it an all-around more robust helmet, especially in wet weather conditions.]