The Bell Z20 is an evolution of the Zephyr helmet, hence the "Z" naming, and it boasts some impressive features. According to Bell it's "the result of years spent analyzing how helmets fit, optimizing aerodynamics, reviewing test data, gathering real-world feedback, and applying our cumulative knowledge of impact management".
In the construction of the Z20, Bell uses a technology they dub "Progressive Layering" which uses two layers of EPS foam of different densities to provide improved impact performance while still retaining a compact shape and appealing design. The Z20 also features integrated MIPS and Bell's Float Fit Race retention system, both said to set a new standard in fit and comfort.
- Integrated ReflectivityTreated with a durable reflective coating under the clear coat, the Z20 Ghost glows with eye-searing intensity when hit with direct light.
- TechnologiesNo-Twist Tri-Glides
Integrated Reflectivity (Ghost only) MIPS (integrated with fit system)
Vents - 18
- ConstructionProgressive Layering
Fusion In-Mold Polycarbonate Shell
Float Fit Race (integrated with MIPS)
- Weight263 grams (size M)
- PriceFrom R3995 and R4200
The Z20 is a generously vented helmet and the obvious airflow combined with the sweat guide work well to both minimise sweat and keep it away from your shades or out of your eyes. I tend to wear my helmets low on my forehead with the side effect of drenching my sunglass lenses. No such issues with the Z20 in some of the hottest conditions I’ve faced in 2018.
The orange and dark grey colourway (Ghost Matte Orange Reflective), as tested, certainly won’t go unnoticed in daylight or darkness. The “Ghost” versions in the Bell helmets range all feature a reflective undercoat which illuminates under direct light (e.g. vehicle headlights). The matte finish and reflective layering do have a propensity to scratch and scuff easily and for this reason, this particular variant may be best kept on the road.
The retention system offers height and width adjustability, fastening with a dial at the back of the helmet. It makes for a comfortable fit with no pressure points and despite the MIPS adding a few grams, it doesn’t feel heavy. The Z20 sports a rear-facing sunglass guide to stash your shades when needed. For those familiar with front-facing ports (like me) it takes some adjustment, but makes a whole lot of sense to keep the vents free of restrictions and doing their job.
The Bell Z20 has some top end safety features in the form of MIPS and multi-density foam layering said to further improve impact absorption. Neither of these were tested, but when it comes to helmets I’m inclined to trade some weight (and a few more rands) for enhanced crash protection.
All in all the Bell Z20 offers what you’d expect from a flagship helmet. Make no mistake, the added safety features do show up in the price, but if you’re in the market for a high-end bicycle helmet, add the Z20 to your list of options.