This Bell Z20 MIPS review looks at one of the most popular helmets available on the market today. It’s also amongst the top offerings from Bell. The helmet checks off most requirements and criteria for a good bike helmet.
It offers excellent protection, ventilation, and comfort. The Z20 remains easy to handle and is easily maneuverable. As a premium offering, this is an expensive helmet. Yet, it manages to keep the price from soaring. Let’s go for a closer look.
Bell Z20 MIPS Highlights — Pros And Cons
- Excellent ventilation
- Reliable safety and protection features
- Good construction
- Excellent adjustment system
- On the heavy side for a premium helmet
Features And Qualities Of The Bell Z20 MIPS
Looks, Design, And Ventilation
There are 18 large vents on the Bell Z20 MIPS. One look at them and you can make a fair assessment that this helmet has excellent ventilation. The helmet is well-ventilated. Its well-positioned intakes pull in cool air and let it travel above the head. Eventually, the air is pushed through the exhaust vents.
This allows full head ventilation and keeps you (and your head) cool. This is partially possible due to the fit and adjustment system that keeps the helmet slightly above the rider’s head. This leaves enough room for air to channel through. Plus, the intakes and exhausts can work near-seamlessly.
Bell Z20 MIPS is a good-looking, sleek helmet. While the focus here is more on ventilation than aerodynamics, its sleek profile is helpful on the aerodynamic front as well. However, if you are more interested in aerodynamics, a different version of the helmet is available. Bell Z20 Aero MIPS is available.
Another well-known variant of this helmet is the Bell Z20 Ghost MIPS helmet. The Ghost is pretty much similar to the original Z20 MIPS, but it gets a more reflective and shiny outer layer. The glowing finish allows the helmet greater visibility, making it more visible (and thus safer) for use on the road.
Adjustability And Getting The Helmet To Fit
On the metric of adjustability and fit, the Bell Z20 MIPS is hard to beat. The helmet flaunts Bell’s remarkable Float Fit Race retention system. This remarkable system is pretty smooth and one of the best options available on the market.
The system involves a standard dial placed at the back of the helmet for adjustment. The dial remains easy to access and maneuver, allowing quick adjustments to the helmet. For the sake of better performance, Bell has integrated the system with the MIPS liner.
Height and width adjustment is handled easily, and cushion cradles at the rear of the helmet can be adjusted too. While all fit must depend on the shape of the head and individual preferences, the way the Bell Z20 MIPS handles it should work for most of us.
The headband cradle provides a wrap around the head, usually without any troublesome pressure points. While there is a possibility of running into some pressure points depending on individual head shapes, it is a rarity and doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Z20 MIPS helmet.
Considering the options and pricing, it is natural to compare the Bell Z20 MIPS to the Giro Synthe. Both these helmets offer similar services and are available for comparable prices. I’d say the Synthe handles aspects like adjustments and ventilation better, Bell Z20 definitely has its merits and holds its ground.
Comfort And Related Aspects
We’ve already seen that the Bell Z20 MIPS scores excellent in classic factors related to comfort. These include ventilation and adjustability. Equally important, the padding and other creature comforts aren’t something to be consigned to the bin.
The high-end comfort of the Bell Z20 is something that goes beautifully along with the safety and usability features of this helmet. It checks all the boxes. The padding is plush and comfortable and the integration of the MIPS liner with the adjustment system allows better function.
For example, since MIPS works with the adjustment system, the changes don’t radically change the available ventilation.
Another aspect here is the use of Y-shaped straps for the helmet. These are wide enough to be comfortable against the skin. And they don’t twist so no point of discomfort there.
X-Static padding used in the helmet is sweat-wicking, anti-microbial, and anti-odor. It’s quite absorbent so sweat isn’t that big a problem. Besides with the good ventilation of the helmet, it can be expected that the sweat will be carried away quickly.
Bell uses an interesting, and almost weirdly gimmicky sounding “sweat guide” for the padding. Simply put, this system ensures that the sweat doesn’t flow down your brow or onto your goggles. Gimmicky as the name is, the system actually works. That’s a win!
Bell Z20 MIPS Review — Safety And Performance
Safety Tech And Protection For The Z20
A polycarbonate shell with an in-mold design is used for the construction of the Bell Z20 MIPS helmet. Use of the dual laminate polycarbonate outer shell keeps the foam safe from minor impacts that might occur with everyday use. This makes it sturdy and extends the overall life of the helmet.
Bell uses progressive layering for the EPS foam in this helmet. This means the layers have different densities, which can improve the maximum absorption force the helmet can handle.
Theoretically, this should also enable the helmet to absorb some secondary impacts after the first impact.
And of course, there’s the MIPS layer which provides protection from additional impact. The Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is increasingly standard with premium helmets. Heck, it has even made its way to more budget-minded models like the Giro Foray MIPS helmet.
There is a legitimate question about its durability though. There is exposed EPS foam near the brim of the helmet, which might reduce its longevity. Do keep in mind, this longevity is comparative. You can reasonably expect the Z20 to last several years.
It’s just that it might have lasted longer without the exposed foam. While I think that’s a valid criticism, it still is inherently subjective. So there’s that!
For a large size helmet, the Bell Z20 weighs approximately 11.85 ounces or 336 grams. That’s not quite impressive, but it’s not terribly heavy either. We can safely put this one in the mid-weight category.
Of course, we would have preferred the helmet to be lighter. But considering the available features, this is understandable.
Consumer Reviews And Opinions For The Bell Z20
Consumer opinions and reviews for Bell Z20 MIPS are very positive. Most consumers are appreciative of the ventilation, safety tech, and overall comfort provided by the helmet. Ease of adjustment and good construction also makes this a popular choice with consumers.
One Amazon reviewer found this helmet to be very useful after a month of use. As you’d expect, the reviewer found the helmet’s highlights to be particularly useful. The ventilation, as they saw it, was good enough for hot summer temperatures where the mercury can touch a hundred degrees. Well, if you live somewhere hot and have access to a helmet that can keep you comfortable in 100 degrees weather, I’d say you have a winner.
A related effect of this improved ventilation and heat management is available as the sweat management. Most consumers found it to be remarkable, including the aforesaid customer review. Not having to deal with sweat rolling down your brow is quite something! The safety system and inclusion of MIPS also find acceptance with most consumers.
It wouldn’t be a full set without considering customer opinions on adjustability. A small portion of customers found that moving the dial to adjust the helmet could sometimes end up pulling their hair. However, the overwhelming majority of reviews sees the adjustability as a big plus.
Most consumers say the helmet fits them just right. It also plays well for weather changes. While the helmet performs well for 100 degrees weather, we also have to consider its usability in cooler weather. Bell Z20 MIPS Helmet easily accommodates something like a cap or balaclava so cooler days won’t be troublesome either.
Making The Decision — Is This The Right Helmet?
If you want a quick answer, yes! As we see in this Bell Z20 MIPS review, the helmet performs great on every criterion. From core uses like safety to build and aesthetics, this helmet has it all covered. As a premium helmet, this is expensive. But it fares impressively well on value, especially if you get it on a sale!