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Bell Z20 MIPS Review: The Best Road Bike Helmets of 2020 – Cycling Helmet Review

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 50% 50%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Aerodynamics 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 80% 80%

Price: $138-$229.95

Weight: 305g

Vents: 18

Fit System: Float Fit Race 

Safety Tech: MIPS

What We Like: Float Fit Race Retention System, Ventilation

What We Don’t: Weight, Nowhere to Stash Sunglasses

The Bell Z20 MIPS helmet is Bell’s top of the line road bike helmet. It is an extremely solid all-around performer, and we commend bell for keeping their ultra-premium helmet around the $200 price range, rather than creeping toward or past the $300 mark like some of the helmets that we reviewed. For this price, the Bell Z20 MIPS does it all but struggles to do it quite as well as some of the competition.

The Bell Z20 is also available as the Bell Z20 Ghost MIPS, which features a glowing, reflective finish for higher visibility on the road, as well as in the Bell Z20 Aero MIPS Variant, which sacrifices some of the helmets top-notch ventilation in favor of better aerodynamics.

Compare to Similar Products

See Our The Best Road Bike Helmets of 2020: Cycling Helmet Review!

POC Ventral SPIN

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Aerodynamics 100% 100%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 100% 100%

Pros

Unparalleled Combination of Weight

Safety

Ventilation

Cons

Price

Weight: 280g

Vents: 14

Fit System: Proprietary 360 Degree Retention System

Safety Tech: SPIN

Giro Synthe MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 90% 90%

Pros

Highly Adjustable

Well Ventilated

Aerodynamic

Great Sale Prices

Cons

MSRP is Nearly as Expensive as the POC Ventral Spin

Weight: 268g

Vents: 26

Fit System: Roc Loc 5 Air

Safety Tech: MIPS

Lazer Z-1 MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Ventilation 100% 100%
  • Aerodynamics 60% 60%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 90% 90%

Pros

MIPS

T Pro

Highly Adjustable

Magneto Eyewear Doc

Cons

Heavy

High MSRP

Weight: 284g

Vents: 31

Fit System: ARS Advanced Rollsys System

Safety Tech: MIPS, T Pro

Giro Aether MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 100% 100%

Pros

MIPS Spherical

Roc Loc 5+ Air Fit Retention System

Cons

Staggering Price Tag

Weight: 267g

Vents: 11

Fit System: Roc Loc 5+ Air

Safety Tech: MIPS Spherical

Smith Trace MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 60% 60%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 100% 100%

Pros

Top of the Line Safety Features

Improved Ventilation Over Smith Overtake

Cons

Still Not the Best Ventilation

Price

Weight: 280g

Vents: 18

Fit System: VaporFit

Safety Tech: MIPS, Koroyd

Giro Foray MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Aerodynamics 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 80% 80%

Pros

Premium Features at a Budget Price

Cons

Doesn’t Vent or Fit Quite Like the Giro Synthe

Weight: 298g

Vents: 21

Fit System: Roc Loc 5

Safety Tech: MIPS

Bell Stratus MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Aerodynamics 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 70% 70%

Pros

Premium Features in a Mid Priced Helmet

Cons

Lacks Some of the Safety Features of the Bell Z20 MIPS

Weight: 296g

Vents: 18

Fit System: Float Fit

Safety Tech: MIPS

Kask Valegro

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 90% 90%
  • Ventilation 100% 100%
  • Aerodynamics 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 50% 50%

Pros

Lightweight

Great Ventilation

Cons

No MIPS

Issues With Octo Fit Retention System

Weight: 234g

Vents: 37

Fit System: Octo Fit

Safety Tech: In Molding, MIT

Kask Protone

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 80% 80%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 50% 50%

Pros

Highly Adjustable

Aerodynamic

Cons

No MIPS

Falls Short of the Giro Synthe’s Adjustability and Ventilation

Weight: 248g

Vents: 20

Fit System: Octo Fit

Safety Tech: In Molding, MIT

Bell Z20 MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 50% 50%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Aerodynamics 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 80% 80%

Pros

Float Fit Race Retention System

Ventilation

Cons

Weight

Nowhere to Stash Sunglasses

Weight: 305g

Vents: 18

Fit System: Float Fit Race 

Safety Tech: MIPS

Kask Mojito X

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Ventilation 60% 60%
  • Aerodynamics 60% 60%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 50% 50%

Pros

Solid Performer in Every Category

Cons

Doesn’t Vent or Fit Quite Like the Giro Synthe

Weight: 220g

Vents: 26

Fit System: Up & Down Fit System

Safety Tech: MIT, In Molding

Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability

The Bell Z20 MIPS road bike helmet uses Bell’s Float Fit Race retention system. We have reviewed different variants of Bell’s Float Fit system in the past and it has never disappointed. The Float Fit Race system uses a standard dial in the back to adjust the fit of the helmet. While there might be people out there for whom the Float Fit Race retention system causes pressure points, we haven’t come across them yet. This is largely due to the way the Float Fit Race system is integrated with the MIPS liner, allowing adjustment of height, pad width, and tension. This is very similar to the Float Fit DH retention system that helped make the Bell Super DH our all-time top choice for mountain bike helmets.

The straps feature large, Y shaped ear straps that are easily adjustable and designed to keep the straps from twisting. 

Inside the helmet, Bell uses an X-Static liner which is quick drying and odor fighting, though as a heavy sweater I can tell you that it will still start to smell after a few soakings. Speaking of things that those of us who sweat like Shaquille O’Neal appreciate, the Bell Z20 MIPS’ X-Static liner includes a “sweat guide,” which is designed to pull sweat away from your brow, allowing excess to drip without getting in your eyes or on the lenses of your glasses. As gimmicky as this sounds, it actually works extremely well, and it is a nice final touch on what is already a very comfortable helmet.

Weight

Weighing in at 315g for a size medium, the Bell Z20 MIPS is not ultralight. However, you get quite a bit in the way of comfort for those extra grams. MIPS, a heavier duty helmet shell, and the Float Fit Race system are worth a few grams in my mind. However, the cheaper Bell Stratus MIPS comes in at only 296g, for those who would like to save a few grams as well as a few dollars.

Ventilation

The Bell Z20 MIPS is an extremely well-ventilated helmet. Like the Giro Synthe’s Roc Loc fit system, Bell’s Float Fit Race system keeps the shell of the helmet away from your head and promotes airflow, making it one of the best-ventilated road bike helmets that we reviewed. While 18 vents might be fully 11 fewer than a helmet like the Lazer Z1, the Bell Z20 MIPS’ vents work very well with each other, as well as with the Float Fit Race system, making for a helmet that shines if ventilation is your top priority.

Safety Tech and Additional Features

In addition to MIPS, the Bell Z20 MIPS helmet features an in-mold design for the EPS foam and polycarbonate shell, as well as Bell’s progressive layering technology. Progressive layering essentially means that the eps foam shell of the Z20 has multiple different densities of foam, to provide the maximum absorption of force in the case of impacts. In theory, this could also aid the helmet in absorbing secondary impacts, in the case of a tumble after the initial impact. Finally, the Bell Z20 MIPS also features a dual laminate polycarbonate outer shell, which better protects the eps foam from minor impacts, and should help keep it from splitting wide open in the case of larger ones.

One negative that we have to point out is that there is really no good place to store your glasses in the vents of the Bell Z20, and it does not feature a dedicated place for them like the Giro Synthe. This can be a pain for riders who like to stash their glasses in their helmet on long climbs.

Aerodynamics

The Bell Z20 is a decently aerodynamic helmet, although it undoubtedly prioritizes comfort and ventilation above aerodynamics. For those looking for a race day only helmet, or for riders who live in cooler climates, the Bell Z20 MIPS Aero will provide you all of the great features of the Z20 MIPS, while exchanging a bit of ventilation for greatly improved aerodynamics.

The Bottom Line

The Bell Z20 MIPS is an extremely solid all-around helmet. Furthermore, like the Giro Synthe, it can be found well below its MSRP, making it a fairly solid value. For Bell loyalists, it is a great helmet, although we struggled to rate it above the Giro Synthe. Furthermore, some of the gusto is sucked out of the Bell Z20 MIPS by the fact that the Bell Stratus offers a strikingly similar package that is lighter weight and comes in at a lower price point. Still, if you want a top of the line helmet, the Bell Z20 MIPS is a worthy alternative to the Giro Synthe.

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