We test the Bell Zephyr MIPS helmet, designed to be aerodynamic and with a built-in MIPS liner
The Zephyr is one of the first helmets available where the MIPS liner was an integral part of the design process rather than having MIPS retrofitted to an existing helmet design. This means that the venting and airflow work well. Bell says it also reduces complexity and weight, which in turn reduces the helmet’s overall size and leads to a better fit.
MIPS inserts are rapidly becoming a must have in mid to high-priced helmets. MIPS is a Swedish company which has a patent on a sliding plane that sits inside the helmet. In a glancing impact, MIPS’s modelling and testing shows a small amount of movement between the helmet and the skull. The insert helps to reduce the risk of concussion and brain injury caused by that motion.
The Zephyr uses two different densities of polystyrene in its inner and outer shells. Bell says that this too helps absorb energy on impact. It is also designed to be aerodynamically efficient at different wind yaw angles, with deep longitudinal ribs connected by narrow lateral pieces which have a small frontal profile. In addition, Bell has studied cooling efficiency and made sure the straps fit close against the head to reduce the drag they create.
Bell uses a new dial-adjusted retention system for the Zephyr, saying that this is designed around the MIPS liner. It’s certainly very easy to adjust through its four height positions and, when in use, for circumference using its grippy dial. You can also slide the rear retaining pads from side to side relative to the cradle to make sure they fit well.
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The Zephyr is a comfortable and unobtrusive helmet to wear too, even on longer rides. It’s got X-Static padding over the forehead, with an extra tongue at the front that wicks sweat away from the face and helps it evaporate. There’s another separate pad towards the rear and a spare set in the box. It’s not super-light at around 300g, dependent on size, but nevertheless doesn’t feel heavy when riding.
Bell makes the Zephyr in seven colours, including an all-over reflective Ghost option.
The Zephyr is a nice looking, comfortable helmet with top-end design features. It’s got plenty of in-built safety features too, including a MIPS liner.