Bell Z20 Aero MIPS helmet review

The Z20 is available in several guises, we've been riding in the optimised Aero model

Bell Z20 aero mips helmet
Cycling Weekly Verdict

A comfortable helmet with a well integrated MIPS layer. There's plenty of breathability, and the brow pad sweat catching system is a good idea. The only let downs were the material on the straps and the slightly temperamental glasses port.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Comfortable fit

  • +


Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Glasses port doesn't provide a firm hold

  • -

    Straps material is coarse

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

The Bell Z20 Aero MIPS is the wind cheating road helmet from the US brand which also manufactures protective gear for motorcyclists, mountain bikers and BMXers.

>>> Best cycling helmets 

Bell make the Z20 in a few guises - the standard Z20, Z20 Ghost and the Aero model. As you'd expect, this one is meant to cut through the air with minimal drag.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to confirm its watt saving performance at our recent testing session at Newport Velodrome, but it's interesting to note that the difference between the "best" and "worst" helmets at 30kph was in the region of 2 watts, extending to around 9 watts at 45kph. Comfort and fit are therefore likely to play a leading role in most riders' decision making process.

Bell Z20 Aero MIPS helmet

When it comes to breathability, Bell has added 10 vents - a lot less than the standard Z20 with 18. However, in testing I found that airflow was plentiful and I didn't overheat, though I've yet to try this lid in high temperatures abroad.

Two of the vents at the top of the helmet can be uses as a glasses port. This system did work, but the vents are quite close together, meaning I had to push the glasses quite far in to ensure they were locked in place, and they didn't feel as secure as I would like.

Bell Z20 Aero MIPS helmet

Bell has used two-layers of hard shell EPS foam as well as embedding a MIPS system, and the latter has been applied using the brand's own 'Float Fit Race' retention system. This means that the rear dial adjusts the height and width of the fit simultaneously, and sets the lid apart from the competition where the MIPS layer is an additional insert.

The dial is easy to use and a size small fitted my head with no problems, or unwanted pressure.

Bell Z20 aero mips helmet

Inside, there's X-Static and XRT-2 padding, designed to wick away sweat and keep whiffs at bay. The padding continues at the forehead, where the 'sweat guide pad' aims to pull moisture away from the brow pads, providing a welcome service for those who find their forehead leaks a lot on long, hot climbs.

The helmet straps were easy to adjust. However, they're made from quite a coarse fabric, which felt like a bit of a let down for a model retailing at over £200.

Bell Z20 aero mips helmet

Bell's claimed weight is 296g for a size medium, and my size small came in at just 252g, which puts it on a reasonable footing when compared with other optimised models - the Abus Gamechanger I put through its paces earlier in the year came in at 256g in the same size whilst a Smith Ignite in a Medium was 277g.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.