First seen in this year’s Tour de France being used by the Lotto NL-Jumbo team, the Bell Zephyr has been a long time in the making - several years in fact. The Zephyr is Bell’s latest offering for road cycling and according to the brand is “the most innovative road cycling helmet Bell has ever created”. There are a couple of key design aspects of the Zephyr that stand out: the integration of the MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) into the helmet’s Float Fit Race fit system, and the use of Progressive Layering Technology (or bifurcated construction). There are also loads of other nice features which we’ll come to later, after we’ve explored these two key attributes a little further. But first, by way of an introduction, the following video from Bell takes a behind the scenes look at the development of the helmet.

Integrated MIPS and the Float Fit System

The integrated MIPS fit system is a key part of the design of the Zephyr helmet, making it lighter, comfier and airier than it could have been otherwise. MIPS has been around for a few years now and is increasingly becoming the norm on many new helmets. A MIPS layer in a helmet provides additional protection against angled impacts by allowing the helmet to slide around your head slightly if there is an impact, which reduces the rotational force being applied to your head and brain. Normally a MIPS layer is added to an existing helmet design, which can affect its fit, size and ventilation. When designing the Zephyr, Bell pretty much turned this standard approach on its head, fully integrating the MIPS liner with the helmet’s fit system instead. The MIPS liner is actually used to enhance the fit of the helmet, rather than detracting from it - fit adjustment occurs evenly across the fit system rather than just around the main circumference of your head, leading to a fit which has been described by initial testers as more like a cap or hat than a helmet.


The first impression upon putting on the helmet is that of impressive comfort: The Zephyr has a soft and cushioned feel, almost like putting on a hat rather than a helmet

Gloria Liu, Bicycling

I was impressed with the Zephyr’s head-hugging fit. The best helmets are the ones that disappear from your consciousness while you’re riding, and the Zephyr comes close to that

Dan Cavallari, Velonews

The fit system is also incredibly customisable and easy to adjust. The core of the system is the dial adjuster at the rear (the system is called Float Fit because this dial sits slightly away from your head to reduce pressure), but you can also adjust the fit system vertically and laterally at the rear, with 22mm of vertical adjustment and the ability to adjust the lateral position of the rear fit pads independently - ideal if your head is more wonky potato than smooth egg shape. This high level of adjustability was also welcomed by testers.


The extra adjustment the Float Fit Race retention system provided on the back of the head was welcomed since most helmets don’t go down low enough to fit the the majority of head shapes out there

Road Bike Action Magazine

The retention system was easy to adjust and the helmet felt light and looked pretty sleek… The rear section left plenty of room for my ponytail to slip through above the retention system, too

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan, Total Women’s Cycling

Progressive Layering Technology

The Progressive Layering Technology is a new helmet design approach which combines two different densities of EPS foam (higher density on the outside, softer density on the inside) - the Zephyr is basically two helmet shells fused together. This design is beneficial because it saves weight compared to alternative dual density helmets, helps to better manage energy transfer in the event of an impact, and allows larger air vents to be used. The airflow and ventilation of the helmet was something which was commented on by several of the helmet’s initial reviewers.


The Zephyr has such deep air vents and good channeling that, in the mirror, it made the helmet appear to sit slightly elevated over my head (though it didn’t). While neither of the rides we took were in hot weather, the airflow was good enough to be noticeable and to provide excellent cooling

Gloria Liu, Bicycling

The vents are plenty large, and airflow through the helmet was noticeable

Dan Cavallari, Velonews

Sunglass guides, Tri Guide straps and Sweat Guide padding

Other notable features of the helmet are its sunglass guides (which appear front and rear), its Tri Guide strap fasteners (which prevent straps from twisting and ensure that they sit flat for enhanced comfort and aerodynamics), and its Sweat Guide Padding (which channels moisture towards a specially extended tab at the front of the helmet where it will drip off clear of your face and glasses).


The Zephyr not only has a dedicated position in the front of the helmet to stow sunglasses, but also in the rear. Small silicone pads positioned inside two rear vents held the glasses snug and allowed us to get rid of them on a hot climb

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Road Bike Action Magazine

Although it’s a relatively small thing, I really like the fact that the dividers mean the straps sit flat

Mat Brett, road.cc

Visual appearance

When Bell were designing the Zephyr, they weren’t only looking at the technical side of the helmet, they also paid a fair bit of attention to making sure it looks good, and we feel that this has paid off, with reviewers highly praising the way that the helmet looks.


Aesthetically, the Zephyr reminds me a lot of Giro’s Synthe, which is a good thing. It’s super-sleek without looking aero-dorky

Dan Cavallari, Velonews

The Audi A7. That’s what we thought when we first got our hands on the new Bell Zephyr helmet. It’s a good looking helmet and the almost imperceptible kick at the rear echoes the lines of the A7 sedan to our eyes

Ben Edwards, Peloton Magazine

Overall impressions

So overall, how does the helmet rate? Pretty well we think, based on what these initial reviewers had to say.


The Zephyr may not be the lightest lid, but for an all-day ride, especially in hot weather, it is a great choice

Dan Cavallari, Velonews

Initial impressions are positive. Very positive

Mat Brett, road.cc

Bottom line, Bell looks to have produced a smartly designed, well thought out helmet that can capably compete with the other high end road helmets in this price range

Jason Sumner, roadbikereview

Overall – this seems like a great new addition to Bell’s livery, and one that shows they’re keen to move with the times and embrace more modern styling whilst of course still offering the same security that we’d expect from one of the world’s leading helmet brands

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan, Total Women’s Cycling

And if you haven't had enough of cheesy brand videos, Bell's launch video for the Zephyr (featuring Lotto-NL Jumbo's Sep Vanmarcke) should give you your fill.

The Zephyr will also be available in a reflective silver, the appropriately named Zephyr Ghost. Both Zephyrs are due to land sometime this month, along with a couple of other new lids from Bell.

Shop New Bell Helmets


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About the Rider: Anne
Anne’s unique selling points are her super-strong thumbs (a hangover from her days fitting Marathon Plus tyres) and her enthusiasm for cake (both baking and eating). When not sorting out returns, writing for the website or delving into complex customer questions, you’ll find her fixing up friends’ bikes or enjoying the ride.