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  • fignon’s barber

    You may want to choose a different favorite helmet. The Bell Zephyr failed the CPSC impact tests and was issued a “stop sale” citation. Hence, the new Z20. I would probably rate Bell and their helmet as one of the worst products for trying to sweep the safety issue under the table and not notifying customers.

    • Andrew

      I was worried about this too, so I wrote to them. This is the reply I got:
      Based on the update we received we do not anticipate a recall as the concern we found only applied when a helmet was in an impact after having been submerged for extended periods. All other testing passed the CPSC standards and standards around the world and in independent labs in the US.


      Chad Brennan
      Consumer Services Representative / Action Sports / Outdoor Products”

      • WarwickBoy

        If that is the case then I wonder why Bell felt it necessary to rename the helmet.

        • James Huang

          My understanding is that keeping the original name wholly intact would have required going through the entire certification process again from scratch. It’s an odd situation for sure, but I still love the helmet :)

          • Andrew

            I love mine as well. I admit that I thought that sweat tab on the front of the helmet was a worthless gimmick when I bought it, as here in Alberta its so windy and dry that I’ve never had a problem with sweat dripping down my forehead….. Climbing in the Pyrenees in July though I quickly came to see the value of this feature!

            • bryan

              I am from Utah in the USA… a very dry state. Last year I went to the Pyrenees and felt the same discomfort of the humidity. I felt like I was literally melting. On my tour, there was a couple from Singapore. They kept complaining how dry it was. They had to re-apply lotion all day and drink constantly. Kind of funny how that worked out.

  • BigD

    I had a Bell Zephyr fail from impact (cracked shell and foam on the side) hanging on my handlebar and the bike was blown over from the wind at a stop on the ride. The helmet was only a couple of months old, I figured it was dumb luck and bought a new Z20 not knowing the backstory of why the name was changed from Zephyr to Z20. Had I known, I would have written to Bell and shipped the helmet to them expecting some type of replacement. Instead I threw it out.

    • James Huang

      I would still chalk it up to the circumstances of the impact, not to anything related to whatever was going on with the original version. I was wearing mine (a preproduction sample) during a hard crash on loose gravel several months ago. I ended up with some bruises/cracked ribs, a gnarly scar on my back, and I definitely hit my head, but the helmet did its job without anything that would consider to be unusual damage.

      I believe the water issue was related to the adhesive used to bind the two halves together, and should have had no impact (no pun intended) on your Zephyr. I know that situation sounds benign, but you’re talking about relatively soft foam being squished between hard bicycle parts and asphalt/concrete. The force of the impact may have been low, but I’m guessing it was concentrated over a small area.

      • BigD

        It’s water under the bridge at this point, I smashed the helmet up completely with a hammer afterwards (so somebody wouldn’t see it in the trash and think it would be a good idea to use it). I was just surprised that a seemingly mild impact had split the shell and foam as I’ve had harder “perceived” impacts do less damage on helmets. I bought a Z20 as replacement so obviously I was happy with the helmet otherwise.

        • James Huang

          Yep, understood, but I didn’t want you to think that the first one you had was somehow underbuilt. Impacts are funny, and helmets don’t always respond the way you’d expect.

          Good on you for smashing that thing afterward, by the way. I did the same thing after my crash, too.

      • fignon’s barber

        James, I always look forward to your reviews, and I don’t want to belabor this. But when I saw the Zephyr name change I called Bell and asked point blank if it failed to pass some sort of test. I was told no, ” the Zephyr was great and we just decided to upgrade it to even greater”. When I went to the CPSC site and saw that it failed the standard impact “weight dropped from x distance” test, I was furious that I was lied to. In addition ,the moisture test the CPSC uses is there for a reason ( my guess is that it is a lab test for quickly simulating the effect of sweat/rain over the intended life cycle of the helmet). For Bell to downplay it, or to call it “benign”, is just wrong. Again, thanks for all your reviews.

        • James Huang

          Where did you see on the CPSC site where the specific test was listed? All I see is, “Bicycle Helmet Structural Failure,” which is obviously quite vague. Again, my understanding is that the helmet only failed after being immersed underwater, which is why the CPSC only requested that Bell “Correct Future Production” instead of a full-blown recall.

          • fignon’s barber

            Look at the citation code on the cpsc site. The following is the description of the failed test:


            • James Huang

              Cool, thanks for that. Nevertheless, my understanding is that the helmet only failed that test after being subjected to the “water conditioning” portion of the test described here (https://helmets.org/cpscstd.htm), which specifies immersion for 4-24 hours. This is a US-specific test, and there were no issues in other regions.

    • hornk

      Falling while hung on the handlebars is classic situation that breaks helmets. Even the dumb overbuilt $20 helmets will crack in that situation. Whatever the issues with this particular helmet may or may not be, I don’t think that’s the root cause here.

  • George Darroch

    I really enjoy these annual product roundups.

    A bell is a necessity on any bike. It keeps you legal in most Australian states, and is very good for signalling your existence to pedestrians or cars who are otherwise oblivious. I probably use my Crane more than strictly necessary, but I couldn’t live without it now. As you say about the Flare R (which is a very good light indeed), it only takes a single avoided accident for it to prove its worth.

  • Dude pedalling

    Great insights James

  • Bob

    James, would you be able to do a piece on prescription lens options for cycling glasses? There’s a lot of us, seems there’s very few options for the best glasses like Jawbreakers and Smiths.
    +2 on the Shake Dry Goretex. Me and my Missus both use the Idro because they fit us so well, but it’s the performance that’ astonishing, and worn over a Gabba, you’re almost invincible.

    • James Huang

      Can do! I’ll add it to the list. Good suggestion.

      • Bob

        Awesome, thanks! Looking foward to it.

  • Adrian Zahnd

    @disqus_ZiZ7FkAYnw:disqus do you know airlines which refuse the Airport Ninja? Also, is there enough space to pack shoes, helmets, on and off the bike gear which you need on holidays?

    • James Huang

      No airline will “refuse” the Airport Ninja as far as I’m aware. It’s just a matter of which airlines have specific requirements for bicycles, regardless of case size and weight. For example, United revised its policy a couple of years ago, explicitly outlining that bicycles in cases that fall within the stated guidelines are not subject to additional fees. Other airlines will charge if they know there’s a bicycle inside, regardless of the dimensions. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to check each airline you’re interested in using.

      • Adrian Zahnd

        Alright, thanks for that. What about extra storage space for accessories and clothing?

        • Stan Cox

          To back up what James says. I don’t have this particular case, in fact I don’t use a case at all. You do need to read the airline rules thoroughly. Last time I flew (with Japan Airlines) I had to call them to check it was ok as the website wasnt explicit. The bike counted as normal luggage subject to a maximum HxWxD of 203cm, I managed it by 2cm. Previously when I flew with British Airways bikes were specifically allowed without charges as “sporting equipment” But they were not happy that I had my cycling shoes & helmet in the packing (Just as well they didn’t spot the bag with the rest of my kit in the diamond). Virgin had similar rules. So check & check again.

        • James Huang

          TONS of room. I regularly fit a helmet, shoes, two bottles, ride food, and some clothing inside, and *still* don’t end up over the weight limit.

  • Snadbert

    I find the spurcycle bell isn’t loud enough for city commuting

    • James Huang

      If volume is what you’re after, consider the Zorb. It’s LOUD. Piercing, in fact.

  • tobyshingleton

    No e-cargo bike?

    • James Huang

      I was pushing it enough as it was with eleven!

  • Jay F.

    The Bolt is user friendly, but the construction quality is definitely not on par with Garmin – the buttons are flimsy and are connected to the screen. The problem with this is if you press a button too hard the screen will crack. Further to this, the battery life is only about 10 hours which is a little crappy. I’d go straight back to the edge 500 if it didnt take 2 minutes to start up.

  • Angel Jaffe

    Hey James. Have you tried Oakley Asian-fit glasses? They are supposed to fit a lot better for people with flatter-nose bridges.

    • James Huang

      Yep, I have, and I use them regularly.


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