The Bell Zephyr is one of the best all-around road helmets I’ve ever used, so I was quite excited to give the junior version a go. As I had hoped, it’s just as comfortable to wear, looks good while doing so, and despite the modest decrease in internal channeling, it ventilates nearly as well, too. One thing to note, though: for whatever reason, the Stratus is slightly roomier than the Zephyr for a comparable size, despite the same “52-56cm” rating.
The Bell Stratus offers the same styling as the higher-end Zephyr, but with a more conventional single-density foam liner.
Thinner webbing was once solely used in high-end helmets, so it’s nice to see the feature continue to trickle down to the mid-range. The Stratus straps remain soft and flexible — even when caked in dried sweat — and the trick No-Twist Tri-Glides do a good job of keeping the webbing tight against the side of your face.
Safety-minded riders will invariably be disappointed that the Stratus makes do with a single-density foam liner, but in fairness, the dual-density, helmet-within-a-helmet construction used on the Zephyr wasn’t likely to find its way down to this price point. That said, it is nice that Bell offers the MIPS liner on the Stratus at a modest $20 upcharge, and I see little reason to go without it.
The tabbed browpad that works so well on the Bell Zephyr at redirecting sweat away from your face is unfortunately not used on the Stratus.
What I find more perplexing, however, is that Bell also omitted the tabbed browpad of the Zephyr in favor of a more standard setup on the Stratus. On the Zephyr, that seemingly trivial extension does a remarkable job of keeping sweat from dripping into your eyes and sunglass lenses, redirecting it so that it drips harmlessly in front of your face instead. While I can appreciate that companies need to provide buyers with reasons to consider the products that sit further upscale, that ingenious browpad design works so well — and at such a minuscule cost — that I simply don’t understand why it isn’t being incorporated throughout the line.