Bell Z20 Ghost MIPS helmet review

Lightweight, well-ventilated helmet with night visibility enhancing features

Bell Z20 Ghost

Bell’s Z20 Ghost looks great and fits well. The reflective finish improves visibility and the MIPS liner helps cope with rotational impacts.

What is it

Bell’s Z20 MIPS helmet delivers great ventilation, light weight, and enhanced visibility thanks to the reflective Ghost finish.

  • Superb ventilation
  • Reflective finish offers great visibility at dusk and after dark
  • Float Fit Race retention device easily adjusts across a wide range
  • Sweat Guide padding can be overwhelmed on hot days or during intense efforts
  • Opportunity missed without accessory light mounts
RoadBikeReview’s Take

The Z20 is Bell’s top-of-the-line road helmet. With a low, 300-gram weight (size medium), 18 vents, integrated MIPS liner, and stylish design, the Z20 also delivers great ventilation. The Z20 Ghost adds a durable coating over much of the helmet that is reflective, drastically improving rider visibility in low light conditions.

Bell Z20 Ghost

Bell’s Z20 Ghost is a great fit for narrower faces with superb ventilation and increased visibility thanks to its reflective finish.

I’ve ridden in the Z20 Ghost for several months and with very few exceptions, it’s a great helmet for any cycling pursuit. In cooler weather, a warm hat or cycling cap fits underneath easily on the size medium reviewed here. The Float Fit Race retention system uses adjustment increments that allow for small changes while still making larger adjustments quick. The wide front vents held different sunglass models nicely.

Bell Z20 Ghost

With lightweight helmet straps and an easy to use retention system, it’s easy to dial in the fit on the Z20.

Bell, in my opinion, is still a good alternative to Giro when it comes to fit. It’s rare that a Giro helmet looks good on me, but it’s quite common for a Bell to feel and look right at home atop my noggin. This may come down to head forms (oval versus round) or differences in sizing, but Giro’s medium helmets tend to look really big on my head. Not so with most of Bell’s models.

Bell Z20 Ghost

An integrated MIPS liner helps with rotational impacts, while antimicrobial X-Static padding keeps everything smelling fresh.

The Ghost finish is something that really attracted me to the Z20. Its reflectivity is fantastic and as someone who rides rain or shine, night or day, I’ll take any help I can get when it comes to being seen on the road. The reflective finish is quite durable and slightly textured. I also like that during the day the reflective panels blend into the overall aesthetic of the helmet.

Bell Z20 Ghost

While the front pad’s extension under the lip of the helmet is meant to help sweat evaporate, it can, in very hot and humid conditions, be overwhelmed and drip directly onto sunglasses.

Where I feel that Bell could have gone further with the Z20 Ghost is in the accessory department. This is a helmet that’s meant to be ridden in low light conditions. Why not include a pair of light mounts like the GoPro accessories that arrive with many of Bell’s mountain bike helmets? Many new lights, like Bontrager’s Ion 800 R, use a GoPro mount. Bell, after all, is owned by the same parent company that also owns Blackburn. They produce lights. How about some cross-office integration?

Also, as a mountain biker, I would have also liked a removable visor. Bell used to do this with its top tier helmets. I understand that they’re trying to sell MTB models, but multiple helmets aren’t in the cards for everyone.

Bell Z20 Ghost

Shown with a flash, the Z20 Ghost really lights up. Photo courtesy of Bell Helmets

Small gripes aside, I really like the Bell Z20 Ghost. It’s my go-to for hot conditions and when I expect to be out after dark. If it had light mounts, it would be an all-time favorite.

Rating: 4 out of 5 4 stars
Price: $250
More Info:

About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview. To follow along on Legan’s cycling adventures, find him on Instagram at @nlegan and be sure to check out his new book Gravel Cycling: The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking.

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