Summary: The Zeus ZS-806 is also new for 2009.
With colorful graphics, a lightweight shell and an internally
rotating sun visor, the ZS-806 is a nice helmet -- but the competition
at this price point is fierce.
Background This is the third in a series of reviews
covering new Zeus Helmets for 2009, starting with the
Zeus ZS-3000 flip-up,
the Zeus ZS-608
open-face helmet was reviewed next and this Zeus ZS-608 is a
new full-face design that is also new to the 2009 product line.
We'll have one more to go after this; the Zeus ZS-210C retro-demi-jet
At a list price of around $170.00, the ZS-806 lands squarely
the $100.00 to $250.00 price range, which is the toughest and
most competitive segment of the motorcycle helmet market.
Scan the webBikeWorld
motorcycle helmet review list for examples of helmets in
this price range and you'll find a host of very worthy competitors
for the ZS-806.
Two of those helmets have been webBikeWorld Helmet of the
Year Award winners; the Xpeed XF-705 was the Visitor's Choice
in 2008 and the GM68S was the Helmet of the Year in 2007.
Zeus would probably argue that the HJC IS-16 is the real
competition here because it's the only helmet in that list with
an internal sun visor. Whether or not that feature worth about
$50.00 or so is an individual decision; if so, then perhaps
the ZS-806 is a less expensive alternative to the HJC IS-16.
The Zeus ZS-806 does have some advantages though, with a
lightweight shell, the availability of a very nice array of
colors and patterns and an internal sun visor. The $100.00 to
$250.00 segment is extremely competitive, with a couple of very
nice helmets available for less than $150.00, so does the ZS-806
have what it takes? You decide...
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality This will probably
sound like a repeat from our previous Zeus 2009 reviews, but
based on the 8 or so different types, colors and graphic patterns
we've seen from the Zeus 2009 helmet line, the quality and the
selection of graphics is excellent and one of the distinguishing
characteristics of the brand.
The ZS-806 is a good example; both the white "Chaos"
and the red "Phoenix" patterns look great and are
beautifully applied. So if these two are any indication, the
rest of the ZS-806 lineup should make for a difficult "which
to choose" decision.
The overall quality of the ZS-806 is also excellent. The
moving parts on the two helmets we have on hand function without
issue, although, as you will see, the ZS-806 does have some
venting and noise control issues that I think are an indication
that the styling took preference over function to a certain
One of the hallmarks of high quality in a motorcycle helmet
is the way the face shield fits to the eye port gasket. This
is a very difficult engineering challenge -- much more difficult
than you might think. The face shield must match the angle of
the front of the helmet to seal completely around the eye port,
yet rotate smoothly. The triangle between the rotating mechanism
and the horizontal and vertical axes is crucial.
The face shield on the ZS-806 fits very tightly across the
top of the eye port gasket and along the sides at the rotating
mechanism, but both helmets have a small gap at the bottom of
the eye port gasket, leaving the face shield very slightly adrift
at the bottom.
This is definitely a nitpick, because this is a too-common
problem with many helmets, and it doesn't affect the performance
of the ZS-806, but it's worth noting. The samples we have are
probably from the early production run, so perhaps this will
be corrected later on -- I think it's a matter of adjusting
the final position of the rotators on the side of the helmet
to hold the face shield more firmly to the eye port gasket.
Everything else on the helmet has the look and feel of quality
that meets or beats what is expected in this price range, including
the liner, which is comfortable, removable and has a smooth-feeling
Score: I rate the Zeus ZS-806 "Outstanding"
for graphics and appearance and "Excellent" for overall
quality. See the ratings descriptions in the Summary Table at
the end of this page.
Flash Slide Show: Zeus ZS-806 Helmet
Helmet Fit, Comfort and Internal Shape Zeus has
apparently developed a "corporate" fit for their 2009
helmets, all of which seem to have about roughly the same neutral
The ZS-806 feels very similar to the ZS-608, with a neutral
fit that should fit a majority of owner head shapes. The sizing
in the ZS-806 though feels about 1/2 to 1 size smaller than
expected. The white helmet shown here is a size XL but it feels
similar to some size L helmets I've worn in this price range,
while the red ZS-806 in size L feels about 1/2 size small.
Note that sizing is dependent upon owner head shapes, especially
with regards to a neutral internal shape. So owners with head
shapes tending towards narrow may find that the ZS-806 sizing
is spot-on, while owners with round shaped heads may find the
sizing to run slightly small.
Otherwise, the ZS-806 is comfortable, with a smooth-feeling
lining material but the padding is probably just a touch thinner
than average. The plus is that the shell size doesn't feel overly
large and the ZS-806 avoids that "fish bowl" feeling
of a small head in a too-large shell.
Shape Estimator for the Zeus ZS-806
The shell comes in one size to span the XS to XL range, according
to Zeus, so the shell was probably designed to be as small as
possible so that it wouldn't look too big on an XS sized head.
I can fit a pair of wire-framed sunglasses inside the ZS-806
with just a little bit of adjusting. This helmet doesn't seem
to be as eyeglass-friendly as the ZS-608, but it's not bad and
the match of the owner's head to the internal shape will affect
Score: I'll give the ZS-806 an "Outstanding"
for this category. It is comfortable and it has a fit that should
work for many riders.
Zeus ZS-806 helmet liner.
Zeus ZS-806 visor removal mechanism.
Zeus ZS-806 Face Shield and Internal Sun Shade
As mentioned above, the clear face shields on both of the ZS-806
helmets shown here fit very tightly except for a tiny amount
of play at the bottom.
Otherwise, the clear face shield feels solid. It has a generously-sized
lifting tab at the lower left and it has a small first opening
useful for defogging, along with 4 other lifting detents to
hold it open.
My feeling is that the eye port provides slightly less outward
visibility than normal towards the front, perhaps due to what
I think is a trim shell size. Side-to-side visibility seems
Zeus knows how to design internal sun visors, and the visor
on the ZS-608 and this ZS-906 are probably the most useful I've
tried. This one comes down far enough to stay out of my line
of sight and it has good optical qualities.
It is operated with a lever on the left-hand side, as seen
in the photo above. The uppermost position is a sort of lock;
the lever makes a loud click when it's in this position. When
the lever is rotated down, it moves the visor into position.
A push up on the lever pops the visor back up into the helmet
via the internal spring.
The disadvantage of the spring-loaded system is that the
visor can not be placed in an intermediate position to shield
the sun from above, for example. The spring in the lever only
allows the visor to be in the fully up or down position.
Score: All things considered, I can give
the ZS-806 an "Outstanding" rating for this category
for the face shield and good coverage and operation of the internal
ZS-806 Ventilation and Air Flow The ZS-806 has what
I think is about average ventilation for a helmet in this price
range. Unfortunately, "average" air flow means, well,
not very good -- a common problem with most motorcycle helmets,
and too common in this price range, in my opinion.
Part of the problem with the ZS-806 is that it appears that
the styling took a preference over function, leaving the top
vent with a very small opening underneath a very narrow slit
at the back of the "U" shaped vent cover on top.
Under the cover is a single hole and the lever on top opens
and closes a cap over that hole to let in air. Two matching
side covers on top towards the rear channel air through and
out the back, where two similar exhaust buttons open or close
tiny caps over holes designed to pull air out the back into
the low pressure zone.
A separate small exhaust is covered with mesh and located
in the rear of the helmet and there are two holes covered by
black plastic at the lower rear that also serve as exhaust vents.
The chin vent has a cover that is pushed on the bottom to
open and pushed on the top to close. The top lip only opens
forward slightly and it doesn't allow a direct air path into
the helmet; instead, the air has to travel up and over the top
lip of the vent cover.
The helmet also does not have air vent holes directly through
the chin bar, so any air that does come through the chin vent
is directed on to the back of the face shield through a few
small slits in the vestigial breath guard. The chin bar has
a small curtain underneath.
The EPS has two large holes in front under the partial mesh
helmet liner and there are two smaller holes in the rear of
the EPS, but it doesn't look like these holes match up with
any of the vents, so any air that enters or leaves the helmet
has an indirect route at best.
The system just doesn't provide much air flow, unfortunately,
and the top of the head can feel a bit warm, although once up
to speed, there is some air flow that can be felt coming up
through the top of the breath guard.
Ventilation is generally a problem in the vast majority of
motorcycle helmets, and the ZS-806 is about average or maybe
slightly below in my estimation.
Score: I'll rate the ZS-806 as "Good"
for air flow and overall ventilation, which is effectively a "neutral"
according to the webBikeWorld rating scores.
Small rear exhaust vent covered by mesh.
Noise Control The good news is that the small vent
openings on the ZS-806 keep vent noise levels low and the air
seems to flow smoothly along the top of the helmet.
The styling and the smaller overall shell size comes into
play again though; the bottom of the helmet is shaped in a slight
arc or curve from the front to back along the bottom of the
helmet shell. This causes some of the air along the bottom of
the liner to be pushed towards a split in the neck roll about
3/4 of the way back, which then becomes a source of noise.
The neck roll is slightly thicker (i.e., extends farther
down) in the front 3/4 than it does at the separate section
at the rear of the helmet, and I think a combination of the
way the air is directed under the shell and the split in the
padding at this high/low interface area doesn't block enough
of the wind noise.
The sound is a fairly constant mid-range wind rushing noise.
It's not the loudest helmet around, but I think it could have
been a lot quieter with a different design. The reason I think
it could be improved is that I can place my hand underneath
under my ear and the noise decreases significantly.
It's taken years for helmet designers to decrease the higher
frequency noise levels created by air vents, which used to be
the most common source of helmet noise.
But there's still a lot of work left for them to do to decrease
noise levels around the base of the helmet, mostly by paying
careful attention to the helmet shell in this area and also
the neck roll. Now that helmets in general are quieter up top,
noises from below are more noticeable.
A shell can only curve inwards only so much before it becomes
too difficult for the owner to put on the helmet, thus the neck
roll is crucial for blocking wind noise and certainly a more
generous neck roll that also fits tighter could help.
Again, this isn't just a Zeus-only problem, it's unfortunately
a widespread issue for many helmet manufacturers.
Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort
of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without
windscreens. Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs (even
when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems) and (usually) a helmet liner. It is strongly recommended that hearing protection is used when riding a motorcycle.
See the wBWEarplugs
and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the
individual. Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit; the
type of motorcycle and windscreen; wind speed and direction and even the type of
clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: I'll rate the ZS-806 as "Good"
for overall noise control.
Helmet Weight This ZS-806 in size large weighs
1620 grams (3 lbs., 9-1/8 oz.) and the XL weighs about the same
at 1623 grams (3 lbs., 9-1/4 oz.). This is excellent, and this
is where the smaller shell pays dividends, because the ZS-806
is comparatively a lightweight helmet, especially considering
that it has an internal sun visor, which generally adds a few
The ZS-806, even with the internal sun visor, weighs below
the median for all of the helmets we've reviewed and sits in
some pretty good company, as you can see in the chart below,
taken from the
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page:
So the ZS-806 at 1620 grams, including the internally rotating
sun visor, is very competitive in terms of its weight.
Also, the fit and internal shape and what feels like a slightly
smaller than average shell size allows the ZS-806 to cut a smooth
profile at speed, thus it feels very stable with no buffeting
or lift that I can perceive when riding.
For comparison purposes, see the
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a listing of all of the
helmets we've reviewed along with their weight and internal
wBW Video: Zeus ZS-806
Helmet (in YouTube HD!
Miscellaneous All of the Zeus helmets for 2009
sold in North America have a double D-ring attachment system.
The padding under the chin strap of the ZS-806 is generous and
comfortable. The chin strap does seem longer than average but
it has a snap on the tip to secure the loose end.
Zeus said that they offer a one-year warranty on North American
and European helmets. The ZS-806 has an ABS shell in a single
size and meets DOT, ECE 22.05, AS 1698 (Australian) and CNS
(Taiwan) motorcycle helmet safety standards.
Conclusion I like the Zeus ZS-806, especially the
quality of the graphics and the color choices, the well-designed
internal sun visor and the trim and lightweight shell.
The ZS-806 has the unfortunate task of competing in the most
hotly contested part of the market. I think its relatively light
weight and a nicely designed and useful internal sun visor give
it an advantage over many other $100.00 to $250.00 helmets.
However, it's still very difficult to choose a helmet in this
category, which includes some very well-known helmet brands
that are also widely distributed and readily available, at least
in the U.S. market.
The other 2009 Zeus helmets, like the Snell-approved ZS-3000
or the good-looking ZS-608, have unique features that compel
prospective owners to go out of their way to purchase one. The
ZS-806 does have the sun visor and lighter weight, but is that
enough to persuade potential owners to do the same?
If the ZS-806 was substantially quieter than the rest, or
if it had much better ventilation than average, or if it was
much less expensive than the competition (perhaps $150.00 or
less), then I think there would be no question.
I'm afraid Zeus may have some difficulty gaining traction
with the ZS-806 in this market segment, especially with their
limited distribution and lack of direct sales capability. But
if you're looking for a sub-$200.00 helmet that offers a nice
selection of graphics along with a very functional internal
sun shade, the ZS-806 may be the only game in town.
Zeus is still in the process of developing a North American
distribution for the helmets. More information for dealers or
customers is available by contacting Mr. Elvis Mak, the Zeus
representative in the U.S.A. at
Review: Zeus ZS-806
XS to XL Shell Sizes: 1 Colors: Colors: Metallic Black, Yamaha
Blue, Dark Blue, Silver, Dark Silver, Red, Wine
Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Titanium, White, Matt
Made In: Taiwan
Date: September 2009 Note:
Helmets provided by Zeus for this review (more).
Zeus says that as of the date of this review, only
the patterned ZS-806 helmets are available (no solid
colors) in limited quantities in the U.S.
Scale: For reference, our ratings scale
is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor,
Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.