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 helmet.
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
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
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 fabric.
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 internal shapes
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 this.
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 average.
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
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 sun
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
Part of the problem with the ZS-806 is that it appears that the styling took
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 shape.
Video: Zeus ZS-806 Helmet (in YouTube HD!
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Sizes: 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 Colors.
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
Ratings Scale: For
reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable
to Poor, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.