by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
The unsolicited emails from Zeus 508 helmet owners started arriving about three years ago.
We received so many comments that we decided to set up a Zeus "Owner Reports" page as an online testimonial to the product from its many fans.
Eventually, we just had to find out what all the excitement was about. Why has the Zeus helmet attracted such a large and devoted following?
I think I know the answer. Some shoppers get their endorphin rush from always buying the "best".
Others search for something out-of-the-ordinary that will help them stand out from the crowd.
Then there are the bargain hunters, who spend way too much time searching for the lowest price, and usually find it, regardless of quality.
Me? I hate to say it, but as much as I appreciate the finer things in life, I get a special twinge when I find a relatively unknown, segment-busting product that does everything its competitors do, but at a rock-bottom price.
The Zeus 508 fits that description to a "T".
Apparently, I have a lot in common with Zeus owners. Zeus fans share a secret -- they own the best motorcycle helmet bargain in the universe!
The Zeus 508 can be had for around 84 bucks, including shipping. That $84.00 buys a lot of helmet.
Granted, all things are relative, so let's face it: we're not claiming that the Zeus 508 is comparable to, say a $500.00 Arai (and Arai doesn't even make a flip-up!).
But improvements in motorcycle helmet features come in small increments.
Wearing a $500.00 helmet is nice, but how nice? Is it $400.00 nicer than a hundred-buck helmet? Will you be able to tell where the four extra C-notes went?
There's a similar analogy with automobiles. You can spend huge bucks on a Lexus that will get you a handful of extra comfort features and possibly some imaginary status, and you expect and demand the best.
But in the end, it gets you back and forth to work no quicker than, say, a Chevrolet.
The fact that 4 Cavaliers can be bought for the price of the Lexus sort of brings the value proposition question into sharp focus.
I'm not saying that the best solution is always the cheapest; the point is that it's a good idea to consider the cost-value relationship when making a purchase. If even the smallest thing goes wrong with the Lexus, I'd be upset.
But if the Cavalier has a rattle or two here and there, who cares?
So what does a $500.00 helmet do that the Zeus doesn't?
Not that much.
The Zeus has a flip-up front that feels more solid than other flip-up helmets we've worn.
Flip-ups have become enormously popular over the last several years, and with good reason.
They're easy to put on, they can be worn with eyeglasses, and they're just all-around handy.
The latch for the 508's flip-up is a nicely placed single button located in a hidden central location on the inside of the chin guard.
Give it a squeeze and the flip-up pops open with more authority than many flip-up types we've tried. There's a strong detent at the top, so when the visor is swung all the way open, it stays there.
There are no fancy accoutrements on the sides of the 508 to hide the flip-up visor's attachment points; just a recessed Phillip's head screw over each ear which secure the visor at the point of rotation.
The screws must be removed to change the face shield, but at the price of a 508, you may as well buy two helmets and keep a tinted shield permanently installed on one of them if you think you'll need it.
The visor has a huge viewport -- I have to really look way up with my eyes up to bring the top of the visor opening into view.
The 508's large viewing area provides great outward visibility and eliminates the closed-in feeling that often comes with wearing a full-face helmet.
In fact, the Zeus 508's viewing area is so big that you may need to place a strip or two of some inexpensive automotive sun shade up towards the top to help prevent glare from the sun.
The 508 has a decent amount of chin room when the flip-up visor is closed. For some reason, many flip-up helmets have very short internal front-to-back lengths.
Some are so tight that they can squash your chin and become very uncomfortable very quickly. The 508 has almost as much chin room (front to back length inside the helmet) as many full-face helmets.
Zeus has several visor options for the 508, including tinted visors, fog-proof visors, and even an electrically heated visor that's used on the 508S, the snowmobile version of the Zeus ZS-508.
The Zeus 508 has a non-allergenic Coolmax lining and the cheek pads are washable and replaceable.
In fact, almost every part on the 508 is replaceable and readily available from the factory.
The standard lining is fairly basic, with the feel of a generic modern motorcycle helmet fabric, making it relatively comfortable.
My opinion is that the Zeus 508 is designed to fit a round head shape best, which suits me just fine.
The ear pockets are nice and big, and they would probably work great for fitting a set of helmet speakers.
The speaker pockets get their depth because they're unlined, which probably makes it easier to attach or hot glue a speaker directly to the internal shell wall.
The downside is that the absence of any padding over the ears increases the apparent noise level inside the helmet.
If the pockets aren't going to be filled with speakers, it would be easy to hot-glue some padding in their place instead. In any case, the depth of the ear pockets improve the helmet's comfort, especially for eyeglass wearers.
It's always nice to have some extra ear room for eyeglasses or sunglasses to help reduce the soreness that can result from a tight helmet pressing the eyeglass frames against the head.
Overall, the 508's padding is relatively thin, but the helmet is DOT safety standard, and also meets the tough ECE (22.05), JIS and other helmet safety standards.
My round head has a diameter of 20-1/4", which always seems to be on the borderline between a size large and an extra-large in most helmet brands.
The Zeus 508 in size XL is just a touch big on me, but comfortable.
I always wear a helmet liner, summer and winter, which usually takes up enough room to make an XL fit comfortably.
The 508 isn't the quietest flip-up we've tried; it has several variations of higher frequency wind noise entering from a couple of different locations.
The clear visor doesn't seal perfectly onto the rubber gasket that surrounds the visor opening, and much of the noise can be traced to this area.
The aforementioned unlined ear pockets let in some more noise.
But on the positive side, the 508 doesn't seem to suffer from the low-frequency "booming" noise that can emanate from up under the chin/neck area and can be exacerbated by various combinations of windscreen buffeting.
I always wear properly fitted earplugs when riding, and I strongly suggest you do the same.
All motorcycle helmets are noisy, and can easily and quickly damage your hearing; remember that hearing damage is permanent.
See the wBW Hearing Protection and Earplug page for more information about choosing and wearing earplugs.
Note also that windscreens or fairings can completely change the air flow over a helmet and can cause noise and buffeting, so your experience may differ from mine.
The Zeus 508 in size XL is a bit on the heavy side at 1741 grams (3 lbs. 13.5 oz.), but the helmet doesn't feel top-heavy, so the weight isn't too much of a problem.
The heft provides a sense that the helmet is nicely made, and hopefully it will do its job of protecting the noggin.
The helmet shell is manufactured from thermo injected ABS, and the silver painted model shown here has a decent clear-coated finish that I'll probably spruce up a bit with some Flashback reflective flag decals.
The top vents don't have any detent, so it's hard to tell if they're open or closed when you're trying to fiddle them with gloved hands.
I leave them closed most of the time, and I don't notice much difference in either air volume or wind noise.
Some Zeus owners have complained that the Zeus 508 has a tendency to fog its visor, but I found just the opposite.
The chin vent is very easy to open and close, and seems to provide a good quantity of air up onto the inside of the visor.
The combination of air flow from the chin vent, from up under the front of the chin bar, and the tiny leaks here and there around the visor seal seem to provide plenty of air movement to eliminate fogging.
If you do experience fogging, there's an optional anti-fog visor or an electric visor available through your Zeus dealer.
Alternatively, I suggest you try some FogTech anti-fog coating, which is applied to the inside of the visor and, in our experience, absolutely prevents fogging.
It's guaranteed by the manufacturer to prevent fogging. FogTech might be a bit harder to apply to the Zeus' visor because it doesn't easily snap in and out, but the stuff really works.
And last but not least, the Zeus 508 has a "D" ring attachment system for the straps, which also have some nice, long pads that help prevent chafing.
Zeus owners are definitely on to something -- the Zeus 508 is a solidly built helmet that has some nice features and is surprisingly comparable with flip-up helmets costing much, much more.
All things considered, the Zeus 508 is one heck of a deal.
|wBW Review: Zeus ZS-508|
|Manufacturer: Zeus Helmets||List Price (2003?): $84.00|
|Colors: Silver, Dark Silver, Black, White, Red, Wine Red, Blue, Dark Blue and graphics.||Made In: Taiwan|
|Review Date: 2003?|
From "H.S.": "I reviewed your site as it looked to have the most info and reviews for motorcycle helmets on the web.
I was impressed with all the satisfied customers of the Zeus helmets so I decided to give it a try. After 4 months of using it I just don't understand all the praise for this helmet.
It's just a $100 helmet and you get what you pay for. It feels ok but not great. You cannot ride with the chin bar open even at low speeds as the wind drag is a lot and the weight balance REALLY hurts my neck and isn't very well centered.
The flip doesn't open very far up therefore the wind drag is just very much. Wind noise is pretty horrible.
I wouldn't recommend this helmet, just spend a few more bucks for something better ( I wonder how the Vega is which is recommended at the site).
This is just a triggered response to all these people that love this helmet. It just doesn't work for me at all. Wonder why they like it so much? I also own a Shoei Syncrotec and a Roof Boxer.
The Shoei was getting old and the Roof I bought to replace the Zeus."
Editor's Reply: Yes, the Zeus 508 is priced low and has its faults, no doubt. But it is a bargain, and some faults can be overlooked with low price.
The helmet manufacturers recommend against riding with the visor in the raised position and we agree.
Probably any flip-up helmet would have serious problems with wind drag if the visor was raised when riding. We think it's much too dangerous to try.
From "P.G.": "For some reason, here in south Florida, cycle shops would have you believe there are only three helmet companies; HJC, Shoei and Arai.
Consequently, all three of my personal helmets were purchased via the web, sight unseen. Two of these purchases were based solely on YOUR reviews... and my faith was rewarded!
My KBC VR-1, as recommended by you, is a truly top notch helmet. It's extremely comfortable, with excellent fit/finish and a confidence inspiring feel on the road.
However, like any full-face helmet, it's not communications friendly when trying to talk to others at stoplights, drive-thru's, etc. Enter the Zeus 508 modular helmet.
Actually, I bought two... one for me and one for my wife. I appreciate the ease of just flipping up the frame to converse normally, without shouting or having to take the helmet off.
My wife totally agrees and adds that she doesn't feel as "claustrophobic" wearing the Zeus, as she did in her old full-face helmet. Hey, if the wife is happy, I'm happy!
While that fact alone makes the 508 worth the investment, the truth is, it really is a good, comfortable helmet. Admittedly, the fit of its components are not quite up to the VR-1.
Likewise, ours both "creak" (due to flex) as we put them on.
Yet, they're very comfortable, provide good visibility, have an easy to operate frame release and offer ample interior spacing around the ears, which enhance overall comfort and allows for the easy installation of speakers, if you wish (no carving of the foam required).
The only negative issue we've encountered is the lack of clearance between the top vent trim and the visor (particularly if you attempt to raise the frame with the visor open).
In one instance, the visor actually caught the trim and popped it right off the helmet! A little silicone adhesive restored order.
Bottom line: Unless you normally ride in excess of 100 MPH, knee drag every corner or are so socially insecure that you require an Arai or Shoei logo to feel like a "real" rider, the Zeus 508 (with its DOT certification) will allow you to ride safely and comfortably.
You won't be required to live on macaroni and cheese while paying for the privilege
of wearing a "big name" helmet. Hey, at the current Zeus web prices of
under $50 (including shipping), enjoy the ride!!
Oh yes, Why three helmets?
Well, I got the KBC as my first new helmet and use it almost daily for commuting to work and when I'm one up.
The Zeus is my two up and group ride helmet and the third, a Lazer DeVille, supercedes both during the hot, humid Florida summers to provide safety with maximum airflow. (And, for $27 new old stock, I couldn't pass it up!) "
From "J.F.H.": "I’ve had over a year now with a Zeus flip-up. At first I commented to you that it was noisy on the highway, but otherwise I liked it.
I still like it. In fact, I’ve taken to it for all my riding, shelving a perfectly good Shoei full-face.
The ability to talk, get a drink, or just get more ventilation with the chin-bar up at stops makes a great difference, and swapping eyeglasses to prescription sunglasses without removing the helmet is pure luxury.
The noise issue depends a LOT on the bike/windshield as well as speed.
On my primary bike (K1200GT) with the windscreen lowered (head in the air-stream) the noise level is actually less with the faceplate partly open than fully closed.
I installed a CD microphone and speakers, and it works for me without fit problems.
The chin bar is closer than on other helmets I’ve worn, but there’s no contact and there is room to adjust the microphone without rubbing either mouth or helmet liner.
My head shape is the “long oval” shape, but my lower jaw isn’t long.
An experiment in filling in the gaps around the bottom of the helmet with foam rubber made it a lot quieter in any helmet screen position except wide open – but that leads to a trade-of with heat build-up in summer.
You asked for feedback on fogging with the snowmobile shield vs. regular.
I tried the double-layered screen (the material in the layers is thinner and flexible) but not the electric heated variety.
I decided the snowmobile screen was a bad choice. It did NOT “fog” even fully closed in freezing weather. However, what it DID do was develop streaks of moisture; looked like rain running down the inside of the faceplate, in a fairly short time.
Combining that with the flexibility giving some mild distortion in the “lens” of the screen resulted in a fuzzy view of the world I found as annoying and potentially dangerous as fogging.
The standard screen fogging was eliminated by cracking the standard screen open, and opening the upper vents."
From "A.B." : "I have 2 Zeus 508 helmets. I've had the first one since 2000. I ordered a large size based upon other helmets I have worn. Zeus helmets run big.
My second helmet is a medium size which I got this year and fits very well with one exception. I can easily touch the chin bar with my jaw. Of course, this has me a little concerned.
The helmet is a little nosier than some of the others I have tried, but they didn't cost $100, and I wear earplugs anyway.
The helmet could stand to lose 10-12 oz. of weight, and the visors do fog as mentioned by several others.
I am now in the process of trying to install a headset. While the ear cups look very large, the mounting point for the chinstrap to the shell is right in the middle and that prevents correct placement of the speakers.
If that point were about an inch lower there would be no problem.
I have both an iridium and clear visors, and the method to swap them requires that the side screws be removed. This makes the chin bar fall off, which was a bit unnerving the first time.
I think a better method should be worked out. Overall, I think this is a good helmet for the buck, but the competition is closing in."
From "J.S." : "For my first helmet I bought the Zeus 508. I have ridden about 3500 mi both long and short trips. The flip up is great for the hot weather here in northern Nevada.
I heard noise at high speeds above 55 MPH. I have experienced no air leaks from the visor.
A few weeks ago I laid my bike down and the helmet did the job. I have 1 small scratch the in the top and the chin bar and visor are scraped pretty bad.
My only fear about buying a flip up was that if the chin bar was hit would the locks keep it down. THEY DID!!!
I hit the ground with the front side of my shoulder first. Then up into my Helmet. I am now looking for a new Helmet I believe it will be the New Zeus 508."
From "D.L." : "I got my Zeus 508 earlier this week. I've already used it for over 50 miles of riding on my Zuma scooter.
The wind noise reported by others is not a problem at speeds up to 45 mph that my scooter is capable of. I don't feel the need to use ear plugs.
I bought on-line, sized my head with a tape measure as instructed on the seller's web site. Fits like the proverbial glove. I can't compare to other full helmets, I was using a half helmet.
This helmet is very comfortable. The 3 vents seem to work well. The chin vent does a passable job clearing the visor in the cool morning air, but cracking the visor open works even better.
I found the controls usable with my motorcycle gloves on. The flip up style is a nice convenience. Aerodynamics seem to be fine at the speeds that I travel.
I only have the clear visor. I wear sunglasses under it when needed. It is comfortable to wear the glasses inside the helmet.
I got the insulated visor which is marked "for snowmobile only, not for street use". It does seem a bit flimsy, but I don't understand why it would be safe for snowmobiles and not for motorbikes.
I would buy this helmet again. I may for my son the passenger."
From "M.B." : "Just read your reviews and other comments. I can add a few more comments and experiences with this helmet.
I purchased one recently to use with my new bike (BMW R1150R). The Beemer only comes with a small screen, so I expected to get a lot more airflow than I had experienced with my last bike (VX800 and Maier screen).
This turned out to be the case, but not as bad as I expected. The little Beemer screen keeps the blast off the chest which means that the head is in the air stream.
No buffeting, but lots of noise due to the number of joins and seams the helmet has as a function of its design. I now wear ear plugs. This solves the problem nicely as there is plenty of plug room in the ear sections.
Cost here in Oz was $280 - seems expensive compared to your prices, even with the favourable exchange rates at the moment.
Anyway, it was still cheaper than all the others and seemed to fit the best. time will tell what sort of life it will have based on the quality of materials.
I have always purchased 'lower end' helmets and changed them over every couple of years as the linings compress and they get loose.
This is much more palatable than ditching a $500 helmet because it has been dropped or the lining is coming unstuck.
I find that the chin piece is close to the point of having my chin lightly touching at all times. Not a problem, but differs from other views that there is plenty of room.
The next size up had more room, but I prefer a 'snug' fit to allow for lining compression over time.
Contrary to some views, I can just remove the helmet with the chin piece down, but I would question why you would want to.
My thoughts are that the flip-piece is for flipping up to help the process of putting-on and removing the helmet. Each to themselves I guess.
Quality seems good. The finish on my 'gold' helmet has no flaws,. but the chin strap clip seems a little too easy to release. I have already had it come undone when trying to clip my jacket neck collar closed.
I think I pressed on the outer latch button, which pushed the clip against my shirt collar and released the inner clip as well. A bit dicey, but now I know I will be more careful.
I have already added a one inch strip of tape to the top of the visor to save my face from the sun.
The one inch translates to about half an inch when looking from the inside as the visor is set fairly high on the forehead section of the helmet.
Still gives me full vision and some sun-shading when riding west into the sun. Have used that trick with all my helmets, but it was particularly required with this one.
Anyway, the Zeus seems to be value for money. I have no regrets in buying it and look forward to wearing it on many long trips here in Oz."
M.B. sent this follow-up: "Some more comments on the Zeus after a 2000 km three day ride through the Australian Alpine region last weekend.
The helmet requires earplugs as it is noisy. My bike is a BMW R1150R with only a flyscreen, so it is noisy with any helmet as my head is above the screen at all times.
My chin lightly touches the chin piece. Not a problem, except that it then blocks the chin vent and fresh air to the chin area. This causes moisture to build up through condensation inside the chin area.
Ok if you don't mind having moist lips from your own breath! It's ok in warmer rider conditions, but caused me some issues riding in the rain as the screen couldn't be left closed due to condensation and fogging.
This problem is partly solved by cracking the screen open, but the first detent leaves the screen too open for me at about an inch.
I have tensioned the hinge screws to the point where I can leave the screen open a quarter inch or so, and it will usually stay there. I might try and file additional detents in the sides to give me some 'half' positions.
On my exposed bike, the helmet does not lift at speed, and seems to maintain good airflow at cruising speeds up to 140 km/hr.
It has no rattles, and I only heard an occasional faint whistle when I turned my head at fast speeds. No drama in that department.
I still don't like the catch on the chin strap. It works, but is very easy to release with only the lightest touch.
The flip face appears to lock-down solidly and I like the option to open it up when pulling in to the fuel stop. Very easy single-handed operation.
I had two minor problems with my new helmet. The forehead vents were too loose so I glued them open, and the screen had a minor optical flaw.
Mr Zeus (William Wei) is attending to both matters, and I cannot fault the after sales service and attempts to rectify these relatively minor problems.
I have rarely found a manufacturer that has been so keen to keep its customers happy, so 10/10 for that side of my purchase.
The external finish appears to be good. I have had numerous hits from bugs, beetles and sprayed gravel, and the outer coating has stayed intact far better than on previous more expensive helmets.
One ride session was in the rain. No unusual leaks, even with the flip-face design.
The top of the screen is not a great seal, but the rubber 'lip' seems to channel most water away. This helmet is no worse than many others I have had as far as water getting behind the screen goes.
In summary, I like the Zeus and am happy to recommend it. It is built to a price, but makes good sense from a 'value' perspective.
I have now done about 3,500 km in it and most of that was long-day touring stuff, with long periods inside the lid."