Zeus ZS 2100B Review
wBW Owner Report by H.B.C. for webBikeWorld.com
Editor's Note: We reviewed the Zeus ZS-08 modular helmet years ago, and it proved to be one of the best flip-up helmet bargains ever.
Zeus has recently improved their entire helmet lineup for 2008, and H.B.C. filed this report on the new Zeus ZS-2100 B.
Intended to go after the top-end cross-over style of helmet, Zeus has taken a current model and with one minor addition, created a very viable alternative.
Overall quality and finish is not up to Arai standards, as an example, but from a function perspective it is very close and even ahead in some areas.
This helmet can hold its own and then some. Its features and competitive pricing make this cross-over or "Enduro" styled helmet a real deal.
The Zeus brand is manufactured by the Gao Jin Industrial Company of Taiwan, and they have been producing motorcycle helmets since 1988, when they first started making helmets for the burgeoning Taiwan market.
Expansion came quickly and the company now produces motorcycle helmets for riders all over the world. Their objective is to produce "cool and comfortable" motorcycle helmets of "exceptional quality at reasonable prices with advanced features", according to their website.
The Zeus ZS-2100 street helmet becomes the ZS-2100 "B" model by virtue of its large peak, good for both touring and off road excursions. A seemingly sophisticated product, the entire peak unit is aerodynamically shaped. The peak is easily removed and the fully recessed shield changed without tools.
The shell is a lightweight thermo-injected alloy (plastic). The helmet features a full ventilation system with a new larger chin intake vent, while the interior uses Cool-Weave fabric. Cheek pads and liners are removable and changeable for a custom fit.
Our test unit was the popular Titanium solid colour. Discrete in appearance, graphics and markings are limited to a medium-sized Zeus sticker on the rear and a stylized "Z" logo on the front of the face shield. In this case, minimal is good.
The chance to do an evaluation on this helmet came about quite suddenly and due to limited availability a large was not available. The medium unit on hand was a tight fit, so an XL was chosen. Somewhat loose along the bottom half and in the crown area, it did not move around much at all and it was secure on the head.
In the overall helmet shape hierarchy, the Zeus ZS-2100 B seems to fall into the neutral zone -- a compromise between oval and round. For this rider, the Arai RX-7 Corsair is a natural fitting helmet, but in comparison, the Zeus also fits well without any severe pressure points (appreciating that this was an XL, one size up from that normally worn).
Equally neutral is sizing; Zeus helmets seem to follow a very common sizing standard, with all previous Zeus helmets have been large as well. Sizing consistency seems to have remained through the years -- not a bad thing. See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet.
Putting on the helmet for the first time identifies the most glaring issue -- the D-ring assembly strap is short; very short, and the right hand side strap is far too long. I have to reach up into the helmet to use the D-ring and if I had larger hands, it would be even more difficult.
Finding a way to keep the overly long strap out of the way becomes an issue, albeit a minor one perhaps. The small red elastic retainer ring located just above the D-ring is hard to access and in any case, there is far too much strap to get it cleanly tucked out of the way. A shorter strap and a snap connector would solve this problem.
Given all the other pluses of this helmet, and as we did have an early release unit, the harness issues were fed back directly back to the Zeus representative by the dealer. Hopefully the shortfall will be quickly addressed.
The rest of the experience is positive. The helmet goes on smoothly, and the liner material is soft and encompassing. The ear cutouts are generous; good for comfort, glasses and installing a headset. The larger shell sizing and shape of the chin bar provides extra chin room up front as well.
The Cool Weave fabric liner is plush and comfortable and should provide good cooling properties. The removable liner pieces fit snugly together inside the shell. All in all, the interior of the helmet is a pretty comfortable environment.
As with many other size XL helmets, the shell is quite large but the shape of the helmet seems pretty conducive in providing smooth air flow and reducing noise levels. The side indents actually seem to help in minimizing lateral noise by channeling air up alongside the helmet rather than just around the bottom edges.
The front chin bar has a fairly distinct spoiler shape on the bottom edge and while there is no pull-down chin spoiler for additional protection, the shape works well
The front intake vent is large but its shape fits well into the overall helmet design. This vent is controlled by a simple slide located on the inside panel that controls how much air flows into the helmet via the two interior vent holes. The lower vent hole is wide but narrow while the top one is much smaller and oval in shape.
Both these vents are located so as to flow air into the helmet around the chin and nose areas. Some of this intake air also flows down around the bottom of the helmet, helping to offset external air turbulence and draw air from the helmet. The upper air flow moves across the shield and gets pulled into the top liner ports located in the brow piece of the helmet.
These two small brow vents help pull air up across the face shield and the front of the face and then across the inside top of the helmet. This flow reduces moisture build-up or misting, and feeds additional fresh air to the front top of the helmet, to the degree desired, as controlled by the intake slider.
On the topside, two exterior stick-on vent pieces provide additional air intake control. Each black plastic molding has a simple three position slide control: forward is closed, middle is partially open, and fully back is closed.
Although the vent moldings appear sturdy, the slider control is pretty flimsy and the settings hard to feel. In their defense though, the two top vents do provide a noticeable increase in air flow in the top of the helmet, especially when the ambient air temperature is around 0C/32F -- we could only hope the air would feel that refreshing at 30C (86F)!
The peak on the Zeus ZS-2100 B is a very distinguishing feature of the helmet. Although similar in size to the peak on the Arai XD (wBW review), it is a bit wider and definitely higher in profile. Some individuals remarked that it was somewhat obtrusive, but obtrusive or not, it is extremely effective.
Even though wider and higher in profile than the Arai XD peak, the Zeus ZS-2100 B peak does not "catch" as much air, mainly due to its aggressive shape, multiple large cutouts and increased clearance between the peak and helmet surfaces.
As with any peak of this type, shade and rock protection should be good as well, something always appreciated, especially when travelling through varying light conditions or following someone down a gravel road at speed.
The peak is removed by unscrewing three large plastic screws, one on the top and one on each side. Unlike other cross-over helmets, removing the face shield on this model does not impact shield integrity, as integrated but separate mounting mechanisms are used.
Many will see the peak mounting approach taken as simplistic and others as a cost-cutting move, but no matter the reasoning, it just works. This is actually a major plus for the Zeus ZS-2100 B, as converting the Arai XD is an overly complicated procedure that needs to be addressed.
Without taking any formal noise readings, the Zeus is as quiet, or quieter than the Arai XD and very close to the Nolan 102 (wBW review), a helmet that, in my opinion, works extremely well behind what is one of the best windscreens ever put on a motorcycle, that being the BMW R1200GS Adventure (wBW article).
Little or no air turbulence is felt, or heard around the bottom of the helmet, due in part to its slippery shape and (possibly) the channeling inserts along the sides of the helmet. While the face shield makes itself felt with a slight air tug now and then, it does not create turbulence of its own.
With earplugs in place, there were no obtrusive low frequency vibrations or air pressure changes felt in the ear, which typically means that air flow is being well managed by the helmet and that the interior is being sealed to the degree needed, and sounds dampened.
A poor fitting helmet, along with poor air management along the bottom edges can contribute significantly to noise levels and greatly decrease overall rider comfort and ability to focus on the ride. See the wBW Hearing Protection and Earplug page for more information about choosing and wearing earplugs.
Removing the peak makes virtually no difference in noise levels; a testament to its design. Air flow across the aerodynamic front remains steady and minimal turbulence is felt, even during a short road ride on a standard motorcycle (sans windscreen, fairing or spoiler).
The clear face shield fits snugly against the gasket around the front opening of the helmet providing a good seal. The face shield was somewhat stiff to use, both due to its newness and minimal clearances between the helmet, the face shield and the side of the peak. With the peak removed, the face shield moves with much less friction.
The clear face shield on the ZS-2100 B is solid and did not seem to have any optical imperfections. Removing the peak provides access to the face shield mounting system, which is a ratchet style mechanism with a small release tab, similar to many other generic mounting systems.
To remove it, open the face shield fully, and push down the two small tabs on the lower end of each side assembly, align the two tangs that are part of the centre hole molding on the face shield with the slots on the centre bezel of each side assembly and pull each side straight out.
Reverse this process for assembly, and make sure the two tabs are moved back up to the locking position. Six position settings are available: closed, four detents; and, fully open. As noted, the whole assembly is pretty stiff, requiring some force to open or close the shield, although the left-of-centre face shield tab is easy to feel and use safely.
The front cut-out profile of the helmet provides good visibility and there are no lateral blind spots per se, even with the wide peak installed. As good as this helmet is in the visibility department, it still falls short of the Arai XD which provides even better visibility, front and laterally.
The helmet weighs in at 1680 grams (3.37 lbs), about 30 grams heavier than the base ZS-2100, due to the peak being added. Using the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights chart, this puts it in 58th spot of 87, pretty good, especially considering the shell size. The ZS-2100 B is actually lighter than the original Arai XD and in the neighborhood of the GMAX GM68S, the Bell Sprint and lighter than the Arai XD and the HJC CL-XS, another "Enduro" styled helmet.
webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator - Zeus ZS 2100B
Even though the Zeus ZS-2100 B helmet was only available for a short period of time, it worked well.
Overall the helmet is well designed, well made and comfortable (although final judgment on that cannot be made until the proper size needed is available). As a cross-over or dual-sport helmet, it emulates the best and works almost as well. It is, simply put, not just a deal, but a really good deal.
My overall rating: good, bordering on excellent.
Editor's Note: We have not yet been able to determine when the ZS-2100 B will be released in the U.S. market.
wBW Review: Zeus ZS-2100B Dual Sport Helmet
|Manufacturer: Zeus Helmets||List Price: $179.95 CAD
|Colors: Colors: Titanium, Metallic Black, Silver, Red and Yamaha Blue.||Made In: Taiwan|
|Sizes: XS to XL. Shell Sizes: Unknown|
|Review Date: February 2008|
From "B" (December 2011): "I've had this helmet for an entire season now. I quite like the helmet for the price. I haven't had any problems with plastic bits breaking like in other reports, and the helmet definitely hasn't been pampered.
There are some observations that should be mentioned, although they aren't serious drawbacks. First, the chin vents are pretty much useless and there are no visor anti-fog vents so it fogs up instantly in cool, wet weather. For me, this was fixed by adding a Pinlock Visor (I had spare lying around for a Schuberth C3).
This particular Pinlock barely fits, but it has definitely solved the fogging problem and is well worth doing. I can ride all day with the visor fully closed in any weather now with no fogging whatsoever (I'm sure there is a different Pinlock version available that would fit better).
Second, the visor is easy to remove, but not so easy to replace - quite fussy and frustrating. But adding a thin film of silicon grease to the visor mechanism will lessen the stickiness felt when adjusting the visor and should make the mechanism last longer.
Third, even from new, there is some little metal bit in between the liner and the shell on mine beside my left ear that rattles when I'm walking around. I haven't tracked it down yet and I don't think it's serious, but it speaks to the QA of the product.
Fourth, good luck finding goggles that will fit the eye port. I tried about a dozen types and none fit. This is a design flaw they really should have corrected to be a considered serious convertible dual sport helmet. I finally gave up and just use sunglasses with inter-changeable lenses (sun shaded, yellow driving, and clear lenses).
I generally keep the visor down when going through brush for extra eye protection and I've found replacement visor's as low as $15 which is also a bonus. The low price makes it reasonable to keep a couple of spares around.
Overall, I feel this helmet is a great value for the price they often go for. (I paid less than $100 on sale.) As a occasional helmet or spare you just can't beat the value. I reserve my Schuberth C3 now for cold weather and road touring, while using this one for around town and dual sport riding."
From "D" (August 2011): "I recently crashed at 90 kph and landed on my head whilst wearing the Zeus DS on the road. The crash ripped off one top air vent and broke the ratchet mechanism on one side, there was a fair graze on the shell. My head survived unhurt, no concussion or other damage to my head. The helmet was sent to the insurer for a claim and will be destroyed. Yes I will probably buy another, this one proved to be a life saver."
From "W.M." (7/10): "I have had a Zeus 2100B for a bit over a year. In fact I have had three.
About a year after I bought the helmet the lining fell apart. I have another helmet which I use regularly and do not ride in the rain that much. The Australian Zeus Distributor gave me another helmet no questions asked.
On the second ride with the new helmet I was in traffic and heard a loud "twang", when I got home I found that the large plastic band around the base of the helmet had fractured. I had not dropped the helmet.
Again I was given another helmet no questions asked. This one seems fine, and is indeed an improvement on the original because the strap holding the D rings is longer.
It is comfortable, reasonably quiet, and I have no real complaints except perhaps for the quality. I will be interested to see what happens after another year. As a positive I am very impressed with the after sales service that I have received ... its a definite pleasure after most of the companies I deal with.
I have a pair of Scott goggles (VX OTD?) that do work with the helmet."
From "J.M." (2/10): "I used to use a Zeus helmet until some simple cheap plastic on the less than a year old helmet broke making the helmet a pain to use, or in my case, worthless.
The picture of the side of the opened face shield you have on the web site is a picture of the exact cheap plastic part that broke. The mechanism attached to the helmet that holds up the shield is a cheap "plastic spring" ratcheting system.
I ride in Taiwan which is very humid, so when I stop it is almost necessary to put the shield up, with that cheap "plastic spring" broken the shield often closes on its own... and that is unacceptable for the conditions. I took it to the shop where I purchased it, and they said there was nothing they could do. So, a broken cheap plastic spring has made a not so cheap helmet worthless."
Editor's Reply: I suggest trying another shop or writing directly to Zeus for a replacement.
From "D.H." (10/08): "Thanks for a really good internet resource. I recently tried on a Zeus ZS-2100B helmet here in Canberra, Australia and can confirm that:
1. The D rings part of the strap is still too short which makes the strap difficult to secure.
2. Standard sized Scott MX goggles do not fit in the eye port. Making it unacceptable for the type of dual sport riding I do.
I also tried on an Arai XD3 also known as Tour X3 here in Aussie and the Scott goggles do fit in the eye port."
From "B": "Since I am looking for a dual sport helmet, your article caught my eye. Great write up! Thank you. Two quick things though: The vents in the chin bar, the control is on the inside? If so, I guess that rules out them making a chin curtain or adapting one from another helmet.
Also, I wrote Zeus to see if they knew when the helmet will be available in the US, as I wont buy one without touching it first. Received this email reply from them: "We are sorry to inform you that ZEUS USA is having re-structuring. We are finding the best solution to offer our product and services very soon. Thank you."
Thought I would pass that on in case you had not received any information from them. Thanks and keep up the good work."
From "G.S.": "A couple important items are missing from the review: 1. Is the eye port large enough to accept off-road goggles? 2. Pictures of the face shield in the 'full up' position. Otherwise, it's good to see more and more companies embracing the dual-sport / adventure touring market."
Editor's Reply: The photo at the top of the page shows the face shield in the "full up" position. The position shown it typical for "Enduro" or "cross-over" style helmets.
H.B.C.'s Reply: The eye-port is a bit smaller in height than the XD, but depending on make and style of the goggle, a pair might fit, with some gaps in areas. That is one thing the XD does have, a perfect fit with most moto-style goggles.
Many of us use the face shield and peak combination, but as well, we take the face shield off and use a pair of goggles - some events/organizations do not allow the use of 'face shields' and mandate goggles and, if you want to use one helmet for many purposes, then the cross-over helmet, with goggles as needed/desired, will do the trick.