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Zeus ZS-608

Zeus ZS-608
Zeus ZS-608 Helmet Review
by "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com

More: ZS-3000 Review  |  wBW Reviews Home  |  Owner Comments (Below)  |  wBW Motorcycle Helmet Reviews


Summary

The Zeus ZS-608 is new for 2009.

It's a nicely executed, solid-feeling helmet with a comfortable liner that should fit a wide range of head shapes.

The ZS-608 also includes an internal rotating sun shade and it has good ventilation.

Background 
The Zeus ZS-608 is another new helmet in the completely renovated Zeus lineup for 2009.

The ZS-608B model shown here is actually a 2010 model and one of three 608-series designs.

Tthe ZS-608 does not have an internal sun shade, while the ZS-608A has a slightly different and more angular rear exhaust vent spoiler.

Otherwise, the helmet is basically the same, but some countries may see only selected versions of the 608 for sale, for various technical reasons.

Zeus has been going through somewhat of a helmet design renaissance in 2009. The new ZS-3000 modular was reviewed on webBikeWorld recently, and the ZS-806 full-face and ZS-210C "retro" helmet will also be reviewed soon.

The company's helmets have always represented good quality and innovative features at very reasonable prices, and this strategy continues with their current lineup.

The so-called "Jet" styling of the ZS-608 was considered radical in the not-too-distant past, but this style has caught on with motorcycle riders around the world, and it seems to have become the norm for open-face motorcycle helmets. The ZS-608 styling is very similar to the GMax GM27S (review) and the Bell Mag-8 (review).

It used to be that the only open-face designs were "Shorty" or the classic 3/4-length open face helmets, but they now seem...rather old-fashioned, although they're still popular with cruiser owners.

The ZS-608 is definitely a modern, up-to-date take on the open-face helmet and it has all the features one would expect in a modern full-face motorcycle helmet except, of course, the chin bar.

I'll state right up front that I think Zeus has done a remarkable job on this helmet; it's very comfortable and it's put together with excellent quality, including the graphics, which are beautifully executed.

For some strange reason, it seems that flip-up and open face helmets don't often get the cool colors and graphics that the manufacturers add to their full-face helmets, but Zeus has broken that rule, as was also discussed in the ZS-3000 review.

We have two ZS-608's to compare: the white and black graphic pattern in size large (on the left in the photo below) and the silver/gray combination on the right, in size XL.

Zeus does not have a name for these colors, at least that I can determine, although the silver/gray helmet has the word "THORN" on the rear. Both of these are very nice color combinations, although I'm partial to the silver/gray, if only because the muted tones made it easier for me to photograph!

Oh, and one more thing about the ZS-608: the helmet shell is a fiberglass composite, not polycarbonate. So the shell (which comes in two sizes across the range of XS to XXL) is higher-tech than many other open-face or "Jet" styled helmets.

Zeus ZS-608 - Colors and Graphics
ZS-608 Colors: Metallic Black/FF4 White (L) and Titanium/FF5 Silver (R).
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Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

I have "stolen some of my own thunder" on this in the opening section, but it's worth repeating: the graphics and colors on these two ZS-608 examples are very nicely executed, and, to paraphrase the webBikeWorld ZS-3000 review, Zeus has broken the barrier on the issue of graphics and colors on flip-up, modular and Jet styled helmets.

Indeed, all of the 9 Zeus helmets for 2009 we have in our review cache have excellent paint and graphics -- a good omen for sure.

The overall quality of the two 608 helmets is also excellent, and the only minor concern I noted is that the face shield rotating mechanism on either side of the helmet has just slightly more flexibility than I'd like to see. This can be noted as the face shield is raised or lowered.

The flexibility can be seen in the ZS-608 video (below) when the user opens the face shield removal mechanism lock and the metal side plate flexes. At this point, I have no reason to believe this is a problem though.

Otherwise, everything works as it should, including the top vent, the internally rotating sun shade and the clear face shield, which feels sturdier than most other open face helmets.

Zeus even included two small channels on either side to guide the face shield in place as it is closed and to prevent it from shaking side-to-side in the wind. The shield is notched at the point where it slides in to the channels.

The liner used in the ZS-608 is especially nice, covering all of the EPS inside the helmet shell. The liner is well padded and comfortable and it's removable. The cheek pads can be removed separately also if necessary.

Score:  I rate the Zeus ZS-608 "Outstanding" for paint and overall quality and comfort. See the ratings descriptions in the Summary Table at the end of this page.

AFX FX-39 DS Slide Show
Helmet Fit, Comfort and Internal Shape

The ZS-608 has what is probably a "textbook" neutral fit that should fit a majority of owner head shapes. The sizing also seems spot-on, with the large fitting just as a large should, around 59.0 to 60.0 cm. The XL also fits to size, about 61.0 to 62.0 cm. Thus, it can be assumed that the other sizes in the 608 lineup should also fit as expected.

Three different local riders have tried the ZS-608 helmets in both L and XL, with head shapes ranging from what I guess could be called neutral to round. All reported that the helmet feels comfortable and they had no problems with fit.

For more information on head shapes and helmet fit, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.

webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: Zeus ZS-608A
Narrow Med. Narrow Slight Narrow Neutral Slight Round Med. Round Round
 
 
Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)
Arai
Profile
Scorpion EXO-700 Neon KBC
Tarmac
AGV
Stealth
Arai
RX-Q
Bell
Arrow
Arai
Quantum II

The ZS-608 liner feels very comfortable and it has a generous amount of padding, especially compared to some of the other open-face helmets I've tried recently, like the Vemar CKQI (review).

The liner is also very nicely detailed and it even includes some contrasting red piping. It's a full liner, which covers the EPS foam, and it gives the 608 a quality look.

Although I'm not sure if Zeus purposely designed the 608 for eyeglasses, but the liner features channels just above the cheek pads, where the top of the cheek pad meets the rest of the liner.

The channels allow eyeglass temples to be easily slipped in and over the ears, making the ZS-608 one of the more comfortable helmets to wear with sunglasses or eyeglasses. Note that this may vary, depending upon the rider's head shape and eyeglass type.

Score:  I'll give the ZS-608 an "Outstanding" for this category. It is very comfortable and it has a fit that should work for many riders.

Zeus ZS-608 - Helmet Liner
Zeus ZS-608 helmet liner.
Zeus ZS-608 - Visor Removal Mechanism
Zeus ZS-608 visor removal mechanism. The "Fiber Composite" label is also reflective.
Zeus ZS-608 Face Shield and Internal Sun Shade

One of the most amazing features of an open-face helmet is the visibility provided by the design. After wearing full-face and flip-up helmets for so long, it's always a revelation to suddenly have unlimited forward visibility.

The face shield on the 608 has excellent coverage; most of my face is protected, down to just below my mouth. There are no lifting tabs on the face shield, but it's easy enough to grab. It has 3 detents, or stop points, as it's raised or lowered, but these are less important on an open-face helmet than they are on a full-face.

The shield has a firm feel and the channel holders on either side, mentioned earlier, do a good job at keeping the shield secure when it's lowered.

The quality of the optics are very good, but not excellent. I do notice a very slight blur in some sections of the face shield, but this pretty much disappears when riding.

The internal sun shade is operated via a slider on the left-hand side of the helmet. The slider is easy to operate, although it takes a few tries to learn where it is. It has two large tabs, making it easy to feel even when wearing gloves.

Although it is possible to lower the sun shade to an in-between setting, it is designed as an on/off system, either fully raised or fully lowered. When it's lowered, it does provide excellent coverage, although the helmet must be seated correctly on the head.

Sometimes it's too easy for the helmet (any helmet) to be positioned too far back on the rider's head, so I'm in the habit of pushing the top of the helmet down to seat correctly. This helps position the sun shade for optimum coverage on the 608.

Score:  I'll give the ZS-608 an "Excellent" for this category for a solid-feeling face shield and good coverage on the internal sun shade.

Zeus ZS-608 - Top Vent
Zeus ZS-608 top vent.
Zeus ZS-608 - Rear Exhaust
Zeus ZS-608 rear exhaust vents.
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ZS-608 Ventilation and Air Flow

As always, not much to say about air flow in an open-face helmet. It's been stated before:  "You'll have air flow whether you want it or not!"

But the large face shield and coverage provided by the ZS-608 have the potential for heat build-up if it weren't for the top venting system. Some manufacturers scrimp on venting in their open-face designs, but Zeus gives a full venting system worthy of some full-face helmets in the 608.

The top vent opens with a small slider; the opening isn't very large, and it's nearly flush with the surface of the helmet, but the liner has air vent holes through the EPS in front and rear.

The liner completely covers the EPS and it has some mesh inserts on either side at the top, so although I don't feel a direct air stream over my head when riding, it doesn't get hot up top and the venting system does seem to circulate a decent amount of air.

The exhaust vents are always open, which I think is both correct and helps avoid unnecessary complexity in the rear. Large vent holes in the EPS direct the air out the back, and they also must help with the overall ventilation in the system.

The 608 also has small exhaust vents located at the lower rear part of the helmet. On most helmets, the exhaust vents in this area are for looks; in this case, they're the "real thing", backed by large vent passage holes through the EPS.

Score:  I'll rate the ZS-608 as "Excellent" for air flow and overall ventilation.

Noise Control

Well, not much can be said in this regard for an open-face helmet either. This type of helmet tends to be louder than most full-face helmet designs -- but note I said "most", which means not all. Some full-face helmets I've tried are so loud you'd think the manufacturer went out of their way to make it that way.

But the good fit and the seal provided by the deep ear pockets in the ZS-608, along with the relatively smooth outer shape, help keep things fairly quiet for an open-face design. The typical wind rushing noise can be heard, but the low profile vents prevent any of the loud whistling noise that can sometimes result from pieces of the assembly sticking up into the air flow on other designs.

Touring riders will, I suspect, very much appreciate the ZS-608's design and comfort and noise control when riding behind a big fairing. I don't usually ride my K1100LT in the hot summer weather, and it provides good coverage and low noise levels to begin with, but the ZS-608 works especially well behind that big 'screen.

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 wBW Earplugs 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 wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score:  I'll rate the ZS-608 as "Very Good" for overall noise control.

Helmet Weight

This ZS-608 in size large weighs 1416 grams (3 lbs., 2 oz.) and the XL weighs just a touch more, at 1429 grams (3 lbs., 2-3/8 oz.).

This is heavier than the "retro" open-face designs reviewed on webBikeWorld, although those mostly have no side coverage below the ear, so it's a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison.

The 608 has such a good fit that any extra weight isn't noticed on the road and the outer shell profile seems to help keep buffeting and lift under control.

For comparison purposes, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a listing of all of the helmets we've reviewed along with their weight and internal shape.

wBW Video: Zeus ZS-608A Helmet
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-608 is plush and thicker than normal, although the chin strap does seem longer than average.

Zeus said that they offer a one-year warranty on both North American and European ZS-3000 helmets, and we'll assume that is the same for the ZS-608.

Zeus also says the ZS-608 meets DOT, ECE 22.05 and CNS (Taiwan) helmet safety standards.

Conclusion

My feeling is that the ZS-608 is one of the nicest "Jet" styled open face helmets I've tried. It has excellent quality, graphics, comfort and attention to detail, along with a very reasonable price.

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 elvismak@hotmail.com.

wBW Product Review: Zeus ZS-608A Motorcycle Helmet
Manufacturer: Zeus Helmets List Price:$135 - $150 (Unconfirmed)
Colors: Metallic Black, Yamaha Blue, Dark Blue, Silver, Dark Silver, Red, Wine Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Titanium, White, Matte Colors. Made In: Taiwan
Sizes: XS to XXL. Shell Sizes: 2 Review Date: August 2009
 
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
Ratings Scale: For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.

Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld© Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

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