We received several emails recently from webBikeWorld visitors, requesting another look at Zox helmets.
Specifically, the request was for the Genessis (that’s the way it’s spelled) RN2 SVS.
Zox is what some might consider a “third-tier” helmet manufacturer.
They’re focused more on cost than performance and without the big advertising budgets of the better-known brands.
There’s certainly a place for helmet manufacturers in this category.
And we’re just as thrilled to find a bargain as anyone else…as long as the basic quality is there.
Probably the closest competitor to Zox is Vega Helmets and the webBikeWorldVega Summit 3.0 review should also be read by anyone considering a flip-up helmet in this price range.
Two other Zox helmets were previously reviewed on webBikeWorld, back in 2007. The Zox Azuma R, an inexpensive full-face helmet, was reviewed in April of 2007 and it proved to be an excellent value with strong build quality.
But the Zox Nevado R, a flip-up we reviewed in October of that year, had a serious flaw. The locking mechanism for the rotating visor was poorly designed, making that helmet difficult to recommend.
I’m pleased to report that the rotating visor on the Zox Genessis does not have that problem.
In fact, Zox seemed to have gone out of its way to develop what feels like an extra-solid and secure visor locking system for the new helmet, using metal parts instead of plastic.
I’m the default flip-up reviewer around here, but as I’ve probably mentioned before, in general I’m disappointed that this class of helmet still doesn’t seem to be as evolved as it should or could be.
Based on reports we’ve seen from the distributors, flip-up helmets aren’t as popular as many had predicted (and hoped), which probably starts one of those vicious circle vortex situations.
In this case, flip-us are more complicated designs, making them more expensive to produce at acceptable levels of quality.
So corners are cut — usually with the design of the vents and venting systems — and the helmets end up weighing more because less expensive polycarbonate is used and a smaller range of shell sizes are produced.
The greater weight, poor ventilation and increased noise levels all conspire to lead buyers elsewhere, leaving less profit for future development and dampening the motivation to develop better flip-up designs.
That’s my theory anyway, based on my experience with many flip-up helmets over the years.
Something else is at work here, and although this may sound trite, the saying “you get what you pay for” seems to be quite appropriate when it comes to flip-up helmets.
In that regard, the Nolan N90 (review) flip-up at $300.00 is exactly twice the list price of the Zox Genessis RN2 SVS. But the N90 is worth it, in my opinion, and it is still “the flip-up to beat” in 2010, as I stated in that review.
You’ll get better ventilation, lower weight, less noise, higher quality and Italian style and heritage that when tallied up, all makes a big difference. My feeling is that it’s money well spent.
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at the Zox Genessis and see how much helmet your 150 bucks will buy.
The Zox Genessis – Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
The Zox helmets we reviewed both had good quality paint that belied their low price. This Genessis is no exception, and the creamy-colored metallic paint seems thick and nicely applied and it has a relatively thick clear coat protective finish.
In fact, if the paint on this example is any indication, then several other helmet manufacturers — no matter which tier they’re in — could take a lesson from Zox on how it’s done.
The overall styling of the Genessis is also appealing, with a modern look and a few sharp character lines that give some relief to the usual drab and too-conservative flip-up profile.
Where the Genessis falls behind is in the fit and operation of a few of the individual pieces.
The chin vent is loose and wobbly, as can be seen in the accompanying video. The eye port gasket was also obviously misaligned on this example, which means that the face shield doesn’t seal properly, letting in both air and water.
The design of the vents is biased more towards style than function. The top vents have smooth covers lacking any tactile surface that might facilitate their operation by a rider wearing gloves.
The chin vent and top vents also have a stiff and balky feel, adding to the woes.
The SVS, or Sun Visor System, operates via a slider on the lower left-hand side of the helmet, but this also has a stiff feel that seems to sometimes catch half-way through its travel on this helmet.
The rotating flip-up visor works very nicely however, and it does have a solid and secure feel. The release is centrally located under the chin bar. Also, the face shield has excellent optical properties, a first defogging position and it rotates crisply through its opening range.
Score: A few good parts and a few not-so-good lead me to give the Zox Genessis a split rating, with an “Excellent” for the paint and rotating visor but a “Neutral” for the rest. See the Summary Table at the end of this page for a description of our rating system.
This Genessis is a size large but fits slightly oversized compared to other flip-up helmets I’ve tried.
I checked the size printed on the helmet and confirmed it with the size listed on the box to make sure it was really a large — we’ve had more than one helmet come through here that was mislabeled.
But a large it is, and I’d guess it fits about 1/2 size bigger than I expected, meaning that this one would probably be better suited for a 60-61 cm head than the 59-60 cm listed for a size large on the Zox Helmets website.
The internal shape is a comfortable and adequate neutral though, tending slightly towards the round, so most owners should find a comfortable fit.
The helmet is available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL and although the shell sizes aren’t listed, I’d guess that two shells cover this range.
The liner and padding feel comfortable with no hard spots and I think that the Genessis is actually one of the more comfortable flip-up helmets I’ve worn.
The liner is removable although no mention is made of this fact on the Zox website (at least that I could find). It attaches with plastic snaps inside and it does seem to be made with good quality both inside and out.
The ear pockets are slightly smaller than average in diameter but adequately deep.
A strip of liner material covers the pocket but smaller speakers can be placed behind or on top of it, or it could probably be cut out if necessary.
The shape of the cheek pads and ear pockets somehow prevent me from sliding on my sunglasses, however, once the helmet is on.
There’s a bit of an irony here because many riders buy a flip-up helmet thinking it will work better with eyeglasses, but in reality I’ve had more problems with flip-ups and eyeglasses recently than with eyeglasses and full-face helmets.
Score: I’ll give the Zox Genessis an “Excellent” rating for comfort and liner materials and padding.
Zox Genessis Rotating Visor, Face Shield, Eye Port and Visibility
The good news is that the serious safety issue we uncovered on the Zox Nevado R flip-up has been completely resolved on the Genessis…and then some.
The locking mechanism for the rotating flip-up visor on the Genessis feels very secure, unlike the system on the Nevado R which didn’t lock at all, meaning that the rotating visor could be easily pulled out from the shell.
The system on the Genessis uses mostly metal parts, with a “claw” in the visor that grasps a metal post embedded in the receiver on the shell. The rotating system operates smoothly and the visor opens and closes with a secure feel.
The centrally located visor release button also works well, so overall the rotating visor on the Genessis is excellent.
The visor also has a strong detent that holds it in the topmost position and there should be no problem with the visor shutting unexpectedly at a gas stop.
Remember that flip-up helmets are not designed to be used with the visor raised when you’re riding however.
The only fly in this ointment is the fit at the rear of the rotating visor. The sides leave a gap between the visor and the helmet shell, large enough to catch some air and add a bit of noise.
The gap and the feel of the visor on the sides detracts from the overall feeling of quality of this helmet.
The face shield on this Genessis is marked as meeting VESC-8 standards. It has a generously-sized lift tab on the left but it’s thinner than average at 1.45 mm but it has outstanding optical qualities.
It has a small first opening for defogging and a total of 5 detents. It operates with a crisp feel and just a slight amount of twisting, but overall it’s a very nice system.
The eye port gasket is a problem however. It appears to have been deliberately designed to be thinner towards the center, probably in an attempt to make sure the face shield fits with even pressure across the front.
Correct fitting of the face shield is critical and actually rather difficult for helmet designers.
But the shape of the eye port gasket has the opposite effect on the Genessis and the result is that the face shield doesn’t seal correctly against the gasket. This allows water to quickly seep in when it rains.
The face shield is easily removed and replaced via a lever on each side that releases a spring-loaded group of fingers that hold the face shield in place.
It probably isn’t the most secure-feeling system we’ve tried but it works and shouldn’t pose a problem as long as it is infrequently used.
The chin bar is 120 mm tall, measuring from the bottom to the top of the vestigial breath guard.
This inhibits visibility out the bottom of the eye port somewhat and evaluators reported having to push the helmet down on their heads to make up for it.
Visibility out the top seems slightly better than average for a flip-up and horizontal visibility is average.
The SVS internally rotating sun visor doesn’t fully recede into the helmet, leaving it slightly in the rider’s vision when retracted. When engaged, the highly curved bottom edge remains in the rider’s line of sight, which limits its usefulness.
Score: I’ll give the Zox Genessis a “Very Good” rating for the overall quality and operation of the face shield and eye port, and “Neutral” rating for outward visibility.
Just like the Vega Summit 3.0 I reviewed a few weeks ago, ventilation is not the forte of the Genessis. The slippery top vents are stiff and difficult to open and when they are, the air flow they provide is minimal to non-existent.
The problem is the liner, which completely covers the intake and large quad exhaust ports.
A simple redesign, perhaps by adding some mesh material inside the helmet, might make a big difference here because the exhaust holes through the EPS appear to be larger than those used in most helmets.
But as it stands, the solid liner simply blocks any air flow into and out of the helmet.
The chin vent is no better. Besides the balky operation and flimsy feel of the vent cover (see the video), there are no direct air channels through the chin bar and only a very small amount of air gets through the top of the chin bar.
By the way, the helmet comes with a snap-in breath guard that I tried once but doesn’t seem to do much.
The design of the helmet is such that a huge amount of air blows up from underneath the chin bar.
This makes for very cold and very draughty winter riding. It will probably be less noticed in summer, but having uncontrolled air blowing up on to your face isn’t fun, no matter the season.
The rear vent cover is an assembly that snaps into the back of the helmet. Ours is slightly loose and has some gaps around the edges, which doesn’t bode well for longevity.
So overall, I’d have to rate the venting system on the Zox Genessis as poor and one of the real letdowns of this helmet.
Score: Let down by a poorly designed helmet liner and vent covers, the Genessis rates only a “Poor”.
Zox Genessis Sound Levels
Even with the wind blowing up the front of the helmet and around the gaps at the “ears” on each side of the rotating visor, the Genessis seems to remain relatively quiet.
Nothing extraordinary, mind you, but nothing out of the ordinary either.
The vents fortunately don’t add much to the sound mix and other than the aforementioned volume of air streaming up from below, the helmet seems to control noise rather well.
I suspect that the air flowing up from under the chin bar redirects air that may have otherwise passed around the sides of the helmet and somehow this seems to control the low frequency booming noises that are commonly heard when riding behind a windscreen.
So overall, I’d rate the Zox Genessis as average to slightly below for noise control. Remember that “average” means “loud” when it comes to motorcycle helmets, so always wear ear plugs!
Note that our helmet evaluations are a combined effort of several riders over time on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.
Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).
Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews 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 rider’s clothing.
From “L.L.” (May 2012): “I bought one of these in May 2011, with a 9/2010 manufacture date. I wanted the red Alize graphics.
First thing I noticed was that the black size large helmet I had tried on in the store fit tight, and the graphics version I received felt about 1/2 size bigger, though marked with the same size. However, outside in the Phoenix, Arizona sun, it fit like a charm!
I have been riding it for over a year now, and other than the non-existent top venting (I’m sure the air is going somewhere!) I’ve been quite pleased.
Other than the Zox dropping the red Alize graphics, I’d get another when I need a new helmet.
Not sure if the chin bar is too big or too small. My speedo is “retro” mounted on the tank so it is invisible with pretty much any full-face helmet.
I should also mention that something might have been done to the pads as I don’t have any problems with my prescription glasses (either the Ray Bans or clear), except a pair of “hook over the ears” style, which I didn’t expect to fit right anyway.”
From “M.L.” (January 2012): “I recently purchased the Zox Genessis RN2 SVS helmet and have found, despite the good fit, I can’t wear it riding. Here’s why: The helmet is very loud. I’m used to an HJC full face helmet and the Zox roars.
I tried the Zox with ear plugs but I find that ear plugs isolates me too much from the world.
The chin bar is far too wide. I have a difficult time glancing down at the gauges and mirrors. I have to tilt my head which means it takes longer to check mirrors and gauges and get my eyes back on the road.
I wear glasses and one reason I purchased the modular helmet was to I could slip the helmet on with my glasses on. This doesn’t work.
In addition, I find that the ear pockets are not the right shape for my glasses. Even if I get them settled in right, not 15 minutes later, they move and are not sitting right on my face. I’ve never had this problem with the HJC.
One final note concerning the use of the chin curtain and breath shield yesterday in foggy weather.
I had the face shield up, chin-bar down and glasses on. Both the breath shield and chin curtain were in place. First breath out, my glasses fogged completely.
I removed the chin curtain and tried again. Again, full fog on my glasses.
Remember, the face shield was up. I ended up riding without either the breath guard or chin curtain and had cool air rushing around my head.
While this did keep both the face shield and glasses fog free, this is not exactly what I expected out of the helmet.”
Editor’s Note: I suggest trying to find a pair of ear plugs that will work or you may risk damaging your hearing.
All of the webBikeWorld reviewers wear ear plugs at all times, when reviewing helmets and when evaluating intercom systems.
From “T.Q.” (August 2011): “I’ve been browsing your site today as my girl is looking to buy a helmet to start cruising around. I saw your review of the above helmet and thought I’d add a few things.
What I specifically wanted to mention is that Zox appears to have rectified (or maybe it’s just a QA issue) the issue with water easily seeping in through the visor.
I’ve taken a couple of highway trips in the rain recently and had no issues with water coming in through the visor.
I would agree that the vents are all but useless and the size of the chin bar can make it difficult to see straight down. On the other hand I have not had any issues with the sun visor getting stuck half way down.
As you mentioned in your review the vent exhaust contraption also appears to be an afterthought on my helmet, with a part of the attachment mechanism misaligned.
However, it’s been like that since I got it and hasn’t deteriorated in any way. Everything else seems to pretty much match my experience. Thanks for all the good info.”
From “C.R.” (01/11): “A couple of comments about the Zox Genessis RN2 SVS. I bought one of these helmets a couple years ago and found the quality to be very questionable specifically in the chin bar rotating mechanism.
After arriving at work one morning and taking my helmet off I noticed that something looked funny about the chin bar. Upon close inspection I noticed that the left side had pulled away from the helmet shell and that the large silver screw at the pivot point was loose.
The screw all but fell out when I started looking at the hinge to see if I could push it back together. Nothing I could do would get the helmet to stay together.
The other issue I had was with the inner plastic liner of the chin bar that the chin curtain snaps to.
I had pulled the chin curtain out one day and half of the plastic liner came with it. It appeared to have pulled off of one of the screws that held it on.
What appeared to be an easy fix (remove the screw and put it back through the plastic liner) turned out to be impossible as the screw wouldn’t budge.
The screw head almost immediately started to strip when I tried to loosen it.
To their credit Zox did replace my helmet due to the hinge issue but my confidence in the helmet had already been destroyed.
I still have the new helmet on a shelf in my closet and never wore it again. Now I’m not sure if the one I have is the RN2 (possibly denoting version 2?) SVS or not. If this is a second version of the Genessis SVS I hope they have addressed the hinge mechanism.”