When I first saw the Aero Zappi helmet I couldn’t keep my gaze off of the futuristic looks and styling of this helmet. It was definitely something much different in terms of appearance than what I’ve been riding with for the past 10 years. I’ve ridden just about every helmet brand out there such as Bell, Giro, Lazer, Specialized to name a few. I had to check this helmet out much closer.
I reached out to NOWHelmets directly which is short for Nonstop On Wheels. I asked them how I could get my hands on one of their Furi or Zappi racing helmets. I was put in contact with Michael Kim, Chief Marketing Office for NOW. After a few emails and a few phone calls later I received the Zappi helmet for review. I was not paid or compensated in any way for this review. NOW did provide me a helmet for review purposes only. So, before we get deep into the review, let’s get to know NOW the brand just a little better.
Who are NOW helmets you might ask?
NOW brand is a relatively new company established in January 2014 in Southern California. It represents a meaning of Nonstop On Wheels. The founder of NOW Brand holds more than 10 years of experience in R&D and managing New Projects for Automotive Corporations, 12 years of accumulated experience in a Global Motorcycle Helmet Brand. While talking with Michael at NOW he told me that they have more instore for the bicycle industry besides just helmets. More information about the company can be found at www.nowhelmet.com
Alright, now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s get right to the review of the Zappi helmet which costs $198 US. For reference, NOW also has another higher end aero racing helmet called the Furi helmet ($218 US) but for this review we will focus specifically on the ZAPPI. Keep in mind both the ZAPPI and the FURI are categorized as aero racing helmets.
The Zappi comes in a multitude of solid and multicolor variants. Michael was kind enough to allow me to pick the color scheme for the review helmet. I chose the orange and titanium Zappi since it matched my kit, bike and the website color scheme of course. The Zappi came in a very nice box as most helmets do. Upon removing the helmet from the box, I immediately noticed how much effort went into the manufacturing and quality control of this helmet. The in-mold, high performance shell didn’t have one piece of what I like to call “foam overspray”, meaning that the foam used in the production of the helmet wasn’t covering up the molded shell requiring some trimming of the excess foam. This is something I loathe when purchasing a new helmet. I was however impressed when looking at the shell and foam construction overall. The pictures here don’t lie, the helmet looks sharp and lines are clean. Michael at NOW discussed with me how they take a tremendous amount of pride in the production of each and every helmet. He wasn’t lying, the quality of the helmet is on par with the founders’ experience of manufacturing motorcycle helmets.
Being the tester, I have an oval or egg shaped head and the Zappi fit me very well however there was some extra spacing on both sides of my temples that caused the helmet to wiggle just a little bit. I believe a person with a more rounded head would be the ideal fit for this helmet but don’t let my review sway you should you have a more oval head. The fit for me was very good. Both head shapes should work fine, but again, if you have a round head you’re in the sweet spot for sure.
The inside padding of this helmet is excellent. NOW has done a good job of ensuring that the padding is all the way around the forehead and across the top of the head. The padding spans the entire length of the helmet from front to back which I like. As with most helmets, the padding is an Anti-Bacterial wicking material and is easily removable and washable. In my opinion the more padding in the helmet the better. I have owned helmets where, for whatever reason, there isn’t enough padding inside the helmet to make the fit snug or comfortable especially for longer rides. The ZAPPI has no issues with either, they did it right the first time and the fit is spot on.
The side strap slider/buckle is “non-locking”, meaning it simply slides up and down the strap. I for one like the locking strap adjustments and I would hope that NOW could incorporate that into their helmets. I prefer my helmet strap a little snug. I like the side straps and buckles up against my face and just below my ears when riding. I noticed after each ride that the left side buckle would slip just a little bit. I would have to adjust the left side strap buckle back up each time before every ride. The right-side strap buckle was perfect and never slid down.
The rear dial of the Zappi is much like any other helmet dial-in system. NOW Helmets calls this dial system the EQDF or Easy Quick Dial Fit system. I particularly like the attention to detail that the dial has using the NOW logo modeled in it. This to me represents NOW “paying attention to the details”. The micro dial worked very well and I could adjust the tension with no problems before and during the ride. Each click of the dial felt secure and snug.
The internal plastic head harness has a 3-position vertical adjustment for the back of the helmet which works well. This feature is found on most helmets in this price range as well as some middle level helmet ranges in the market.
The Zappi does have a Skeleton Inner Construction System or what NOW refer to as S.I.C. This basically is an inner plastic skeleton or “bones” that is surrounded by the dense foam that makes up the helmet. This allows for a much stronger helmet without adding weight.
The Zappi comes in 2 sizes. Small/Medium (53cm-59cm or 20.8-22.8 inches) and the Large/Extra Large (58-63cm or 22.8-24.8 inches). The model that best fit me was large. I prefer to have a little extra adjustment for those rides when a cap or winter hat is necessary.
I have ridden this helmet for about 100 miles. I took it out on 3 separate rides totaling about 30-35 miles each. The temperatures ranged from about 50 degrees to 75 degrees which is highly unusual for the winter months in the South Eastern United States. The ventilation is very adequate. My head never got hot. The helmet has an impressive 32 vents! NOW uses what it calls its SWAC for ventilation. SWAC stands for Spider Web Airflow Channel. It seems to work well. NOW seems to like acronyms to describe the features of their products.
Keeping in mind that the Zappi as well it’s big brother the Furi are both categorized as aero helmets I could definitely tell the aero advantage was being put to use. This is not the most scientific test, when I would accelerate on the flat roads or while descending I could feel the wind resistance decrease across the helmet. When I would turn my head slightly left or right I could feel the wind pushing against the aero helmet. To put it another way, imagine when you were a kid with your hand out the car window. When you put your hand flat you sliced through the wind but when you tilt your hand up or down you get that little push. This is the same sensation I’d get from the Zappi when turning my head left or right. You could easily tell the optimal position for your head when at speed. I want to mention something here, it seems that Zappi knows about the same sensation of helmet stability and have incorporated some actual science behind this aero resistance sensation in the design. They call their aero stability solution ESAS or Effective Stabilized Aerodynamic System.
For the price the Zappi helmet checks all the boxes that other brands already do in terms of ventilation, adjustment, comfort, weight and styling. In my opinion the Zappi helmet differentiates itself with its unique appearance so much so that you can’t miss it in the peloton or weekly group ride. The color combinations that NOW offers in all of their helmet lines is simply staggering. NOW helmets has a bright future and out of the gate they have positioned themselves as an up and comer in the high-end racing aero helmet category. They already have a number of continental pro teams on board and we feel that you’ll start seeing more of NOW helmets on the road sooner than later. At BunchSprint we’d highly recommend this helmet for any high speed crit, TT or weekend racer. The bold looks, array of color comobinations and sharp lines make this helmet demand attention. The price is very reasonable and we’re very confident should you have any issues with the product NOW is just a phone call away.
And yes…in case you wondering you can indeed put your sunglasses in the small vent holes on the lower left and right of this helmet. Personally, a key feature I look for in every helmet.
For more information about NOW Sports Gear they can be reached @ 661.294.9660 or firstname.lastname@example.org