The most important accessory you can own as a cyclist is your helmet. Helmets are not a fun accessory. They are like an insurance policy… it feels unnecessary until you use it. There have been some major advances in modern concussion prevention technology. On the forefront of that technology, at least in the biking world, is something called WaveCel. In this Bontrager WaveCel bike helmet review we will cover what WaveCel is, how it prevents concussions, and general pros and cons.
The easiest way to know if your helmet is a WaveCel is by looking at the protective material inside. They are made of wavy cellular material. (Imagine that!) My favorite benefit to Bontrager helmets is their 1 year crash replacement warranty. The WaveCel helmets have many different price points, none of them being cheap. It’s reassuring to know if you have an accident within the first year of purchase, Bontrager is going to take care of you by replacing the helmet.
Is WaveCel Better Than Mips?
Traditional bike helmets are made of Expanded Plystyrene (EPS.) While a standard helmet is better than nothing, the two main concussion prevention technologies in bike helmets are Mips and WaveCel. Mips is a multi-directional impact protection system and also does a great job of reducing concussions. With two competing technologies many people wonder if WaveCel is better than Mips, and the answer isn’t completely clear.
The WaveCel helmet claims to be 48 times more effective than a traditional EPS helmet. Meanwhile, Mips helmets claim to be 10-50% more effective at reducing brain strain.
The biggest topic that came up during this Bontrager WaveCel bike helmet review was who completes helmet tests. One of the biggest advocates for helmet safety is Virginia Tech University. This is what they have to say about their study:
In collaboration with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, we have rated a total of 115 bike helmets using the STAR evaluation system. Our bicycle helmet impact tests evaluate a helmet’s ability to reduce linear acceleration and rotational velocity of the head resulting from a range of impacts a cyclist might experience. Helmets with more stars provide a reduction in concussion risk for these impacts compared to helmets with less stars... While there are some differences in impact performance within these groups, other factors such as cost, fit, and comfort should be considered when purchasing a helmet.https://helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html
The Virginia Tech study indicates both Mips and WaveCel are incredibly effective at preventing concussions. It’s worth noting, the top helmets in the study were Mips. However, there were also several Mips helmets that failed to make a 5 star rating. WaveCel helmets all earned a rating of 5 stars in the study. If you are buying a Mips helmet, additional research may be needed.
What’s The Best Mountain Bike Helmet?
There is no denying mountain bikers are at larger risk than road cyclists for potential accidents. That doesn’t mean helmets are less important for roadies. The best bike helmet is the one you will wear. (As long as it has WaveCel or Mips technology.) For mountain bikers I like the Bontrager Rally in both Mips and WaveCel. The Bontrager Rally helmets are 5 stars and look great.
According to the Virginia Tech study, the safest helmet is the Fox Dropframe Pro Mips at a cost of $200. Coming in at $50, the Specialized Align II Mips is the best mountain bike helmet if price is your primary concern.
So the best mountain bike helmet depends on how you define ‘best.’ Price, style and safety are all important factors. Again, the best helmet is going to be the one you remember to wear while riding.
Once you have your helmet picked out, make sure you are riding in comfort with an awesome pair of cycling shorts. You can read about my favorite in this Peal iZUMi Escape Quest review.