Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road helmet

Bontrager's WaveCel safety technology dominates the XXX lid

Score

7/10

Pros

  • Comfort
  • Safety features
  • Aesthetics

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Doesn't work with some eyewear

Price as reviewed:

£199.99

When Bontrager announced it’s new WaveCel helmet safety technology it was backed up with some clear data to indicate that it could increase a helmet’s ability at preventing head injuries associated with a crash. WaveCel was launched on two road specific models, the more commuter focussed Charge and this – the Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road.

A buyer’s guide to road cycling helmets

Of course we need to focus on this WaveCel tech first as it is such an important part of the helmet. Trek says this material is 48 times more effective than standard EPS foam at preventing concussions resulting from common cycling accidents. This is a big claim, and it is one that has been disputed by MIPS, who also make a protection system. We’ve yet to see independent testing of this particular lid, but other WaveCel helmets have come out well. With the industry keeping a keen eye on racing cyclists’ health post-crashes, the focus on avoiding brain injury is a welcome one.

The Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road is a sleek looking helmet. Face: model’s own.

The Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road sits low on the head.

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WaveCel is a collapsible cellular material, visually similar to the Koroyd crumple-zone sections you can find in Smith helmets. It is designed to absorb energy in multiple ways, according to Trek, by flexing, crumpling and gliding. It’s this characteristic that makes WaveCel really good for cycle helmets since we cyclists tend to crash in pretty awkward, non-linear ways.

The helmet packs in a lot of features on top of the WaveCel technology. It follows the almost industry wide standard of an in-moulding manufacturing process. This effectively combines the hard outer shell with the EPS inner body to create one solid structure. It’s actually one of the neatest helmets I’ve seen in terms of quality of construction and for once almost justifies the high price.

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The BOA dial adjusted cradle and padding helps make the XXX WaveCel a very comfortable place to put your head.

The retention cradle features a genuine BOA dial and cable for reliability and it works as expected with a pleasing audible click when adjusted. It covers approximately 270˚ of the head and holds securely without any obvious pinch points. Comfort is also further increased by the use of a large, one-piece pad that feels very soft against the forehead and across the top of the head. The straps follow in a similar vein and are nice and soft. Bontrager has also stuck with an adjustment clip to position the convergence point under the ear in the right spot.

All of these features, especially the almost full WaveCel coverage do have a negative for the XXX WaveCel Road and that is in the weight. At 351 grams for my medium sample it is a fair bit heavier than equivalent top-end road helmets. It’s enough to make the XXX WaveCel’s presence quite noticeable on a ride when moving your head around. Luckily it is very comfortable so at least it’s not heavy AND painful.

bontrager xxx wavecel road

The biggest compatibility issue was encountered when using 100% S3 glasses.

I also noticed that the Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road sits low on the head. Whilst this is great for safety it does mean that if you are a fan of the current trend for larger eyewear it is worth taking your glasses with you when trying it out. I found that with glasses such as 100% s3, Smith Wildcat, Oakley Sutro and Scott’s Shield the helmet pushes the eyewear downwards.

Smith’s Wildcat’s had equal problems when used with the XXX WaveCel Road.

This usually ended up not only with painful spots where the nose pieces dig in but also with me having to constantly push the glasses upwards and readjusting the helmet; which became pretty distracting on almost every ride. There’s also no easy place to put the eyewear on the helmet if you do get fed up and want to take them off either.

Verdict

Incredibly comfortable and no doubt offering excellent levels of safety in the event of a crash, the Bonrager XXX WaveCel Road is a really good looking helmet. It is let down by the high overall weight and the incompatibility with certain eyewear.

Details

Sizes: S (51-57cm), M (54-60cm), L (58-63cm)
Weight: 351g (medium)
Colours: Black, White, Red, Azure blue, Radioactive yellow
Contact: www.trekbikes.com