Bontrager’s newest helmets use a collapsible cellular material they’ve called WaveCel to reduce the risk of head injuries. WaveCel has got a lot of buzz since it was announced and while I haven’t had the misfortune of needing it to protect my noggin, I’ve spent a good amount of time wearing a helmet equipped with the technology on trails, the road and gravel since it’s release.  The top-end road model is the Bontrager XXX WaveCel which incorporates an aerodynamic design with three large frontal vents.

The underlying principle of WaveCel is that it disperses the linear and rotational forces of an impact away from your head. The layers of WaveCel are designed to move independently and flex until the materials cellular structure crumbles and then glides. Bontrager says the technology makes their helmets 48 times more effective in preventing concussions than a traditional EPS helmets and prevents concussions in 99 of 100 impacts.

The WaveCel material is a soft but firm malleable plastic that is integrated into the entire inner dome of a helmet. Esthetically it’s visible through the vents. The inner AgION antimicrobial pads on the XXX are what make contact with your head and feel very comfortable. Extra padding at the forehead should be effective at keeping sweat from dripping into my eyes once the season warms up. The only differences in terms of fit with the WaveCel was that it prevented any of my hair from poking through the vents like is the case on so many other helmets. Certainly not a big deal.

It’s in the helmet’s ventilation where the safety feature seemed to have a bit more of an impact. WaveCel has many holes to facilitate airflow, and even though the amount of air moving across my head may be the same, I didn’t get the same feeling of air flowing freely over my head and through the helmet’s vents. Admittedly, the XXX is optimized for aerodynamics and the Specter WaveCel offers more ventilation than the XXX.

Bontrager has got the straps and adjustable dial just right on the XXX. The helmet uses a Boa dial that provides uniform and precise compression. The whole retention system was very comfortable and kept the helmet secured to my head throughout my many rides.

The XXX helmet ticks a lot of boxes with a solid design and great fit and comfort. With a five-star rating from Virginia Tech’s bicycle helmet safety testing labratory, it has solid safety credentials and a good design that is appealing to racers. At 325 g for the size small, it is on the heavier side of performance bicycle helmets. The Bontrager XXX WaveCel road helmet retails for $390.

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