Bontrager WaveCel helmet

Bontrager Unveils Safer Bike Helmet: 48x More Effective Concussion Prevention

Filed under: Biking 

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Flex. Crumple. Glide. Trek and Bontrager tout WaveCel bike helmet technology as the new standard in preventing concussions and head injuries.

Trek subsidiary Bontrager literally made waves across the cycling industry today, announcing what might be the safest bike helmet ever. Dubbed “WaveCel,” this technology utilizes a three-step process to mitigate and deflect direct impacts and rotational forces to the head.

WaveCel replaces the EPS foam that makes up most helmet cushioning and offers an alternative to slip liners like MIPS that help dampen rotational energy. Four years in the making, WaveCel represents the collaborative efforts of Trek/Bontrager R&D teams, an orthopedic surgeon, and a biomechanical engineer.

“WaveCel is the most advanced helmet technology ever designed, and these helmets are a big step toward making riding a safer, more enjoyable experience for everyone,” said John Burke, president of Trek.

Safest Helmet Ever? Bontrager WaveCel

Bontrager claims its line of WaveCel helmets is 48 times more effective at preventing concussions than a helmet with only EPS foam. And according to the brand’s testing, WaveCel helmets prevented concussions in common cycling accidents “nearly 99 times out of 100.”

Two road cyclists with Bontrager WaveCel helmets

As illustrated in the video above, WaveCel works in a three-step process. First, the cellular layers flex on impact, absorbing some energy. And because of the shape of the material, the WaveCel layer can also compress — or “crumple,” in Bontrager’s words. This helps to further absorb impact. Finally, the layer can glide within an EPS foam “ledge” along the outer shell. In this way, WaveCel performs a similar function to a slip layer to mitigate rotational forces.

Virginia Tech’s helmet review institution also awarded the entire WaveCel line a perfect five-star safety rating.

Closeup of WaveCel inside Bontrager helmet

What’s more, the brand also said WaveCel’s flexible honeycomb dome makes the helmets more comfortable and breathable than EPS foam helmets. The downsides, if there are any, are price (more on that later) and weight. WaveCel adds about 53 grams to Bontrager’s helmets. Or, according to the brand, about the weight of two ice cubes.

Four Bontrager WaveCel helmets
WaveCel helmets: Blaze (top left), Charge (top right), XXX (bottom left), Specter (bottom right)

To start, WaveCel will grace four new Bontrager helmets: the Blaze WaveCel MTB Helmet ($300), Charge WaveCel Commuter Helmet ($150), XXX WaveCel Road Helmet ($300), and Specter WaveCel Road Helmet ($150).

To be sure, WaveCel isn’t cheap — especially considering that it’s one-and-done tech. After an impact, Bontrager said a WaveCel helmet must be replaced because it works by crushing and shearing.

Cyclist wearing Bonrager WaveCel helmet

But Bontrager appears to anticipate some sticker shock. So it backs all WaveCel helmets with a one-year replacement guarantee. If your WaveCel helmet sustains impact within the first year, Bontrager will replace it for free — that’s an impressive offer.

Learn more about WaveCel and shop Bontrager’s new helmets at TrekBikes.com.

Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.
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