Monday, December 06, 2021

Bontrager Circuit WaveCel Helmet Review

  NOTE: Please read the Standard Disclaimer Page for reference in terms of review product and my relationship with the product. Thank you! 

Earlier this year my friend and contributor to, Grannygear, received a helmet to review from Bontrager. It didn't fit him. Too big, he said, and he wanted to know if I wanted to try it out. Well, as fate would have it, I was riding in a Bontrager Starvos Wavecel helmet which I was fortunate enough to have reviewed already and so I knew the Circuit helmet Grannygear had would fit,. So, here is a review of that Circuit helmet. Oh, and if you think you've heard a bit about this already,you would be correct. I just mentioned this a while back in an "FN&V" post.

The Bontrager Circuit Wavecel helmet.

So, WaveCel..... It's a kind of application to avert shearing loads on the head when you crash. "Normal" helmets will absorb energy when you strike your head, but researchers are saying that loads observed in tests show that crashing causes more dynamic forces which can cause damage like concussions, or worse, to the brain. Does WaveCel help? Research seems to point to a "yes" on that. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it does or that it does not. And, more importantly, I do not aim to find out either. 

No, what I really wanted to point out here in this review is the fit of the Circuit helmet (and by way of that- the Starvos as well) See, I have a big head. No.....not like that! A large sized 'melon'. That's what I mean. Size 7 7/8ths, (63cm) if you really want to know. Just big enough, and egg shaped enough, that I have never, yes- never- had a properly fitting helmet until, that is, the Starvos and now this Circuit helmet came along. 

The Circuit has built in magnetic mounts which fit certain Bontrager lights.
Normally I would have to pull all the padding out of a size XL helmet, and sometimes even Dremel off a bit of the foam liner, just to get a helmet to sit close to right on my head. Typically Bell helmets were best for me, but they also never really fit right. 

So, I would suffer headaches, ill fitting spots which would get sore, and all sorts of sweat in the eyes when I rode with a helmet. Honestly, if y'all didn't care I would have not worn a helmet at all if it was left up to me. I don't think I'm alone here in that. That's where this new line of Bontrager helmets has really made a difference. The Starvos and the Circuit actually fit- with all the padding -which I have never been able to use before with any other helmet. In fact, I can actually dial in the adjuster some, whereas most helmets I had to open the adjustment up as far as it could go. Now I can comfortably wear cycling caps, Buffs, or thicker wool caps, whereas before I was really struggling with those things. 

I just never complained before because, well, that's the way things were. I "had" to wear a helmet, so...... Suffering was part of the game plan. Now I am elated that I have a helmet like most of y'all have- one that actually fits. It may seem like no big deal to you, but for me, this is a game-changer. In fact, it is so revolutionary for me that I could give a rip about the WaveCel part. I'm just happy I don't have discomfort due to an ill-fitting helmet anymore. 

A little closer look at the magnetic mount which comes with the Circuit.

But it does have that WaveCel thing and while there may be some debate as to its effectiveness, it is cutting edge tech for helmets, so this isn't like those old Bell King Head helmets which were monster sized entry level helmets, (and too big for me, by the way), so I don't have to accept a cheesy helmet just to get one that fits right. 

In fact, with the Starvos, you get a helmet that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, but works on bigger noggins. But if you want a lighter, more performance oriented helmet, you can get this Circuit helmet, which only weighs 389 grams. 

I haven't had the Circuit very long, but I have had the Starvos over a year, and it has been a fabulous helmet. The Circuit is a bit sleeker, smaller in profile, and lighter, so I have no doubt that I will get on with it just fine. 

You might wonder about that WaveCel material. Is it something that inhibits airflow? Are these helmets hotter because of this? Do bees find WaveCel attractive because it resembles a honeycomb? (I'm kidding about the third question!) Well, I have found these are no hotter than typical helmets I have tried. So, I have no issues there. 

In Closing: Yes, I really like the Bontrager Starvos and Circuit helmets. They are good helmets with some nice features. I am biased a bit because these actually really fit my big head, and so I write this for those out there who, like me, have struggled to find a decent bicycle helmet that fits because you find yourself just outside the normal range of helmet fit. (The Bontragers go up to 65cm, by the way) 

I also have learned an important lesson from this experience, and it really doesn't have anything to do with this particular helmet, and it has everything to do with it. What is that? Well, that athletic equipment has been sized for fit, slim, athletes and has left most other body types to 'suffer' the consequences of those decisions by brands and companies. This is why it is important for companies to not only make clothing and accessories for non-traditional body types in a sporting context, but to also include those people in imagery and in their employ. You don't have to get all crazy about it, just be aware that- like me and helmets- some people are waiting to join in that cannot due to certain limiting decisions made by those who control what gets made and what gets shown. 

I mean, you all would not have let me ride with you, and you event directors would not have let me ride in events without a helmet, right? Had I had a head just a tiny bit bigger? probably wouldn't know about me. Why? Because I wouldn't have been able to have been included. 

Something to think about......


flying_sqrl said...

You make a great point about inclusivity. I too have a big head, mostly front-to-back, oval shape. Luckily for years Giro XL helmets fit me, just barely, after removing the padding and hook-loop fasteners. Since MIPS came along, and Giro discontinued my go-to model the Hex, I was out of luck. After I saw your Starvos review, I had hope. I dropped a note to Trek to start making the Rally Wavecel in XL, and they did! So I got one, but still had to remove the padding from the forehead area. Like some others I find this helmet too “deep” - it sits very low especially up front. This means the helmet, not the visor, blocks some of the upper range of my sight, not good. To resolve that, I stuck the forehead padding and other pads to the “ceiling” which raises the helmet.
Now, cycling shoe makers - can we get some wide, extra-wide, extra-volume shoes please! Cyclists shouldn’t have to get $$$$ custom shoes just because their feet aren’t D width, normal volume.

hank said...

G-Ted, Howdy;
Agree with the bit at the bottom of the review. Also agree with "flying_sqrl.
Try finding sports footwear in a 13 EEEE ... New Balance tries but ... well
must not be enough of us to make a profit, sad. :-(( .

Ben said...

Same with head size about 7 7/8 but I guess fortunately maybe mine's a little more "normal shaped" (ha, whatever that means!) as most brands that make an XL helmet have seemed to work fine for me. My issue as a bigger guy is cycling clothing that "sometimes" fits like US sizing but often seems go be about 2-3 "real fit" sizes smaller than typical US clothes I buy. I suppose maybe if this is the year that I actually make and stick to a New Year's resolution to drop a few + pounds, I could help take care of this issue my damn self...

blooddoc23 said...

Wave cel is kind of hot. Its a more comfortable winter helmet than summer. At least in my opinion. r/