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Earlier this year my friend and contributor to RidingGravel.com, 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.
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? Yeah.....you probably wouldn't know about me. Why? Because I wouldn't have been able to have been included.
Something to think about......