Bontrager Lithos MIPS - Review

Aug 5, 2016
by Vernon Felton  
Bontrager Lithos Mips helmet


Though Bontrager has been offering helmets for years now, their lids usually aren't the ones that first come to mind when most people go looking for a new brain bucket. It's not a Bell or POC or Troy Lee or Giro. It's, you know, Bontrager--the Trek brand. That might change, though, if the Bontrager Lithos MIPS is any indication. This is not a knock-off helmet--not a "We walked into a factory in Taiwan, pointed to a helmet and told them to put our label on it" kind of me-too product. Of course, at $174.99 (USD) it shouldn't be. That's a decent chunk of change. bontrager.com


Bontrager Lithos Mips helmet
The Lithos MIPS fits in the same basic category as the Troy Lee A1, Bell Super, Giro Montaro, etc--half-shell helmets with plenty of rear coverage.
Bontrager Lithos Mips helmet
One of the Lithos' cooler features might not be obvious--the "Blendr" integrated video camera and headlamp mounts. It's a particularly slick system that makes mounting a GoPro or Bontrager Ion light quick and painless.


On Trail

The Lithos fits within the same niche as the Troy Lee Designs A1 or Bell Super or POC Trabec—half shell helmets that place more emphasis on protection than on ventilation. To that end, the Lithos sports a healthy dose of EPS foam at the rear.

The visor tilts up and out of the way—a plus for anyone who brings goggles to the party and needs to stow them somewhere on the climbs. Helmet fit is easily tweaked with the twist of the large dial. The rubberized knob is easy to manipulate, even when you are wearing thicker gloves and it provides a good range of adjustment.

Helmet fit is always a supremely subjective thing—we all have differently shaped melons, so take this with a grain of salt, but I found the Lithos sits a bit higher on my head than some competing helmets. It’s easy to adjust the Lithos—it has that nailed down—but there are a few helmets that have more of a hand-in-glove feel when I strap them on. Again, this is a totally personal matter, but I point it out simply because it raises a point: You should never buy a helmet because some jackass reviewer says it fits great. Go and try one out for yourself at your local bike shop.

If you’re a fan of POV cameras, the Lithos is outfitted with Blendr—a particularly crafty, integrated camera/headlamp mount that’s compatible with GoPro and Bontrager’s Ion lights. It takes about a nanosecond to mount a camera or light to the helmet and there’s no janky straps to fuss with. Nice.

What could be improved? Ventilation is decent. Not great. Not bad. Middle of the pack. Weight. There’s no getting around this one, the Lithos MIPS is a pretty heavy brain bucket. 450 grams kind of heavy. The Specialized Ambush, by contrast, weighs in at about 310 grams. Admittedly, that particular helmet lacks the MIPS slip plane, but still. Okay, here’s a more apples-to-apples kind of comparison: The Giro Montaro weighs 390 grams, includes MIPS and offers a similar amount of coverage.


Bontrager Lithos Mips helmet


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe Bontrager Lithos MIPS is a well executed helmet with all the bells and whistles. Though Bontrager may not be famous for its brain buckets, it's clear that they've done their homework here. That said, I'd like to see Bontrager lop some weight from this model. The Lithos MIPS is competing against a tough field that's loaded with equally-smart lids that have similar price tags, yet often weigh less. - Vernon Felton





44 Comments

  • + 80
 One huge thing you failed to mention is Bontrager's crash replacement program. If you crash within a year of buying your helmet they will send you a new one. I bought a lithos (non mips) last December. I had a good crash in July and contacted Trek. They said they were sorry about my crash and gave me the address to send my helmet along with a short note describing the crash. I got a call from Trek a few days later asking how I was doing and letting me know that my new blue lithos was on the way. Three days later it was on my doorstep in the retail packaging with all of the included manuals and accessories.

I was super impressed by that experience and will never buy another brand of trail helmet. The next helmet I buy will be the Rally, similar coverage to the lithos and a good bit lighter.
  • + 7
 To be fair, other helmet manufacturers have similar policies. If you "use" your helmet (i.e. it was involved in a crash), you more than likely destroyed it in the process, which is totally normal. The brands know this and want to keep you happy, so at the very least, most brands (Bell, Giro, Smith, Specialized, etc) will offer you a deal on your next helmet. Still, it's rad to hear that Bontrager took care of you and got you set up again.
  • + 11
 @ka-brap:

It was sweet to see a new $150 helmet waiting for me when I got home from work!

It would be even sweeter if I could stop eating it at speed!
  • + 1
 I have a Rally and am surprised, but i love it. I went into a local Trek store that had lots of helmets and tried one after another - Poc Trabec, Bell Super 2, Smith Forefront, Giro Montaro - but kept coming back to the Bontrager. It was mostly about fit, it just fit me the best. I was thinking "I'm not really going to get a Bontrager helmet am I?", like a total bike snob, but whatever, that's what i got. And the sumbitch fits my head perfectly.

Vernon is right, try them on at your local shop. This is one of those things that is with you almost every second of every ride, so saving a few bucks online for something that isn't just right is sort of beside the point...
  • + 2
 Doesnt Bell give just 20-30% off MSRP for crash replacement? Thats pointless since Bell helmets frequently get deep discounts of over 50% off.
  • + 4
 Real world testing.

Think about it. They sell the helmet for at least double what it cost them to make it. Someone crashes the helmet and sends it back with a story about the events and circumstances of the crash. They now have a crashed helmet to analyze for weak links and failure modes. They send out a new helmet direct to customer (at their cost). Worst case, they break even after shipping = FREE PRODUCT TESTING !!! Added bonus, it boosts their customer service reputation. It's a win-win.

The 1 year time limit is likely to ensure the lids they get back for analysis are still current models, therefore ensuring any conclusions drawn from the data can be applied to the next iteration.
  • + 3
 I have tons of similar stories from my customers just like that. Trek and bontrager really do stand behind the stuff they make and take care of their customers.
  • + 1
 @ka-brap @aharris I Got a bell super 2r mips from backcountry for $140. Had a bad crash and emailed bell. They send a email back saying the only thing they can do is 30% off for another bell super, and not off the $140 price, but off the $220 original price!! I was super disappointed, so I guess bell has the worst service regarding crash replacement. Hearing what bontrager does for replacement helmets is making me want to get one now, so hats off to bontrager, not only are they a company not really well known for helmets, but they actaully offer better service than some other big helmet brands out there.
  • + 2
 @whofarted-clark: Couldn't agree more on the matter of fit. I think helmet reviews are worthwhile in terms of laying out features and discussing overall product quality, but fit is so individual in nature, that it always pays to go to the local bike shop and try on as many lids as possible. If I were considering this helmet, I'd also be looking at that Specialized Ambush (admittedly, no MIPS, but damn it's a good lid), the Super 2, the TLD A1, the POC, the Montaro (or, the Feature, which is a stellar value). The Smith is a love or hate kind of proposition (from an aesthetic point of view), but it also fits the bill. I'd suggest people try on as many as possible and resist the temptation to just score a good deal on the Internet, without at least slapping the thing on their head.
  • + 1
 @pigit77: While free gear is always awesome, I think we need to be realistic here. If helmet companies always gave away free helmets after you broke them, how long do you expect them to stay in business? Granted, not every helmet is subject to a crash (hopefully, none ever are!) but how easy would it be to smash your helmet with hammer (or drop it on the ground) to replicate falling on a rock in that exact spot? I think we should be slightly more appreciative of a company that wants to give you a deal on a brand new, current year helmet after you broke it and it saved your life.
  • + 6
 @kaliprotectives Maya - 360g, $100 USD, lifetime crash replacement policy...

kaliprotectives.com/register
  • + 5
 @loamer: that's actually the helmet I wear. Lol
  • + 4
 @Tehuprising: me too! Love it.
  • + 2
 @ka-brap: that's whay I'm saying, I really appreciate what bontrager is doing, that's why I'm considering buying one of their helmets next. And It didn't even come into mind that someone would want to smash their old helmet just to get a new one. In that case, karma would probably bite them in the ass on their next crash
  • - 3
 @loamer: that lid cut off a piece of my ear during a crash, no joke. Worst 4th of July ever!
  • + 2
 this free replacement stuff should be enjoyed while it lasts......it has happened in the Ski industry where one ski company would replace your skis no questions asked if you broke them. At the end of the season, there was a Ski breaking beer party where everybody would gather and the local rep of that ski company was seen enjoying the party as well(!) mind boggling!!!!
  • + 10
 I originally picked up a Montaro as I liked the look and features etc. After one ride it began to give me headaches to the point that I had to loosen it and ride with it far too loose to be safe. Ended up flogging it and replacing it with the lithos which has proven to be far more comfortable, if a touch heavy! The fit seems similar to a Troy Lee A1. I do appear to be in the minority that just cannot get a super 2r to fit me in anyway shape or form however.
  • + 3
 The Bell never fit me either. I was a bit gutted as i wanted to support Bell after they did a load of trail advocacy stuff. I'm now on a Sweet Protection lid and it's much better for me.
  • + 3
 I with you, the Montaro and the Super 2 are more oval and pinched my temples. The Troy Lee and the Lithos are a bit more circular for us bowling ball headed goons. I went with the Bontrager Rally Mips, very similar to the Lithos but a few bucks cheaper. A tad heavy, but worth it in comfort!
  • + 1
 I replaced my bell with an A1 and never looked back. No more head pain
  • + 1
 I was a touch disappointed as I've probably ridden Giro helmets for the last 10 years or so, and suddenly they appear to have changed at least a few of their moulds? That's the perils of buying without trying I guess!
The years crash replacement with bontrager more than makes up for the weight penalty in my eyes anyway!
  • + 7
 No mention of Bontragers 30 unconditional comfort guarantee or crash replacement policy? Full refund or exchange up to 30 days even if you have wore it every one of those days. Crash it within the year Trek will replace it FOC. Those are massive plus points in todays market and nobody comes close to that.

I find the previous gen Lithos a very comfortable helmet and didn't need to use the crash replacement.

Would like to try this though, Blendr intrigues me.
  • + 2
 Hope the MIPS helmets have improved in comfort because a Scott Lin I have is unwearable due to the 4 'buttons' that are part of securing the harness stick into your scalp no matter how you adjust it. Seen quite a few almost new MIPS helmets for sale so maybe others are finding them uncomfortable also. Wonder how much MIPS helps and how much is just marketing, allot of people think airbags in vehicles help a great amount but the fact is they only improve your chances by 5% over just a seat belt. I just bought a Bell Super 2 and said no to MIPS.
  • + 7
 I doubt we will ever know how much MIPS actually does since there is little cgance for peer review of the university research they have sponsored themselves. I don't doubt their honesty but scientific method is what it is and has its demands, with positive outcome being pin pointing potential mustakes. I am thinking of giving Hovding a call, the guys who made the airbag collar for commuters. I wonder if they have anything in pipeline for offeoad.
  • + 1
 I'm not sure how much it really helps but I think the thing to also keep in mind is that even if it works 100% as advertised its only made to help on a specific type of impact (angular). Its still not going to do anything for the standard straight one ht.
  • + 0
 @sino428: ummm but it theoretically gives something on angular impacts (like most crashes involving speed) so it's still "win", no?

Leatt Braces are not proven either but just like MIPS, the idea makes sense.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: For sure, its likely better than not having the MIPS in there at all. But I would not go as far as to say that most crashes involving speed involve the type of angular hit that MIPS was tested for. Look at the videos on the MIPS website, their tests are based on a setup where the helmet hits an object at an angle. Many crashes, even at speed still simply involved the head smashing directly into the ground or other objects. I wasn't meaning to bash MIPS in my post, just simply saying that its not an overall solution, but a solution to only a certain type of hit.
  • + 0
 @sino428: yea but at least in my experience (and understanding) you tend to hit the ground while still moving in relation to it, like a ball thrown ahead. Friction between helmet and the ground will make your head rotate a bit, especially in a helmet with big vents. Having said that I did not have a single crash that would not slide my (open face) helmet around my head by a good measure, so here comes my scepticism.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I just disagree with your assumptions that most involve forward movement and rotational forces. Some do, some do not. Like in many over the bars scenarios where the front wheel gets caught in a hole, forward momentum is stopped as the bike and riders weight rotates around the stopped front wheel and the momentum shift straight into the ground. All I'm pointing out is that MIPS only claims to mitigate the damage in one particular type of crash, not all crashes.
  • + 1
 @sino428: i was just pointing out that majority of crashes are angular. One you described isn't. I had a concussion last year due to low speed OTB. But when I fall off the bike at speed I tend to hit things at an angle.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: We are definitely just scraping the surface on the whole rotational acceleration thing--the entire helmet industry seems to be on their heels at the moment, when it comes to creating baselines, standardized testing procedures, etc. That said, there's something to MIPS and other slip-plane type devices. Where it will go from here, though, is anyone's guess. We've spent the past 60 or so years just figuring out how to stop skulls from being cracked open (linear accelerations), the whole MTBI/concussion thing is a much, much trickier problem to sort out.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: there surely is something to them and it makes perfect sense. But I'd love to know whether my hair is much worse. For me personally what makes most sense is learning to ride, educating kids that their idols started somewhere and that their path to success is a paved with failures, that they are not Gods and this retarded "go big or go home" should die just like hucking to flat that spawned it. Thankfully we have internet and anyone interested can get updated rather easily on current research. It's cool that guys like you post articles like that, but I'd really like to see someone like Zink talk a bit about "choices" if you catch my drill Wink
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Been thinking about the issue of "choices" a lot lately. I wouldn't tell anyone to not ride a certain way, but I do think that the progression of sports (and I'd include snowboarding and a raft of other sports here) has happened, absent a lot of thought about what that progression can mean for athletes who come up short on a trick. The consequences are higher. That's not necessarily bad. It's simply a reality. But I don't think our protective gear necessarily reflects that reality as well as it could. Again, not pointing a finger of blame here--it's nearly impossible for helmet manufacturers to keep pace with sports that constantly go bigger, higher and faster, and no sport should stay stuck in amber....But it's certainly a topic that could use a bit more discussion and introspection, if nothing else.
  • + 1
 Worth mentioning: Bontrager's helmet line includes the Rally MIPS which retails for $50 less than the Lithos. The Rally offers similar coverage and comfort, actually weighs less, and has a very similar look. What's missing? The Rally lacks the Blend'r compatibility that the Lithos has.

Both helmets feature the unconditional 30-day guarantee, and a full year of crash replacement. Added bonus, for those of us that hop on the skinny tires from time to time, MIPS was just added to the Balista helmet for 2017.
  • + 2
 I recently bought this helmet through my LBS, arrived 2 days later ready to go. Fits great, feels great. With its Blendr feature and Bontrager's standout customer service, I highly recommend it.
  • + 2
 I have a rally and have crashed a few times. Got a new helmet, no headaches literally and figuratively. Im gonna buy another, they fit me much better than competing lids for me.
  • + 0
 i have a 661 evo am mips helmet and got it for 100 quids. super comfortable but a bit hot in the summer. perfect for colder weather.
  • + 1
 looks like an A1 and top shot looks like a bell half face helmet
  • - 2
 You nailed it. The weight is a non-starter. I recently purchased a new lid. The Bontrager was just too heavy for me, even though fit was great.
  • + 0
 More mass usually means more deformable material, so (maybe) better protection. Unfortunately it's kinda hard to impossible to measure/test/review the "protectiveness" in a helmet, and it is a point that I find missing in every single helmet review I have ever read, since it is the most important point of a helmet..but I guess that won't change
  • - 1
 @Pauloquincer: ok. I'll do that. Because its about being tough, eh? What a stupid comment.
  • + 1
 @daweil: You're right in that no helmet review features a crash test. Part of that, I suppose, is that most of us don't have the anvils, accelerometers, jigs and so forth to do it, but the other part of the reason is that every helmet sold must meet CEN or CPSC impact standards. How much better does one helmet meet those standards than another? That's an excellent question, though we're still just talking about linear accelerations here, since there are no currently agreed upon testing procedures or limits for reducing rads (rotational accelerations). So, yeah, all helmet reviews start on the premise that the helmets meet basic legal standards and really focus on fit, ventilation, adjustability, and so forth.
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.043481
Mobile Version of Website