Construction and Features
Last year, Bontrager introduced its line of helmets with WaveCel technology, a collapsible cellular structure that lines the inside of the helmet and is designed to help absorb the energy created by angled impacts. Originally, the line consisted of four helmets with the Blaze MTB helmet going for $300 USD. Now, Bontrager have decided to roll out some additional options in their line that are more affordable.
Bontrager's new WaveCel-equipped Rally helmet sells for $149.99 USD, with features that include a BOA fit system, adjustable visor, washable pads, and a crash replacement guarantee giving riders a free replacement helmet if they crash in the first year of riding it. The helmet also comes with a 5-star rating from Virginia Tech's third-party testing, according to Bontrager.
Rally WaveCel Details:
• Construction: PC Shell, EPS foam/WaveCel system, removable/washable pads
• Adjustments: BOA system, adjustable visor, adjustable straps
• Comfort: 13 vents
• Sizes: Small (51-57cm) / Medium (54-60cm) / Large (58-63cm)
• Four colors
• Certifications: CPSC, CE, AS/NZS
• Weight: 397g
• MSRP: $149.99 USD
• Contact: trekbikes.com
The Rally has a three-way adjustable visor, BOA fit system, extended coverage in the back of the head, and "LockDown" dividers on the straps allowing them to be adjusted for comfort. The pads on the inside are moisture-wicking and washable. Those are all fairly standard features - it's the WaveCel material that sets the helmet apart from others on the market.
How does the Rally's WaveCel technology work? Well, Trek/Bontrager claim WaveCel is much more effective than EPS foam at dealing with rotational impacts by using a collapsible cellular material that's designed to flex, crumple, and glide during an impact in order to absorb the force. It's It doesn't entirely replace the EPS foam in a helmet, but the amount of foam that's used is greatly reduced. The EPS acts as the helmet's exoskeleton, with the WaveCel material situated underneath. The structure of the material bears a resemblance to the inner profile of corrugated cardboard, which makes sense – it needs to be strong in one direction, but also able to deform during an impact.
The WaveCel material covers the front, top, and sides of the internal area of the helmet, while there is EPS foam on the rear of the helmet. Inside all of that is a BOA retention system that is adjustable vertically in addition to the standard cinching and finally the removable and washable pads.Ride Impressions
Out of the box, the Rally WaveCel looks stylish and very much like a trail-oriented helmet. I typically wear size medium helmets, and this one is no exception, but I found that the BOA system rode a little far down on my ears, which caused some discomfort, even after I'd moved it into the highest position.
The helmet provides ample coverage on the back of the head, and the pads on the inside of the helmet are very comfortable. The straps were quick and easy to adjust for my liking and the helmet stayed where it should be. Visor adjustment is easy, and I found running the visor in the middle position was preferred nearly all of the time.
Even with more low profile pairs of shades, I found the fit with sunglasses to be a little crowded and not completely ideal. This is something that will vary between users, however there is less tolerance in that department than other helmets, notably Specialized's Ambush. There is also not a location to stow shades on the helmet for when you decide you don't need them. That's not a deal-breaker, but for anyone who consistently wears those helmets for your eyes, it's something to consider. Fortunately, Bontrager does have a 30-day guarantee that if the helmet doesn't fit correctly, you can return it.
I've worn the helmet on a number of rides now and airflow is surprisingly good. The helmet does a good job of ventilating in warmer temperatures when moving, but at slower speeds it can get a touch warm. An added bonus of the helmet's WaveCel design in my eyes is that it does a terrific job of keeping bees and other flying nuisances out - especially handy in certain locales.
Excellent style and features+
5-star safety rating from Virginia Tech+
Fit can be finicky for some riders-
Not a ton of room for sunglasses, and no spot to stash them when they're not in use