WaveCel - Bontrager's New Concussion-Preventing Helmet Technology

Mar 19, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  

Trek and Bontrager have debuted a new helmet construction technology that's claimed to be 48 times more effective than EPS foam at preventing concussions. It's called WaveCel, and it uses a collapsible cellular material that's designed to flex, crumple, and glide during an impact in order to absorb the force of an impact. 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 this new 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.

WaveCel was developed over the course of the last four years by Dr. Steve Madey, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Michael Bottlang, a biomedical engineer. The two have worked together for more than two decades on other projects related to head injuries and fracture care.


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According to WaveCel's peer-reviewed study, WaveCel equipped helmets significantly reduced the probability of a mild to moderate concussion during an impact. Three styles of helmet were tested – a CONTROL helmet, which used only EPS foam, a MIPS-equipped helmet, referred to as SLIP, and a WaveCel helmet, referred to as CELL. According to the article, “SLIP helmets significantly reduced the probability of sustaining AIS 2 brain injury compared to CONTROL helmets in all impact scenarios, with reductions ranging from 32% to 91%. CELL helmets significantly reduced P (AIS 2) compared to CONTROL helmets in all impact scenarios, with reductions ranging from 81% to 98%.”

In other words, the MIPS liner did help, but the WaveCel-equipped helmet performed even better. In addition, all of Bontrager's WaveCel helmets received 5 stars, the highest ranking possible, in tests performed by Virginia Tech.


The WaveCel material is designed to flex, crumple, and glide during an impact.


According to Bontrager, WaveCel does add approximately 53 grams to a helmet, but that seems reasonable if the material works as claimed. The open design should help keep air flowing into the helmet, and Bontrager say that because a WaveCel helmet uses less foam it's inherently cooler than a traditional helmet – we'll see if that's the case once we have a helmet in for review.

The shape of WaveCel may bring to mind Koroyd, the material that uses hundreds of bonded tubes to provide impact protection. The difference between the two is that WaveCel is designed to both mitigate linear and angular impacts, while Koroyd is mainly used to reduce linear impacts, which is why helmets that use Koroyd often have a MIPS liner added in.


Bontrager's Blaze WaceCel MTB helmet


Initially, there will be four helmets in Bontrager's line that use the WaveCel technology - two road helmets, a mountain bike helmet, and a commuter helmet. The Blaze WaveCel MTB helmet shown above retails for $299.99, which includes a crash replacement guarantee that allows riders to receive a free replacement if it's damaged within the first year. Other non-WaveCel related features include a Boa dial retention system, a Fidlock magnetic buckle on the chinstrap, and Bontrager's Blendr system that allows a GoPro or light to easily be mounted to the top of the helmet. The claimed weight for a size medium is 420 grams, and there are three sizes and five color options.

Bontrager's WaveCel design certainly looks promising, and the more options on the market that can potentially help prevent concussions the better. We'll be taking a closer look and digging into more details about this new technology in the near future.


253 Comments

  • + 291
 I’d pay that to significantly reduce the risk of a concussion. Props to Trek and every other helmet company that’s trying to improve helmets in this respect.
  • + 12
 Agree with this entirely. It's great to see companies realising that what we have is old, old tech. Fly have done a great job with their new MX helmet, looking forward to seeing more innovations as we move forward.
  • - 7
flag endurocat (Mar 19, 2019 at 7:55) (Below Threshold)
 By the looks of the first picture, this thing is huge!
  • - 3
 @endurocat: That's how you reduce concussions. Make it big and ugly enough so you don't want to leave the house. Wink
  • + 3
 I'd like them to show the weight. I use the 6D ATB1 and it's pretty heavy but for the safety I can deal. I just take it off when we all stop for a break. I bet 6D could incorporate this tech into their lids and reduce the size of the helmets further.
  • + 7
 Yes! This! I actually find it amazing how safety technology has come along in the last 10 years for MTB. Yes there are always questions about new tech, but if you look at for example American football, hockey or horse riding, our sport is definitely moving in the right direction.
  • + 1
 @rrolly: How peculiar is the fact that they don't show somebody wearing it.
  • + 13
 @endurocat: I've tried that helmet already. It's actually not any bigger than any other helmet/brand. The Wavecell is actually incorporated as a part of the foam and so the helmet size remains the same. Fits great as well! We'll worth the money!!
  • + 22
 Looks like what Smith has been doing in their helmets taken a step further. I like it, hopefully comes down in price when it is more implemented in their lineup.

Remember back when MIPS was a 100$ markup? Now you get MIPS helmets for 80$. Things are looking up for the future of head-bashing.
  • - 15
flag endurocat (Mar 19, 2019 at 8:52) (Below Threshold)
 @ShinDigz: Dude, don't lie.
We all now you love Trek.
  • + 24
 I'm on a 3 month absence of biking due to concussion issues. I'd pay large amounts of money to have a helmet that can reduce the chances of concussion by even 1%. Props to Trek, hope others follow suit.
  • + 4
 @ShinDigz: go to Trek's website. The weights are there for each model of helmet and Each Size. Lighter than 6D. Cheers.
  • + 6
 Here's to hoping. Don't know why I still struggle at spending alot on a helmet but will buy anodized brake adapter. Especially when it's the one thing I can actually justify to the wife @megatryn:
  • + 3
 Yes, but why the heck don't they give us spare liners for $300? So here I am, trying to assess whether or not it warrants replacement after a fall - did I hit my head? How hard did I hit my head? Adding a $300+ financial penalty for a full replacement of basically milk jug material makes that decision subjective.
  • + 11
 @JWadd: They'll give you a free replacement if you crash, why would you even consider if it warrants a replacement?
  • + 8
 @JWadd: Trek/Bontrager will give you a replacement helmet if you crash within the first year. Just keep your receipt and they are super easy to deal with.
  • + 1
 I wouldn't. I'd wait for it to trickle down and become cheaper... but I don't take many risks on the bike these days.
  • + 19
 Props to you and everyone focused on safety with us!
  • + 3
 @ShinDigz: Thanks for the love!
  • - 5
flag JWadd (Mar 19, 2019 at 11:33) (Below Threshold)
 @Greenday9261: All I have to do is ship it back, then wait for a new one to arrive, 2 weeks later in the middle of the season. Instead of going home, yanking the liner and replacing it with a new one. Thanks.
  • + 1
 @jamesdunford: Fly ripped off tech from Kali and Leatt. Fly wants you to think it's original, but it's not.
  • + 2
 @endurocat: I work at a Bontrager/ Trek dealer and I bought one. And although I haven't ridden with it more than a half our of urban goofing off before work. It so far seems to be one of the more comfortable helmets I've owned. At least as an initial impression. To cold outside to say if it vents well.
  • + 1
 @JWadd: Trek/ Bontrager has a 1 year crash replacement where if you crash in the first year the replace the helmet for free.
  • + 1
 SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY TREK!!!
  • + 7
 Will this make its way to a full face DH helmet??? @trek Please.
  • + 8
 @Boardlife69: We'll share the feedback with our product team!
  • + 1
 I would definitely take the added weight ad well.
  • + 1
 @ssteve: The last 2 bell rings I got were freak occurrences.
  • + 2
 @ssteve: that's all well and good but you cant count out variables outside your control when considering head protection. Just my two cents, coming from someone who is pretty frugal and choosy when it comes to buying gear, the helmet is somewhere where you soared no expense.
  • + 1
 It's similar to NASCAR SAFER barrier's designed to protect the driver from the concrete wall.
  • + 1
 @daugherd: don’t remember for sure but a large blaze (the mountain bike helmet) is somewhere in the ballpark of 450 grams. Lighter than my mips helmet by just a bit
  • + 1
 @Greenday9261: I really dislike the 1 yr crash replacement warranty. Should be 2-3 given the amount of $ you shell out. (no pun intended)
  • + 3
 @trek: Thanks Trek for helping to improve helmet safety and responding on PB.
Yes- your helmet did receive a 5 stars from Virginia Tech's independent testing; however, is it any better? Two cheaper more 'standard' helmets outperformed your helmet: www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html
  • + 1
 Color selection sucks. Dark and dull or bright and fruity.
  • + 2
 @herbertmarcusavich: True ! Kind of disappointing to me !
  • + 2
 @herbertmarcusavich: Yep just read that today too...... Both are also mips, not any of the new features that "outperform" mips.

Someone really needs to step up and do a thorough review of this stuff to cut through all the marketing hype and find a way to quantify all the different tech.

I'm currently looking for a new helmet. There is nothing wrong with my current helmet but it is 5 or so years old and im ok with spending some more coin if its going to make my head safer. The problem is sifting through they hype to find actual benefits between the brands.
  • + 0
 @Fishlexic: You have a valid point here. All the different tech is a mess to try to figure out in helmets. That being said., for me comfort is the number one concern when buying helmets, so it doesn't matter how safe they are if they don't fit my head. I know both LG and Specialized helmets don't agree with my head, but Bontrager does.

Also: You're wrong about there being nothing wrong with your helmet. Usually a helmet's lifetime is maximum 5 years for regular users, but with more use involving sweat and perspiration, this effectively cuts the helmets lifetime down to around 3 years. This is because the styrofoamish material which dampens impacts, gets harder over time and this is accelerated with the salts and minerals in your sweat and perspiration, significantly reducing your helmet's ability to absorb an impact. This is why I change all my helmets every 3 years.
  • + 1
 @Fishlexic: Virginia Tech will be testing 6D Helmets in 2-3 weeks and Kali helmets are on the future testing list.
  • + 1
 @herbertmarcusavich:
How do you know they will be doing this? And does this include the ATB 1 helmet?
Would love for them to test the TLD A1 as well.
  • + 102
 For those saying $300 is too expensive:

My concussion: 2014
ER CoPay: $200
Neurologist Follow Up: $50
Psychiatrist cost to deal with the anxiety and panic attacks that started showing up: $25/mo for 4.5 years
Medication to deal with Panic Attacks: $60/month 4.5 years
Appointments with Counselor for CBT: $80/2weeks for three months

I'm still not out of the woods, and at this point I'm not sure I'll ever be. $300 is a small price to pay for this much of a reduction in concussion risk.
  • + 6
 It is expensive, I am not saying it is too much, but it is expensive. I really believe it could cost the same as standard "old" helmet or 200 USD . So if talked about riders safety, the more affordable it is the more riders will be fine. If talked about making bigger profit, then here we are.

Well here in Czech I would pay nothing of the above, but of course it doesn´t mean I am riding without a helmet.

I hope Giro will bring some news in this dept. as I see them being more on the "safety for riders" side as they are selling MIPS helmets from 55 USD
  • + 21
 @bok-CZ: Sure it could cost the same as a standard helmet, if they used standard technology.

What you're missing here is cost of R&D, testing, production (starting small ish scale). It takes time for these sunk costs to pay off and for production to ramp up - the first generation (or three) of everything isn't cheap.

First MIPS tech added like $100 to the cost of the helmet, despite being essentially being a plastic slip plane, but as you mention, you can now get full helmets with it for $55.

Early adopters will pay a little more (as happens in every industry), but will help pay down those sunk costs and demonstrate the need for production at scale. If you don't want to pay $300, wait 3-5 years. Otherwise, be an early adopter, pay the extra cost and make it happen.
  • + 4
 You're assuming that this helmet would of prevented your injury.
  • + 24
 @Beez177: He said, " $300 is a small price to pay for this much of a reduction in concussion risk." Reduction of risk, not prevention.
  • + 2
 @skycripp what you are listing is the price of living in a highly liberal country driven by capitalism. The real price that everybody would pay is called quality of life which by the sound of it was and still is costing to you. God luck with your recovery.
  • + 10
 @Beez177: I didn't say that as all, especially since I wasn't even biking when it happened.
  • - 39
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 19, 2019 at 10:21) (Below Threshold)
 Oh jesus, and what exactly makes you think this helmet would save you all these expenses. We all do what we can, and we hope for the best but come on. Don’t be like cancer survivors whonfreak put about what they eat, effectively placing the blame on themselves and good luck staying aane, not being able to externalize that. Take care pal, but being hard on yourself and others really doesn’t do as much good as you may think it does
  • + 25
 @WAKIdesigns: Not sure why you think I'm being hard on myself. Shit happens, and there's nothing you can do about it. As far as what makes me think this helmet reduces the risk of having similar expenses? The data. Read the article.

And note that risk reduction and risk prevention are two totally different things.
  • + 31
 @WAKIdesigns : We want to see less brain and head injuries, this is just one of the ways we can step up and make a difference in cycling and change the way our helmets are.
  • - 17
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 19, 2019 at 11:02) (Below Threshold)
 @skycripp: I am commenting on what I read from your and everything you wrote insinuates that wearing this helmet would save you all that, while it is impossible to determine to what extent this helmet can reduce brain damage compared to a... exactly, God only knows which other helmet. It looks like the best system so far but it will still be impossible to determine to which extent it works, all of that is pure theory. The only thing that can confirm its effectivity is if those helmets had accelerometers on them and each crash would get diagnosed and put against helmets which do notnhave this system, but have accelerometers. It will never happen. There is no reliable scientific method that could determine the effectiveness of this system.
  • + 8
 @Beez177: Of course he is assuming it would help; that's exactly how safety equipment works. You put it on assuming it's going to prevent or lessen the damage. To counterpoint with "you don't know if it would have actually helped" is insane especially since this has been designed and tested specifically to help in the situation detailed above. I've been fortunate enough to never test my helmet in a serious head impact but I still put it on every time I ride because I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Wear a helmet everyone. Wear the nicest helmet you can afford. Save money elsewhere.
  • + 1
 @ratedgg13: once again assuming ( real world not in a lab ) it works.
  • - 3
 @trek: I salute you on that, and as I said here, your system makes most sense of all, I congratulate you on it. It compresses, it twists, it slips and is rather small. i know your helmets very well and they are a quality structure through and through, So much win. I am not discussing the price, I have literally nothing but good things to say about it from initial impression. I have been sceptical in the past about MIPS. I am not a tiny bit sceptical about your design. Whatver this opinion of mine is worth.
  • + 1
 @fullfacemike: I agree, but don't run out and buy something because it's advertised as safer.
  • + 3
 @trek:

thanks, this looks like great technology and the looks of the helmet is nice too. rather than b*tch about $300 for a half shell (grrrr!), I'll just ask if you plan on releasing a version with detachable chin bar for us endurobros & gals.

Also, crash replacement guarantee in year 1 is nice. How about extending to 50% cost for year two?
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Thanks Waki 3
  • + 4
 @WasatchEnduro: We'll look into it if we are not already! We have plans for continuous rollout of other models even branching in kids helmets. Stay tuned!
  • - 3
 @fullfacemike: I cannot agree more. Buy a helmet you want to wear with pleasure and pride. A helmet with most stickers, that is not comfortable, is more likely to be left in the closet. This is why it is particularly important in case of buying a full-face helmet. Too many folks out there riding and racing in helmets not made for the purpose. When you wear a full body armor but put Bell Super 2R on your head, then you may want to rethink the way you reason about safety...
  • - 2
 @trek: you have an awesome "factory shop" and service in Gothenburg Wink
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Actually validation is possible; in American football they tested the new helmets using accelerometers inside mouthpieces (not the helmets!). Something similar could be done during eg DH WC races. The problem is probably with pushback from the brands that are not interested in fact based comparison.
  • - 1
 @Konyp: this is much harder to achieve in mountain biking. Average pro racer will not his head into things as many times throughout his whole career as a pro footballer will through a few matches.
  • + 4
 @bok-CZ: Cheaper than my wheels. Or fork. Or shock...
  • + 1
 Exactly. You can't put a price on safety. Helmets and padding are one thing I do not have a budget for. My upper body armour is worth $550 and I have a D3 full face which obviously isn't cheap either.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: I have to say as a engineering student studying helmets and concussions in cycling, your comment is pretty interesting to me. I'm curious why lab testing is not a credible source for you? Think about a bike crash that could result in a concussion. To simplify think of the crash in 2D. There is an x and y component to the linear force, a friction factor between the helmet and dirt, as well as friction between your scalp and the liner of the helmet. Additionally, there is the rotational force as you make contact with the ground. These forces can be figured out with a couple calculations and you could retest with different rider weights and speeds. As far as I can tell, you could easily replicate these conditions in a lab and I don't see why you couldn't get a very good picture as to how well a helmet will perform in real world conditions. I'd love to hear your reason. To me, the virginia tech helmet ratings seem quite well done and I would encourage you to look into their research www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html
  • + 0
 In the uk you would have had all that for free! So for us the helmet is very expensive. Great innovative protection though but no need to price it so high that people can't afford it.
  • + 2
 Wow, thanks for sharing this. Really puts into perspective the potential cost of a concussion. I've only experienced one concussion from crashing on a minimoto at a kart track which I suppose was 'mild' but I was dizzy for 2-3 days after and wasn't feeling 'normal' until day 5/6. That was the first time in a long time I felt scared for my long term health. I really do appreciate all the money and tech that's going into safety at the moment not just in mtb but other sports and a growing part of me wants to pursue a career in this. Anyway, hope you eventually do overcome it all! Thanks again for sharing. Cheers!
  • + 46
 "Disclosure: Some of the authors are co-inventors of CELL technology described in this manuscript, have filed patents, and have a financial interest in the company that owns this technology."
  • + 9
 Shhh...don't look behind the curtain.
  • + 62
 It is common for study authors or sponsors to have an interest in the success of the study, this is why papers are peer reviewed and the experiments (hopefully) replicated by other teams. As long as they disclose their connections this is fine and normal.
  • + 10
 @Konyp: Yea if someone invests a new product, they are usually going to be the ones to initially invest the time to study it.
  • + 14
 Be careful with the the easy interpretation that "these helmets reduce the risk of concussion." If you read the limitations of the study, and the conclusion of the article itself, the counter-arguments are well defined. This study was done in a lab with no real world or human subject data or correlation to REDUCTION of ACTUAL concussions in people hitting their heads while riding bikes. They may "potentially decrease the rotational acceleration" but this does not translate (necessarily) to reduction in concussions. Promising results (I'd wear one of these over traditional helmets), but they need more data. Source, am MD.

"Since axonal shear strain caused by rotational acceleration is a predominant mechanism of injury in concussions (Meaney and Smith, 2011), strategies for improved helmet designs should therefore target mitigation of rotational acceleration. Results of SLIP and CELL group helmets demonstrated the potential that rotational acceleration of a headform can be significantly reduced by these helmet technologies."
  • + 2
 @Konyp: True, but for exactly that reason it is important to emphasize the commercial interests involved and not to overinterpret the results of this study. Peer review adds some credibility but is not a panacea for bias and conflict of interest.

FWIW, I think this technology is one of the more promising ones for bike helmets and definitely should be tested further.
  • + 1
 Good point. Perhaps that explains why Virginia Tech's independent testing shows two 'standard' and much cheaper helmets out performed this one: www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html
  • + 2
 That’s not unusual at all for a product like this. So you look at the methodology of the study, which I’m sure you did before claiming it’s biased, right?
  • + 1
 @herbertmarcusavich: It is promising that the Wavecel helmets were all strong performers in the VT testing, with the highest score and 2 of the top 3. Every accident is a unique and random event and will not match up with any one test so those results have to be taken only as in indication of general performance. With minor changes in methodology the results could shift around, however you would not expect major changes and the strong performers should be expected to remain near the top of the list. For the Wavecel helmets to all be near the top is a positive sign that there may be something to this technology.
  • + 35
 $300 is less then a hospital bill and a Brain made of jello for the rest of your life
  • + 22
 It is. But if this technology is as effective as claimed, let's hope the price falls with wider adoption. Lot's of cyclists, including commuters and teens, cannot afford a $300 helmet.
  • + 6
 $300 is also the top of the line, with $150 for a more commuter/gravel design.
  • + 2
 @Klainmeister: Its also a lot if the true effect is no different from a standard helmet.
  • + 8
 And you have no idea if one will lead to the other. Hell, $5,000 is cheaper then some hospital bills. Would you buy a $5,000 helmet? I don't want jello-brain, take my money!
  • + 7
 @Rattles: We will have more helmets being released in the future too! We want this to be accessible for more riders!
  • + 1
 @Rattles: I may be able to afford a $300 helmet, but exactly when am I FORCED to buy another $300 helmet? I have to make a decision after every crash - replace or not, with a $300 financial penalty attached to the replace option. Pretty subjective at best, especially when the material cost of the liner is probably less than $30.
  • + 2
 @JWadd: aside from the free crash replacement within a year of purchase?

I’d frankly just be happy that I’m cognizant enough to be able to make that decision.
  • + 6
 @JWadd: Why is so difficult for people to grasp the cost of a product never equates to the material cost?
  • + 1
 @JWadd: I don’t think anyone can get away with something like that if you crash you likely damaged the frame or at least trek can’t tell what your particular crash did to the frame of the helmet so they have no real option to send out inserts. I used to have argue with customers over whether they should replace their helmet “I can’t believe i spent 80$ on a helmet and have to replace it after one crash” Me “your able to argue about this cause your head isn’t imbedded in the middle of 6th ave we have less attractive helmets for 40$ right over there”
  • + 31
 WE WANTED f*ckING NANOTUBE FRAMES AND YOU GIVE US A HELMET? CMON TREK
  • + 3
 We were thinking 3d printed carbon or something at my store. The biggest change since carbon fibre indeed.
  • + 3
 Maybe they'll make a frame out of it?
  • + 4
 @j-t-g: The biggest change since Endura helmets last year!
  • + 1
 @Bob-Agg: Or smith helmets 2 years before that.
  • + 22
 The link for the peer-reviewed study should probably go here: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457518303713, not to the trekbikes website...
  • + 4
 Even on their website you have to click through a few times.
  • - 18
flag scott-townes (Mar 19, 2019 at 7:14) (Below Threshold)
 lol nerds
  • + 16
 The full paper text if free! I applaud Trek for supporting innovation and being so open with the research. The helmet is a strong purchase candidate for me.
  • + 1
 @Konyp: Thank you for the kind words!
  • + 11
 as a person who has been running the blaze helmet for a few rides now, it is awesome! breathes impeccably well compared to the hot as hell mips. ive yet to crash so i cant say it holds any better but im loving it so far, mainly because my head is so much cooler how
  • + 3
 Glad you love it!
  • + 10
 There are flaws with this or with MIPS or whatever other concussion reducing tech is out there. Its not perfect....yet. But its brilliant and awesome that they are working towards making it perfect. Props to them and others that are putting in the R&D to give a shit about our heads.
  • - 2
 Sadly Bike-tech is not the place for serious approaches to helmet safety. Good work is being done for Hockey and Moto helmets. For instance, companies like Arai are building helmets which reduce the likelihood of getting stuck to the ground with smooth, spherical shapes and break-away visors.
  • + 1
 @Ttimer: lol, way to undermine people that actually try to innovate in the mtb world...sheesh
  • + 0
 @housem8d: Seeing that the mtb world typically only innovates in terms of marketing BS, while technical progression happens elsewhere, thats something i can live with.
  • + 2
 @Ttimer: Sure I can see that sentiment, but they are working on it. Your example of Arai can't really be compared because they make top end moto helmets whereas these guys have to keep in mind air flow and weight for when you are pedalling and not just pulling a throttle. Yeah it all seems like marketing BS but they are working towards making it better.
  • + 3
 @ianswilson815: If you are implying that Arai isn't taking airflow and weight into consideration you are sorely mistaken.
  • + 4
 @jkiefer: No i'm not implying that, of course they consider that, but there is a pretty big difference in what you can build into a full face moto helmet for impact tech than what works with a half shell mountain bike helmet. There are just significant space and weight limits for a half shell that Arai or others have a bunch more wiggle room with. Just a different beast.
  • + 3
 @ianswilson815: Fair enough. I agree with you, I'm just psyched there are R&D efforts focused on our safety.
  • + 0
 Moto helmets are designed for impacts at speeds we will never reach. Moto vs MTB helmets is an apples to oranges comparison. Wearing a moto helmet while riding a MTB may increase your risk for a concussion not reduce it.
  • + 9
 The study they cite suffers from the same fundamental problem as all the previous tests which claim to support MIPS: They ignore the natural slip planes of hair and skin that all humans have and that make most of the slippage-technology redundant.

Digging through the articles and references reveals that all testing was done on dummy heads with a thin layer of rubber firmly glued to their metal surface. That might give realistic data with respect to linear impacts, but certainly not with respect to angular impacts because it forcibly eliminates all angular slippage betwen helmet and head.
  • - 1
 Nailed it. This system definitely looks far superior to MIPS, but it definitely seems that the test method was designed with some bias. So far Kali and 6D seem to be leading the pack with tech that actually makes a difference, and they didn't need to change the testing method to suit their agenda.
  • + 62
 The article specifically states that "a double-layer of thin nylon stocking was fitted over the headform to better represent the surface of the human head by reducing the inherently high friction of the Hybrid III silicone scalp".

Clearly not the same as natural hair and skin but it seems to me that there is a) no glued rubber as you claim @Ttimer, and b) they tried to modify the slip to be more similar to natural conditions. FWIW obv.
  • + 7
 Wouldn't the angular slippage not only provide further benefits though, as it lengthens the duration of the impact?
  • + 4
 Unfortunately the rubberized head form seems to be an industry standard. It used to bother me a lot but since everyone is using it I started to think of it as a worst case scenario. Anyway we are stuck with it until a better analog is developed and that seems a long way off. At least the testing protocol here is not totally silly as is the case with MIPS.
  • + 4
 @mi-bike: Thank you for the correction, i missed the bit about the stocking. Following the references to Hybrid 3 headforms show that they are made from aluminium with a glued on rubber layer (Gilchrist, A. and Mills, N.J. 1996 )

The stocking might help with reducing bias, but if i were a reviewer i would have liked some good evidence that the stocking actually mimics hair and skin before accepting an article which is specifically about angular impacts.
I suppose using Hybrid 3s in this way is the standard practice in impact testing for linear impacts, and probably works quite well for that purpose.
  • + 7
 @Ttimer: The test rig is the same for all items tested. If the CONTROL would be better in a real life scenario due to more slip with hair, wouldn't the SLIP and CELL also perform even better that tested? I look at the percentage of improvemnt as the key since they are all tested in the same way.
  • + 4
 @txclg: Possibly, but the differences would be a lot smaller. There are also rapidely diminishing returns to slippage, simply because there is only so much the head can move and still be inside the helmet.
Now we don't know how good that (quite funny) stocking layer is at mimicking hair and skin, so we don't know how valid the results are.

What the Trek helmet is trying to do is fine-tune slippage layers to absorb energy while still staying mobile. That approach gets messed up by hair, skin and sweat. It could even be that the Trek helmet will perform worse on a realistic head than it does in the study.

By the way, has anyone tried building energy absorption systems into chinstraps and fitting systems?
  • + 1
 The elastic skin envelope on the head doesn't need to rotate freely over the metal surface in order to mitigate rotational acceleration. It may not be able to rotate as far as hair+skin on a real skull, but it can still shear to reduce the acceleration.
  • + 11
 nice to see technology like this backed up by a peer reviewed article. But when will these helmets be available for purchase?
  • + 3
 I know you can order them through a shop today at least
  • + 3
 I work at a Trek store and we got them yesterday.
  • + 1
 @Gordal They are on www.trekbikes.com and at local retailers today!
  • + 1
 @Gordal You can swing by the Trek store in Victoria and pick one up today!
  • + 12
 The Blaze only weighs 420 grams, no wonder its such a high price!
  • + 1
 The price is soooo high bro! But it'll be crashing soon...
  • + 6
 I hope they open source it. If its truly that much safer, then thats the responsibile thing to do. Like Volvo inventing the 3 point seatbelt and allowing all other makers to use it, cause it saves lives.
  • + 3
 Or at least license the technology. If its half as good as they claim it would be irresponsible not to get this on as many riders heads as possible.
  • + 5
 Dropped $180 on a Kali interceptor for their use of new technologies. I wonder how it would compare to this new tech because $299 is a pretty steep barrier but worth it if it can outperform other new tech on the market. Also Kali offers free crash replacement for the life of the helmet. This one is only a year. Additionally, rotation was only tested in one plane along the longitudinal axis of the helmet. I wonder how it performs in other directions because the waveCel looks looks to be oriented along the longitudinal axis as tested.
  • + 5
 Need a science ruling here as I've heard the same kinds of things for NFL helmets. In my laymen's view, your brain is suspended inside your skull in fluid. When your whole head is traveling at a certain speed, and it comes to a stop, the devil is in the deceleration forces, which are directly correlated to the distance in which the deceleration occurs. So if your head is traveling at 20mph and you bail, your head hits the ground and decelerates within the minimal distance of an inch or two which is your helmet compressing. The helmet helps with the blunt impact on your skull, but then your brain is separate and suspended within. Your skull comes to a stop first, then your brain comes to a stop when it hits your skull. Diminishing blunt impact on your skull and skin is all the helmet can really do, the physics of your brain traveling within your skull are totally separate. Am I wrong on this?
  • + 10
 You are correct, the brain's momentum will have to be stopped in the end but it is the rate of deceleration that is critical. There is a big difference between the brain decelerating to a stop within approx 3 mm (bare head impact) and withing 30 mm (fully crushed EPS helmet). The energy will be the same but the time will be different resulting in a much lower peak force to the brain. The problem is that impacts have very different energy and the EPS foam is frequently be too hard, resulting in partial compression and wasted space in the helmet shell. The perfect material would adapt to the actual energy of the specific impact and always compress for the full thickness.
A confounding factor are rotational impacts that can cause very dangerous tears in the brain tissue, even with low energies involved.
  • + 3
 No, but only partially correct... there are both linear and rotational forces on the head in a crash, although in special cases the rotational aspect could be zero while linear will never be zero or it's not a crash.
  • + 6
 Just curious -- how many of you casting aspersions on the technology of this helmet are actual brain scientists and skull protectionologists?
  • + 9
 Every single one of us is. We have more real-life experience and a whole lot more on the line than the lab boys. I'd never dismiss our input.
  • + 3
 @tripleultrasuperboostplusplus: You Sir; one of the best comments on this page.
  • + 4
 Awesome to see the concussion-prevention progression continue. It is cool that big companies like Trek that have the resources are using them on projects like this. That being said, I really hope these things aren’t beach balls like the last few new trail helmets that Bontrager/Trek put out. Concussions are bad, but we still need to be able to fit between the trees.
  • + 3
 I find it crazy how people will spend $20 on carbon bars, $2000 on a fork, $400 on a seatpost, $1500 on wheels, even up to $10k for a bike. Then they say a $300 helmet to prevent a concussion is too expensive. What's more important. You or your bike?
  • + 4
 I’d buy that for $299. A little on the heavy side but so was my Army kevlar helmet and I wore that without complaining. Why? Oh because it could (no guarantee) make a big difference.

Long live innovation!
  • + 3
 Here is a link to Virginia Techs Helmet Rating which is not associated with Trek/Bontrager. It received the a 5 star rating but there are a few helmets that perform better.

www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html

There is also not a lot of helmets on here.
  • + 5
 Unfortunately their test protocol is very similar to the MIPS one. Not everyone agrees that this is the best representation of real world crashes (tight chinstrap, rubberized head form not connected to any neck, anvil covered in sandpaper).
  • + 3
 It would appear that according to this website, the lower the score, the better the rating. That puts three Bontrager helmets at the top of the heap, including a non-Wavecell helmet.
  • - 1
 @bicyclelifestyle: Yes, but those three helmets are road helmets, the Bontrager Wavecell MTB helmet does not perform very well!
  • + 3
 @Ricolaburle: doesn’t perform very well? It got a 5 star rating and 4 or 5 star is recommended. How do you mean?
  • - 1
 @sledshed: according to Trek, WaveCell outperforms everything alerady existing. According to Virginia Tech, the 300 bucks Bontrager Blaze protect you less than the 75 bucks Specialized Chamonix MIPS or the 120 bucks Louis Garneau Raid MIPS. Blaze got 5 stars but the rating is higher (13.2), which means the helmet perform not as good as the two others (13.1 and 12.3). Not as groundbreaking as it should be in my opinion !
  • + 3
 Because I've heard so many companies carefully tiptoeing around claims that their technology reduces concussions, the bold statement that this reduces CONCUSSIONS by 48 times compared to a standard helmet really piqued my interest. I'm a huge fan of Kali because of the safety tech that has gone into their LDL helmets despite them being less than aesthetically appealing. I do wear a mis-matched pajama suit often while riding so I guess aesthetics is secondary for me. I'm excited to see this and look forward to more helmets with this technology as well as more research.
  • + 3
 I'm all for lid tech progressing, but...how's the fit?...Frankly if it doesn't fit, its never going to be worn is it....about the most important thing about a helmet for me at least is, I want to put it on, then forget it's there within 5 min's.
Less I'm just about to hit home on mother natures best work, Hard!.. then I'll want to be aware it's there, and not about to drop off my oddly shaped noggin when I start ploughing with my head.
This seems a better way to go then a slip plane (mips) between you and the lid, fit wise. though having EPS, and this WaveCel does worry me a tad in terms of heat dissipation, but maybe that would make it a good winter riding lid?
  • + 4
 I recently tried one of these on- most comfortable helmet I've ever put on. That's just me and my head, but I was more excited about that then the safety aspect.
  • + 3
 Awesome! Now make us a light weight fullface helmet (ie. Proframe) for Enduro racing! I won’t wear anything less after being lifeflighted last summer for a head injury. Thank you Giro for preventing my injury for being any worse.
  • + 3
 I'd consider the Bell Super DH. 2-layer foam, better MIPS implementation vs anything else imo.
  • + 2
 Funny how people compare a helmet price with hospital costs. Makes me realize how good it is to have compulsory health insurance! I do not pay for a bike accident but anyway I would spend 250€ for a helmet that is safer. Before I do that I want some statistics which are not paid by the Guys earning money with the good test result!
  • + 2
 Awesome to see companies focusing more on helmet safety. The speed the average punter is riding at has increased significantly over the last few years as technology has improved - good to see the safety gear finally catch up....as I sit slowly typing with a broken collarbone!
  • + 2
 I love all this new safety technology. But I'm the person that returned my mips helmet because I didn't like the way it shifted back/forth while riding. Ventilation and comfort (weight) are my top considerations. I instead bought a POC tectal. Though now they have the tectal spin, which I might eventually try. Open vents will always be better in 90 degree weather!
  • + 1
 Same! ..the Tectal just fits really dammed well...and that alone inspires confidence enough for me, that I'd prob be 99% ok after a crash, I may well not be, but I'll take my chances in comfort.
  • + 3
 How many crashes/knocks can it take before it must be replaced? Any special guidance regarding storage, exposure to the elements, natural ageing etc?
  • + 2
 Our suggestion for any helmet is to replace after a crash. Which is why we offer a 1 year Crash Replacement!
  • + 1
 Is this multi-hit? If not, I'm out. I have 5-10 minor helmet strikes per season (low tree branch, grazed tree, saved faceplant, ground rollout). I could be replacing this thing every few weeks.

Manufacturers need to drop the one-type-fits-all road and mountain bike helmet design and address the common and abundant low-speed hits of mountain biking. Something hard like EPS or anything that gets destroyed in one knock is ridiculous. Those are fine for outer layers to reduce skull fractures, but their engagement needs to be reserved for the rare big impacts.
  • + 1
 Promising.

But "it's better than MIPS" doesn't mean very much. What matters is how it compares to its real competitors, helmets like Kali Interceptor and Leatt DBX 3.0 (both of which are way less expensive). Or Maya 2.0 and DBX 2.0, which are under $100. Just saying it's better than old MIPS isn't nearly enough to get me to persuade me it's the safest or worth the extra price.
  • + 1
 As everyone as mentioned, Trek is doing a good job ensuring that riders have the best tools available in regard to safety. However, some of you seem to think that these helmets are expensive, and which they may be, but what is your health worth to you? Also in terms of production cycles, Trek or any manufacturer is bound to release new tech at a high price in order to recoup R&D costs as soon as possible, and once that is done we will see it trickle down to cheaper helmets.
  • + 2
 Looks pretty similar to Smith's Koroyd.... wonder if it will have the same ventilation problem that my Forefront had, man that helmet was warm... but then again it did it's job when I had a huge crash last year.
  • + 1
 it should be better, has bigger holes and more angle on them forward. there is also no MIPS shell that hugs the head which keeps heat in, so it should (and does) vent better than a MIPS helmet!!
  • + 1
 @trek I like the idea, it makes a lot of sense. EPS foam was developed to prevent skull fractures, but for people in risk of frequent crashes, protection against concussion is just as important. I have had several concussions myself, strangely none from biking (knock on wood), and the recovery took longer each time and more severe consequences were felt. I'm sure I don't want to have another, because it feels like I'm kind of at a tipping point...since this is safety technology - the completely rad thing to do would be to share the license, or offer it to a reasonable price. R&D can be paid for by numbers or by exclusivity, sadly trek apparently chose the 2nd option. I'm hoping you reconsider your approach, make the world a little better and pay your bills at the same time. And I really don't understand why the commuter model costs half as much as the MTB model, 150$ maybe, but 300$ is way too steep for me.
Cheers
  • + 1
 Can anyone find a pic of what the straps are like on the mountain helmet (Blaze)? I loved the fit of the Rally helmet (and the free crash replacement) but the straps weren't adjustable under the ear lobe and as a result the strap was uncomfortable always pushing against my throat. Hoping they have went to an adjustable strap.
  • + 1
 The straps under the ears are adjustable.
  • + 1
 after rattling my brain into a serious concussion 19 years ago, in retrospect, i would've paid the premium to have this tech strapped to my dome at the time. i was in the hospital for a week. i was off the bike for a coupe months. and it changed my personality. $300, if this lid could have prevented my concussion, is peanuts, especially considering the cost of follow up CAT scans, and the nurses required to wake me up every hour for two days straight. bikes will kill you, but helmets can save your life.
  • + 4
 I'm sold. My only question is; can I mount my light mount straps past the WaveCel material to loop through the large vents?
  • + 2
 Trek you have my attention!!! This sounds amazing tup expensive price tag but glad you offer a free replacement within the first year. I feel like that warranty should be raised to two or 3 years though!
  • + 0
 You should have a look at Virginia Tech ratings, cheaper MTB helmets perform better than the Blaze. Maybe you can protect yourself as best as you can, save some bucks and have a beer or two !
  • + 2
 @Ricolaburle: You are putting too much value on the results of a single test, it only means that in one specific impact those rankings apply. That particular test also seems to favor road helmets for some reason. It is good to have a high scoring helmet but individual comparisons based on minor differences in scores are less valuable. It is promising for the technology that the Wavecel helmets were all consistently high scorers. Hopefully more extensive testing will be done.
  • + 1
 @VonFalkenhausen: well, maybe, we'll see. But at least it's an independent testin. To me it look's like the "it protects you 48 times more" is a little bit overrated. Not to mention this sentence from the article :
"In other words, the MIPS liner did help, but the WaveCel-equipped helmet performed even better. In addition, all of Bontrager's WaveCel helmets received 5 stars, the highest ranking possible, in tests performed by Virginia Tech. "This is not exactly true, is it ? At least for the Blaze.
  • + 1
 1st) Yay! Huge shout out to Trek for the deliberate and research based approach to safety! I love that you are trying to show that it works rather than just selling emotions and new colour patterns.

2) Just reading through the article and it appears they only compared three helmets- The Scott ARX, Scott ARX plus (MIPS) and the Blaze WaveCel. While the Scott ARX was selected based on their ratings with consumer reports 2016- I would hardly assume it represents the diversity of helmets with or without slip liner systems. Just another caution on reading too deeply into the findings. I get why they did that for reliability but it sure kicks some of the validity in the crotch when trying to generalize or isolate the significant construct. The claim that can be made here is that the helmet performed better in their tests than the Scott ARX- not that it performed better than any other helmet out there.I would hope that it is true as it looks cool and has verisimilitude (appears to be the thing it is is said to be)- but lets not run wild with the findings yet. Great work Trek! Look forward to seeing this rolled out and explored more!
  • + 3
 What I saw from carbon3d in riddell football helmets would have been game changing-this is koroyd version 2.
  • + 3
 Koroyd is only designed for and effective in linear impacts. Which is why those helmets still use a MIPS liner. This replaces both the MIPS liner and a large portion of the EPS. The two are similar in that they are cellular, but the similarities stop there.
  • + 4
 They stole that idea from my Purple mattress...
  • + 1
 I don’t get why we don’t have air liners, preshaped innertube just with Xpsi. Lightweight and I’m sure under testing may give same pro’s as mips wavecel etc
  • + 3
 If it trickles down to trail full face helmets I'll be interested
  • + 3
 I was interested until $300... $150, yes.
  • + 8
 My head is worth more than yours
  • + 0
 Well, I've checked the helmet ratings carried out by Virginia Tech , and I'm not impressed by the Bontrager Blaze Wavecel score, some MIPS helmets perform better. Looks better for wavecel road helmets though.
  • + 2
 Come on Trek Bonti go full enduro and give us a vented full face using wavecel Wink
  • - 1
 48 times the protection from concussion? Traditional bicycle helmets offer almost no concussion protection. Concussions occur when your brain slams around inside your skull, which is what happens when your head whips around wildly then stops suddenly--rotational forces and rapid decceleration. If helmets could control those factors, the NFL wouldn't have a problem.

So, the baseline for bicycle helmet concussion prevention is almost nothing. Now, multiply nothing by 48. What do you get?

Marketing hype.
  • + 3
 Anything to keep Bees and Wasps out of my helmet! : )
  • + 3
 Did they drop their Foam Ice Chest Technology line of helmets already?
  • + 0
 You mean the $200 milk jug covered Dunkin Donuts cups?
  • - 1
 Also, I am sick of seeing safety equipment that is marketed as the best, also being the most expensive. This ranges from neck protectors, to pads, and obviously helmets. This does nothing to address the protection of new riders and young riders, who are far less likely to spend $300 on a helmet. I would think Bontrager/Trek is large enough that this helmet could be sold for a much lower price point and still be profitable, but who knows...
  • - 1
 Take a breath everyone.

1) You cannot realistically argue it reduces concussions in a crash unless you have a large diverse sample size and run randomly assorted trial and testing. Given the ethical issues I'd say they didn't. Concussion is a clinical diagnosis meaning Dr. MD sees signs and diagnoses based on the criteria of the signs. Mild impacts still do damage and when we fall we still come to a sudden stop accelerating the brain in the skull towards impacts, coup countrecoup.

2) Reduce impacts, looks like it. They tested three designs with limited numbers or drops in very controlled environments performing standard safety tests of anvil drops and so on. So progress not I am bullet proof and can be dumb under the helmet.

3) Discussion by authors is full of "narrow range impact conditions" and "need for further research". So easy with the sensationalism and hoopla PB, let the authors words speak for themselves and they do a pretty good job a good old modest science.
  • + 2
 Care to explain why an argument about how a reduction of concussion-causing factors can reduce the chances of concussion isn't realistic?

How about how newly developed oblique-impact tests from multiple angles, that are not currently performed on helmets, are "standard"?

Or perhaps how accurate scientific data can be obtained outside of "controlled environments"?

Finally, I'd like to see who here is deciding to be "dumb under the helmet", and where this claimed "sensationalism" is located?
  • + 1
 @Mngnt: The title of the article is what I caution against. The "concussion-preventing technology" is impact reduction to the tested linear and oblique forces which is not just an argument of pure semantics IMHO.

It is great they had a controlled environment and implemented controls. Now lets see a wider field of test and get closer to real life simulations. It would be cool to see a wider range of helmet manufacturers not just tech as well aggregated into a meta-analysis. The standard should be and I would argue is now something towards MIPS. Simple Styrofoam domes are dinosaurs on the field and we should have a higher bar be set. Judging my the comments here and the efforts already in place to achieve such a thing, I am not alone in such statements.

Again just a caution, don't take the new fangled tech to be an end all to save your noggin. People who are too keen on something that says it prevents a serious injury which is sensational, true or not, should just pull back a little.
  • + 1
 looks a cool a safer option than most out there. You can't put a price on your noggin. When are they available keen to try one on before buying. Good job @trek
  • + 1
 Thanks for the praise!
  • + 1
 @trek: Hi Trek, good you work hard for our safety, however Virginia Tech ratings shows that your MTB helmet with wavecell is not the best helmet around when it comes to protection, despite your claims. How is that?
  • - 2
 I wonder how the Smith Forefront stands up to the exact same test? This seems so much alike, it's hard to imagine this helmet would be much of an improvement. I went down a couple months ago and hit my Forefront on a granite rock pointed to about the size of a baseball. The impact was at the edge of the helmet just above the ear, where the helmet is both EPS and the honeycomb grid stuff. The foam cracked/compressed a little and the honeycomb stuff might have deformed a little. No signs of concussion though, which I am thankful for! I am all for new tech that keeps us safe, but it would be nice if the Smith Forefront was compared in that study considering the similarities.
  • + 0
 I took a huge crash in Nelson and smashed the top of my head into a rock while wearing a Forefront. Other than a little neck soreness that was gone within 24 hours, I was fine. Other than the shock of falling and being upside down with dirt/mud in my mouth, I was completely fine and kept riding. The honeycomb stuff in there was completely mangled, so it does work really well. I didn't end up getting another one, though, as I couldn't get my night riding lights to ever mount successfully without a ton of fidgeting and zip ties. If they had sorted that one out, I'd be a customer for life.
  • + 1
 Does anyone know of a paper that tests optimal helmet fit vs. sub-optimal helmet fit with respect to concussions?
  • + 2
 Looks like the next Wave of the future
  • + 0
 Can't tell for sure from the pictures but looks like the MTB one coverage for the lower skull and upper neck seems to be lacking compared to a 6D ATB-1T.
  • - 2
 The quoted scientific study found that Wavecel and MIPS are EQUAL at reducing concussions. At least that is what the Abstract says. So this is good tech, but not game changing. No need to go out and replace your MIPS helmet. Fn marketers, always going overboard.
  • + 3
 That isn't what the abstract (or the results table within the study) says, at all. It says they BOTH reduce forces acting on the brain during a crash, but with fairly different results.

Not advocating for going out and buying one, just for careful reading.
  • + 0
 The confidence intervals overlap, so not a statistically significant difference between the two. i.e. 32%-91% and 81%-98% are the same thing in the world of statistics.
  • + 1
 Is there a reason inflatable or gel filled helmet linings are not a thing? Because they wouldn't then be disposable items?
  • + 2
 Inflatable would not be reliable as all users would need to maintain correct pressure all the time to keep the claimed safety standard. Gel would be very heavy, a heavier helmet increases the probability of some types of injury. Self healing foam is used by Kali but it seems to have its limitations. From what I understand it is not sufficiently rigid to give shape to the helmet like EPS so needs other materials as support.
  • - 1
 There's no helmet in existence that will prevent head concussion, none, nope, nada! Maybe an F1 helmet, but your just dead by then! Got any live testers to prove it?
  • + 2
 So you're suggesting there should be people who purposefully go out and attempt to give themselves concussions???


I implore you to be the first one.
  • + 1
 Can I get it from my local department store?(REI)
  • + 1
 Yup.

It’s dividend and coupon time too.

www.rei.com/search?q=wavecell
  • + 1
 We need some non sentient human clones to use for testing for such things.
  • + 1
 I meant $200 on carbon bars, $20 I wish! Lol
  • + 1
 I am all for safety but $389 cdn Is a lot of money for a helmet.
  • + 0
 How much is your head worth then?
  • + 1
 Awww yeah! Now please make a dirt jump helmet version for this.
  • + 1
 Now would you please consider that helmets should be looking cool also
  • + 1
 just out of curiosity, are there MIPS skate lids?
  • - 1
 Is it too much to ask to release a Factory racing bikini with same pattern on it? I will buy the helmet and I will buy the bikini I promise...
  • + 1
 if it where half the price.....
  • + 1
 Waiting to see FF release with that technology, will buy it
  • + 0
 Isn't this very similar to the Smith honeycomb idea?
  • - 1
 299! Man - we get it - new tech - democratize that to $99 and actually make an impact.
  • + 1
 48 times!!!
  • + 0
 Man- I would have been more excited if it WAS natural fiber...
  • + 0
 Cardboard technology. Cool.
  • + 0
 I salute Trek for hitting that 420 gram target. Well done.
  • - 2
 Funny cause you'd have to have brain damage already to buy a Bontrager product.
  • - 3
 I wonder how this compares to mips in terms of preventing concussions.
  • + 8
 Well, I mean there's the scientific peer-reviewed study that's linked to in both the article and comments section, where they compare MIPS to Wavecel, that just might have your answer...
  • - 2
 Also true: 48.0% of all statistics are just made up
  • + 7
 86% of people know this!
  • + 11
 60% of the time, it works everytime.
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