Have you had a concussion? Do you wish you hadn’t? Well, Bontrager hasn’t invented a time machine (yet) to go back and right the terrible wrongs we’ve committed to our brains, but they have apparently come up with a potential solution to acquiring more brain injuries. The new WaveCel technology, released today, seems so simple I’m a little mad no one has come up with it yet and I am, as a result, dumber than I used to be. Of course, it can’t claim to be 100% concussion-proof, because some crashes are just heinous, but it does claim to prevent concussions “nearly 99 out of 100 times.” That’s a great step in the right direction.
The WaveCel is basically this sheet of…plastic? — they just call it “structure” — in this (you guessed it) wave pattern that molds the inside of the helmet. The top of the helmet looks pretty standard with EPS foam, hard plastic, and air vents, with the WaveCel visible through the vents. The inside of the helmet, though, looks much more high-tech. The WaveCel technology wraps almost completely around the inside of the helmet, aside from the edges which are EPS foam. The padding sits on your head, and then the honeycomb sort of molds to your head like an old Birkenstock sandal, unlike many other helmet designs here the padding floats the protective material of the helmet a few centimeters above your dome.
I know this helmet is different from standard foam (EPS) helmets, which pass general safety standards to protect against fractures (according to Bontrager, the WaveCel helmets are 48x more effective than standard EPS foam). But what makes this helmet better than MIPS technology, or the honeycomb design on Smith helmets? MIPS helps prevent the movement that causes concussions, and the honeycomb design addresses linear impacts and skull fractures. Supposedly (we haven’t had a chance to test this ourselves), the Bontrager helmet prevents injuries resulting from the ways we typically crash: “ungracefully, with twists, turns, and multiple rotational impacts to the head” by its ability to flex and make a uniform dome shape around the inside of the helmet.
There are some other cool features about this helmet, though, at least the Blaze WaveCel Mountain (MSRP $299.99) I have in my hand and I’m excited to take it on the trail with me this week. It has a magnetic attachment for a light or GoPro that is secured a bit more in place with some plastic nobs that will hopefully keep it in place in a tumble or on an especially gnar trail section. The back adjustment is a BOA which makes the fit a lot more precise and comfortable, as well as easier to adjust with one gloved hand. Plus, the back adjustment panel, for me personally, sits right where I want it to, where my head starts to curve back inward, making it feel very secure and comfortable. Finally, the chin strap is a friggin spring-loaded magnet! A small thing, but a nice touch.