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The Bontrager Velocis MIPS road bike helmet is reckoned to pair pro peloton performance with all-day riding comfort, which seems like a strange remark given that stage races commonly last a day. That said, it's a really well made and very airy helmet, which is fast becoming a favourite.
As I'd expect from Bontrager and this price point, the Velocis is very well finished, with some lovely detailing. The in-mould construction, where EPS liner and polycarbonate shell are fused together simultaneously, saving weight and improving strength, is top notch. Regular readers will know that one of my bugbears is where the EPS liner is exposed, leaving it vulnerable to damage. The Velocis shell looks as if it's been drizzled over and baked on – beautifully executed.
Large vents bode well for airflow and the design allows easy exit for pony tails. These will also entertain LEDs, so long as their rubberised straps/O-rings have sufficient give, which comes in handy for winter and night riding. The relatively flat top and graceful side profiles are also surprisingly accommodating of some action cameras, assuming you don't mind the Teletubby aesthetic.
MIPS (Multi directional impact protection) is essentially an internal 'roll cage' that protects the brain from twisting forces during a crash. This is another technology creeping into helmets from around the £80 price point. Bereft of laboratory testing facilities, it's impossible for me to make qualified comment on whether higher end versions are genuinely more effective, but the Bontrager's looks and feels very precise.
There's also a crash replacement warranty, covering the first 12 months. Ideally we'd dodge this bullet, but if you do have a nasty spill during this period you'll get a replacement, free of charge.
'Visibility' yellow is great for the murkier months but if it's not your bag, there are black, red and white alternatives. Bontrager also provides stickers, should you fancy decorating yours. The glossy shell is extremely easy to live with; periodic squirts of beeswax furniture polish and lint-free-cloth buff-ups are all that's needed here.
Setting up the helmet is beautifully simple, and it adjusts via the Boa system: a sleek, knurled thumbwheel, conducive to minute tweaks and at speed. It also makes it simple to accommodate a cap or similar headwear, though the Velocis does come with a 'NeoVisor'. This slots between the pads and shell, supposedly offering the benefits of a cap without the bulk.
I can see the logic, except sometimes caps are used to protect against cold, wet stuff, not just the sun. Talking of sun, though, there's also a sunglasses port for easy storage, say when things turn cloudy during a ride.
I was expecting very special and the Velocis didn't disappoint. Devoid of wind tunnel testing, I'll have to take claims of improved aerodynamics at face value. Subjectively, I've been less conscious of this lid than other mid to upper end models after 70 miles, especially riding my tubby tourer, which has a more upright stance.
The MIPS cradle caresses the head securely without feeling intrusive, and the ventilation is genuinely superb. Most lids scoop decent amounts of cooling air through the follicles, the Velocis feels like it rams it in – brilliant on a muggy day, even when grinding up the climbs, though almost too efficient at times, inducing some rather painful 'ice cream' headaches when temperatures dropped 15 or 16 degrees. I might have expected this when hurtling downhill on a cool autumn morning, but not cruising along the flat at 18mph. Stuff a Buff or cap in your jersey pocket during cooler periods, just in case!
The shallow clip-in peak sits just the right side of unobtrusive, offering decent protection from unexpected sunlight, dust from fields and similar airborne particulates. Like any traditional cycling cap, the brim will eventually turn soggy after an hour's persistent rainfall, but it dries in similar time at room temperature and isn't something I've been negatively aware of.
Wind roar, though obvious on very blustery outings, never becomes intrusive, hampering group conversation or general road awareness.
Over the years, I've tended to find pads – even the anti-bacterial type – much of a muchness, but the 37.5 pads seem genuinely better than most. They guzzle that rider-generated coolant efficiently, and to date aren't emitting any funky odours.
While not a trail lid, in this mode and zipping along forest trails on my 'crosser it's offered surprisingly good defence from vigilante branches, thorns and other unruly foliage.
There's no doubting the pedigree of this helmet and it would be high on my list were I regularly riding on the Continent or further afield – at home, the NeoVisor is unlikely to spell the end of caps/similar headwear, especially during the cooler months. Aside from being airy and secure, it feels lighter than 279g would suggest, and the detailing is top notch. An excellent helmet deserving of its price tag.
High quality helmet with excellent features, and one of the best ventilated I've used
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Velocis MIPS Helmet
Size tested: 54-60
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Bontrager says: "Our Velocis MIPS road bike helmet pairs pro peloton performance with all-day riding comfort. This premium cycling helmet is superlight and sleek, allowing you to go faster while keeping you cool so you can turn up the jets without overheating.
"MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) was developed by brain surgeons and scientists to help reduce rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head."
My feelings: Top quality road lid with innovative features. Blissfully comfortable in hot weather and feels lighter than 279g might imply.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bontrager lists these features:
* MIPS Brain Protection System
* The Boa® System lets riders easily secure and adjust helmet fit with one hand
* Internal, recessed channels move airflow over your head to stay cool and dry
* 37.5® fit pads pull moisture away from your skin to help maintain ideal comfort
* Sunglass port allows easy access to securely store glasses when not in use
* Viper Red, White, and Visibility Yellow colorways come with Team Trek-Segafredo sticker kit
* Includes removable NeoVisor for all the benefits of a cycling cap without extra bulk
* Crash Replacement Guarantee provides a free helmet replacement if involved in a crash within the first year of ownership
* Pad Material
Wicking Fleece with 37.5
* Shell Material
EPS / PC
Very well finished, so chronic carelessness or crashes allowing, should last. It also comes complete with carry sack, for safe storage/car transportation.
Feels lighter than it is, and lighter than lids of comparable weight.
Very comfortable; light and airy – so much so, I'd recommend a cap or suchlike in really cold/icy winds – even if you've a thick shock of hair.
Competitive relative to other brands of similar specification.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Bontrager Velocis is a top flight lid that feels really secure, yet unobtrusive. Ventilation certainly lives up to the hype, to the point where I was experiencing an "ice cream" headache on a breezy, 14°C ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
MIPS system, build quality and innovative little detailing, including the neo cap and sunglasses port.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's an excellent helmet with the build quality and features you'd expect from this end of the market.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)