Bontrager Starvos MIPS Review
Cons: Awkward adjustment system, lacks comfort
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bontrager Starvos provides respectable all-around performance at one of the lowest prices in our lineup, but it falls short of most other high-end models and even some similar priced models. Is ts style and features are similar to most others, but it has a few small details that ultimately hold it back from higher scores.
The Starvos MIPS seems plenty comfortable at first, but there are a few details where it falls short of other competitors. On the plus side, the BOA headband system provides a full circumference wrap around the entire head, yielding balanced pressure and support, and the large six-fingered piece of padding at the front of the helmet is plenty comfortable. We found that the shape of the helmet has a flatter slope in the front near the forehead, potentially leading to an awkward fit or uncomfortable pressure points, depending on your head shape and size. While this may not be an issue for most riders, we've found that helmets that provide a little more volume in the forehead area accommodate a wider range of riders more comfortably.
We also noticed that there is a small dime-sized bump sticking on each side of the rear part of the helmet that covers a mounting point for the MIPS liner. While these bumps are small and are covered in soft padding, they are somewhat abrupt and imprint a small but noticeable pressure point on the head.
The BOA adjustment system provides plenty of width adjustability for the headband harness, but our testers prefer the feel and performance of a traditional headband system to the wiry cinch cords of the BOA system. The headband harness also has only 1 cm of fore and aft adjustment.
The chinstrap system has an adjustable buckle but has fixed Y-Straps and a fixed rear attachment point. Also, similar to other Bontrager helmets, instead of the webbing straps being routed from the rear attachment point through the headband system and around the perimeter of the helmet, the straps are instead routed directly from the rear attachment point the Y-buckles. This leads to the straps easily getting tangled when putting on the helmet and can lead to awkward pressure points from the straps pulling against the back of your head, rather than being support by the headband system. Overall, we were disappointed with this strap design.
The Starvos MIPS weighs in at a very respectable 327 grams in a size Large, which puts it at the lower end of our lineup. It is also one of the lighter helmets that lands on the less expensive end of the pricing spectrum.
This is perhaps the most subjective of all of our rating metrics, but we think the Starvos is a good-looking helmet. With a sleek, flowing design, modern color options, and the minimalist BOA adjustment system, this helmet looks the part and fits in with other pricier high-end competitors. In a lineup with products that have twice the price tag, most people would find it hard to identify the more affordable option based on looks alone.
The Starvos performs reasonably well in the ventilation category with 21 total vents. While the ventilation is suitable for most riding conditions, the vents aren't as large as what is found on other models, and there are a few areas inside the helmet where the MIPS liner seems to block the flow of air from reaching your head. Overall, the ventilation is adequate for a helmet in this price range. As you look at other helmets with better ventilation, the structural design becomes more complicated to allow for the increased placement of vents without compromising the structural integrity or crash protection of the helmet, which in turn increases the price tag.
This lid is reasonably durable, but has quite a bit of exposed EPS foam around the brim and sides of the helmet, potentially leaving it vulnerable to bumps and scrapes during transport. The fit and finish are not as high-end as other pricier models that have more expansive polycarbonate shells, better alignment of the MIPS liner with the vents, and chinstrap systems that don't get tangled as easily. Overall, this model is durable enough for several years of use, and its quality is in line with its price tag.
With one of the lower list prices in our lineup, the Starvos provides a great value for riders looking for a reliable helmet without breaking the bank. While there are certainly higher-performing models out there, most of them come at nearly double the price. Adding to the value is Bontrager's Crash Replacement Guarantee, which will provide you a free replacement if you're involved in a crash during the first year of ownership.
The Bontrager Starvos MIPS is an affordable, reasonably well-performing helmet with a modern style, but ultimately falls short of a higher ranking because of small details that detract from its comfort and performance.
— Nick Bruckbauer