Our testers agree that the Bontrager Velocis is the overall most comfortable helmet that we tested this year. The internal recessed channels provide excellent airflow, which is great for serious riders in warmer climates or on steep climbs. It also has far less wind roar than most other helmets, and its light weight reduces neck fatigue on longer rides. It has a semi-aerodynamic shape that is higher in volume than many classic styles, and its overall performance earns it our Editors' Choice Award. Although a little pricey compared to some budget options, this helmet is ideal for riders looking for premium performance across the board.Editor's Note: We updated this review on October 25, 2022, to re-affirm the Velocis atop our awards podium against the latest batch of test helmets.
Bontrager Velocis MIPS Review
Cons: Expensive, high-volume shape
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Bontrager Velocis MIPS
$225.00 at REI
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|$64.98 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, comfortable, well-ventilated, easy to adjust, high visibility color options||Ventilates well, comfortable, unique style, sunglass garage||Great ventilation, comfortable, durable||Very comfortable, great style, good for all disciplines||Inexpensive, large micro adjust dial|
|Cons||Expensive, high-volume shape||Expensive||Heavy, bulky||Less adjustable than some, middling ventilation, narrow at the temple||Difficult to adjust cradle, bulky, heavy|
|Bottom Line||An extremely comfortable, well-ventilated, and lightweight helmet with minimal wind roar for all-day riding and steep climbing||This uniquely designed helmet offers excellent airflow and performance that warrant its high cost||A comfortable and very well-ventilated helmet that is a bit heavy and bulky||This stylish, well-built helmet packs in comfort and features at a lower price point than most||This classically styled somewhat bulky helmet provides MIPS protection for a low price|
|Rating Categories||Bontrager Velocis MIPS||POC Ventral Air MIPS||Specialized Airnet...||Smith Persist MIPS||Lazer Tonic MIPS|
|Specs||Bontrager Velocis MIPS||POC Ventral Air MIPS||Specialized Airnet...||Smith Persist MIPS||Lazer Tonic MIPS|
|Measured Weight||300 g (size L)||295 g (Size L)||364 g (size L)||326 g (Size L)||350 g (Size L)|
|Size Range||58-63 cm (size L)||56-61 cm (size L)||59-63 cm (size L)||59-62 cm (size L)||58-61 cm (size L)|
|Number of Vents||12||15||22||21||28|
|Sizes||S, M, L||S, M, L||S, M, L||S, M , L, XL||S, M, L|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bontrager Velocis MIPS earns high marks in every one of our testing metrics. This helmet is so light and comfortable that our testers almost forgot they were wearing it. The easy-to-use BOA tensioning system coupled with Bontrager's 37.5 fit padding provides the cooling airflow and a dry head you want for a long ride. The design and moisture-wicking pads keep you cool even on the hottest day while the channeled air reduces wind noise. With unbeaten comfort and excellent ventilation, this helmet also sports extra features such as the neo visor and sunglasses holder. It ranks as one of the lightest helmets in our lineup and was pleasant to wear all day long. The unique design and top-of-the-line features of the Velocis edged past the competition to take this year's Editors' Choice Award.
Comfort, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. With that in mind, the adjustability and minimal contact points of the Velocis make it the most comfortable helmet we tested in our side-by-side comparison. Weight also plays into comfort pretty heavily as well, and although this isn't the lightest helmet in our lineup, it's pretty close. What really helps the Velocis score high in the comfort category is the simplicity of the BOA tensioning system, its all-day comfort provided by the plush 37.5 fit padding, and the easy-to-use Y-buckle system.
Everyone has a different, unique shape to their noggin. The BOA tensioning system extends nearly to the temple and pulls evenly across heads of all shapes and sizes, and is unnoticeable while riding. Lower quality tensioning systems pull across the rider's head in a snap-lock style. The BOA tensioning system is easy to use with a large dial that's easy to use with gloves on and does not impinge on or chafe the rider's neck. Even with the greatest neck flexion over the handlebars or in a fast descent, this cradle design was unnoticeable.
The padding on the top and forward parts of the helmet may initially look pretty minimal, but the 37.5 fit padding is brilliantly positioned and comfortable. The ingenious placement keeps the EPS foam well away from your head and allows additional ventilation throughout the interior. Our testers found that other models with more padding but worse ventilation tend to be colder on the descent when wind combined with sweat saturated padding can create an uncomfortable experience. Thankfully, the 37.5 fit pads are made from extremely soft microfiber cloth that wicks moisture away without becoming soggy. Furthermore, the pads did not stink or mildew even when the helmet was forgotten in the back of the car after long rides.
While the Velocis may not be as aerodynamic going off the front or for pursuit, the excellent venting performs exactly what this helmet was designed for, hot days and steep climbing. The internal channels allow air to pass directly over the head and expel out the rear. This creates excellent airflow and reduces wind roar even in high wind and on steep descents.
On many arduous climbs and in the heating spring weather under intense sun, our testers found the Velocis outperformed other models and reduced perspiration. The easy passage of air on the internal channels creates less wind resistance and, therefore, a quieter ride. This allowed for conversation even at high speed and on extremely windy mountain passes. This helmet is perfect for any rider looking for a cooler ride and no sweat building up in their brow.
The performance of the Velocis in this area is only bested by the exceptionally ventilated S-Works Prevail 3. The Velocis, with its well thought out design, ranks just behind on this metric but beats the Prevail in other categories, leading to its overall win.
This metric certainly ties in with the last. The BOA one-handed tensioning system is superb on the Velocis. Not only is it easy to use one-handed, but it is easy to forget it's there. The system extends far to the front end of the helmet, putting equal tension around the full circumference of the head. Our testers also love the easy adjustability of the chin straps.
The Velocis has our favored Y-buckle system with plush webbing and easy flick lock mandible buckles that make positioning the webbing junction easy. We also appreciate that the webbing feeds through the back of the helmet, so it is one connected system that allows the rider to place the chin buckle wherever they like. This is in contrast to other models where the port buckle strap is fixed, and only the pronged end is adjustable. The integrated sturdy rubber band held extra material and did not allow it to flap in the wind. The soft webbing lays flat on the rider's face and does not chafe or flap either.
The size Large weighs in at 300 grams making the Velocis one of the lightest helmets we have tested that includes MIPS technology. For the price point, this is a helmet the daily enthusiast can wear as a crown, reigning over the competition or their friends.
For the Velocis to maintain such a lightweight helmet, there is inherently going to be some exposed EPS foam to save weight by using less polycarbonate material in the outer shell. The designers at Bontrager have coated the EPS with the sturdy polycarbonate shell in all the right places without exposing any to the often damaged areas such as the brim or aft of the helmet. Minimal padding and sleek adjustment components keep this helmet at its lightest, where other bulkier models with extra padding take on even more weight from perspiration. Thoughtful material reduction for the internally recessed venting still protects the rider while shaving unnecessary grams away.
We love the sleek design of the Velocis and its nod to aerodynamic helmet design, with minimal vents and a slightly extended rear end. The brilliantly colored lines hide the vents in the contrasting dark stripes. Due to the recessed venting design, the Velocis is slightly bulkier than other models but still allows maximum ventilation. Our testers were willing to trade a slightly larger profile for increased performance and ventilation.
The rubberized sunglasses port and neo visor add on extra style points for the Velocis. These thoughtful extra features are what float this helmet to the top of the lineup for style. Did we also mention that the color options include high visibility? Yes, the available colors can contribute to rider safety and are ideal for those in busy urban areas or on stretches of highway.
The polycarbonate shell on the Velocis fully wraps around the EPS foam into the interior of the helmet. It is well bonded, and some of our clumsier riders put this to the test, knocking the helmet to the ground accidentally with no visible deformity or cracks.
The delicate EPS foam is sufficiently protected in the brim and around the base of the helmet and folds in the cranial space. The included helmet bag adds a bit of protection during transport. The entire outer shell is covered in polycarbonate as opposed to some models that skimp on this defense in the recesses near vents. Not so with the Velocis. Bontrager has done a great job maintaining a lightweight product while protecting what ultimately protects you, the EPS foam. This foam is designed to compress and absorb the force of impact like an airbag in your car. There are no weaknesses in the encompassing polycarbonate giving us the confidence to promote the Velocis to the top of its class in this metric.
Should You Buy the Bontrager Velocis?
The Velocis is in the premier lineup of its class and a top-tier product on the market. The pricing reflects this stance, but it also justifies its cost with a suite of great features. The unique venting design alone causes it to stand out from other models. Add that feature with the built-in MIPS liner, the BOA adjustment system, 37.5 fit padding, great extras like the neo visor and sunglasses holder, and all-around great performance and comfort, and you have a high-quality product that we think is worth the investment for the right rider. Although it is on the high end of pricing, we think the cost is justified with the high performance.
What Other Road Bike Helmets Should You Consider?
The hallmark features of the Bontrager Velocis are the excellent ventilation from the recessed airflow channels and the all-day comfort. If you're looking for the best of the best in terms of top-notch ventilation, the Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 stands out in that regard. If you're looking for a solid all-around helmet without breaking the bank, the Smith Persist and the Giro Agilis MIPS are our recommendations.
— Ryan Baker
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