Bontrager Velocis MIPS helmet review
The original Velocis was a more traditional-looking helmet. It had all the features you’d expect, but was outgunned by Giro, Kask, MET et al when it came to aero considerations.
The new Velocis MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) has traded its lightweight well-vented character for something closer to the brand’s aero road offering, the Ballista.
In aero-performance terms, Bontrager claims the Velocis is a full 10.8g of drag more efficient than a Giro Synthe MIPS at 30mph, which is a big slice of effort to save.
In making these aero improvements, Bontrager has opted for quality over quantity for the venting, greatly reducing the holes in the Velocis’ shell down to just 12.
Even still at speed, the large intake vents at the front, combined with substantial internal channelling, provide for plenty of airflows to keep your head cool.
However, when the road or trail points up, and the speed drops, the cooling on offer from the Velocis is hindered. While the vents on the new Velocis MIPS are bigger than those of its predecessor, a larger portion of the helmet’s shell is closed, which hinders the ability for heat to radiate off your head.
The pads use a material from Boulder, Colorado-based 37.5 Technology, whose aim is to create products that help control your core temperature. The pad material is constructed in an open honeycomb-like pattern, which is covered in a soft-touch fabric. The claim is that the pad regulates heat better, the open cell design wicks sweat faster and cools while it does so.
We carried out testing in the UK, US, Italy and Australia and our testers had a varied experience when it came to these fancy pads. Our tester in the Northern Hemisphere, found the honeycomb structure to efficiently control perspiration build-up, noting in his testing that the pads never became overwhelmed by perspiration and still felt comfortable.
Unfortunately, our tester down under didn’t have quite as much luck, with the pads becoming saturated and dripping into his sunnies pretty regularly.
It’s worth mentioning that with Velocis on your head the 37.5 padding squished between your forehead and the solid plastic MIPS liner does not allow for much air to pass over the padding to dry them out. However, the pads in the Velocis do dry faster post-ride than those on other high-end lids from Scott, POC and MET.
Speaking of MIPS, the helmet includes a custom MIPS liner. MIPS uses a patented slip-plane technology designed to reduce rotational forces that can come from angled impacts, so the helmet slides relative to the movement of the head.
Helmet companies don’t legally claim that MIPS is safer than a standard helmet but the company behind MIPS has done extensive research, and anything that makes things safer is good with us.
Based around a rounder headform the Velocis fit well, but didn’t offer the same snugness of some of the more oval-shaped lids — such as the Scott Centric Plus — but will fit a wide range of heads well.
Given that the latest Velocis is only available with a MIPS liner, it fits true to size, unlike some lids — the MIPS versions of helmets POC Giant/Liv, Scott, Bell and Giro tend to fit small
A Boa-dial handles adjustment and fit, controlling a custom wire pathway, and the addition of a large micro-adjusting dial makes on-the-fly adjustments quick and easy. Using a cable instead of plastic like most other retention systems, there is no interference with sunglasses that have long arms.
One area that confused us was the length of the strap. It’s far too long for this size of helmet, and when pulled down to size, it left a mile-long tail that flapped in the wind. That said, the rubber band next to the clip is stretchy enough that you can double it over.
Bontrager also includes the NeoVisor, a small brim that fits between the shell and the pads, with the idea being to offer the benefits of a cycling cap without the bulk inside the helmet.
If you’re just trying to keep the sun off your face, or the rain out of the top of your glasses the NeoVisor does the trick, but quite often when I’m wearing a cycling cap, it’s partially a bit of added warmth, which the NeoVisor doesn’t provide.
The Velocis also has a sunglasses port, which consists of two silicon pads placed inside the front vents — they work about as well as they do on every other helmet.
Overall, we were impressed with the Velocis. But we can’t help but notice the glaring hole it creates in Bontrager’s road helmet line-up.
If you’re after a high-end aero road lid, you’ve got two options. But should you want something light and airy, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Bontrager isn’t alone in this conundrum as Scott suffers the same issue — arguably a sign of where the industry is focused.
Tipping our scales at 274g (AU/NZ 2063 version) it’s not lightest helmet around nor is it the cheapest at £165 / $200 / AU$269.
But, it is significantly cheaper than some of its rivals. The fit is superb, and the quality of finishing and parts used certainly justify the price. Bontrager also backs up the Velocis with a free crash replacement policy for the first year of ownership.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.