Bontrager is back with a new Circuit helmet, and this time WaveCel is around for the ride. First introduced back in 2019, WaveCel is a Bontrager-exclusive safety technology that relies on a collapsible cellular structure. Designed to flex, crumple, and glide, the material helps absorb energy before it’s transferred to your head. Their work seems to have paid off with five-star safety ratings from Virginia Tech across the board for all adult WaveCel helmet models. And now that same technology is available for an approachable price, in more sizes with some great features.
From the outside, the new Circuit WaveCel bears some similarities to the last Bontrager Circuit model, with the obvious addition of the WaveCel material peeking through the vents.
That’s good news if you like hassle-free ways to mount lights and cameras to your helmet since Bontrager’s stellar magnetic mounting system carries through. These mounts allow for a larger headlight or camera to be mounted up front, along with a smaller rear light out back, both with easy-to-use magnetic mounts that can be removed or installed with one hand while riding.
When paired with something like the Bontrager Ion 200 RT & Flare RT Bike Light Set, you get impressively bright daytime running lights—that add just 78g to the weight of the helmet (each Ion/Flare light is 23g). Also, positioning the lights on your helmet makes them easier for motorists to spot, especially if you’re carrying bags & gear on your bike.
Also, removing the light mounts from the helmet leaves an unfettered shell, almost completely concealing the fact that there are built-in mounts. To date, I don’t know that I’ve found a better or easier to use the system for mounting lights to a helmet. The only catch is that the front mount isn’t suited to particularly heavy front lights under extremely aggressive riding conditions, but Bontrager seems to have increased the magnetic holding power over the last model. When mounted with a Lezyne Mega Drive 1800i light, I had to really shake the helmet violently to get it to fall off. That’s a long way of saying unless you plan on using the Circuit outside of its intended use, the magnetic mounts will hold just fine.
Not to mention that amount that detaches with a certain amount of force might actually be a good thing. You don’t want to land on a light or camera in a crash, so the mounts should easily pop off if they impact the ground.
Fit and Comfort
Keeping the helmet adjusted to your head is a BOA fit system with three vertical positions for the cradle.
The straps feature semi-fixed ear cradles and a basic buckle, which do the job.
And inside, there’s a single moisture-wicking and washable helmet pad. The WaveCel material spreads through most of the helmet, stopping short of the rear vents where the EPS foam is exposed (Bontrager claims this helmet uses 50% post-consumer recycled EPS foam, which is a nice touch).
Admittedly, previous Bontrager WaveCel helmets have simply not worked for me in terms of comfort. Without much hair at all on top of my head, the WaveCel material was uncomfortable against the skin. This new model is substantially improved. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than other WaveCel helmets that I’ve tried with a softer feel to the WaveCel material anywhere it contacts your head. Note that if you have a full head of hair, this is probably a moot point.
For me, it’s still a helmet that I would want to wear a cycling cap or helmet liner underneath, but it’s a helmet that I’ll actually use.
In terms of the actual fit, I’d say the Circuit WaveCel fits larger than your typical helmet per size. My medium sample seemed to require more cinching of the BOA dial to tighten it up, and I’m running the cradle in the highest position—but that also leaves more room for caps underneath.
That fits this helmet well because like the previous WaveCel helmets, it seems that ventilation is not its strong suit. I’ve only ridden this helmet on colder fall days at this point, but I ended up needing a thinner cap underneath that I would expect to need for a helmet with massive, wide-open vents. Obviously, hot weather testing will be needed to say for sure, but initial impressions seem to hint at a helmet that doesn’t quite have the wide-open feeling of more airy lids.
To me, that reinforces the thought that this could be the ideal helmet for cooler climates and shoulder season/winter use. It has the darker months covered with easily added illumination and reflective accents, and the WaveCel filled vents seem to allow heat to escape without blasting your head with frigid air.
At 351g, the new Circuit WaveCel is a good bit heavier than the previous Circuit MIPS which checked in at 306g. Our medium sample is then 16g heavier than claimed without the magnetic Blendr mounts.
Availability & Pricing
Offered in five colors including Radioactive Yellow, the Circuit WaveCel also comes in four sizes. That’s thanks to the addition of an X-Large size that will fit heads from 60-66cm. All models are priced at $149.99 which includes the magnetic Blendr mounts. That also includes the Bontrager 30-Day Unconditional Comfort Guarantee, and a Crash Replacement Guarantee if you manage to impact it within the first year. $1 from the sale of every Bontrager helmet also goes to support PeopleForBikes to build a more bicycle-friendly world.