Trek utilise completely redesigned collapsable cellular structure designed to lower impact of rotational forces and reduce associated brain injuries.

In the lead up to the launch of WaveCel, Trek Bicycles were calling it a change that ‘comes once in 30 years’, the reference dating back to the first EPS-construction foam helmets. Social media channels were alight with anticipation as Trek Bicycle, the parent company to Bontrager, went about spreading cryptic posts and imagery. A new frame produced from an all-new material was the majority vote however, Trek admits that while they only produce helmets under the Bontrager name, using the significantly larger voice was essential to get the pre-launch message to as many cyclist as possible.

“WaveCel is a massive step forward for helmet design and we believe it creates a safer environment for cyclists to enjoy their passion. This is an important development and we wanted to make sure as many people were aware of it as possible hence the pre-event campaign,” Asia Pacific Marketing Director Ian Callaghan told Cyclist.

‘Flex, crumple and glide’ is the catchphrase used to describe the way in which WaveCel helmets respond to direct impacts. The three-stage process outlined in the video below, shows the collapsable structure folding under impact. According to Trek, this process absorbs energy in a far more effective manner when compared to a MIPS system and is up to 48 times more effective at reducing concussion than a standard EPS foam helmet.

Stacking up

While some may take the news with a certain level of irritation – their piggy banks already emptied in ancipatoon of a new Emonda or Madone – there is little doubt WaveCel represents an important step into improving safety for all cyclists. Up until now, the benchmark for helmet safety almost solely relied on the inclusion of a slip liner, most commonly seen in the form of the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). The MIPS system wont be going anywhere just yet as Bontrager will continue to use it throughout its range. The system has already been proven to significantly reduce rotational acceleration resulting in higher probability of traumatic brain injury. WaveCel simply does a better job, according to Trek. There’s a significant reduction in the potential for brain-related injuries via the all-new structure as more specifically, Trek (Bontrager) believe the majority of cycling falls happen ‘ungracefully, with twists, turns, and angled impacts’.

“We absolutely tested WaveCel against current available designs including those utilising slip liners”, says Ian when asked about the somewhat unfair comparison between a standard EPS lined helmet and a revolutionary design found through WaveCel.

Further information around the testing protocol can be found here. For those interested, the study does present some interesting data around standard safety testing and the additional protocols analysed across a range of helmets.

Licensed to manufacturers around the world, Bontrager helmets will continue to utilise the proven MIPS system while WaveCel finds its way exclusively into four new Bontrager models. Unsurprisingly, with such investment made into the development of WaveCel, this technology won’t be made available to other helmet manufacturers – at least not for now.

“Introducing WaveCel required a lengthy and deep development partnership between a helmet manufacturer and the laboratory that created the technology involving a large investment of time, people, and research. It is exclusive to Bontrager within cycling applications”.

From the range topping XXX Road and Blaze MTB models – to be used by the men’s and women’s Trek-Segafredo WorldTour squads and MTB riders –through to the multi-purpose Specter Road and Charge Commuter, the four-helmet WaveCel lineup is the culmination of close to 25 years of research. Pioneered by orthopedic surgeon Dr Steve Madey and biomechanical engineer Dr Michael Bottlang, the duo more recently partnered with Trek and Bontrager to develop the new line of safety-inspired and race-oriented lids. With a full contingent of men’s and women’s professional teams and individually sponsored athletes on Trek’s books, the XXX WaveCel Road helmet is also designed to be… fast.

“The XXX shares the aerodynamic properties and profile of our aero road helmet, Ballista. There is such little statistical difference between Ballista and XXX, that a rider would experience the same aerodynamic benefits”, says Ian.

With such increased levels of safety does come with a slight weight penalty which again, Trek says is negligible when discussing safety. For the weight weenies, the XXX WaveCel in medium tips the scales at 367g (weighed by us) with the all-road Specter coming in slightly lighter at 341g (medium). For the off-road Blaze, medium with visor (excluding camera and light bracket) is 428g. Yes, you’ll find this a little heavier than a standard EPS or MIPS-equipped helmet but our feeling is that this new style of protection will only get better and lighter over the coming years.

WaveCel helmets are available now from Trek and Bontrager dealers around the country.

Head to for all the details.


    • XXX WaveCel: $349
    • Blaze WaveCel: $349
    • Specter WaveCel: $199
    • Charge WaveCel: $249