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What is Bontrager's WaveCel Technology?

19th March 2019


What is WaveCel?

WaveCel is a collapsible cellular material that lines the inside of your helmet. It’s designed to lessen the motion associated with brain injury through a three-step change in material structure. Check out to see it in action.

Who created WaveCel?

WaveCel was created by a team of doctors, researchers, and engineers who have been studying head injury prevention for the last 15 years. During this time, they’ve received multiple National Institute of Health (NIH) grants to support their work. Learn more at

What sorts of safety testing have been performed?

First and foremost, this helmet passes all the current required safety standards. You can find additional information in WaveCel’s peer-reviewed scientific journal paper found at If you don’t want to take our word for it, Virginia Tech, a third-party helmet review institution, has assessed WaveCel helmets with their own test criteria and awarded all WaveCel helmets with top honors. You can see those results at

How does a helmet with WaveCel compare to a normal helmet without WaveCel?

Every impact to a helmet is different, so it’s impossible to say whether or not an injury will occur while wearing any helmet. That being said, significant research has been done to understand the most likely causes of brain injury. In a peer-reviewed academic paper, a helmet with WaveCel was up to 48 times more effective in preventing concussions caused by common cycling accidents* Read the full study at You’ll never ride in anything else.

Does it prevent concussions?

There is no helmet on the market that can prevent concussions 100% of the time. Every crash is different, but WaveCel has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of concussion and traumatic brain injury. Nearly 99 times out of 100, WaveCel prevents concussions caused by common cycling accidents.* The edge of a WaveCel helmet has an EPS ledge and the ledge area will have impact characteristics similar to EPS.

Is a standard foam (EPS) helmet unsafe?

Standard foam (EPS) helmets pass the current required safety standards. They’re designed to protect against direct linear impacts and skull fractures. WaveCel is designed to protect against the way most cycling accidents happen: ungracefully, with twists, turns, and multiple rotational impacts to the head. But any helmet is safer than no helmet.

How is WaveCel different from other honeycomb systems?

Some cycling helmets use honeycomb shaped materials but primarily address linear impacts to prevent skull fractures. These systems usually include a slip liner to the helmet to address rotational forces. WaveCel addresses both linear and angular impacts but also flexes to make a uniform dome shape that wraps mostly around the inside of the helmet.

Can it sustain multiple impacts?

No. WaveCel is designed to absorb the energy from an impact through crushing and shearing. If a WaveCel helmet is impacted, it must be replaced.

How do I know when to replace it?

Your helmet should be replaced any time it is impacted in a crash. Even if your helmet is not involved in a crash, helmet parts lose strength over time. As with all Bontrager helmets, WaveCel helmets should be replaced every three years.

Does WaveCel change the fit of the helmet?

During our testing, we received consistent feedback from users about how comfortable it feels. Standard foam helmets have a hard, rigid shell which produces pressure points. WaveCel is a flexible dome inside the helmet that naturally conforms to different head shapes for a more comfortable fit. Give it a try!

How does it affect breathability?

WaveCel changes the way air flows through the helmet. It channels airflow throughout the entire helmet, allowing for better ventilation than standard EPS foam. Because a WaveCel helmet has less insulating foam material, it lets out a lot of heat and allows air to flow through it easier.

Is it heavier than a helmet without WaveCel?

This revolutionary safety technology adds only 53g on average to Bontrager helmets—an amount you’re unlikely to notice. That’s less than your favorite nutrition bar, 1/3 of a banana, or about two ice cubes. Yes, WaveCel adds a little weight, but nothing outweighs safety.

Why isn’t anyone else using this in the industry?

WaveCel is exclusive to Bontrager helmets. We began working with WaveCel in their early stages of development and have collaborated with them every step of the way. With our combined knowledge, we’ve created a game-changing product. You will likely see many other industries adopt this groundbreaking technology soon.

Can I buy just the WaveCel (and put it in my regular helmet)?

No. WaveCel material is not sold separately—and you can’t remove it from a Bontrager helmet.

Should I be concerned that some of the cells are deformed in parts of my new helmet?

You may see some regions that have a higher density. That’s totally normal. This is the nature of the material. However, if there’s any damage or deformation due to an impact, you should replace your helmet.

Should I be concerned with hair getting stuck or material causing abrasions to my head?

The results of the tests we performed during the early stages of development have shown a very low risk of skin abrasion from the WaveCel material. For further protection, we put a layer of coating on the inside of the helmet.

What happens if it gets too hot, too cold, or if it rains?

All WaveCel helmets went through an extensive variety of protocol testing in hot, cold, and wet conditions. WaveCel passed all tests with flying colors.

Do UV rays affect how safe the material is?

WaveCel is designed to withstand UV exposure during the lifespan of the helmet. We are required to test all helmets with UV exposure, and these helmets passed all tests.

I sweat, like, a lot—will that hurt this technology?

Nope! Sweat won’t hurt this technology, but it’s a good idea to clean your helmet regularly if you’re a heavy sweater. In select models, additional NoSweat pads with a silicone channel come included to help you manage perspiration.

What can render the helmet un-usable?

Like all helmets, WaveCel helmets must be replaced if they’re impacted. Additionally, compounds such as bug spray, solvents, oils, paint, and aerosols can degrade helmet materials. See the owner’s manual for a complete list.

*Results based on AIS 2 Injury (BrIC) at 6.2 m/s test at 45° comparing a standard EPS Helmet and the same helmet modified with WaveCel insert as described in detail in Evaluation of a Novel Bicycle Helmet Concept in Oblique Impact Testing. This study compares standard foam helmets and the same helmets with WaveCel inserts in a simulation of a typical bike crash.


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