The Bontrager Velocis helmet is an excellent top-end lid: light, well-vented and with a comfortable but secure fit. However, while the NeoVisor is a clever idea and an interesting feature, we wouldn’t describe it as ‘game-changing’.
The Velocis is Bontrager’s flagship helmet and a new addition to the American firm’s road range, which starts with the £69.99 Circuit lid, for 2014. Look carefully and you’ll see the Velocis is the helmet worn by Fabian Cancellara and his Trek Factory Racing team-mates.
In fact, the NeoVisor was reportedly the idea of peloton veteran Jens Voigt. What is it? It’s a small, removable visor which slots in front of the brow band and is held in place by a handful of small velcro patches. It’s an interesting feature which brings some of the benefits of a cotton cap, namely protection from the sun and rain, without compromising the fit or ventilation of the helmet.
It can take a little time to get the NeoVisor sitting where you want it but, once there, we’ve had no problem with it working loose on long rides. It does its limited job well and it means you can enjoy the benefits of a visor without sacrificing ventilation (in warm weather, whereas, on the flip side, I often wear a cotton cap in winter underneath a helmet to have the opposite effect) or comfort by having something between your head and the helmet. How much value you place on the NeoVisor depends on how much you like or dislike wearing a cap, and value the benefits of a peak, while riding. Some riders will use it all the time and others will immediately lose it down the back of the sofa, and that’s why we’d call it an interesting feature rather than ‘game-changing’, as Bontrager do.
The Velocis is undoubtedly a light lid – though certainly not the lightest on the market – and our large sample (the Velocis is available in three sizes and we swapped our initial medium lid for something more generous) weighs 258g. The result is a helmet which sits inconspicuously on the rider’s head – but that’s not down to weight alone, fit is vital. Bontrager’s ‘Headmaster II’ system uses a dial at the rear of the cradle, which in itself can be adjusted to one of three heights in order to fine-tune the fit. That’s nothing out of the ordinary on a helmet like this but the fit is excellent and the helmet very comfortable. It’s easy to adjust on-the-fly and the helmet feels light on the head while remaining completely secure. “You’ll forget you’re wearing it,” is Bontrager’s strapline for the Velocis; that’s a fair shout and just what you’re after in a helmet. As ever, heads come in all shapes and sizes so if you can try before you buy then you can see for yourself, but we’ve been impressed by the comfort and fit.
Comfort – in the heat of summer, at least – also comes down to ventilation and the Velocis has no shortage of vents to suck in air. The fact it has so many vents (22 by our count) partly comes down to the composite internal skeleton, which Bontrager say increases the helmet’s structural integrity (it goes without saying that the Velocis meets the EN 1078 European safety standard), while allowing the use of larger air vents without compromising strength, and without adding weight. The internal padding also sits away from the main body of the helmet to expose recessed channels to funnel air through the helmet. We haven’t had the chance to fully test the Velocis in hot conditions (British summer? What British summer?) but it’s faired well in few warm days we’ve had so far. That’s likely to continue as the temperature rises.
What else? The Velocis has a brow band which ensures the helmet sits comfortably at the front of the head and the internal padding is removable, so it can be washed, and antimicrobial, which should help it stay odour-free before it goes in the washing machine. Bontrager also offer a crash replacement guarantee, which gives you a free replacement if your helmet is damaged in a crash within a year of purchase. The helmet is also available in five colours.
The Bontrager Velocis ticks the boxes as a top-of-the-range lid. We’d place more importance on fit, weight, comfort and ventilation than the NeoVisor but it is another string to the bow of an already impressive helmet.
Sizes: small (51cm-57cm), medium (54cm-60cm), large (58cm-63cm)
Colours: titanium/vis yellow/black; matte black/charcoal, titanium; white/viper red/bright silver; white/crystal white/titanium; Trek Factory Racing