How much does a good road helmet with MIPS cost? If you want all the bells and whistles - class-leading ventilation, super-low weight, aerodynamic features – you will have to fork out £150 or more. If you want a dependable comfortable and smart-looking helmet, then the Bontrager Starvos MIPS will set you back less than half that.
Slotting into the Bontrager line-up below the range-topping Velocis and the Circuit, the Starvos is the mid-range offering from the accessories arm of Trek Bikes.
Of course, to call Bontrager simply a subsidiary of Trek is to do Keith Bontrager’s eponymous brand a disservice - the company has decades of experience, with an extensive range of apparel and equipment catering for everyone from WorldTour pros to commuters.
Bontrager Starvos MIPS
Sizes: Small, medium, large
Size tested: Large
Colours: Black, viper red/black, white/waterloo blue, white/silver
Website: Trek Bikes
The Starvos is very much on the every-man side of the helmet line-up. It features less ventilation than the Velocis - though there is still a generous level of airflow from the 21 vents, with internal channels to drag cool air over your head – and it is bulkier, of course, but for the price-point you would expect no different.
On cooler rides, the vents kept sweat at bay and I didn’t find myself reaching for a cap. However, when things started hotting up through the recent spent of good weather, when temperatures shot into the mid-20s, bigger vents would have been appreciated. On longer rides of medium intensity, the top of my forehead would get a bit sweaty, but the padding did a good job of keeping it there and off my face.
If you're not familiar with MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), the slip-pane brain protection tech is said to reduce the impact of rotational forces. MIPS has been around for a few years now but is normally only seen on helmets significantly more expensive than this.
"MIPS has been around for a few years now but is normally only seen on helmets significantly more expensive than this"
Fortunately, I didn’t have to the helmet's crash-protection to the test, but it's an additional feature you wouldn't necessarily get from other helmets in the Starvos’ price range. Otherwise, Bontrager claims it has extended the rear of the helmet's shell to offer additional support.
Bontrager has also honed in on comfort and fit, looked after by the one-handed Headmaster fit system - which can be adjusted for both height and circumference. A Boa dial on the fit system adds a touch of class – the dial synonymous with products towards the higher end of the cycling apparel market, particularly on shoes.
Inside you get the moisture-wicking pads mentioned above, while the adjustable straps stay in place without causing any problems. Sunglasses fit snugly either side of the straps, and the vents at the front can hold a pair securely when riding or during a coffee shop stop. Finally, there's some reflective detailing on the back of the helmet.
MIPS tech aside, the Bontrager Starvos is a fuss-free, value-packed lid which performs exactly as you'd want it to at this price. There's even a ‘standard’ non-MIPS option if you want to save a few more pennies (down from £69.99 to £49.99), but frankly, it's rare to see MIPS at the price of the Starvos. All things considered, the Bontrager Starvos MIPS is an impressive all-round helmet to protect both your head and your bank balance.
Low-cost MIPS technology
Comfortable fit with adjustable Boa dial
Ventilation begins to suffer in warmer temperatures