While weight gains are easily measured, aerodynamics is more of a dark art for those without access to a wind tunnel. Despite this, and in a world where a racing bike's weight is supposedly restricted, efficiency through the air is the latest battleground for enthusiasts trying to squeeze out any performance gains.
All performance aspects aside, the primary purpose of a helmet is to protect the wearer from injury. Bontrager has beefed this up by offering the Velocis with a MIPS liner. The MIPS liner is said to reduce dangerous twisting, rotational forces in the case of an impact. The Velocis shape also provides more rear protection than many other road helmets.
Comfort and fit
The large Velocis worked well with my head shape. There was some side-to-side play but tightening the retention system made it feel more stable. Internal padding consists of a brow piece and another smaller piece for the top of your head which served well to prevent pressure points or chafing. Even after four to five hour rides, the Velocis was comfortable and never drew attention to itself.
The head retention system is controlled by a BOA system which reaches around to the temple and up the back to the top of the head. The BOA system will go as tight as you want it while the five-point height adjustment will allow you to place it in just the right spot for your head shape. The chin strap was easy to adjust at the split around the ear and caused no discomfort or frustration. Apart from my road training rides, I also wore the Velocis for the duration of the Cape Pioneer Trek, a mountain bike stage race, where it proved to stay firmly in place even when being bounced around over rough Klein Karoo rocks.
The Velocis can also fit a soft visor that mimics a cycling cap, without having to actually wear a full hat. It connects behind the brow padding using velcro and offers slim protection from the elements.
The outer front vents feature gripper pads for sunglass storage. These worked well to keep my Oakley Radar EV Path sunglasses firmly in place.
The previous Velocis had a flowing curved shape with a huge amount of vents. While it looked impressive and fast, all those holes and angles were not ideal for aerodynamic efficiency. The new Velocis lacks these stylish angles and curves adopting a plain oval shape. That’s not to say it’s an eyesore but it is functionally minimalistic, with the rear vents seemingly the only place the designers were allowed to add flair.
Unfortunately, we do not have access to the correct equipment to measure the aerodynamic claims, so we have to trust that Bontrager have done a good job in this department.
Bontrager is frank that the Velocis is a compromise between aerodynamics and breathability: attempting to develop a balance between the two in the Velocis. It is worth noting that Bontrager also offers the Ballista which is even more aerodynamic and less airy than the Velocis.
The Velocis is not the lightest helmet on the road weighing in at 300 grams for the large size on test. It makes sense that more holes mean a lighter helmet and with the Velocis’s aerodynamic panels there will is a bit more foam than some other helmets.
The Velocis features five elongated vents on the front, a single vent on top and another five at the back. The arrangement does well at cooling the head, showing no signs of being overly warm. That said, I did wear it mostly during spring, and the scorching temperatures of summer have not yet arrived at the Cape. I do get the impression that while the Velocis will be adequate for most rider’s needs, it won’t perform as well as a fully vented helmet, but there does have to be some compromise for the aerodynamic abilities of the helmet. The Velocis can easily do the job as an everyday helmet.
The Velocis's padding was developed with 37.5 fabric technology. The company aims to produce a fabric that will assist in keeping your body at an optimal 37.5 degree temperature as well as help with sweat dispersion and odours. I am not the sweatiest person on a bike and the brow pad was sufficient for my needs, keeping sweat from rolling down my forehead into my eyes. One thing to consider is that the pads are attached directly to the MIPS membrane and placed right behind the helmet foam, which restricts the effect of wind flow in drying and cooling the brow pad.
Pricing and Warranty
The previous Velocis was a premium helmet and this has not changed with the 2018 model. The asking price is R3,299 putting it right up there with the superstars of the segment. It's a considerable chunk of change but the Velocis does offer the modern touches that you would expect from a premium helmet.
If you do take the plunge on the Bontrager Velocis, there is some peace of mind with the warranty promising a free replacement for crash damage within the first year of owning your Velocis. Not that we wish for you to crash, but that's a pretty good offering.
In the end
If you are looking to get in on the aerodynamic advantage but still want a helmet that is practical for everyday riding, then the Velocis is a good compromise providing some slipperiness through the air while still allowing for the cooling effect of fresh air.
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