Bontrager Rally WaveCel Helmet: WaveCel Protection at a Reasonable Price [Review]

Trek's WaveCel protective technology is now available on a much more affordable helmet.

Last year, Bontrager rolled its WaveCel technology into their helmets, teasing the translucent and wavy material ahead of the release. They made some big claims about WaveCel, saying that the material, which sits between the rider’s head and the outer shell, would be 48x better than a standard helmet at preventing a concussion.

It didn’t take long before competitors chimed in, rebutting the WaveCel claims. Koroyd and MIPS both took offense at the Bontrager marketing materials. For the average consumer, why would they rush to buy the helmet with WaveCel when it debuted at $300?

I certainly wouldn’t. But, if they made one that was half the price — or about the price of every other decent MTB helmet out there, then I would. Enter the new Bontrager Rally WaveCel, priced at $150.

The Rally has been a great fit for my skull, and after recently checking out the Giro Manifest, which uses MIPS Spherical, I am starting to believe that helmets that use something different than a traditional, hard plastic MIPS liner can achieve a greater level of comfort. Without that plastic slip liner, it seems to make for a cozier place to put your head.

The Rally hugs my head and the Boa dial in the rear easily adjusts to most sizes. The two wings that surround the dial grip the head well. The interior padding, easily removable and washable, is also nice and soft.

Venting on the helmet feels great with plentiful amounts of wind coming through the front, even at mild speeds. The Rally has yet to give me a hot head. I haven’t had any problems with fitting sunglasses, short or tall in profile on the Bontrager, although there isn’t really an option to stow eyewear by sticking the temples through the vents. Goggles might be a stretch, but I don’t really find goggles enjoyable with any half-shell. They always seem to fit a little awkwardly.

So what is the $150 Rally missing compared to the $300 Bontrager Blaze WaveCel helmet?

The Blaze adds a light and GoPro mount accessory — which could be important for night riders since lights often attach with a Velcro strap and that could be tricky on the Rally with the WaveCel sitting underneath the vents.

Photo: Hannah Morvay

The Blaze also has a Fidlock magnetic buckle, rather than the standard buckle on the Rally. There’s a silicone channel on the brow sweat pad to divert streams away from the eyes. And that’s really it. Somehow, the Rally is also lighter by about 30g than the claimed weight for the Blaze. My medium test helmet weighs 392g. For $150 savings, I’d gladly ditch all those marked-up features.

Closing thoughts

I have the opportunity to check out a lot of new helmets throughout the year, and this one has become an easy choice when I’m heading out the door. The Bontrager WavCel Rally is a great option, and at half the price of its $300 sibling, the Blaze, I would be hard pressed to opt for the more expensive version.

The Rally is light, well-vented, and looks great. It seems like the WavCel claims have even been substantiated. Under Virginia Tech’s most recent testing, the WavCel Rally came in as the 10th safest mountain bike helmet. Bontrager also has a MIPS version of the Rally that came in 2nd. Both of those still have the 5-star rating from VT as “best available,” but I would bet that the WavCel version has the edge on comfort.

Check out our mountain bike helmet buyers guide and our picks for the best mountain bike helmets.

⭐️ The Bontrager Rally WaveCel is available for purchase online from Trek.