Bontrager Charge WaveCel review: A sleek, technological helmet designed for e-bikes and commuting


Indicated for daily commutes and e-bike rides, the Bontrager Charge WaveCel emphasizes safety and adaptability. A modern and technological helmet!
In order to offer a helmet more suited to the practice of what is called "vélotaf" (daily journeys to and from work) and to the growing use of electrically assisted bicycles, Bontrager is marketing its Charge WaveCel headphones. Obviously approved according to the NF EN 1078 standard, it is also approved according to the NTA 8776 in force in the Netherlands and Belgium. This last standard was designed for users of speedbikes (assisted bicycles up to 45 km/h) who must wear helmets that can withstand impacts at higher speeds. Unfortunately, it is not in force in other countries, including France.
As the name suggests, this helmet is equipped with WaveCel protection technology. This takes the features of a deformable cellular structure applied inside the helmet and replacing part of the thickness of expanded polystyrene used for the shell. The mass of the helmet increases a little, but it absorbs impacts better, especially during oblique impacts.
The Bontrager Charge WaveCel is available in Black, Battleship Blue and Radioactive Yellow colorways. It can be purchased in size S (51 to 57 cm), M (54 to 60 cm) and L (58 to 63 cm) at the recommended retail price of €155.
Due to its selling price and its technologies, the Bontrager Charge WaveCel is positioned in a rather high-end segment. This is reflected in its quality of manufacture, simply irreproachable. No burr, no trace of molding disturbs the very smooth finish and the curvaceous design of the helmet.
Manufactured using the in-mold method, its thin outer shell is fused with the expanded polystyrene inner shell, which contributes to this impression of quality. This also allows a lightening of the helmet, because the outer shell can be thinner. On the other hand, the Charge WaveCel is in principle less resistant to small shocks than a model with a classic external shell. It nevertheless seemed quite robust to us, its hull offering good rigidity.
Despite this manufacturing principle favoring weight gain, the Charge WaveCel weighs 453 g in size M on our scale (compared to 428 g announced by the manufacturer, excluding the strap it would seem). Without being particularly heavy, there are lighter among bicycle helmets.
This is explained in particular by the integration of the WaveCel cellular protective layer, made of thin fluorescent yellow plastic. Although it replaces a good thickness of polystyrene, this layer is heavier. The helmet is also quite encompassing, descending on the sides of the head and towards the neck to meet the stricter requirements of the NTA 8776 standard.
The result is a feeling of security: the helmet is well adjusted and already holds well in place without tightening, at least on the skulls on which it has landed. A foam layer – removable and washable – covered with breathable fabrics prevents direct contact with the WaveCel layer, offering just the right amount of softness.
To fine-tune the fit, the helmet incorporates a Boa tightening occipital buckle. Its fine and supple structure gently presses against the back of the skull via a wheel offering many adjustment notches.
The chin strap locks the helmet on the head. In soft fabric, it benefits from a Fidlock quick magnetic closure, very practical to use and avoiding any risk of pinching.
Its opening is just as simple once the principle is understood; just push part of the loop forward with one hand. The adjustment of the strap under the ears is done for its part via small fasteners with levers easy to handle.
The Bontrager Charge WaveCel helmet is not intended for sports practice and this is immediately apparent in its ventilation. The ventilation holes are not very large and the WaveCel layer may let the air through, it reduces the flow a little. In the winter temperatures during which we tested this helmet, we obviously had no complaints, but it will be better to avoid being too active in the summer so as not to get too hot.
However, this helmet has the advantages of its disadvantages, that is to say that in the absence of a ventilation hole on the top, it is much better resistant to rain and does not necessarily require the use of a specific cover or a hood.
Increasingly common on urban helmets, the lighting system is optional here. Bontrager provides a Blendr magnetic attachment system on the back of its helmet, but does not provide the small lamp that attaches to it. Count around forty euros for the cheapest Bontrager Flare R-series bike lights (Flare R City). Advantage compared to a solution completely integrated into the helmet, a potentially more powerful light, easily removable and USB rechargeable.
Finally, it should be noted that Bontrager includes a replacement guarantee for this helmet in the event of an accident during the first year following its purchase.
With NTA 8776 certification in addition to the classic FR EN 1078 standard and WaveCel protection technology, the Bontrager Charge WaveCel shows on paper a high level of protection. However, nothing beats a good lab test to get to the bottom of it — and your skull in one piece…
In this little game, the helmet does well once subjected to the Certimoov protocol. It offers a satisfactory result in the frontal impact test (3.5/5 despite its small cap which very often harms bicycle helmets at this level). The rear impact test is even better, reaching 4.5/5. It's only in the side test that the Charge WaveCel struggles, earning only 2 stars despite protection falling relatively low towards the ears.
With its WaveCel layer, we expected good results in the oblique impact tests and we were not disappointed, the helmet finishing with 4/5 for the oblique frontal impact (causing the head to rotate forwards) and 4/5 and 3/5 respectively for side impacts 1 and 2 (rotation of the head towards the side and along the axis of the neck, respectively).

Strong points

Manufacturing quality.

Very good fit to the head.

Magnetic closure buckle.

Magnetic mounting system for rear light.

One-year crash replacement warranty.

Weak points

Limited ventilation.

Rear light not supplied.


How does grading work?

Pleasant to wear and covering the head well, the Bontrager Charge WaveCel helmet offers a good level of safety. It also benefits from adjustment and locking systems that are simple and quick to use, which contribute to comfort of use. Above all, avoid wearing it during a more sporting activity, due to a limited air flow. But in daily use typical "vélotaf", it fulfills its mission perfectly.

Sub Notes

Design & Ergonomics


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