My Review: Bontrager Specter WaveCel Helmet

As previously promised, I am going to review Trek’s new helmet. I purchased a pink Bontrager Specter helmet. Yes, I get discounts. No, I do not let the discounts affect my opinions on the things I purchase, because like Bontrager shorts, I don’t always like the things I buy.

I am going to compare three helmets. First, the new Bontrager Specter Wavecel, which retails for $150. Second, the Bell Z20 MIPS, which retails for $230. Third, the Giro Cinder MIPS, which retails for $150.

Bontrager Specter Helmet Pink
Bontrager Specter Helmet Pink Side View
Bontrager Specter Helmet Pink Rear View

Comfort Winner: Bontrager Specter Wavecel
This actually surprised me. I previously used a rental helmet from the shop where I work and had problems with the fit of the medium, feeling like it was too tight in the forehead, but when I first put on this helmet, I was pleasantly surprised. I felt like the helmet was snug where it should be, and the upgraded BOA dial from the adjustments on the Z20 and Cinder was a nice touch.

Bell Z20 MIPS
Bell Z20 MIPS Side View
Bell Z20 MIPS Rear View

Lightest: Bell Z20 MIPS
There isn’t too much of a challenge here. The Z20 is created for the purpose of being light, and in the Tennessee summer heat, it is definitely a big advantage. The Z20 comes in at 303 grams, the Cinder is close at 305 grams, and the Specter is a far third at 341 grams.

Giro Cinder MIPS
Giro Cinder MIPS Side View
Giro Cinder MIPS Rear View

Best Protection: It’s a Toss Up
Both the Z20 and Cinder are traditional helmets with added protection for angled impacts from the MIPS system. The Specter has Trek’s Wavecel technology, which is supposed to be a replacement for MIPS, which I have talked a little bit about here. You can also find more information directly from Trek. Based on both the testing from Trek and from independent parties, I am not making any call on the safety of these helmets compared to one another. The most important thing is that you do wear a helmet when you are out riding.

My Choice to Ride: Bell Z20 MIPS or Bontrager Specter Wavecel
I am torn between the two. I find both to be comfortable, and I like the idea of the added protection of the Wavecel, but I feel like I have more ventilation with the Z20 and a lighter helmet, which is nice for the summers here. Another important note is that on the Specter, there is nowhere to put your sunglasses on top of it, which has been mentioned many places. If I saw extremely concrete evidence that one helmet was safer than the other, my opinion may change in the future, but for now I am going to just go with the helmet I feel like using.

As for my overall opinion on the Specter, I think it is a good helmet. It is comfortable, and the lowest price point of the Wavecel helmets at the moment. I would like to see more Wavecel options, like a $100 price point or lower, as well as youth options. There are a couple things I think are missing with the Wavecel options at the moment as well. I would really like to see a road helmet with more ventilation on it, because looking at the XXX I don’t think there is enough compared to my Z20. I also noticed it is not possible to put sunglasses on the helmet when not wearing them, and as a coworker pointed out, he couldn’t scratch his head through it.

In the future I will continue to ride it, although the temperature has risen quickly in Nashville, so tonight I am going to be using my Z20 for my group ride. I can’t be a full Trek ad all the time.

$700 v. $7000 Bike: What is the Difference?

When talking to my husband, I frequently hear how he does not understand my bicycle obsession, because it is just a bike. I understand, because I used to be him. Until I worked in a bike shop, I knew nothing of the different between my 8-speed Claris components and 10-speed Ultegra components and the new 11-speed groups. The only difference I knew was carbon fiber versus aluminum, and for me all that meant was weight savings.

The $700 Bike


My Trek Lexa purchased in 2012 brand new. It is a full aluminum frame and fork. It had Claris 8-speed components, externally routed cables, and aluminum wheels. This was my dream at the time. I had barely ridden a road bike. it was lighter than the mountain bike I had to ride around campus, and it was purple. It also came with pedals with toe clips and straps.

The $7000 (approximately) Bike


My Trek Madone. The first bike I bought for myself. It is a carbon frame, fork, steerer. It has lightweight aluminum wheels, Ultegra 11-speed electronic components, and is red, which automatically means it is faster. It is also an aero frame with hidden cable routing.

Where does the $6300 come in?

Carbon Frame & Fork - It is more responsive, stiffer, and absorbs vibration from the road better than aluminum.
11-speed components - The number of gears alone creates smoother shifting. In addition, this system being electronic means I can shift with the click of a button and there is not a long lever throw, especially for the front shift. This makes for faster shifting, especially going up hills.
Lighter Wheels - Another weight saving move. The wheels I have on the Madone are also a little stiffer and have a wider rim, so they fit 700x25 tires better the the ones on the Lexa.
Hidden Cable Routing - I am not talking about just cable routing that is mostly in the frame. I mean you don’t see the cables on this bike. This is not only protecting the cables, but it is also reducing some air drag (although if I shrink myself that does it too).

The Real Question

Does the $7000 Bike Make Me Happier?
I don’t know. I love both bikes. I tell people I will never get rid of my Lexa, because it was my first bike, but I would sell the Madone for the newer Madone SLR 7 Disc, and I would upgrade to carbon wheels, so I guess what I am saying is that you do get something for your money, but there is nothing that can beat the feeling of having something that is yours and allows you to feel as free as I did on that first bike. I have upgraded some parts of course like any good bike mechanic would on the Lexa.