The Bontrager Circuit MIPS road helmet is a good looking and strong performing, well ventilated helmet, but it would be nice if the straps sat a little flatter against your head - well, against my head anyway.
Pros: Comfortable with a clever camera/light mount system
Cons: Straps didn't lie flat against my head (a minor niggle)
The Circuit MIPS has been designed as a do-all helmet that is equally adept on the daily commute as it is during a race. It is meant to include all of the features that each type of riding needs, so I was certainly interested to put it on my head. As well as this helmet Bontrager's Circuit range also includes a Circuit road shoe which Jim Cotton reviewed a few months back.
As this is a do-all helmet it means that it cannot really be judged solely on the merits of either a full race or full commuter helmet, but I would say that its design is certainly closer to a race helmet than a commuter one. Aesthetically, it has a lot of similarities to the Giro Synthe, although it has 16 vents compared to the Synthe's 26.
This latest version of the Circuit looks very different from the previous version - much sleeker with fewer, wider vents - and it also benefits from internal air channels to help cool your head even more efficiently.
These vents work pretty well, with the channeling on the helmet helping air to flow over the top of the head and removing excess heat. One of the elements of the design that Bontrager are keen to promote is the 'In-mold composite skeleton' which 'increases helmet integrity for larger vent variations'. I can't honestly say that I noticed too much difference in terms of variation compared to other helmets, but the ventilation was certainly good enough for most types of riding.
One of the most important elements of the helmet is its integration of the MIPS system, which unlike many other MIPS helmets I've worn is considerably more subtle in both look and feel. Aesthetically this is because Bontrager have used a clear plastic for the MIPS shell, whilst most others I've used have been bright yellow. Thanks to the AgION antimicrobial pads, it also doesn't really feel as restrictive as other MIPS systems I've used either.
The closure system on the helmet is a Boa system on the cradle which is simple to use and has a good amount of adjustability. The straps are nice and thick and the dividers did there job as they should. However, it would have been good if they sat flatter against the head, as although they didn't twist, they felt like they were on the edge.
To help with the commuting element of the helmet it also comes with the Blendr mount system this is essentially two mounts that sit comfortably and stably within two vents. I used these with a Go Pro camera and Bontrager light with both working well and staying secure even with the added weight from the mounted items.
The medium sized helmet I reviewed came in at 300g, which is pretty much par for a mid-range MIPS helme. For instance, the Giro Cinder MIPS, which is a direct competitor, comes in only 10g lighter. The Circuit is available in four sizes: S – 51-57cm; M –54-60cm; L – 58-63cm and; XL – 60-66cm. Bontrager also offer a crash replacement program in the first year - if you're involved in a crash they will replace the helmet free of charge.
RRP on the Circuit is £114.99, which is within the band you'd expect from a helmet of this quality from a well established brand. The Giro Cinder, for comparison, is £10 more.
Overall I really liked this helmet, it was good enough for hard weekend rides, but practical enough for daily commutes. The light and camera mounts work well, the venilation moves heat away from your head quickly, and it's not too heavy. I would have liked it if the straps lay flatter against my head, but aside from that it is a solid mid-range, do-all helmet.
Do-all helmet that works just as well on a long fast Sunday ride as the commute on Monday
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Circuit MIPS road helmet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
A do-all helmet that is just as useable on the daily commute as during a road race.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
MIPS Brain Protection System
The Boa® system lets riders easily secure and adjust helmet fit with one hand
Blendr mount system easily integrates GoPro camera and Bontrager light accessories
The in-mould composite skeleton increases helmet integrity for larger vent variations
AgION antimicrobial pads wick moisture away and completely eliminate odours naturally
LockDown dividers make helmet strap management clean and are easy to adjust
Internal, recessed channels move airflow over your head to stay cool and dry
Well made with strong robust construction throughout.
Performed well, my head didn't get too hot whilst using it and it has some nice commuter features like the light and camera mounts.
Solid construction and outer material appears to be strong.
Pretty much where I would expect it to be compared to its rivals.
A very comfortable helmet thanks to a well-integrated MIPS system, strong padding and good closure system.
About where I would expect it to be and in line with its rivals.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well, it offers good enough ventilation for performance riding, whilst still providing practical commuting elements like the mounts and anti-microbial pads.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The mounts are a really innovative idea that work nicely.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Would be good if the straps sat flatter against the head.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Unlike many products that try to do several things at once, but without really doing any to a high standard, this helmet just about manages it with good ventilation combined with practical elements. It meant it was just as comfortable on my head as I stepped off at the office or at the coffee shop after a couple of hours in the saddle.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cinelli Gazzetta My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.