There are so many helmet brands and models available these days. The quality is generally very high in terms of modern lids meeting required international safety standards and the real key areas that differentiate helmets now are comfort, style, colour and durability. Bontrager has been making helmets for a long time, but they’ve not been widely available in South Africa until recently. We put the Rally MIPS through a couple of months of riding in South African conditions and were rather impressed.
The styling of the Rally MIPS is in the Trail helmet category, so the focus is more on greater head coverage than light weight, as opposed to the more common XC/Marathon helmets, which are lighter and more minimalist. So it has deep rear and side head coverage and an adjustable peak. We had two test models that weighed in at a very reasonable 360g for this style of helmet.
Based on our recent South African Mountain Bike Crash Survey, not many South Africans are aware of MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System). It’s a helmet safety addition developed by brain surgeons and scientists to reduce rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head. It adds a bit of weight (but not much) and is claimed to make for an even safer helmet.
It also adds more cost to the helmet, in the case of the Rally model, an additional R200.
MIPS is not exclusive to Bontrager, but most helmet brands use MIPS in some models. Here’s a short video that explains how MIPS works – MIPS Video
The Rally has a full in-molded shell, so the structure is reassuringly firm and durable. And with 22 vents, Bontrager has managed to offer a high level of ventilation, not normally found too often on trail style helmets. The peak, when adjusted, doesn’t interfere with frontal airflow either.
For the small part of the South African market that would use a goggle with this helmet, there is no goggle retention clip but a silicone backed strap sits firmly. The soft-molded peak/visor is adjustable over a big arc (bigger than most) and when tilted fully up offers plenty of room for goggles.
The fit of the Rally is excellent. The Bontrager Headmaster retention system incrementally pulls the helmet snugly against your head, giving you a feel of a ‘deep’ fit. Deep as in it doesn’t feel like it’s perched on your head, but rather around it; without feeling constrictive.
The straps are light and non-adjustable and protrude from inside the outer shell and allow you to wear most eyewear frames. This is in contrast to some trail-style lids where the straps come from the actual outer shell and fasten with a greater angle and which can compromise the wearing of some wider eyewear frames (e.g. Oakley Radar).
The straps are soft in feel, which is important, especially if you are wearing the helmet for many hours. Like most helmets, the inner padding is removable and washable but unlike most trail helmets, is quite thin, which we actually preferred.
We held off on the writing this review as we wanted to experience the Rally in hot weather. Riding for up to 6 hours in Sabie in temperatures around 40 deg C confirmed that as far as trail helmets go, the ventilation is well suited to the South African climate.
The Bontrager Rally MIPS comes in two colours – black and blue. It also comes in a non-MIPS version, which offers a light gray/green colour option.
Both models carry Bontrager’s Crash Replacement Guarantee, which offers a free helmet replacement if the helmet is damaged in a crash in the first year of ownership.
The Bontrager Rally MIPS offers the styling, fit, weight and features of top-end helmets, but carries a far more reasonable price tag in this segment. It pretty much ticks most boxes, including the most important one, safety.
Colours: Matte Black or Gloss Blue
Weight: 360g-400g (Medium)
Sizes: Small (51-57cm), Medium (54-60cm), Large (58-63cm)
Price: R1999 (non MIPS: R1799)
TREAD SCORE: 9/10
More information: Trek Bikes ZA – Bontrager Rally MIPS
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