The POC Ventral Spin helmet has a special place in my heart. About two years ago, I had a nasty crash with a van which suddenly pulled out in front of me. Despite my efforts to brake in time, my head hit the windscreen at about 25 km/h. Thankfully only a week beforehand I splashed out about €200 on a new POC Ventral Spin, thinking that it was good buy but really, “what’s the chance?”
The windscreen shattered and my face was covered in blood from the tiny glass shards. I was conscious, and whilst I didn’t feel particularly great, I was able to walk away and take photos of the scene. The POC appeared to only have a series of minor scratches, and the employees at a local bike shop were astonished at how robust it was despite the crash. Needless to say I threw it away and immediately got myself a new POC.
My head went straight into the windscreen, my frame was destroyed, but my head was saved.
Recently I had another car crash, where – despite me not recalling hitting my head – the dent in my new POC suggested otherwise. Perhaps if I wore something else, I would be telling a different story.
Many laws don’t require cyclists to wear a helmet and it’s a contentious point on internet forums (what isn’t?). In particular after my experiences however, I never ride without one.
Whilst I make no claims on being a professional cycling equipment reviewer, it is certainly difficult to properly review a helmet without making reference to lab tests or alternatively having been through several oneself. In this post I offer my personal experience. That being said, there are also likely to be various different types of crashes a helmet may need go through, however there is only a limit on the suffering I’m willing to go through for my blog!
Disclosure: I am not sponsored by POC and have paid for my helmets in full with my own money. The below is purely my unbiased opinion based on my experience.
Three things I like…
- The first thing that struck me was the design. I generally find helmets quite boring and functional, if not cheap and cheerful. The POC however has a bold, sleek design, and I love the huge ventilation ports. These supposedly play an important part in the aerodynamics of the helmet, channeling air in and around the head and back out the back exhaust ports, seemingly reducing the resistance of the helmet to oncoming air.
- Safety is a big element for me. Unlike any other form of transport, cycling leaves the human body fully exposed to impact and harm. The head is clearly an important part needing protection. From their promotional material and various reviews, POC appears take safety seriously, with in-house testing and even asking its sponsored racing teams to return damaged helmets to study and improve the design. The helmet uses Spin / MIPS technology which allows the helmet to rotate a little around the head in an impact, taking the force out of rotational impacts. The orange colour (part of the AVIP – Attention, Visibility, Interaction, Protection – range) is also designed to attract attention of other road users.
- The first thing I noticed was as the excellent fit on my head. I have tried a number of helmets which feel like they are perched on the top of your head, however the POC surrounds it, covering the temples and back of my head. The straps are also very comfortable and hold the helmet firmly in place without cutting into the ears.
Three things I don’t like…
- One possible complaint is that the helmet is a little heavier than some other models I’ve tried (quoted 270 g for a size large), however given the safety features and greater coverage around my head, this is immaterial to me.
- As noted, I like the design, however looking in a mirror I can’t help feeling that I look like a mushroom. But a safe and aero mushroom.
- My last minor gripe is the cost – at over €200 the helmet isn’t as cheap as many other (arguably similarly safe) helmets. That being said, quality is rarely cheap and from their promotional material it is clear that POC invests in original R&D. A helmet is arguably the ultimate insurance policy for a cyclist, and I find that this premium is more than reasonable.
My latest POC is bright orange rather than black, part of POC’s AVIP lineup (Attention, Visibility, Interaction, Protection), a small contribution to being safe on the roads.
I don’t consider myself to be particularly loyal to a brand just for the sake of it. That being said, given my experience and POC’s clear commitment to safety as well as design, POC is certainly a helmet I would buy again (and again). My score is an “A”.
What do you think of the POC? Have you got any experiences with POC or another helmet you trust?
Do they have something like a “crash replacement policy”?
Not that I know of, I’m afraid. Still, based on my experience I would be prepared to pay the full price to keep the helmet on my head.