If I am going to ride again, there are two things that need to change as a result of the accident: my pedals – which I will get into in another post – and my helmet. The helmet is the more immediate need, having broken my old one, and wanting the absolute state of the art in its replacement. I have a perfectly serviceable Catlike Whisper Deluxe, but I’ve gravitated toward the MIPS technology that has infiltrated the industry.
MIPS is young, and unproven. I don’t really care. It only appears in a handful of models, but one of those models is the POC Octal, which I’ve had on my radar ever since reading about POC’s AVIP initiative a few years ago. The AVIP concept resonates, and the cost is high, and it’s for the right kind of buyer, which seems to be me. The Octal AVIP MIPS helmet retails for $320; I landed it on sale for $250.
Expectations for a $250 ($300+!) helmet are high, and the Octal AVIP MIPS in nearly no way disappoints. It is by far the best fitting helmet I’ve ever worn. It feels perfect. The barrel adjustment in the back effortlessly and securely fine tunes the fit. The sense that this is the right product for me is immediate.
|You can see the yellow MIPS liner.|
The look is somewhat nontraditional, but helmets are all over the place in terms of style, so it hardly looks unusual. To be honest, I could care less what it looks like, given the positively stellar fit. And as it turns out, I actually really like the style. Utilitarian, purpose-built, highly functional.
|Ample foam, engineered in a way that doesn’t look obnoxious.|
POC has engineered an eyewear retention “system” into the helmet, which is an amazing piece of technology. It’s no more complex than a pair of black bumpers molded into the helmet that grip the arms of your sunglasses. To the touch, the bumpers don’t feel like much. But through some magic of friction, as opposed to adhesion, they just hold back your sunglasses in a very secure manner. I finally own a helmet that I can actually stow a pair of sunglasses in. This is extremely useful and if you’re still stashing your glasses in a jersey pocket, stop.
|Closeup of the Eye Garage|
|These Oakley Jawbones are perfectly retained by the helmet.|
A number of brilliant extras are included. A set of reflective stickers, which I doubt I’ll use, but some will. An extra set of pads. And an ICE sticker, which allows you to register your vitals online, and if your helmet sticker is scanned, they come right up. It’s not quite as practical as a RoadID but it is a perfect complement and no question better than nothing.
The Octal does not come with a hard case, which I found disappointing at this price point. It does come with a thin bag, which has a nice soft feel but is a bit cheap, and will not perform much of a protective function, given the quantity of exposed foam. Not a deal breaker though, given the total package. I don’t wear the bag, I wear the helmet.
I haven’t yet mentioned weight. This helmet is barely noticeable on your head, and in the hand, it is “wow” light. The sense of security I have when I wear this helmet is substantial, and that should be the aspiration of every single helmet manufacturer. It is not. POC has nailed it.