I landed in East Troy for the E.T. Twilight Cross race a few weeks back and strapped on my spare, albeit, high end helmet and took to the fast sweeping grass course for a preview of the night to come. I’ve only ridden this particular helmet, a Lazer Helium, on the road and had been satisfied with it’s fit previously on smooth pavement. Unfortunately that changed in about a half a lap of a cyclocross course. Every little bump was transferred up through my helmet, causing it to roll side to side. I could see it moving in my peripherals as I navigated the course and it was a bit of an annoyance, something that I didn’t need when I had to be on my game during the elite race.
Luckily, I found my friend and newly minted POC Midwest Rep, Chris Newlin, manning his POC tent near the finish line. Chris twisted my arm and “made” me put on the new 2015 POC Octal helmet – in bright pink. “Whoa,” was the first thought that entered my mind. I buckled the size small – apparently Swedish heads run a little on the large size – and was instantly in love with this lid. It fit perfectly. No pinch points, sat at a good height on the forehead to not block vision, and cinched up nicely with the dial in back.
I’ve had many different helmets during the last several years – Giro, Bell, and Lazer have all sat on the top shelf in my closet. They’ve all had their pros and cons. My current “A” helmet is the Bell Gage – it looks good, fits me well, pretty light and has good ventilation and comes in a bit cheaper than Giro’s top end. But let me tell you, the POC Octal wins my heart, err head, over in the fit department alone. Yes, it is ridiculously light – 195g (MIPS version is even lighter!), but I’m not too concerned with weight in a helmet. FIt is of utmost importance to me. Not only did this lid feel like it wasn’t there, the straps didn’t feel like they were there either! Yes! THE STRAPS. You know how the helmet straps, on any given helmet, never seem to lay flat and slightly twist in the adjustment buckle causing them to flap with the breeze and even sometimes create a little buzzing noise in your ear? Nevermore with the Octal. They have designed an adjustable yoke to keep the straps flat against your face. Perfect.
Ventilation. Less is more with the Octal. The POC Octal has less vents as other brands out there, but they are bigger. Much bigger. You can see that from the front profile of the helmet – which may be the only con of the helmet – it looks a bit different, maybe a bit bulky even, from the front view. It may look even bulkier on some depending on your head shape – the same with any helmet really. Personally, I seem to fit Bell and Lazer well without the helmet looking to big on my head, while Giro seems to have a mushroom effect on me.
The E.T. Twilight Cross race was in the mid 60’s and the following day at Chicago Cross Cup’s Caldwell Woods was close to 80 — HOT for a cyclocross racing. Ventilation seemed dialed for the two races I was able to take this lid for a spin. Air flow through the helmet was good and not once did I feel overheated up top and topple over.
Bottom line – take my money. This is a great helmet with awesome colorways – matte black, hi-vis orange, white, bright pink. Choose wisely or be heckled as I heard at Caldwell Woods, “did the helmet come with the socks or the socks with the helmet?!?” But really I think people were just jealous. I know I am. I had to give the demo helmet back to Chris the following Monday morning and cannot wait for these to come into stock at BelgianWerkx.