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POC Octal helmet – review

The POC Octal helmet is the Swedish firm’s first all-purpose road lid – you may have seen it on the heads of Garmin-Sharp riders - and it combines a safety-conscious design with top ventilation, an excellent fit and distinctive styling.

On rolling out for the first ride, the helmet feels barely there. You can’t see any of it – despite a design which is lower at the temples and back of the helmet to provide additional protection in the event of a crash – and its low weight, a claimed 195g for a size medium, means you don’t feel it.

The Octal’s unique look isn’t just for vanity’s sake. Instead, POC have opted for a less is more approach to ventilation, using a smaller number of larger vents to improve cooling – and the result is impressive.

Compared to my usual lid (high-end and still very comfortable), I have worn a cap more than usual during the cooler months, such is the Octal’s ability to funnel air into the helmet, and that extra ventilation will be particularly welcome in the summer and on any trips to warmer climates.

The ‘Coolbest’ sweat padding inserts also work well, don’t hold much moisture in the rain and seem to have resisted the dreaded whiff that indicates a wash for longer than other padding I’ve used.

It’s a very comfortable helmet, too, helped by the low weight but also thanks to a secure and easily adjustable fit. The Octal uses a simple dial at the back of the helmet, which makes it quick and easy to make minor adjustments on the move.

The Octal is available in orange, blue and white and all three colours are designed to stand out on the road and further POC’s safety stance. There are also reflective patches that further boost the Octal’s performance in the visibility stakes.

Although we like the Octal’s ‘Eye Garage’ (two semi-tacky pads designed to grip the arms of your shades when you don’t want to wear them), and they never failed, at times sunglasses felt tentatively placed and would shift or slump forward, depending on the sunglasses used.

The Octal has an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact barcode sticker, which allows you to register your contact details, with the idea being that it can be scanned by anyone who finds you in the event of an emergency – though it’s debatable as to its effectiveness, with a relevant app required to scan the code. The helmet also comes in a good quality fabric bag, keeping is safer from minor scratches in transit or storage, and on the whole the level of finish is high, with no rough edges, overly long straps or badly cut plastic shell.

Conclusion

The POC Octal is an undeniably high-end helmet at £225 but if you like its unique styling – and it is a design which splits opinion – then in return you get a lid which offers excellent visibility on the road, comfort, ventilation and fit.

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