Imagine you’re out for a ride, and it’s 100°F. At that point, are you thinking A.) I wish my helmet was more aerodynamic so I could go faster, or B.) I wish my helmet was more ventilated to prevent it from cooking my head from the inside out? For us, ‘B’ would be the easy answer. That isn’t to say though that aerodynamics aren’t important. We’ll take any free speed we can get. But if it sacrifices critical rider comfort? No thanks.
Fortunately, Aero road helmets are now experiencing their second coming. While the first batch from many different manufacturers largely consisted of alien-like helmets that were incredibly aerodynamic but not-so-well ventilated, we’re now seeing helmets that are something of the perfect blend. Helmets like the new POC Ventral.
Of course, designing a helmet that channels air into it, all while being aerodynamic is no easy task. POC says that they accomplished their goal by precisely positioning and sizing the frontal vents which channel the air through and not around the helmet. As POC puts it, this “reduces frontal air stagnation zones to improve aerodynamic efficiency.” To encourage the air to flow through the front vents and out the back, the helmet is said to be designed around the venturi effect which was accomplished through extensive CFD testing as hinted to, above.
Inside the helmet, the airflow channels are said to create special pressure zones which cause the air to speed up, pulling it in through the front, cooling the inside of the helmet, and forcing it out the back through the huge exhaust ports. Air that doesn’t get forced through the helmet finds its way around and over the external shell, which has a precise 22° trailing edge to stabilize the airflow coming off the helmet and the rider.
Combined with extensive testing in their own WATTS lab and feedback and development from EF Education First -Drapac p/b Cannondale Pro Cycling, POC states that the result is the “fastest, most aerdynamic, ventilated, lightweight, and safest helmet we have ever developed.” Quite a statement. But then POC is no stranger to pushing boundaries with their helmets – the Octal was an incredible step forward in POC helmet design and one of our favorites.
While it’s clear that POC put a lot of thought and effort into the aerodynamics and ventilation of the Ventral, they didn’t forget safety. Starting with a fully wrapped polycarbonate unibody shell construction, the Ventral uses an EPS liner with “targeted and optimized” densities.
But just as important, the Ventral incorporates the new SPIN pads which are another version of a rotational impact protection system. Instead of using a low friction liner inside of the helmet like a MIPS system, SPIN (Shearing Pads INside) is a patent pending design that provides rotational impact protection in any direction. The pads are injected with silicone, which allows the two sides of the pad to shear independently from each other, giving that oblique rotational protection without the need for extra hardware. Which cuts down on weight, and improves aerodynamics by allowing POC to further sculpt the air channels inside the helmet.
With the introduction of the Ventral, POC is also introducing SPIN pads to the road side for the first time, making it a pretty big deal. You may remember some noise about a potential legal battle between POC and MIPS, but we’re told that the preliminary injunction MIPS filed against POC was revoked on February, 14th. On top of that, the ability to sell SPIN helmets in the U.S. was apparently never part of the injunction to begin with. Now that the injunction is off the table, we’re told that POC has been selling SPIN helmets since the Fall, and will continue to do so with new models like the Ventral.
In case you’re wondering – not only do SPIN pads promise better safety, they also make the helmet super comfortable.
When it comes to adjustment, the POC Ventral is pretty straight forward. At the back you’ll find a dial adjuster, and the back of the cradle can be adjusted up and down by moving the anchor points inside the helmet. As an added bonus, the font vents are shaped so that they form POC’s Eye Garage to hold you glasses when you’re not using them.
Given that the Octal Aero was already an incredibly light aero helmet, its weight will be hard to beat – but it looks like the Ventral comes close. If you go by the claimed weights, the Ventral should be 5g lighter than the Octal Aero at 280g vs 285g for a medium CPSC version. Our medium CPSC Ventral test sample came in at 290g though, which is still pretty light and seems on par with other vented aero helmets – especially if you compare it to MIPS equipped helmets in terms of safety. The EU only CE version is quite a bit lighter with a 248g claimed weight for a medium.
In total there are nine different colorways of the POC Ventral including the Shiny Uranium Black Raceday helmet shown in the photos above, though currently only seven of them are shown on the U.S. website. As you should be able to tell from the reflections on the photos above, the shiny black version is indeed very shiny. It may be the most glossy black finish I’ve seen on a helmet.
Available both in stores and online starting today, the POC Ventral will retail for $290.