Late this summer POC set me up with a full kit of goodies to ride and review. I got dressed up head-to-toe with their latest clothing and safety gear, and after spending the fall riding in every piece as much as possible I’m ready to share my thoughts on each. In this post, we’ll check out their Tectal Race Spin helmet, Crave sunglasses and Joint VPD Air knee pads. Soon I’ll have another article covering some of POC’s jerseys, shorts, bibshorts, and gloves.
The Tectal Race SPIN is POC’s top-tier open faced enduro helmet. To ensure durability and strength, its polycarbonate shell follows a full-wrap unibody design and the EPS liner is integrated with Aramid bridges. The SPIN model is equipped with POC’s SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) technology, which means its silicone-filled interior pads absorb some rotational forces when your skull contacts the liner in a crash.
One thing I liked about the Tectal Race SPIN was its deep fit. This helmet provides as much coverage as possible on my head (which is a bit shallow); the back covers my entire skull, the forehead sits low, and my ears just fit into the cut-outs. I did have to raise the retention system to its highest position, as initially the sides were sitting on my ears (where they connect to my head) but the problem was easily corrected.
The next thing I noticed was how good this lid’s ventilation is. The Tectal Race SPIN is the coolest, best ventilated helmet in my closet. Those big vertical front slots and large rear ports do a great job of keeping air flowing at all times.
POC’s helmet sizing is notably different from ever other brand I’ve tested. I usually fit a 56cm lid, but I fit into POC’s XS-S, which they label as 51-54cm’s. I did notice after riding with the retention system snugged up, it puts a bit of excess pressure on the front and back of my head. The shell is large enough, but the retention system cinches my head front-to-back much more than side-to-side. I also found when I raised the retention system, it nearly hid the top of the adjuster dial under the shell. I have to make adjustments by rolling the bottom of the dial only, as I can’t get a finger on the top.
Due to my shallow head, I found the Tectal Race SPIN didn’t leave enough room to fit my goggles. Anyone with a deeper/taller skull would be fine, but I’d need a bit more forehead space for an ideal fit. The elastic goggle clip on the back is handy, and very easy to put on or take off.
Editor’s Note: I’ve also been riding this helmet for the year and while I love almost everything about it, the fit is too deep for my head shape. Because of that, I continually have to push it back on my head while riding to keep it from obstructing my view, or tighten it to the point that it’s uncomfortable. If you find most helmets too shallow, this is definitely one to check out. – Zach
At first glance I didn’t think the visor was adjustable, but it actually has five positions to choose from. I think the visor goes much higher than necessary, as I can only see it in the lowest position. From there it just disappears, and doesn’t go high enough to stow your goggles underneath.
The Tectal Race SPIN features in-molded straps, which use a traditional chin buckle and simple ‘Y’ side adjusters. The helmet also has an integrated Recco reflector, which could help if things go awry in an area with Recco coverage.
POC lists the weight of an XS-S at 337g, but my scale showed it at 351g. That’s still on the lighter side for a helmet with such generous coverage. The Tectal Race SPIN retails for $220. Sizes XS-S/M-L/XL-XXL are available in four color options.
Crave Clarity sunglasses:
I decided to include POC’s Crave Clarity sunglasses next, as they make an excellent partner to the Tectal Race helmet. I was pleased how well these pieces fit together, so every time I wore the Craves I paired them with the POC helmet. My head is a bit narrow, and the one-size Craves fit me well; if you have a big head, I’d try a pair on before buying.
The Crave Clarity’s main feature is their lenses. These lenses are tinted to boost certain colors, and for MTB eyewear greens and browns get enhanced. I’d say the lenses do provide the kind of definition you’d expect from glasses in this high-end price range. The large lenses also offer very good field-of-view coverage, particularly at the sides and top. I can see below them if I try, but this was never an issue while riding.
The polycarbonate lenses are treated to bead off water, and to keep fog and dirt from sticking to them. POC left the middle of the frames open up top for ventilation, and I never had the lenses fog up on me. POC says the lenses are durable, but make no claims about them being shatterproof.
The Craves’ flexible, durable and lightweight Grilamid frames keep their weight down to just 29g. The arms aren’t too long, which should help them fit into various helmets. The nosepiece and arms use hydrophilic rubber to keep the glasses secure, and I had no issues with them slipping out of place.
I’m typically gentle with my stuff, but I somehow created a few small hairline scratches on the front of the lens. I’d recommend being careful, but I bet you will be after paying for these beauties… The Crave sunglasses sell for $275, in four different color options. I find that a bit pricey, as you can buy reputable brands’ photochromic sunglasses for less… at least they’re super stylish!
Joint VPD Air Knee pads:
When I looked at the Joint VPD Air knee pads I thought they seemed pretty, well, rudimentary. They appeared too simple to offer comfort, flexibility, and heat management… but they’re actually pretty nice pads!
After a few rides, I was amazed how well they stayed in place with only a pre-curved protector, gripper panels and a Velcro top strap to secure them. I barely even needed to cinch down the strap to keep them from slipping down; the protector’s knee-hugging shape and the top hems’ grippers almost worked well enough on their own.
The lower section of the protector is relief cut to bend very easily with your shin, giving the pads very good flexibility. I never hesitated to pedal with these pads on from start to finish, and after many test rides I have no complaints about mobility. The back panel is nice and soft, and only has one seam below the top strap that goes unnoticed. I never found the light, breathable fabric bunching up behind my knees.
Despite their perforated protector I wouldn’t say these knees offer great ventilation… but their minimal coverage does help keep you cool. These pads won’t do much for your shins but they cover your kneecaps just fine, and on hot rides you’ll appreciate their short cut.
The only comfort issue I found was that the grippers inside the top hems can start pulling on your skin and leg hair after a while in the saddle. It’s definitely within tolerable bounds, but after a lot of pedalling you can feel a bit of rub from the grippers above the knees. Thankfully, the lower gripper never bothered me at all.
I found POC’s knee pad sizing a bit smaller than usual, as I fit a size Medium (in most brands I’d wear a Small). The Joint VPD Air Knees sell for $80. Sizes XS-XL are available in black or brown.