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POC Procen Air, Mini Aero Road Helmet Makes You Faster, But Not Full Dark Helmet: A Review

POC Procen Air mini aero road race helmet inspired by TT aerodynamics, side view
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POC’s all-new Procen Air aero road helmet takes obvious design cues from time trial. But it dials it back just a notch, to blur those aerodynamic lines enough to drop back into all-rounder road bike riding versatility. There’s no doubt that this will be one of the most contentious helmets in your weekly group ride.

But in reality, it feels great – both light and well-vented. Its magnetic snap-in integrated lenses/visors offer great protection and clear views. The partial ear covers seem to effectively tune out some wind noise without blocking peripheral sounds.

And POC promises that it will make you faster…

POC Procen Air aero road helmet with time trial aerodynamics

POC Procen Air mini aero road race helmet inspired by TT aerodynamics, side
(Photos/Cory Benson)

I’ve been riding in it for a week. EF Pro Cycling has already been racing with the new POC Procen Air mini aero road helmet since the start of the season. With the EF Education-Cannondale women already taking 7 pro wins this season wearing the new lid. It is essentially a pared-back version of the Procen TT helmet that POC launched last spring.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet raced by EF Pro Cycling
(Photo /POC)

With a slightly smaller visor that still offers eye protection and better vision than sunglasses. And to not limit the ability to hear everything happening around you, reduced side coverage, which also manages to cut down on wind noise by only covering the top half of your ear.

In fact, it is a direct result of the EF Pro Cycling development collaboration on that time trial helmet. Seeing how the Procen’s simple 3 vent openings could reduce the peak air pressure at the front of the helmet, and then so effectively provide internal ventilation with Venturi effect airflow, the team immediately wanted an all-rounder road version…

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet wind tunnel tested with EF Pro Cycling, prototyping
(Photo /POC)

“After we developed the technique to allow more airflow through an aerodynamic TT helmet, the Procen, we thought, ‘Hey! This is going to solve a lot of our limitations.’ …It was then just a matter of fine-tuning to ensure that a rider would be adequately cooled and would hear and see well so they could know what was happening behind them and around them. Safety is always number one. With that in mind, we were able to develop this helmet. It is certainly significantly faster.”

– Peter Schep, EF Pro Cycling Performance Director

The result is that the frontal profile of the new Procen Air is virtually identical to the Procen. But the Procen Air gets a shorter chopped tail and greatly reduced side coverage. POC’s Magnus Gustavsson calls it “a helmet with all the watt savings of a TT helmet, not compromising safety and improving a rider’s ability to hear and see“.

How much faster is it?

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet CFD airflow and pressure analysis
(CFD Image /POC)

POC explains that “The openings at the front of the Procen Air drain the high-pressure zone, which reduces stagnant air and additional air resistance that a rider needs to push through.” POC designed it in CFD and backed that up with wind tunnel testing.

Comparing it to the vented aero Ventral, POC says the Procen Air is significantly more aerodynamic. Aero gains range from 5W saved at “low speed” to an 18W reduction at “high speed” – approximately 30-60km/h according to POC’s time in the wind tunnel.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet wind tunnel tested with EF Pro Cycling,
(Photo /POC)

How much time does that actually save? Looking at EF Cycling rider Alberto Bettiol’s 30km solo attack to win Milan Torino in March, the team calculated that his 39-minute effort at an average of 46.5 km/hr was reduced by just over 10 seconds solely based on his Procen Air helmet choice vs. the already aero Ventral. Or you can equate those seconds saved to more than a 150m gap at the end of a sprint to the finish line.

Tech details

This all-new POC Procen Air aero road helmet features traditional in-mold construction with a 1-piece polycarbonate shell over its EPS foam. The partial ear cover cowls are made of a flexible EVA foam core with a soft fuzzy inner face and aero fabric outer. They are technically removable (with a snap and velcro holding them in place) so they can be cleaned separately if needed.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, rear vents

Inside deep front-to-back channels control airflow. 3 front openings connect to 5 exhaust ports at the back.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, inside details

It features the same lightweight pads and 360° wrap fit adjustment as Lite-series helmets (like the Ventral Lite & Omne Lite). No MIPS. Plus, light adjustable webbing straps and a basic plastic buckle.

3 embedded magnets securely mate with 3 more in the removable visor for a secure automatic fit. Plus, 3 more molded into the rear of the helmet let you stow the visor when you need to remove it.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, magnetic rear visor garage

But manage to keep it out of the way even in an aero tuck.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, side profile

The Procen Air is available worldwide with locally appropriate certifications, including EN 1078, CPSC, AS & NZS 2063. It has a claimed weight of 350g for an EN-certified medium, presumably with the visor.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, 395g actual weight

The US CPSC-certified medium is claimed to weigh 3 390g. My CPSC medium weighs an actual 395g with the visor attached, 32g less without.

First Impressions

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, bulbous selfie

Obviously, it’s a bubble of a helmet on top of my head. Its looks are surely going to spark some discussion. And not everyone is going to like it. It feels like a much more manageable mini Dark Helmet compared to the time-trialing Tempor or Aerohead II. Another one for the Spaceballs fans out there. And maybe we’ll see what the UCI says about it down the line. But, it’s approved for road racing now (and if the ear cowls were contentious, they are removable.)

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, climbinbg

My thinking though, is that I don’t have to look at it while riding. I just get the great view from inside the wraparound Clarity visor. I get the reduced wind noise. And I get those free 5W – at my “slower” speeds. Leave it to my riding buddies to debate how weird I look riding it.

Riding Review

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, wet riding

Out on the road so far, the new POC Procen Air feels like it has ample cooling. And nice protections from the rain. But I feel pretty sure I’ll still feel a bit stuffy inside in the heat of summer. A big part of that is that the large visor blocks a lot of wind from hitting your face. I notice the same thing while riding a mountain bike with goggles. It’s great to eliminate wind blowing in your eyes, but it prevents natural cooling across a large area of my face. And it’s harder to gauge the perception of speed without much wind hitting your face.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, ear contact

The EVA foam side cowls do gently touch the top of my (quite large) ears. With a very soft fuzzy inner face material. I generally only notice it when I am consciously adjusting the helmet on my head. (FYI, I’m wearing it as I type, if you want a mental picture.) But while riding, I can’t say I notice it at all. Maybe after several sweaty hours on the bike? All my rides with the Procen Air have been under an hour so far. But I don’t feel like it will be an issue. And the slightly reduced wind noise is certainly an added bonus.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, gravel too?

I think I will wear the new Procen Air a lot of road and – gasp – even gravel rides throughout the spring, fall & winter. I suspect that I’ll stick with a more airy lid for proper hot summer riding. Unless maybe I have a race I want to go extra fast in?

POC Procen Air – Pricing, options & availability

The new POC Procen Air aero road helmet sells for $400 / 400€. That include the helmet with both tinted Clarity Road & clear lenses, a soft helmet bag, and a foam protector that you need to use when storing the helmet so it doesn’t press on the visor & ear covers. The Procen Air comes in three standard POC sizes (S 50-56cm, M 54-59cm & L/56-61cm) and just two colors – glossy Hydrogen White or matte Uranium Black.

POC Procen Air aero road race helmet Review, into the sunset

Pick one up globally starting today direct from POC or through their retail partners. And spark some controversy as you go faster in the group ride and break away in the local races.

POCsports.com

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17 Comments
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Nathan
Nathan
1 month ago

As a prescription eyewear wearer, I’ve always liked the idea of an integrated visor. But I’m far too self-conscious to dive in and give it a go.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
1 month ago
Reply to  Nathan

I don’t wear glasses anymore after lasik but time trialing with glasses under a visor was terrible. For TTs over 85 degrees, I took the visor off(possibly, it was faster that way anyway as this was before I used power meters). Transition lenses are the only way I’d go if I ever get glasses again.
*I tried 5 different sunglasses with prescription inserts and they were all terrible. It stinks for skiing too

Jonas l
Jonas l
1 month ago
Reply to  Nathan

Can tell you that you can fit regular glasses behind the visor. Really nice 🙂

Ralf
Ralf
1 month ago

Stop. Just stop making road cycling so try-hard ridiculous.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
1 month ago
Reply to  Ralf

Nobody needs this helmet, just as nobody needs a road bike. Get it or don’t get it like anything else. You’ll never see me in an aero road helmet on a regular ride. But it’s really just one extra thing on top of everything else being optimized

Ralf
Ralf
1 month ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

A road bike makes sense for riding on the road. A helmet makes sense for protecting your head (can of worms debate there). But this is just taking things to laughable ‘optimisation’ levels. I’m shaking a fist at a cloud here, I know that. Enjoy your new toy, you slick aero wattage optimisers.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
29 days ago
Reply to  Ralf

It’s a helmets, it’s optimized for what some people want. A road bike isn’t even optimized for everyone that rides on roads

Ralf
Ralf
28 days ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

It’s a helmet optimised for something that’s for sure.
(you’d need to define a road bike before talking about optimisation for anyone)

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
14 days ago
Reply to  Ralf

Realistically, it’s far more rational to have an aero helmet than aero wheels since the gains are bigger and they’re significantly cheaper.

Rim Brake enjoyer
Rim Brake enjoyer
1 month ago

Hopefully makes you fast enough to finish your rides before someone can see you in it.

Tom
Tom
1 month ago

Yeah, I want to go faster with less effort, but the looks are a bit space alien for me. The piece I’m really intrigued with is the ear cover – keeps the sun off the top of your ears (which over time is a potential skin cancer location) and reduces noise. I wonder about hearing loss as a result of sustained wind roar in the ear.

Angstrom
Angstrom
1 month ago

Would be interested to know how much the visor contributes to the total drag reduction.
As for looks, we get used to things. The Bontrager Ballista got “space alien” comments when it first came out and now it doesn’t get a second glance.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
29 days ago
Reply to  Angstrom

Visors tend to be very hit or miss on everyone. Gotta test it to know.

MIPS fanatic
MIPS fanatic
1 month ago

No MIPS is kind of a drawback for a daily use helmet or even for long non-race rides. Let’s be honest, also a good idea to have a MIPS helmet for races.

Dinger
Dinger
21 days ago
Reply to  MIPS fanatic

A question about MIPS, if anyone knows, did they perform their tests on mannequin headforms with skin that behaves the same way as human skin does on our heads (it moves, quite a lot). I’ve always been skeptical of its efficacy and have removed it from two helmets because it was so detrimental to ventilation in the helmets I had.

Michael
Michael
22 days ago

I am interested in these helmets primarily for the chance that they will reduce wind noise which I am incredibly bothered by. I would be willing to look silly if I can get a quiet ride…

veloaficionado
veloaficionado
13 days ago

Helmet: saves 18 watts at 40 km/h. Beard: wastes 20 watts at speeds from 5 km/h up to 120 km/h.

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