POC’s new Ventral Lite ultralight road helmet puts their regular Ventral Air Spin on a diet to shave off more than 20% of its weight. Pared back to the safety essentials, it took lot of creative material work to to POC’s lightest-ever cycling helmet, with claimed weights as low as 180g.
We’ve been riding with the new lid for the last couple of weeks, and it delivers all the ventilation of the Ventral Air while feeling noticeably lighter on the head. Here’s how they did it…
POC Ventral Lite ultralight vented road cycling helmet
Riders of any iteration of the Ventral Air will find the look of the new POC Ventral Lite familiar. The overall design, profile shape, and vent layout are for the most part unchanged.
There are just a few subtle reshapings around some of the openings, with a focus on carving away excess material without sacrificing safety. The real difference is how much more of the underlying EPS foam is visible, something that’s harder to distinguish on this matte gray color.
Tech details: What’s new?
Basically, POC made the Ventral Lite lighter by removing as much of the in-mold shell as possible. To do that, POC refined the overall structure of the in-mold helmet adding deeper, more precise structured ribs in the now thinner polycarbonate outer shell to provide support for the underlying foam.
POC calls out a lighter, lower density 68g/dm3 (aka 68kg/m3) EPS foam, another move aimed at getting weight as low as possible, while still maintaining optimal impact protection in a crash.
This appears to be towards the lighter end of the 50-100kg/m3 density range typical in most helmets. Less dense foam will absorb more of the impact forces before they reach your brain, but too soft and it wouldn’t absorb enough.
Inside, fit and retention get slimmed down, too. Barely noticeable, the straps are said to be a bit thinner, and they replace the prior plastic adjusters with fixed straps sewn in place under the ear. The same POC dial retention carries over, but now pulls a lighter BOA-like wire that encircles the head 360°.
Padding is also simplified. No MIPS or SPIN here, just light, wicking padding that is fixed to the top of the helmet with velcro tabs and floating across the front of the temple, which may allow limited rotational movement in a glancing impact?
The end result is a chiseled shell that certainly makes the new Ventral Lite look lighter. POC calls it the lightest helmet they have ever produced, while reassuring us that it doesn’t sacrifice on safety.
“Riders who are focused on climbing or ride in hotter conditions are extremely conscious about weight, ventilation, and comfort, which is where the Ventral Lite, our lightest-ever helmet will excel,” says Oscar Huss, POC’s Head of Product. “We strongly believe that the safest helmet is one you choose to wear, one which you always look forward to wearing… The Ventral Lite will provide the protection those riders deserve without ever noticing it’s there.”
POC calls it a culmination of merging of ultralight and high-performance tech, a concept also applied to their new superlight, 3-layer waterproof Supreme Rain jacket. The underlying idea of both being performance so light and airy, that you’ll forget you are wearing them.
Ventral Lite – First Impressions & Actual Weights
Our thoughts on the first few rides with the new Ventral Lite essentially boil down to two basic conclusions:
One, it really is crazy light. Any helmet under 300g or so feels pretty light in your hands. When you put this helmet on over a Buff to stay warm or even a traditional cycling cap, you really can forget that you have it on.
Two, the helmet is really well-ventilated. It’s still very much winter here in Prague, and is still a bit too cold to wear this totally open helmet without any wind-blocking cap underneath. But when summer comes around, we’ll have to put sunscreen on the top of our head!
How light is crazy light? The actual weight for our EN/CE-certified size Small is just two grams over POC’s claim at 182g. Compare that to the 242g POC Ventral Air Spin NFC, 240g Limar Ultralight+ Lux, and 233g LEM Motiv Air – all of which feel light on our heads.
We got our hands on a Medium U.S. CPSC-certified helmet too, which weighed in at 255g. Sorry North American riders, CPSC helmets are usually heavier.
As for the fit, it’s pretty much the same head shape as other POC helmets. And the lightweight wire-style retention system micro-adjusts well, all the way around the head. The small wire weaves in & out of a thin plastic backer behind the pads for a comfortable fit without any pressure points. There are even four positions to adjust how far the dial sits on the back of your head.
POC Ventral Lite – Pricing, options & availability
The new ultralight POC Ventral Lite sells for $275 / 270€, and comes in five colors – all gray like our test helmet, or black EPS and black main shell, with white, black, blue, or green lower shells. No bright AVIP versions are available now.
The helmet is available in separate EN 1078, AS/NZ 2063, and CPSC 12.03 certified models in three sizes (S, M & L). EN models are the lightest (S 180g, M 190g & L 210g, respectively), with the AS/NZS models next (210g, 230g & 250g), and the US’ CPSC models the heaviest (220g, 240g & 270g).
The Ventral Lite is available now online direct from POC, and through their regular retail shops. It will make its pro peloton racing debut (presumably in bright pink) on the heads of EF Education-Nippo riders next week at Paris-Nice.