Let’s start with news from the professional ranks. Unless the gang from POC are playing possum, next year expect the crew from the Garmin-Sharp WorldTour team to be sporting the new POC Octal road and aero helmets. Why else would the Swedish company color one of its new helmets with the exact same robin’s egg blue that dominates the Garmin team’s get-ups, and then call said color garminum blue.
So say goodbye to the Giro helmets Garmin has worn this season, and say hello to the Octal, a distinctly POC’ish looking offering that is the flagship of the company’s new AVIP line, short for Attention, Visibility, Interaction and Protection.
Along with the two new helmets, POC also launched a full line of apparel — dubbed the Essentials line — which includes men’s and women’s bib shorts and jerseys, plus unisex sized long sleeve jerseys, wind vests, spring jackets, rain jackets, gloves, socks, arm warmers, knee warmers, and even a nifty silk scarf.
According to the POC PR machine, every piece in the new line focuses on safety first, which means all the apparel includes reflective elements, while the new helmets bypassed the usual performance-first metrics that are the hallmark of many competitor offerings.
“Most helmet manufacturers start by talking about aerodynamics, vents and weight,” said POC spokesman Michael Shea. “Well we think all three of those things are important. But safety should always be No. 1.”
To that end, POC is not offering the No. 1 helmet color on the market (and less visible) black, and instead is only painting up the new Octal in helium white, zink orange, and the aforementioned garminium blue.
“We feel like this is a pretty big statement, not offering black,” added Shea. “But we want to keep people safe, so we only make colors that are high visibility.”
To further enhance safety, the Octal (MSRP: $270) has extra EPS foam in areas that are most vulnerable in a crash, such as the temporal zone. POC also uses a lower density foam, which it claims helps better decelerate your head in the event of a crash.
The helmet is built up using uni-body construction that is held together by a lightweight, external shell. This helps keep weight in check, with POC claiming a competitive 195-gram weight for a size medium, and just 10 grams more for the size Large. A 190-gram size Small rounds out the Octal line.
Other features include straps that are molded into the liner, an easy-to-operate retention system, reflective patches on the helmet exterior, and an eye garage, which is basically two little strips of rubber that are meant to keep sunglasses in place when you pull them off your face and tuck them into the vents.
Speaking of vents, the Octal has plenty via an array of oversized openings. Shea claimed that while Specialized’s Prevail has 21 percent of its frontal area open to the wind, the Octal has 27 percent free space, plus large exhaust ports in the rear to let air move through the helmet.
The Octal also comes equipped with an ICEDOT Tag sticker, which in the case of an accident where the helmet wearer is knocked unconscious, can be scanned by a passer-by or medical provider to obtain the victim’s I.D. and critical medical information.
The Octal is also compatible with the ICEDOT crash sensor, which when mounted on the helmet, acts as an automatic alert device whenever a sudden impact is detected. In the event of a crash, the device triggers an app in your smartphone to send a text message to your pre-set contacts letting them know that you’ve crashed and where you are, unless you stop the message within a user define time interval, which is typically set at 15 seconds.
The Octal Aero is essentially the same helmet save the copious venting. It weighs 215 grams for a size medium, comes in the same colorways and sizes, and retails for $300.
Check out the photo gallery below to see more pictures of the new helmets, as well as the new apparel. We’ll be getting in test samples of both soon, and will pass on findings and opinions in the coming months.