Home
Verdict: 
Distinctive looks backed up with impressive fit, ventilation and lightness, and a colour that will ensure you stand out on the road; not cheap though
Weight: 
204g
Contact: 
www.2pure.co.uk
POC Octal helmet
8 10

With its distinctive looks, the Octal is Swedish-based POC's first go at a road cycling helmet, after giving us the truly unique Tempor time trial helmet a couple of years ago. It looks unlike any other on the market, but looks aside this is a well ventilated, comfortable fitting and light helmet, and in this colour you're sure to stand out on the road.

You're either going to like this helmet's appearance or you're not; I'm not going to try and convince you otherwise. What I would say is that you should withhold your opinion until you've actually seen the helmet with your own eyes rather than just the photo up top. As a piece of design, I think it works. The more time I spend with it, and the more I see Garmin-Sharp riders wearing and winning in it, the more it's growing on me.

Once you're wearing the Octal you can't see what it looks like anyway, and the fit is where the Octal scores a few bonus points over many other helmets. It's rare to slip a helmet on and it to feel just good and comfortable straight from the box, with no adjustment necessary. It's supremely good. The closest comparison is the Specialized Prevail, another very comfortable helmet.

It takes some getting used to though, mainly because the helmet is quite wide and comes down lower at the sides. That's to provide more protection for the skull in the event of an impact with the ground, but it does feel unusual for the first couple of rides compared to regular helmets. You soon get used to it though and after a ride or three it feels normal. Just a new normal.

The reason for the Octal's looks is because POC have designed 20 huge vents, deciding that fewer, but larger, vents is the best way forward for best ventilation. It's certainly a theory that is backed up by performance; compared to a Specialized Prevail and Catlike Whisper the Octal is significantly better ventilated. It's light too, just 204g on the scales which you notice immediately. However it's still some 15g heavier than the £50 cheaper Prevail.

As for the colour, POC's mandate with the helmet has been to choose colours that it reckons boosts visibility on the road. There's no denying that this is a colour that will raise your visibility to other road users, especially at this time of year when it's often gloomy or very cloudy. There's a more conservative white colour which is probably the pick of the bunch, or you can emulate the Garmin-Sharp team with a blue option. It would be nice to see a wider palette in the future, a black version would go down nicely with those cyclists who don't want a high-vis helmet.

The retention system is unobtrusive, and adjusted via a small dial at the back. It's easily adjusted on the move, but you don't need much pressure on it; the Octal stays in place well, with minimal movement. The straps are easily adjusted so they sit just below the ears.

A minor niggle is the lack of compatibility with various brans of glasses, including my Oakley Radarlocks and Uvex Sportstyles. Because of the thickness and lower coverage of the helmet sides, there just isn't the space for the arms of the glasses to fit in. It's a blemish on an otherwise really well thought out helmet.

Speaking of eyewear, the Octal has a unique 'eye garage' in the two front vents, basically two small high-friction pads that cling to the arms of your sunnies, so you can pop them in the helmet when you don't need them on your face. However, I had mixed results with different glasses, some working just fine and others not so well. It's a nice idea but one that doesn't work as well as hoped. Compatibility with eyewear is a small niggle, but it's one I'd like to see addressed.

Showing safety is a key concern to POC, the Octal comes with an ICE tag. This is a barcode that you stick to the back of the helmet, and once registered with all your important contact information can be scanned by any medic with the appropriate app. It's a nice idea, but will medics have the relevant app on their smartphone to scan the helmet if they scrape you off the road?

Going a step further, the Octal is compatible with the ICEdot Crash Sensor. It's a small sensor that clips to the back of the helmet and relays location data via Bluetooth to an app on your smartphone. Have a crash and it'll start a timer, if you don't stop the timer before it reaches zero, the app sends an message to the emergency services.

You also get a nice cycling cap with reflective graphics for night riding, and a soft fabric bag to store the helmet in. It's available in three sizes, small, medium and large, three colours and comes with EN 1078, CPSC 12.03 and AS/NZS2063-2008 certification.

Verdict

Distinctive looks backed up with impressive fit, ventilation and lightness, and a colour that will ensure you stand out on the road. It's not cheap though.

road.cc test report

Make and model: POC Octal helmet

Size tested: medium

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

POC says:

The award winning Octal helmet is engineered to be the next step in road bike helmet safety. It offers optimal ventilation, comfort and weighs less than 200 grams (size M, CE-version).

Octal provides more coverage and additional protection of the temples and back of the head. To further improve safety, the EPS liner is strategically thicker in most exposed areas and is covered by the outer PC shell.

The unique and fully wrapping unibody shell construction functions as a monocoque and enhances the safety properties and construction integrity of the helmet while maintaining a low weight.

POC has approached ventilation in an innovative way and instead of using many small vents, Octal has fewer, but larger, ventilation slots. This design provides a larger open surface area at the front, and in combination with the specifically designed interior, allows more air to flow through the helmet.

The ultralight size adjustment system ensures a comfortable and secure fit and the internal Coolbest padding helps reduce the temperature in the interface between the helmet and your head.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

High performance EPS liner, optimized in density

Fully wrapping unibody shell construction

Superior ventilation, using POC's innovative ventilation design

Size adjustment system, designed with low contact area

Straps molded into liner

Temperature regulating Coolbest padding

Color combinations and reflective patches for enhanced visibility

Eye garage to keep your sunglasses securely in position when placed on the helmet

Scannable ICE tag

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Quality construction, very slick.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

It delivers fantastic ventilation and it's light and fits well.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10

It's very light, but there are lighter helmets, though admittedly not that many.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
10/10

The Octal is outstandingly comfortable.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

There are many rivals for the Octal, on the weight front the Specialized Prevail is lighter and cheaper, and doesn't give all that much away in ventilation or fit.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very impressive helmet, once you get past the looks.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fit and ventilation, comfortable too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Isn't compatible with many brands of glasses, and the 'eyewear garage' isn't that impressive.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

 

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

28 comments

Avatar
kie7077 [905 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

£5 helmet:
Polystyrene in a plastic shell with plastic straps and the strap is too long so hangs down in an annoying manner.

£225 helmet:
Polystyrene in a plastic shell with plastic straps and the strap is too long so hangs down in an annoying manner.

Am I missing something?

Avatar
aslongasicycle [389 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Good quizzical expression with hidden depths there Dave. The Mona Lisa smile of helmet reviews.

The helmet makes me feel a bit ill though. As do the specs. Garmin look like characters from a 90s Batman film (George Clooney nipple era).

Avatar
allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I too am at a bit of a loss re the cost - I remember some high end lids having a carbon fibre internal structure to help hold it together better in a big impact.

This doesn't appear to have this sort of thing.

Looking at an Arai motorcycle or car lid you can see where the money goes - the composite laminate shell, the multi density inner, the upholstered liner, visor, vents, all that. And the company back it up with extensive info of the testing they do on their products, above and beyond the required safety standards.

I'd like the cycle companies to better demonstrate why a £150 helmet is superior to a £75 one.

Avatar
Chuck [588 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Wonder if it's actually made in Sweden- that might go some way towards explaining the price.

allez neg wrote:

I'd like the cycle companies to better demonstrate why a £150 helmet is superior to a £75 one.

Eh? This is just the same as any other bit of kit at the top end- you're well into marginal gains, so it's 'better' in exactly the same way that a £3k bike is better than a £1.5k one.

If you think a £75 one is just as good then buy one of those instead of one of these.

FWIW I've never spent more than £80 on a lid and I really thought I was pushing the boat out then!

Avatar
The _Kaner [1095 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

me + POC = mushroom head....not to my liking, looks wise or ...well - anything really...
 26

Avatar
kie7077 [905 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

The only reason anyone pays over £20 for a polystyrene helmet is aesthetics / vanity.

Helmet with built in rear light £20

In my opinion the problem with polystyrene is that it crushes too slowly, so if it's involved in a high speed collision then the shock of the collision gets transferred to the skull and then the helmet brakes and some muppet with a headache goes hey look it saved my life.

Avatar
Wookie [242 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I kind of like the styling of POC helmets but £225.00 really  7

Avatar
allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Chuck wrote:

Wonder if it's actually made in Sweden- that might go some way towards explaining the price.

allez neg wrote:

I'd like the cycle companies to better demonstrate why a £150 helmet is superior to a £75 one.

Eh? This is just the same as any other bit of kit at the top end- you're well into marginal gains, so it's 'better' in exactly the same way that a £3k bike is better than a £1.5k one.

If you think a £75 one is just as good then buy one of those instead of one of these.

FWIW I've never spent more than £80 on a lid and I really thought I was pushing the boat out then!

This is a sport where quantifiable data on bikes and componentry is used a hell of a lot - weight, stiffness, aero gains, that sorta thing.

We don't know how marginal the marginal gains are unless we're given the info!

At the moment I'd look at a £225 cycle helmet and be sceptical, if the manufacturer proved it was x amount more aero, or x amount better vented or x amount better at absorbing impact, then I could make an informed decision and be more likely to justify the expense to myself.

Avatar
mingmong [279 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I love my Trabec mtb lid. It's the best fit and built very well. I didn't pay over £200 quid for it though. I think the +£200 quid hurdle will (evidently ^) put people off.

I do like the styling of it though  19

Avatar
KnightRyder [6 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

POC = Proof Of Concept... And it does indeed look like a helmet that's just come off a crash test dummy.

Avatar
SuperG [119 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

One thing it does not look is fast!

Avatar
ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

It makes the Giro Air attack look pretty. This is a bad thing.

Avatar
adriank999 [77 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Is it any better than the one I bought from Aldi complete with built in LED? About £7.50 if I remember rightly

Avatar
joules1975 [455 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
adriank999 wrote:

Is it any better than the one I bought from Aldi complete with built in LED? About £7.50 if I remember rightly

Quote:

The only reason anyone pays over £20 for a polystyrene helmet is aesthetics / vanity.

Helmet with built in rear light £20

I'm sorry but if you actually try a few different helmets you'll quickly realise why cheap helmets are cheap .... They just don't fit as well or as securely and are generally less well made and less comfotable.

£225 is nuts though.

In my experience £40 seems to be a good price point - quality of fit and comfort similar to the higher end helmets, sensible weights and ok styling/venting design. I've noticed that cheaper than this just don't feel as good, while more expensive rarely feel much better.

Avatar
kie7077 [905 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I've worn the bell Presido, it looks ok and fits well:

Bell Presido

Cost about £20 - £30

Avatar
Cyclist [295 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
kie7077 wrote:

The only reason anyone pays over £20 for a polystyrene helmet is aesthetics / vanity.

In my opinion the problem with polystyrene is that it crushes too slowly, so if it's involved in a high speed collision then the shock of the collision gets transferred to the skull and then the helmet brakes and some muppet with a headache goes hey look it saved my life.

As for the vanity/aesthetic statement. And so what? Same reason people buy 50mm deep wheels it just looks better.

As for the 'saved my life' statement. It is a rather ridiculous thing to say, and rather naive as helmets have saved lives and serious brain injury. Nobody says they will save you from a collision with a car but falls caused by ice/grit etc they certainly save your head.
Everyone's choice to wear a helmet or not, £20 or £225 your choice and I couldn't careless if people who don't wear them crash and suffer serious injury or worse because of it. I wear one, I won't ride with anyone who doesn't. But as always it is each to their own.

And that helmet is pig ugly.

Avatar
Leviathan [2605 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Don't forget it says POO on it. £225 for an ugly poo hat. Try harder.

Avatar
Flying Scot [936 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Like some thing from 1970's TV sci fi. Space 1999.... UFO..... Wear it with a nylon jumpsuit and get promoted to space admiral.

Avatar
rggfddne [221 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Cyclist wrote:
kie7077 wrote:

The only reason anyone pays over £20 for a polystyrene helmet is aesthetics / vanity.

In my opinion the problem with polystyrene is that it crushes too slowly, so if it's involved in a high speed collision then the shock of the collision gets transferred to the skull and then the helmet brakes and some muppet with a headache goes hey look it saved my life.

As for the vanity/aesthetic statement. And so what? Same reason people buy 50mm deep wheels it just looks better.

As for the 'saved my life' statement. It is a rather ridiculous thing to say, and rather naive as helmets have saved lives and serious brain injury. Nobody says they will save you from a collision with a car but falls caused by ice/grit etc they certainly save your head.
Everyone's choice to wear a helmet or not, £20 or £225 your choice and I couldn't careless if people who don't wear them crash and suffer serious injury or worse because of it. I wear one, I won't ride with anyone who doesn't. But as always it is each to their own.

And that helmet is pig ugly.

It's their choice... but you'll behave differently towards them as a result.

Not really 'just' their choice then, is it? You're putting pressure on them to do things your way, whether you say you are or not.

And yes, lots of people do say exactly that they will save you in a colloision with a car. And you wonder why people get so annoyed at helmet-pushers like yourself. Yes, if you behave differently around someone as a result you are pushing something on them.

Avatar
therevokid [1011 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

hhhmmmmm from behind it looks OK, from the
front .... one of Mario's mushroom heads ... and
as for £225 ... yikes !!!!

Avatar
drfabulous0 [408 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Cyclist wrote:

Everyone's choice to wear a helmet or not, £20 or £225 your choice and I couldn't careless if people who don't wear them crash and suffer serious injury or worse because of it. I wear one, I won't ride with anyone who doesn't. But as always it is each to their own.

You sir are a helmephobe!

It's like saying "I don't care if people are gay. I'm not, I won't ride with anyone who is. But as always it is each to their own."

Seriously, there's a reason it's not compulsory. Try to stop being so judgemental and maybe leave the Garmin at home one morning and just go out and enjoy a ride by yourself.

Avatar
Leviathan [2605 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
drfabulous0 wrote:
Cyclist wrote:

Everyone's choice to wear a helmet or not, £20 or £225 your choice and I couldn't careless if people who don't wear them crash and suffer serious injury or worse because of it. I wear one, I won't ride with anyone who doesn't. But as always it is each to their own.

You sir are a helmephobe!

It's like saying "I don't care if people are gay. I'm not, I won't ride with anyone who is. But as always it is each to their own."

Seriously, there's a reason it's not compulsory. Try to stop being so judgemental and maybe leave the Garmin at home one morning and just go out and enjoy a ride by yourself.

You are all backwards on this good Dr. He is not a 'Helmephobe' as he wears one, he is saying he only rides with one and expects the same from fellow riders. He is just asking people to use protection. Your gay reference is way off the mark and cheap PC nonsense that belittles gay people. Using the gay rights movement by using it as a stick to beat people on an unrelated subject dilutes the message. I suspect you might not be as fabulous as you suggest, and I suggest you might be the judgmental one. I think Cyclist does enjoy his rides very much, I hope you enjoy a ride soon.

Avatar
levermonkey [681 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

£225 and still it only conforms not exceeds EN1078. If it exceeded EN1078 then the manufacturer would be shouting this from the rooftops.

Cheap helmet c.£5 Poor comfort(?) and features. EN1078
Mid helmet c.£40 Comfortable with good features. EN1078
POD Octal £225 No better than mid helmet. EN1078

We need to start putting pressure on Parliament and Manufacturers to raise standards.
We want to know what parts of the helmet are tested, the test results and what type of tests (the scenarios).

You try finding this information on the manufacturers website.

EN1078 is not fit for purpose! Never has been; never will be!

It's your head inside it!

Avatar
Lolo [17 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
levermonkey wrote:

Cheap helmet c.£5 Poor comfort(?) and features. EN1078
Mid helmet c.£40 Comfortable with good features. EN1078
POD Octal £225 No better than mid helmet. EN1078
!

Please share your in- depth experience of premium helmets, including the POC. I assume your judgement is based on first hand experience as opposed to your own prejudices.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo [1626 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

The real problem with EN1078 is that it doesn't actually prove anything other than the helmet not falling apart when dropped.

Taking another piece of cycling kit as an example: say that there was a piece of legislation saying D-locks should be waterproof. You could make one out of glass and it would pass the test, and be 'usable' inasmuch as it would stop someone simply walking away with your bike. But it wouldn't provide defence against someone with a hammer. Helmets are the same: they provide defence against being dropped, and static falls onto ground. But not against a 40-tonner.

The D-lock industry has introduced the silver/gold categories to rate the durability of their product. Why is the helmet industry not doing the same?

Avatar
jarredscycling [456 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

One of the ugliest helmets I've ever seen. Only beaten by their time trial lid

Avatar
SteveAustin [41 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Really cool looking, but as POC don't seem to have a Crash Replacement Policy, its a lot of money for a helmet that really should be replaced after any knocks/drops.

Avatar
levermonkey [681 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Lolo wrote:

Please share your in- depth experience of premium helmets, including the POC. I assume your judgement is based on first hand experience as opposed to your own prejudices.

My problem is not with high priced helmets or your desire to purchase them but with EN1078.

However.
1) Drop any cycle helmet onto a hard surface (even table height to floor) and you should replace it even if damage is not apparent.
2) After 2 years of regular exposure to sunlight the plastic will be starting to degrade due to ultraviolet radiation and should be replaced.

Now factor in the price of the helmet. Are you more likely, less likely or just as likely to bin a £200+ helmet as a £40-£50 helmet?

As for my prejudices; they are my own.
Just because I have the money doesn't mean that I have to spend it. I once owned a Lada Riva from new and found it to be an excellent vehicle [Richardsons Taxis of Hull ran a fleet of them!]. I now own a Mercedes C-class diesel and find it to be an excellent vehicle. It will convey me to the other end of the country in comfort with a bike on the roof with no fuss at all. Why would I want a supercar? I have driven Lambourghinis, Porsches and Ferraris but I have no desire to own one [With the exception of the 1964 Ferrari TR but only if I can live in Lombardy].