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The Rapha + POC Ventral Lite is an extremely light helmet, and realistically that is the reason you'd buy one. Its performance doesn't really suffer – it's comfortable and airy – and it's a good looking lid. If you want maximum features or head protection it's probably not the one for you, though. Check out others in our guide to the best cycling helmets.
Tipping the scales at 188g, this is, I think, the second-lightest helmet we've ever tested, behind the Limar Ultralight which pips it by 13 grams. And light is really the goal here, above anything else.
'Every aspect of the helmet, from the adjustment system and straps to the liner and shell, are optimized for protection at the lowest weight possible,' says Rapha. And that's evident in the build. In an era of helmets that have become more enclosed in the pursuit of aero gains, this one feels like it's mostly holes. The retention system and the webbing straps are pared back to the minimum, as is the internal padding. Such is the attention to weight saving that if you want the grippy eyewear garage stickers to keep your sunnies safe, then you're going to need to stick them on yourself.
The helmet construction is similar to most: EPS foam formed around a structural shell with protective external panels added in-mould. For this helmet the shell design has been tweaked to allow a lighter density of EPS foam to be used, reducing weight a touch.
As I've already mentioned, there's plenty of ventilation, with 20 vents in the helmet along with internal air channels to guide airflow across your head and out of the ports at the back.
It's a very breezy helmet in use, so it'd be great for summiting those alpine cols in the summer heat, but in South West England in the winter I needed another layer underneath to keep the ice cream headaches at bay on the chilly morning starts.
I found the fit to be pretty good. The retention system is minimal but works well; I'd have liked to be able to sit it slightly lower at the back, but it felt secure.
Rapha/POC have done away with any adjustability where the helmet straps meet the chin loop. Normally you'd find some kind of junction there to tweak the fit but on the Ventral Lite everything's just sewn together. I didn't find it an issue, and the lightweight straps are very comfy, but it's worth noting if you habitually have to tweak a helmet's stock fit to get it to sit right.
I didn't fit the eyewear garage stickers, saving precious grams, but I found my sunnies stayed in the helmet pretty effectively anyway.
And overall I was happy with the Ventral Lite: it genuinely is noticeably lighter in use than my normal helmets, a Lazer Z1 MIPS that's about 275g and an Abus Macator MIPS that's just over 300g. It looks good too, with pretty neutral styling that would probably work in any scenario from a road race to a bit of bikepacking.
I did fall off my bike and bang my head when I was wearing this helmet – albeit at 2mph leaving a cafe (don't ask) – and suffered no ill effects from it. To my head, anyway; sadly, I'd neglected to put on my collarbone helmet that day.
In terms of protection, different territories have different standards, and they test for slightly different things, and the thresholds vary. It's not that unusual for manufacturers to make different versions of a helmet. POC offers the Ventral Lite in both US CPSC and AUS/NZ versions on its own website, both of which are heavier at around 230-240g for a medium size; helmets with those certifications do tend to be heavier. If you want the Rapha version, it's the EN-certified one, which is the lightest of the lot. Like I said right at the start: it's all about weight, this one.
Many cyclists are obsessed with saving weight, and it always will be thus. And this is a lid for those at the bleeding edge of that. If you're a national-level hillclimber, for example, and you want a really, REALLY light helmet now that you're required to wear one, this would fit the bill perfectly.
But for basically everyone else, my advice would be to weigh those gainz off against price, and what a helmet's supposed to do for you.
But back at the top end, the truly excellent Met Trenta 3K MIPS – reviewed by Jamie last year – only weighs about 35g more than the Ventral Lite, offers at least the same level of basic protection, and includes an extra layer of rotational injury protection, with Mips, and more adjustability. And even some aero. It is £40 more, but reviewed very well.
However, if what you want is the very lightest helmet you can buy, now that the redesigned Limar Ultralight Evo weighs in at 195g, this may well be it. Certainly there's nothing on the Weight Weenies listings which is lighter. In which case, knock yourself out.
If you want the lightest helmet you can currently buy, this is probably it
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha + POC Ventral Lite - EU
Size tested: 54-59
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: "Scaled back, pared down yet never compromising on safety, the Ventral Lite is the result of taking a minimalist approach at every stage of design and production.
"Every aspect of the helmet, from the adjustment system and straps to the liner and shell, are optimized for protection at the lowest weight possible. The entire helmet structure has been altered so that a different density of EPS liner can be used. The outer PC shell is scaled back to the absolute essentials, keeping the weight down.
"This is the helmet for every weight-obsessed cyclist who does all that is humanly possible to shave as many grams from their bike and kit as is possible. It's the helmet for people who want to feel nothing but protected."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
POC lists these 'Key Features':
Extremely lightweight helmet for your fastest rides and races
Pared down, scaled back, and optimised for speed without compromising on safety
Minimalist 360° adjustment system to save grams while offering a secure fit
A lightweight unibody shell improves structural integrity
Optional eyewear garage stickers for safely storing glasses mid ride
Weighs less than 200g in a size M (EN1078 safety standard)
The Rapha + POC Ventral Lite does not meet Australian safety standards. Any orders of this product from Australia and New Zealand will be cancelled
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If you're judging it on being light, which Rapha seems to want you to, then it's certainly that. It's a decent helmet for most kinds of riding, too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Incredibly light, good ventilation, good fit and retention.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not as adjustable as some, expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £240 it's pretty expensive for a non-Mips helmet.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, it's a good helmet.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes to my National Hillclimb champion friend, but probably not to my other friends.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a good helmet that fits me well, and it's pretty comfy and really, really, really light. It's very expensive, so you're very much into marginal gains: cheaper helmets are nearly as light, and similarly priced helmets offer more features.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.