What It Is: One of the lightest, safest, most aerodynamic, and well-ventilated road bike helmets available, POC’s Ventral Spin stands out among others on the market. One big reason: its Spin technology, which is a series of silicone pads located between the helmet and your head. If you crash, the pads absorb impact from any direction, including rotational impact. But because the silicone is incorporated into the helmet pads, there’s nothing extra inside the helmet to interfere with airflow or comfort.
Why We Like It: Biking is dangerous. Road bikers are hit by distracted drivers in increasing numbers, and in a race, one rider’s mishap can domino an entire peloton. If you crash, you want your head protected—particularly from blunt falls and rotational impacts, which can cause the most brain trauma. MIPS, a highly engineered layer of plastic used inside many helmets, has been the best solution for reducing brain damage from falls.
But since MIPS is an extra layer in the helmet, it can also limit breathability and add weight. POC was early to use MIPS, but it recently came up with a new solution. According to POC, Spin technology replaces MIPS with firm but pliable silicone-filled helmet pads to achieve the best possible impact absorption on every axis. Spin pads absorb linear as well as rotational forces, since the pad shears in all directions. Instead of adding an extra layer, Spin adds protective function to an existing part of the helmet, which saves weight and preserves breathability.
The Ventral is snug and secure, with an adjustable harness that twists at the nape of the neck to tighten—the harness can also be adjusted forward and back by moving an internal clip. Together, these features allow you to really fine tune the fit. The polycarbonate outer shell protects from daily use damage, and in the case of a crash, this slippery material will slide on pavement (instead of stopping abruptly) to minimize brain trauma. The Spin pads are absorbent, cool, and soft on the head.
A lot of helmets use as many air ports as possible to maximize cooling capability. POC’s ventilation system was inspired by the Venturi effect—the same principle that lets a tiny CO2 cartridge inflate a bike tire—and it uses pressure differentials to increase airflow. The Ventral has five oversized air intakes between the temples and forehead of this helmet, an additional two ports on the rear top of the helmet, and four more on the back of the helmet. Together they create steady airflow and impressive cooling between the rider’s head and the helmet, while simultaneously allowing the helmet to slip through the air efficiently. An aerodynamically optimized trailing edge on the helmet shell further reduces air turbulence to enhance aerodynamic performance.
Nitpick: The price. $290 is a lot of money for a bike helmet. But we trust the innovations of the Ventral Spin will trickle down into other models in the coming years.