Review: POC Ventral Air SPIN helmet will make you cool
Considering its elevated position on the top of your head, it helps for your cycling helmet to possess a bit of cool, in both the figurative and literal sense.
It would also be helpful for said helmet to be capable of doing the job it was made for. Thankfully, POC is in a position to satisfy all three of these requirements, but the final one is the Swedish brand’s reason for existing.
POC was established in 2004, its stated purpose to save lives and minimise the consequences of accidents in “gravity sports.” At the time, those mainly involved snowsports. Since 2014 when it made a strategic move into road cycling, the wellbeing of cyclists has also been an ongoing concern.
This reassuring aspect has garnered POC a legion of fans but it’s the distinctive look they really go for, that and some of the coolest hook-ups in the cycling industry.
Since 2014, POC has had a relationship with Jonathan Vaughters’ various US-based pro-racing teams, from Garmin Sharp through Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling to the current EF Education First. Spinning out of that has come a partnership with David Millar, former Garmin Sharp Team Captain, and his Chpt3 brand.
POC’s involvement with professional cycling feeds back into product development across the range. Possibly why the Ventral Air SPIN looks like the spawn of the helmets that went before it, namely the Octal and the more recent Ventral, taking the best qualities of each and merging them together.
It has the Ventral’s more aerodynamic, refined silhouette and the Octal’s ventilation, which helps address perhaps the only concern voiced by some about the original Ventral, that of airflow on a hot ride. In fact the Ventral Air SPIN was developed for riding in hotter conditions, when maximum airflow is essential.
Looks and airflow are, as is usually the case with Poc, only half the story. The Ventral Air features POC’s proprietary SPIN technology, first introduced in the Ventral. This acronym stands for Shearing Pad INside, and is similar to Mips. But POC also develop their helmets on their in-house ‘whole helmet’ concept, which ensures that all the components and materials in their helmets have been designed to work seamlessly together and which take into account all types of impact, which massively reduces the risk of brain injury.
POC’s SPIN system uses a silicone-like gel within the padding of the helmet itself and negates the need for a cage, removing an unnecessary layer of plastic while performing the same function.
The brand isn’t stopping there with the safety features. It has just announced a technological update that stores medical information in a chip in case you’re unable to communicate after an accident. Called Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, it is being introduced to the Ventral Air SPIN NFC and the Tectal Race SPIN NFC.
All this adds peace of mind to the extreme comfort that comes with riding in a POC Ventral SPIN. The padding sits reassuringly snug against the head, while the helmet’s perfect balance is blissfully free of painful pressure points. At 230g, it’s 20g lighter than its Ventral predecessor and weighs in at the lighter end of the market. That and the highly efficient aerodynamics often make you forget you’re wearing it. POC says the design is intended to enhance a rider’s aerodynamic profile and minimise drag, and it feels as if they’ve nailed it there.
One of the drawbacks of the Octal seemed to be a lack of compatibility with certain other eyewear brands, where the arms might bump the helmet or inner cage where the helmet dipped behind the ears but there’s nothing like that kind of issue with the Ventral Air SPIN. POC has also revamped the eye garage, the slots where you can store your glasses when you’re not wearing them, so they sit more secure.
Subtle tweaks like this are evident throughout the Ventral Air SPIN when you compare it directly to the Ventral, and POC says this is because it features a completely redesigned unibody construction. You will notice this with the shape, which has been ever-so-slightly fine tuned, to present less bulk and further enhance aerodynamics. The addition of a couple of millimetres of height above the eyebrows, which is barely noticeable but welcome.
The Ventral Air SPIN was released at the beginning of 2019 when it rolled out at the Tour Down Under on the heads of team EF Education First. It has already picked up a Design and Innovation Award, possibly the most coveted accolade among helmet manufacturers.
It’s an award given only to those who demonstrate a product that has been designed within the realms of perfection. Cool factor probably plays a part, too.
Summary: The Ventral Air SPIN takes the best bits from POC’s recent two top-level helmet models and combines them to deliver their best looking helmet yet and one that excels in safety, performance and comfort. None of us has any real desire to test a helmet for its intended purpose, but if you had to put your faith in one, you could do a lot worse than go for the uncompromising purpose of POC. Plus, their products really do look good.
Read more about the POC brand here