POC Octal Helmet - Review

Nov 26, 2014
by Mike Levy  
POC Octal review test

The Octal might be intended for road use, but its lightweight and well-ventilated design could make it ideal for cross-country riders, especially those who live and ride in warm climates.



With no visor, massive vents that look like the grill of an expensive car, and less protection at the back of the head than the current crop of hot (both literally and figuratively) trail-style helmets, POC's road-inspired Octal might not be something that many mountain bikers would consider at first glance. Then again, there are surely still riders out there who search for minimalist options when it comes to helmets, be it those who wear plum smuggler suits and smash out intervals, or riders who just don't feel they need the extra protection, weight, and heat of a more substantial helmet. The Octal is available in blue, white, or the orange pictured here, and our medium example weighs 253 grams. MSRP $283.50 USD www.pocsports.com

POC Octal review test

With twenty large openings and a unique appearance, the Octal doesn't look anything like most helmets on the market.



POC took a different approach when it came to venting the Octal by designing twenty of the largest openings that they could make use of rather than a larger number of smaller vents. This approach gives the Octal a rather unique appearance, especially from head-on or when looking at it from behind, and it's clear that the Swedish brand was aiming for function over fashion, with the goal of moving as much air as possible trumping the desire for a sleek image. And while the Octal obviously offers less coverage than some of the burlier looking trail lids out there (that's not its competition, remember), its EPS shell actually does extend further down at the sides and rear than many of its road going counterparts and lightweight cross-country options. Certifications include EN 1078 and CPSC 12.03, and both European and North American versions are available in order to satisfy the different testing standards required by each. Gram counters might be excited to see that a Euro-approved Octal in size small weighs in at just 190 grams, which is pretty nuts when you think about it.

POC Octal review test

The Octal employs a rather simple looking adjustable retention system that features a single dial to make changes, meaning that it should be pretty easy to use while on the move.


POC Octal review test

Massive vents and minimal internal padding make it one of the airiest looking helmets on the market.



What to do with your glasses when you're not wearing them has to be one of the most pressing questions facing riders these days, much more so than how the expected onslaught of electric ''mountain bikes'' might affect trail access, right? Maybe not, but anyone's who's lost their glasses after slipping them into their helmet as the light fades and they're no longer needed, only to ride over them with their own bike, knows that it's worthwhile to stop and put them into a pocket instead. POC has come up with a set of nifty little pads located on the inside of the two forward facing vents that they say helps hold your glasses in place.

POC Octal review test

Bob modelling the Octal. Maybe not the best choice if you want to blend in at the trailhead.




Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesHelmet fit isn't really something that you can apply a rating to given that my noggin is different from your noggin, which is different than your buddy's noggin. But, at least in terms of comparisons, the Octal didn't feel like anything out of the ordinary compared to a helmet from Giro, Bell, or anyone else. That's to say that there are no strange hotspots to speak of, even when talking about the retention system at the back of the head, and I can't really come up with anything to complain about in regards to shell shape either. The lightweight, airy design certainly doesn't hurt, and while the bright orange colour isn't exactly subtle, it felt nearly invisible on my head. The Octal's forward facing vents allow an enormous amount of air to run through the helmet, much more than any traditional mountain bike helmets out there, and it kept my head noticeably cooler when the rest of me felt like I was sweating hard enough that I needed to be hooked up to an high-flow IV drip. It might be pretty obvious that the Octal is going to run cool given how vented it is, but one thing that I didn't really expect was for the two sticky 'Eye Garage' glasses holders to actually work. They did exactly that, however, keeping a rather expensive pair of riding glasses from falling out during plenty of fast, rough descents that I'm pretty sure would have seen them hit the ground had I stashed them in the vents of any other helmet. That's pretty cool because I could easily slip them into the helmet when on the move rather than stop to jam them into pocket. So, great fit, mega light, and a unique appearance, but what doesn't work about the Octal? Only one gripe when it comes to the helmet's function: I didn't really get on with the Octal's straps, with them being anything but invisible next to my skin. They do sit flat, unlike some other helmet straps out there, but they were just a bit too noticeable for me. I've also had the Octal for quite awhile now, long enough to notice that its bright orange colour is fading after nearly a full year's worth of riding - that's not ideal for a helmet that costs nearly $300 USD.

The Octal is a different sort of helmet compared to the more protective trail / enduro lids that many riders are preferring these days, which is something that, along with it lacking a visor, is going to rule it out for a lot of people. Having said that, it's going to be a cross-country rider's wet dream, or ideal for someone who can live with a more minimalist approach.
- Mike Levy

Click here to see the high-res photo gallery


81 Comments

  • + 84
 I was wondering who the target market was with the bold color and design, and then I saw his earrings and it all made sense.
  • + 8
 Made me LOL. Thanks.
  • + 2
 I kinda noticed that too.....
  • + 11
 whats the feeling of having a half-cut pumpkin on your head.
  • - 12
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 26, 2014 at 23:54) (Below Threshold)
 Mitch7Yeti - it seems that what you are basicaly trying to say that you are uncomfortable and insecure if you don't fit to more or less defined majority (6" bike, Trabec, Flux like helmet), you have a developed need for acceptance of some collective, and therefore you despise people who (according to you) stick out by having an ear ring and wearing such helmet? I'm the same sometimes, no worries.
  • - 16
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 27, 2014 at 0:01) (Below Threshold)
 what I meant was that there is nothing wrong with the helmet, justification of a controversial opinion is just an illusion.
  • + 8
 hipster helmet
  • + 8
 WAKI- I don't despise, I'm just fooling around. We're all in the biking game together, and as long as you're wearing a helmet it's all good with me. (And I still have a old D3 Peaty edition with "beer flames" so I can't be one to judge.)
  • + 36
 300 and no visor , go home poc your drunk
  • + 22
 Do you actually find visors on XC helmets useful? It's a road helmet, road helmets don't have visors.
  • + 9
 yea they're called sunglasses

source: im a roadie...yes i know im asking for it Big Grin


and honestly how much is your brain really worth?
  • + 21
 Honestly I can't think any brain that thinks this helmet is worth $300 is going to be worth $300. It is a subtle irony, isn't it?
  • + 4
 $283.50 for a cluster of compressed foam and barely any plastic to make a decent phone case, POC please don't waste "years of research" on how to rip off people.
  • - 28
flag davidsimons (Nov 26, 2014 at 23:06) (Below Threshold)
 I'm an xc rider, I also ride road too... the good stuff! No "enduro", no "26forlife", just pedaling up as well as down, bike-riding the way it should be. Sticking a bike on a chairlift/gondola/ truck to get up a hill??? Weird...
  • + 5
 @davidsimons Do you want to start a "bike-riding the way it should be" thread? Coz that's how you start a "bike-riding the way it should be" thread.




#AllMountain4Life
  • + 9
 I hate when people say that the Octal is somehow more protective than other road helmets yet they have no way of backing it up. This helmet doesn't really extend much further down than any other road helmet and it doesn't have MIPS or any other special tech so what's with the cost? I'd rather buy a Giro Aeon or Synthe, at least it looks cool even if it's the same level of protection as a POC.

Too many people have told me "you should protect your brain, more protection is better" yet when I ask "how is this better than a cheaper helmet with MIPS or a top end Giro/Bell helmet?" they simply shrug and say something about the bright colours.

Anyways if I'm completely wrong then feel free to let me know what makes the POC so much more protective than other helmets. Right now it just looks like an overpriced orange hipster helmet from a brand with no road or xc history.
  • + 4
 @finnrambo You can get the Octal with MIPS, would be strange otherwise considering it was POC who brought it to the market...

POC don't cater to the standardized tests. The structure of the helmet is built with real life accidents in mind, with increased protection for the tempels and back of the head. They use an uni-body for the outer structure which means they don't have to use any inner structure - low density foam thru and thru. It's also compatible with ICE, if you happened to be in a crash of force that could knock you out your phone will let your ICE contacts know.

Also about the colors...fluorescent colors are about 5 times more visible then regular colors.....to avoid getting hit by a car, you know.

Don't fool yourself, POC are the leaders when it comes to head protection gear.
  • + 2
 A pumpkin colored helmet to fit your toothpaste colored bike...
  • + 1
 "Do you actually find visors on XC helmets useful?"

I never wear visors, neither on my trail helmet nor my full-face. I find them useless since I'm usually riding in the shade and I'm wearing sunglasses anyhow. I also find that visors restrict visibility. Last time I wore a visor I clocked my head on a low-hanging branch that was hidden by the visor. Visors also catch the wind and whistle in the breeze when you're railing it. I know the younger dudes think visors are cool looking, but I'm way past the point of caring about that - I'm looking at it from a practical POV.
  • + 2
 @reimero
Are you Rogatkin?? :-)
  • + 3
 "Honestly I can't think any brain that thinks this helmet is worth $300 is going to be worth $300. It is a subtle irony, isn't it?"

Best helmet comment I've ever read. I only click on helmet reviews to read the inevitable justification of conspicuous consumption, "how much is your brain worth."
  • + 2
 Well actually guys , when I was riding home ON THE ROAD in the snow last night , I tipped my head down and magically the snow didnt go in my eyes , so yes I do find visors useful .. also in the rain it keeps shit off your glasses/goggles , so suck it
  • + 1
 The ones buying POC either have more disposable income or different priorities, I'm in the later category. My bike does not have carbon-anything but I got the POC Trabec when it came out on the market, having seen personally what brain damage can do to a person and also having two concussions myself within a year. I'm happy with my choice even if it means paying top dollars, I'm that concerned about head injuries. I understand that not everyone can dish out 300 bucks for a helmet but innovation cost money and what POC does for head protection gear ups the standard for everyone long term. If you honestly going to question whats the difference between this and that, maybe you could try and look it up first before ranting. You honestly should thank people who is ready to pay for companies innovating so others can take advantage of it at some point, head protection to suspension.
  • + 4
 MendelMu,

What are we to look up? If you have any scientific data that shows greater reduction in head injuries due to these helmets, I'd love to read it. I too am interested in preventing head injuries.

I actually remember reading a study in the 1990's that made a casual relationship that the less you paid for a helmet the greater protection. They concluded this was because the cheaper helmets had more material, due to less vents, and a rounder shape, due to less aerodynamics.
  • + 1
 My answer was regarding to finnrambos post. I would look in to the technology and if you can find - impact test, though they have a lot of flaws. If I still would not be able to make up my mind I look in to the brand reputation, not cool factor, but which brands have pushed the limits and keep inventing. In the end you'll have to make an assessment of what you have read up on, he dismissed it being for hipsters with out even reading up - if you do read up and still make the same assessment, fine.
  • + 0
 @reimero
So what about the visor on my DH helmet? Should I remove it? Whenever PB does a review on something, a bunch of trolls come out from under rocks and shit on the product. Do you work as a bicycle protection designer? Since you "usually ride in the shade" does that means everyone else does as well? Man, blow it out your @$$...
  • + 3
 Awesome! Found something to match my $700 Kitsbow shorts and shirt. Now, all I need is a $200 pair of gloves and I can go full twat.
  • + 0
 @enduroelite : pretty sure he was defending this helmet's lack of a visor, not shitting on anything. Feel free to remove your DH helmet's visor and report back on how it works for you though. The aeroness might shave a couple seconds.
  • + 1
 TO EVERYONE COMPLAINING ABOUT PRICES OF HELMETS THESE DAYS HONESTLY???? lets compare some numbers
This poc octal helmet:
$300
INJURING YOUR BRAIN
AROUND $30,000
honestly, you cant complain about things like this its not overpriced... POC, let alone any company who produces bike helmets, has put in tons of money into making a helmet safe and effective. They aren't going to sell you anything that will impact (no pun intended) yourself in a negative way. One of my best friends got hit by a truck while commuting to school and due to the fact he was wearing a helmet, managed to surpass the accident with only internal bleeding, a broken collar bone, and a fractured pelvis. If he hadnt been wearing a helmet he would have easily been much worse.
SO STOP BITCHING, don't buy the helmet if you don't want to invest in it.
it seems like the biggest thing these days with the pb comments in reviews seem to revolve around everything being overpriced.... mountain biking is one of the more expensive sports out there, i cant really think of any other sport where you have to re mortgage your house in order to buy a piece of equipment.
MY APOLOGIES FOR RANTING JUST HADA GET IT OUT THERE
  • + 4
 Moroteman,

There is nothing to say a $300 helmet protects better than a $30 helmet.
  • + 1
 Are you sure it is better than my bell xc helmet that costs $60?
No one is saying helmets are a bad idea. Just overpriced ones. Especially when you consider helmets are supposed to be trashed after one good impact. That means this is a throwaway item.
Like a maxipad for your head.
Some people like bling though so I think that is likely what this is about.
It is like the porche Cayenne. It is not a very good SUV, but it is a Porsche so it is worth the money so you can be driving a Porsche.
  • + 2
 Very valid points, however, if i may, one other reason for the price is comfort as well,If you wear one of these for 5 hours straight, compared to a $30 or $60 helmet, hands down you will be allot more comfortable in the poc. (i've had a chance to wear this helmet and it weighs next to nothing and is comfortable as hell) I would love to see an article,cough cough, pinkbike, cough cough, that breaks down (once again no pun intended) the safeness of a $300 helmet compared to a $30 helmet. because i still have my money on that the $300 might be a little safer than the other. But, je ne sais pas
  • + 1
 You don't need to spend $300 to get a comfortable helmet...not even close. In fact if the fit is like their ski helmets I know it wouldn't be comfortable for my head shape.

These are flimsy justifications for conspicuous consumption.
  • + 1
 so you're saying that its not a comfortable helmet, but you've never put one on your head.. alright then
  • + 1
 No, I didn't say that. I've tried on POC ski helmets. Like most helmets, they fit a certain head shape. My head doesn't fit their ski helmets. I tried, but no luck. So if their bike helmets are designed around the same head shape, it is unlikely it will be comfortable for me. Are you following me?
  • + 1
 Do all POC helmets fit like the Trabec or is the Trabec just weird? I find a lot of people don't like how they fit myself included.
  • + 1
 i follow, just like how i cant fit urge helmets
  • + 1
 So there is more than a bling factor going on. I can get that. I know I used to think fancy cars were just about looks. Then I drove an 80's Mercedes and it was miles better than any car I've owned then or since. There is something there. I guess whether you need that benefit is up to you. I am good with a ski helmet on enduro days and a cheap bell on xc days.
  • + 17
 Do $300 helmets do more to keep your brain safe than $200 helmets? I personally suspect diminishing returns.

Then again, everyone talks about how much your brain is worth. . .
I have a helmet I will sell you for $800. I mean yeah I am going to buy it for $25, but how can you complain? It is your brain we are talking about here.
  • + 16
 they can go POC themselves at that price
  • + 12
 Would look even better with goggles
  • + 1
 Would it kill them to hot-glue a visor to said goggles?
  • + 9
 Pinkbike blew it; would have been a great review to save for April Fools day to cause a little confusion.
  • + 4
 The Octal uses a new approach to building a helmet, creating an exoskeleton instead of an internal skeleton. Why? well the traditional helmet approach used in the industry is an internal skeleton which you put foam around. The problem with this from a protection point of view is you must also use denser foams to cradle this internal skeleton. Denser or stiffer foam means that the foam can only compress and activate at higher speeds and energies meaning at lower energy/speeds the helmet won't absorb energy and that means its going to be direct to your head, brain, neck, body etc Also an internal skeleton (imagine a plastic or carbon web like structure that sits inside the foam) vasting reduces the amount of ventilation because its always getting in the way of where you want to put ventilation holes. The Octal uses the outside Polycarbonate layer (the plastic outer shell) as its skeleton (much like a beetle has an outer shell or exoskelton) thereby allowing just one seam on the whole helmet versus dozens of seams on other helmets.
  • + 4
 This "Unibody" construction means POC can use much lower density foam which means you can "activate" the foam in low and high energy impacts. Stiffer foams used in internal skeleton helmets can only be activated at higher energy impacts and we all know head injuries in mtb can happen at 15km/h when you go over the bars into a rock. The helmet also boast special thicker and lower "ocular lobe" protection or temple area protection. The temple area is well known from research to be one of the most common areas of impact when falling or being struck (vehicular impact). The "occipital lobe" or bump of knowledge is lower on our heads and not covered by the majority of helmets, POC made it a point to have lower coverage that any other helmet in its category (road and xc race crowd). The Octal name comes from protecting these two key areas: ocular and occipital.
The Octal is also the first ever road helmet in professional use to offer MIPS (available to public Jan /15)
Finally making it one of the lightest helmets in the world means it has a lower mass and physics tells us that the Mass Energy equivalence means the more mass the more energy , if we can reduce mass we are reducing the energy that is potentially transmitted to the rider in a fall or collision.
Hope this help
  • + 6
 And the loser of the halloween pumpkin carving contest is....................................................................................................POC
  • + 2
 I know this is a road helmet, but in response to other's comments, I couldn't ride without a visor. They block the sun in summer and with a tilt of the head they block car's headlights in winter. It is a pity as I raced xc in over a hundred degree heat a few days ago and I could have done with a cooling breeze.
  • + 2
 road to work in the dark today so sunglasses were not an option. Helmet had a visor though so I could block the car headlights and still see the road. Of course no one would wear this helmet in the winter anyway.
  • + 2
 Fair point - I usually ride with a thermal skull cap on in Winter. It doesn't get too far below freezing here so I can use the same helmet all year round.
  • + 1
 No one says you cant ride with a snowboard helmet.....
  • + 1
 On the subject of this being a roadie helmet that dares to not have a visor, I say who cares! A lot of mountain bikers (including me) also ride road, as well as numerous mtb disciplines. For those of us who are just into bikes without being attached to one particular cult there is a lot of benefit to products that we can use for multiple disciplines.

$300 is far too much though. You could buy 3 decent discipline-specific helmets for that and still have change for a brew. I think the same about all POCs products, so obviously I'm not their target market.
  • + 1
 If anyone is considering a POC helmet - make sure you try them on first. I was excited about the POC Trabec MIPS but couldn't get any size to fit. My head measures 58cm, but is narrow. I see a lot of them posted for resale with the sellers claiming the same issue. So, as with most helmets, definitely try before you buy - especially so for $300 POC helmets!
  • + 1
 Why is it that nobody bothers me when I am free solo climbing? The consequences of that are certain death. Let me get on my bike and go for an "easy" ride on the trail with no helmet and I get harassed. Could someone please open my mind to this subject. Thanks
  • + 4
 Hipster helmet
  • + 0
 I ride my road/xbike with my Bell Super. Anything I can do to NOT look like a rolling billboard roadie is quite OK with me. At least this POC helmet looks like a road and MTB helmet had a drunken one night stand.
  • + 4
 300 my nutz
  • + 3
 Bob is love, Bob is lyfe.
  • + 1
 My helmets gets super stinky and once I get super sweaty they taste like the ocean.
  • + 1
 It legit looks like someone let an 8 year old take a knife to a pumpkin and started cutting holes out of it....
  • + 1
 looks kinda cool but no peak and high price...but yeh will be a cool lid for somebody.
  • + 2
 why is it not called the "POCtal" helmet...
  • + 1
 Proctal
  • + 1
 There's something out there for everyone
  • + 1
 I wouldn't even put that goddamn thing in a wheelbarrow.
  • + 1
 this is a nice stylish helmut, but extremely overpriced
  • + 1
 The new Octal helmet. Because POC wasn't overpriced enough.
  • + 1
 looks like a Specialized Prevail helmet only heavier and more costly.
  • + 2
 300 bucks lol...
  • + 1
 E bikes are for fat old people.
  • + 1
 PB thought it's cool to review a $300 road helmet, but it's not
  • + 1
 DORC helmet, i am sorry i am really sorry it is inappropriate!
  • + 1
 A blue dot
  • + 0
 The Doctor says... no visor, $300, sky blue hoops, not even close.
  • + 1
 More like Rectal...
  • - 1
 most horrible object on earth
  • + 0
 Ugly
  • + 0
 stylish, but overpriced
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