SAFETY AND FEATURES
The brand-new POC Otocon is an enduro-style full-face helmet in the same category as the Troy Lee Stage
or Specialized Gambit
. POC say it's "developed for the precise needs of enduro riders," but as with all of these lightweight full-face helmets, it's a good choice for any ride where you want more protection than an open-face but still want/need to pedal.
Like most helmets in this category, it meets the same lab-based safety standards as any downhill helmet. That doesn't necessarily mean it's just as safe as the heavier options made purely for descending, but in the case of the Otocon the relatively generous padding and a suite of safety features make it feel a little more reassuring when getting out of your depth than some of its ultra-light rivals.
POC Otocon Details
• DH-certified lightweight full-face helmet (ASTM F1952 )
• 'Race Lock' Adjustment mechanism
• Removable cheek pads and grill for hot weather
• Mips Integra liner
• twICEme NFC Medical ID & RECCO Reflector for emergency response
• Weight (size L): 860 g, actual
• Sizes: S, M, L
• Price: $270-350 USD
At 860g in its heaviest configuration (tested), it's not the absolute lightest of the lightweight full-faces, but it's packed with safety features. As you'd expect, it passes the ASTM F1952
safety standard for downhill helmets, but it also passes the new Dutch standard for Speed E-bikes
(which offer assistance up to 45 km/h) called NTA8776, which is nice to know even if you don't intend to wear it on a derestricted e-bike.
The top-spec Otocon Race Mips gets a Mips Integra liner to reduce twisting forces in a crash; twICEme NFC Medical ID
which can store your medical information and emergency contact details digitally on the helmet, which first responders can use by scanning it with a smartphone; RECCO Reflector
which could make it easier for search and rescue teams to find you in the event of an accident (it's usually used in avalanche recovery), and a patented breakaway peak designed to protect your neck in a crash. Under the skin, there's an aramid layer under the polycarbonate outer shell, which is claimed to improve structural stability and penetration protection. Though not exactly a safety feature, it also comes with a clip-on transparent peak extender that offers extra splash protection for the foulest conditions - the perfect compliment to your wet-weather dungarees
The standard Otocon (as opposed to the Otocon Race Mips) does without Mips Integra liner, twICEme medical ID, the aramid layer and the wet weather peak, but meets all the same safety testing standards. It costs $80 less and, according to POC, is about 70g lighter too.FIT & ADJUSTMENTS
The Otocon is available in three sizes: S (51-54 cm), M (55-58 cm) and L (59-62 cm). Two sets of cheek pads are included to adjust the fit, along with what POC calls the 'Race Lock' system, which tensions an internal cradle to adjust the fit (similar to most open-face helmets) via an integrated thumbwheel at the back of the helmet. The chin strap uses a conventional plastic side-squeeze buckle.
To improve ventilation, or if you want to eat a banana in the most enduro-bro way possible, it is possible to remove the plastic grill on the chin-bar and pop it in your pocket for climbing. This is very fiddly and takes a lot of force, and to be honest I don't see much point. Similarly, POC suggests the cheek pads are easily removable for sweaty climbs between stages and that the helmet remains secure without them. But while all that is true, re-installing them is fiddly and probably isn't something you want to be fussing with just before a race stage.
The Otocon is available in a wide array of colours. POC chose to send me the purple version, presumably because it offers the greatest potential for insightful observations in the comments section.WEIGHT
Of course, weight is important for an enduro full-face, but it's not as simple as a single headline number. Below are some claimed weights from POC; as you'd expect, larger sizes are heavier and the more feature-packed Race MIPS version weighs around 70 grams more. POC sent me the Otocon Race Mips in a size large, which weighed 860g - ten more than claimed. For comparison, a Troy Lee Stage helmet in its largest size weighs 768g.
Otocon Race Mips - XS = 590g, S = 680 g, M = 750g, L = 850g
Otocon - XS = 530g, S = 620gr, M = 680g, L = 780gPRICE & AVAILABILITY
Otocon Race MIPS: $350 USD / $420 CAD / €329.95 / £300
Otocon: $270 USD / $310 CAD / €269.95 / £240
POC say the Otocon will be available from the end of March and the Otocon Race Mips will be available later in April online and in selected stores. RIDE IMPRESSIONS
My head circumference is at the upper limit of the range POC recommends for the size large; as a result, I found it a little tight around my jaw even with the thinner cheek pads, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. Adjusting the fit with the thumbwheel is easy and effective, and I often increased the tightness for rough descents and loosened it off a click or two when climbing. My only complaint with fit would be that I found it sits a little low over my brow at the front and pushes some goggles down towards my nose slightly. It feels like there is more pressure on the crown of my head and less pressure further towards the forehead, making the helmet sit a touch low at the front. This could well be an issue just for me, though. I've had similar problems with a couple of helmets in the past, but not with other helmets in this category.
Ventilation is pretty impressive. You can feel airflow around your face and especially around the temples once moving with a bit of speed, but inevitably it does start to get sweaty when the speeds drop off on the steepest hills, mostly because there's a bit more padding in direct contact with your head than with something like a Troy Lee Stage and Fox Proframe. It's tough to say how the ventilation compares to either of those, both of which I've ridden a lot in the past, because it's impossible to ride them both in exactly the same conditions at the same time. But with my feet to the fire, I'd say the other two have a slight edge when it comes to staying cool even with the POC's grill removed. The slight extra weight (about 90g compared to the Stage) is noticeable too, particularly in a big compression or berm.
The field of view is excellent, with no hint of claustrophobia. There is just enough room to store goggles under the peak if that's your thing, but it restricts ventilation and field of view. For a long climb, it's better to store goggles on the back of the lid.
When descending at speed, including flat-out sections in the bike park, it always feels secure and solid, with plenty of padding against your head. Whereas some lightweight full-faces can feel overly airy at times, which can feel less reassuring when hurtling towards a jump face, it's easy to forget the Otocal isn't a full-fat downhill helmet.
Fully-certified, safe feeling yet pedal-friendly helmet+
Packed with physical and electronic safety features+
Well-ventilated (if not the coolest when climbing)
There are lighter and airier alternatives-