The Octal stays true to the POC aesthetic- simple, geometric lines with clean, bold branding in highly visible contrasting colours. Our test helmet came in an unmissable shade of fluorescent “Zink Orange”, all the better for cars and pedestrians to see one with. The colour forms part of the POC AVIP initiative, which stands for “Attention Visibility Interaction and Protection”, that combines the findings from scientific, medical, and technological research, with the aim of improving road cycling safety. According to POC, the orange colour offers the best contrast with the road background to make a cyclist most noticeable to drivers.
The helmet also comes with a reflective sticker kit and an ICE tag sticker which can be scanned for identification in the case of an emergency. For those who are not so keen on the orange theme, the AVIP is also available in a more muted Hydrogen white, and the Octal Raceday model comes in a range of fun colours from Cannon Green to Fluorescent Pink. The Octal AVIP is also available with MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), which reduces the rotational forces on your brain jelly during a crash.
Another safety feature of the Octal is the increased coverage of the temples and back of the head that it offers when compared with many other road helmets. This is a feature that I really appreciated, as it gave me the sense that my head was secure and well-protected. The helmet is also noticeably thicker in areas which are most likely to be a point of impact.
POC have opted for quality over quantity in terms of ventilation, and the Octal features few, well-spaced large vents, rather than many smaller vents. They claim that this allows more air-flow through the helmet and improves aerodynamic efficiency. The Coolbest padding is designed to keep the head/ helmet interface cool. It was certainly noticeably more airy than my current helmet during the test rides.
The size adjustment system is very easy to use and despite its flimsy appearance kept the Octal very firmly on my head. I appreciated being able to adjust it quickly on the fly. The straps are moulded into the EPS (Expanded Polystyrene- for materials noobs like me) liner so there are no extra fiddly bits on the helmet to worry about or (heaven forbid) add unnecessary weight.
My favourite feature was the Eye Garage for storing sunglasses on the helmet. I have been in the habit of stuffing my glasses into a pocket when they are not being used, and this tends to result in them being permanently coated in a sticky layer of gels and melted Bar One, reducing visibility somewhat. The Eye Garage is basically two rubber friction patches on the front of the helmet that grip the arms of the glasses when they are stored on top of the helmet, keeping them firmly in place. I tested the system vigorously and did not manage to dislodge my D’Arcs.
The medium Octal weighs in at 195g: up there with the best in the top end of the field. It meets the safety certifications EN 1078 (Europe) and AS/NZS 2063 (Australia and New Zealand), so it should keep your noggin as safe as possible.
The only downside is the price tag: starting at R4,050.00, and peaking at a whopping R4,995.00 for the MIPS version, this is not a helmet for the shallow-of-pocket.
At the end of the day, if you are looking for a light, comfortable helmet, that also offers the best in safety and visibility, then the Octal is well worth considering.