Monday, January 13, 2014

POC Octal helmet

Garmin-Sharp previewed the new POC Octal helmet in the early 2014 races in New Zealand and Australia. Here's Jack Baur finishing second in the sprint in the New Zealand championships in Christchurch:

CyclingNews

I love what I see on the POC: round shape should fit my head, light weight (195 g for medium), more padding in the temple area and the lower back of the head, and rounded profile which should reduce twisting moments which contribute to brain trauma and concussions. It seems to have it all, other than being soberingly expensive ($270 retail).

Well, everything except aerodynamics. I was told it could be a dog in the windtunnel, something which Jack might be regretting in that photo, as he gets beaten to the line by Hayden Raulston.

But POC also has an aerodynamic version, the Octal Aero. Here's a comparison:

Octal
Octal Aero

I've read the two are equivalent, except Octal used a cover on the vents in the Aero. To test this, I superposed the profiles, making the Octal red and the Aero green. Where they overlap is brown:

profiles

There's essentially no red left in the image, and there's green only over the vents holes of the Octal. So it indeed appears the case the profiles are the same. The penalty is 20 grams, which is significant but not so bad compared to other aero mass-start helmets, like the Specialized.

I wonder how well you could do using packing tape on the Octal when you want aero, removing it if you don't. I did this trick with my Specialized Prevail but basically never remove the tape. I never have a need to. The tape is only over the front center vents, not the rear or side ones, as it is in the front center that the wind drag penalty will be greatest, while keeping the side and back open allows for diffusive cooling. Certainly the plastic cover, while heavier, is a tidier solution, as the packing tape tends to attract debris.

Anyway, as I write this they have only one size in one color available. The promised availability in stores is March.

As an aside, there's also a time trial helmet, which is... distinctive. I am a big fan of function over form on helmets, though, and if it works in the wind tunnel, then it's fine with me:

RidingFeelsGood photo
Riding Feels Good photo

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