Among the greatest of brands and names you see splattered across YouTube and social media, POC is one that hardly goes unnoticed. Sponsoring amazingly talented names such as Danny MacAskill, Fabio Wibmer and Martin Söderström to name a few…there’s a good chance you’ve seen their logo somewhere on their armored bodies. POC’s presence in the cycling protection industry is renowned for good reason. This is due to their strong history in ski racing since 2005 and constant developments with the help from sports medicine personnel, brain scientists and specialists in spinal cord injuries.
With over 14 years of experience with athlete protection in outdoor sports, their cycling line is flourishing faster than ever with new technology pouring into their helmets. I got the chance to put hundreds of miles underneath POC’s Tectal Race SPINhelmet and see what sets it apart in the industry with the higher than average price tag. First off, let’s discuss what “SPIN” is. SPIN is POC’s interpretation of minimizing the forces and effects of rotational impact upon rider’s skulls. There’s nothing more contributing to the advancements of products than some friendly competition. Competition in the form of MIPS technology. While MIPS uses a separate “basket” suspended by elastic bands, POC took a simpler and direct approach to resolving this common issue in cycling injuries. SPIN stands for “Shearing Pad INside”. External forces to the helmet allow the pads to shear in all directions by the use of silicone inside each pad. By simply redesigning the pads themselves, this allowed for less clutter and additional devices inside the helmet’s shell thus allowing more room to design for comfort and weight reduction. POC claims SPIN is just as effective as MIPS but with the benefit of an improved fit for the rider. My previous helmet featured MIPS and while it was very comfortable, the comfort didn’t compare to this POC Tectal Race SPIN. The MIPS helmet seemed to have softer and deeper pads, but the true fit of the POC countered the extra-plush cushion with a liner seemingly molded from my own head. Placing the helmet on for the first time had me impressed with how snug the shell went over my temples then slid perfectly down over my head to give me a wide wrap of protection around my skull.
All heads are different. If your fit doesn’t feel quite right and needs a small adjustment, there’s of course a dial just below the back of the helmet to tighten/loosen the basket. The dial has a nice tactile feel and is easy to operate with gloves. Tightening the basket feels uniform around the head as it cinches to form to your skull.
This helmet features quality aluminum hardware to adjust your visor position along with a sturdy chassis as a base. POC’s Aramid Bridge allows for a tougher structure; a reinforced EPS foam liner securely bonded to the lightweight polycarbonate unibody. Below the shell’s surface is an integrated RECCO reflector. This is a technology developed from skiing as a method to located buried skiers with the use of a RECCO detector. The reflector simply allows the search party to get a better visual of your location. While this must have some influence on cost, I truly hope no one needs to use it, but it is certainly nice to have in the case of an emergency! The exterior also features POC’s signature use of large vents in addition to a goggle clip.
As a trail/enduro-focused helmet, I made sure to try the helmet with my choice of goggles. I had no issue with dialing in the fit immediately and comfortably. The top of my Smith lenses sit flush against the bottom lip of the shell below the visor. Clean fit!
At a price of $220, this helmet is no joke. So is head injuries, to be fair. If there’s one thing you can set money aside towards, it’s a quality lid. Sure there is other offerings that may suit some better, but POC’s competitive design with fit, safety and clean aesthetics in mind has got to be considered. Try one on the next chance you get, it may save your life. Buy yours here.
Words and photos by Mike Cartier