POC Kortal Race MIPS Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Lots of safety certifications, enhanced protective features, well ventilated, deep fit with lots of coverage
Cons: Expensive, moderate weight, visor design doesn't block low sun angles that well, helmet shell may conflict with some sunglass arms
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POC Kortal Race MIPS
|Price||$199.96 at Backcountry|
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|$259.95 at Backcountry|
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|$88.95 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Lots of safety certifications, enhanced protective features, well ventilated, deep fit with lots of coverage||Amazing ventilation, comfortable, dual-shell protection, good head coverage, feature-packed||Great ventilation, seamless eyewear integration, good coverage||Lightweight, comfortable, affordable||Very affordable, great coverage, stylish, comfortable, MIPS|
|Cons||Expensive, moderate weight, visor design doesn't block low sun angles that well, helmet shell may conflict with some sunglass arms||Average weight, expensive||Heavier than its predecessor, non-adjustable visor||Less coverage than some other models, small visor, average ventilation||Fixed visor, warm, visor doesn't detach|
|Bottom Line||POC continues to push the envelope of protection and safety with this new fully-featured, high coverage half-shell||An incredibly airy and well-designed helmet that lives up to its high price tag||A stylish, breathable update on a classic with great eyewear integration but a one -position visor||A versatile trail helmet that will stand up to all-day adventures and won't cost you an arm and a leg||An affordable helmet with high-end styling and coverage|
|Rating Categories||POC Kortal Race MIPS||Giro Manifest Spher...||Specialized Ambush 2||Giro Radix MIPS||Specialized Camber|
|Specs||POC Kortal Race MIPS||Giro Manifest Spher...||Specialized Ambush 2||Giro Radix MIPS||Specialized Camber|
|Rotational Impact Protection System?||MIPS Integra||MIPS Spherical||MIPS SL||MIPS||MIPS|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||14.14 oz, 401g||14.1 oz, 401g||13.4 oz, 378g||12.6 oz, 360g||13.8 oz, 394g|
|Number of vents||17||19||15||25||13|
|Goggle or Sunglasses Integration?||Yes||Integrated eyewear grippers||Yes||No||No|
|Adjustable Visor?||Yes||Yes||No (breakaway feature)||Yes||No|
|Sizes||XS/SM, M/L L/XL||S, M, L||S, M, L||S, M, L, XL||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Certifications||CPSC Bicycle for ages 5+, EN1078, Dutch NTA 8776 e-bike, AS/NZS 2063||CPSC Bicycle for ages 5+, CE EN1078||CPSC||CPSC, CE EN1078||CPSC|
|Virginia Tech Helmet Safety Rating (if applicable)||5-star||5-star||5-star|
Our Analysis and Test Results
POC has upped the ante of head protection with their new Kortal Race MIPS half shell helmet. Building on the success of their popular Tectal helmet, the Kortal boasts an even deeper fit with more coverage, more safety certifications, additional safety features, great ventilation, and an easily adjustable visor. It's expensive, but we feel the price is justified for the level of protection it provides. It was made to integrate seamlessly with POC's new Devour full-coverage sunglasses, although we didn't have a chance to test them together.
We feel the Kortal Race MIPS is one of the most protective half-shell helmets on the market, and that is backed up by its impressive list of safety certifications. Not only does it carry the usual CPSC, CE-EN1078, and AS/NZ2063 certifications, it also meets the Dutch NTA 8776 e-bike standard. This is the first helmet we've tested to meet this new e-bike standard.
In addition to the long list of safety certifications, the Kortal Race MIPS has the most coverage of any half-shell helmet we've tested. It has a deep fit, and the shell drops down significantly at the back of the head/occipital lobe and by the temples. The shell has a robust feel to it, with a unibody construction reinforced with Aramid bridges which are claimed to add structural integrity. This helmet is also one of the first to use the new MIPS Integra rotational impact protection system. The padding looks and feels nearly identical to POC's SPIN system, but it now sits atop a yellow MIPS low friction layer that is integrated into the EPS foam inside the helmet. This MIPS design is very low profile and it has the added benefit of not blocking the vents or air channels in any way.
The adjustable visor is also designed to break away from the helmet which POC claims can enhance neck protection and reduce the chance of injury. We didn't get to test this feature by crashing, but we did test it by hand. The visor does, in fact, break away quite easily, and it also goes back on the helmet in just a few seconds. It also comes equipped with a Recco reflector which could potentially help rescuers find you in a search and rescue situation. Another unique safety feature is the NFC medical id chip. By using the twICEme app, you can upload your vital information and emergency contacts, making it accessible to first responders through a smartphone.
We found the Kortal Race MIPS to be a relatively comfortable helmet. The fit is nearly identical to that of the Tectal, and it is offered in the same three sizes, XS/S, M/L, and XL/XXL. Like the Tectal, the fit feels a bit narrower than many other helmets, which may be a factor for riders with rounder head shapes. If you're unsure about your head shape, this is a helmet that we'd recommend trying on before you purchase it.
As mentioned above, the fit of the Kortal is just a touch narrower than other helmets like the Smith Forefront 2 or the Troy Lee Designs A3. Our primary Kortal tester felt a bit of pressure on both sides of the head just above and behind the ears. Granted, his head is on the upper end of the M/L sizing, but we found this fit to be pretty consistent with that of the Tectal helmet too. The pressure was noticeable, but it wasn't bad enough that the helmet really felt uncomfortable. That said, riders with notably round head shapes might not get along with it.
The Kortal has a deep fit with lots of coverage at the back of the head and down by the temples. The shell has been well designed and these extended coverage areas don't make any unwanted contact with the head. That said, we found that the shell by the temples was prone to making contact with some sunglass arms, and sunglasses with lowered arms, like the POC Devour, get along better with this lid. Inside the helmet, padding is relatively minimal but covers the brow from temple to temple and back to the top of the head along the shell's inner ridges. These pads are nice and soft on the skin with squishy silicone material inside. The 360-degree fit adjustment system is adjustable vertically at the back of the head, and a turn of the dial pulls tension evenly around the entire head for a snug fit. We're fans of the fixed, Y-shaped strap yoke which holds the straps nice and flat with no ear contact.
With seven vents at the front of the helmet and deep front-to-back air channels, the Kortal Race MIPS impressed us with its ventilation. Even just walking around the house, you can feel the air moving through this helmet. We'd say it's among the breeziest of all the helmets we've tested, impressive given its coverage and protective features.
The Kortal has a total of 17 vents, 7 of which are located on the front of the helmet and do a great job drawing air in. Two of these are oriented horizontally directly in front of the brow, and five are oriented vertically just above those. There are two more intake vents, one on each side of the head, and three vents on top of the helmet. At the back of the helmet are 5 large exhaust vents. Deep air channels extend from the front vents over the top of the head to the exhaust vents at the back. POC cleverly designed the MIPS Integra slip plane and padding so that it doesn't interfere with any of the vents or the air channels, so air flows unimpeded through the helmet. Additionally, POC designed the helmet so that if you are using it with goggles the goggle strap doesn't conflict with any of the vent holes.
The Kortal Race MIPS is packed with virtually every feature you can think of and a couple you probably never even knew you needed. It's fair to say this is one of the most feature-packed helmets on the market. Some of these features are unique to this helmet and help to make it one of the most protective helmets we've tested.
One of the most interesting safety features of the Kortal Race MIPS is the new MIPS Integra rotational impact protection system. We've touched on this already, but the slip plane is integrated into the inside of the EPS foam with silicone injected pads (a lot like the previous SPIN system) that sit on top. POC also makes their shell with Aramid bridges to add structural integrity without adding much weight. The helmet also has a Recco reflector as well as an NFC medical id chip. Using the twICEme app you can upload your vital information and emergency contacts to the NFC chip so that first responders can access it if you are unresponsive or unable to communicate. The new visor design offers 3 positions of adjustability with enough room for goggles on top of the helmet, plus it is designed to easily break away in the event of a direct impact. Our only gripe with the visor design is that its position higher on the helmet limits its ability to block low sun angles effectively. Lastly, the helmet has been designed to work seamlessly with POC's new Devour sunglasses, and the vent layout has been optimized to work with goggle straps.
With a measured weight of 401 grams or 14.14 ounces in size M/L, the Kortal Race MIPS falls around the middle of the pack in this metric. It seems the additional coverage has added a few grams and a little heft compared to the Tectal, but that's not exactly unexpected. For a highly protective trail/enduro helmet, we feel the weight is actually quite reasonable. Sure, it's 51-grams heavier than the lightest helmet we tested, the Specialized Ambush, but we didn't notice it feeling any heavier on the head while out on the trail. For all but the most weight-conscious riders, this difference will likely be negligible.
Like other POC helmets we've tested, the finish quality, craftsmanship, and materials of the Kortal Race MIPS appear to be top-notch. Assuming normal use conditions and no hard crashes, we feel this helmet should last for several seasons.
The outer polycarbonate shell consists of three pieces that are very cleanly bonded at all of the seams and the EPS foam is in-molded perfectly within the outer shell with no gaps. The outer shell wraps down around the lower edge of the helmet and there is no exposed foam to be damaged by dropping the helmet on the ground or tossing it in a truck bed. The glossy finish of the shell material also appears to be quite resistant to scratching or staining, and our test helmet looks brand new despite weeks of use. The straps and fit adjustment system are also still in perfect shape beyond the usual sweat stains. The adjustable, breakaway visor seems like the most likely failure point on this helmet, though that is the case with most visors. That said, the breakaway design means that it will likely pop off the helmet before it would be stressed to the point of breaking.
The Kortal Race MIPS is one of the most expensive helmets in our test selection. Yes, the price of entry is steep, but riders who prioritize head protection and the latest and greatest in helmet safety technology will likely be able to justify the expense. Add to that the fact that it appears to be very well made and highly durable, and you'll likely get several seasons of use out of it. If you don't require MIPS in your helmet, the Kortal is the same helmet without the MIPS or NFC chip for $50 less.
The Kortal Race MIPS is an impressive new half-shell helmet from POC. With a deep fit, the most coverage of any helmet we tested, MIPS Integra, an adjustable breakaway visor, and the Dutch e-bike safety certification, we feel this is one of the most protective mountain bike helmets on the market today. Despite its robust and protective feel, it has some of the best ventilation of all the helmets we tested. Our biggest concerns with this helmet are its slightly narrower fit and that the shell by the temples conflicts with some sunglass arms. It's also quite expensive, but if you're seeking the most protective helmet on the market we think this is it.
— Jeremy Benson
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