The Tectal Race SPIN impressed our testers and took top honors in our mountain bike helmet test, winning our Editor's Choice Award. The reasons the Tectal is the best overall helmet in our test are many, starting with its impressive coverage, the best of all the helmets we tested. POC has also integrated their own rotational force impact system, called SPIN, into the pads of the helmet for additional head protection. In addition to the impressive protection it provides, the Tectal has a great fit, a quality adjustment system, and drafty ventilation to enhance your comfort out on the trail. Additional features like an adjustable visor and a goggle clip add to this helmet's versatility, making it a great all-around performer and a tester favorite.
POC Tectal Race SPIN Review
Cons: Expensive, visor is less user friendly than the competition
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Tectal Race SPIN is POC's top of the line mountain bike helmet with best in test coverage, comfort, features, and performance that earned it our Editor's Choice Award. In this case, top of the line protection comes at a top of the line price. The Tectal is the most expensive helmet in our test. But you can't put a price on safety. With high scores across the board in our rating metrics, the Tectal outclassed the competition in nearly every way. Read on to find out more about this award-winning helmet.
While it isn't a rated metric, we feel the Tectal Race SPIN is the most protective helmet in our test for a number of reasons. First, it offers the best coverage of all the models we tested with a shell that is designed to cover more of the temples and back of the head. This coverage is clearly visible as the shell dips lower on the temples and wraps around the back of the cranium. Despite the increase in coverage, the Tectal's design and shape remains comfortable. Other helmets like the Smith Forefront 2 and the Bell Hela Joy Ride come close but offer slightly less coverage than the Tectal.
POC has also added Aramid, a strong woven fiber similar to kevlar, in bridges that are molded to the outside of the EPS foam liner for added structural integrity. POC refers to the outer shell as having "unibody" construction, but it is actually three pieces with clean seams and a perfect fit around the EPS foam.
POC has also incorporated their own rotational force impact system, known as SPIN, into the Tectal Race SPIN helmet. Similar to other impact systems like MIPS and Turbine, the goal of SPIN technology is to reduce the forces applied to the brain during an oblique impact. It does this by allowing the outer layer of the helmet to rotate slightly, mimicking the way the skull protects the brain. One of the unique aspects of SPIN, versus the other systems, is that it adds no weight or thickness to the lining of the helmet since the technology is integrated into the pads. The pads also do double duty, absorbing impact while also deflecting it.
POC has also incorporated a Recco reflector, commonly used in skiing products for avalanche recovery. This feature could help in a search and rescue situation.
Comfort is one of the Tectal Race SPIN's strong suits, and it shares top honors in this rating metric with the Smith Session and the Smith Forefront 2. As a rule, comfort is somewhat subjective and may vary based on several factors, most notably the shape of your head. That said, our testers found the Tectal to be one of the most comfortable helmets in our test selection.
Several factors made the Tectal a favorite for comfort including the straps, size adjustment, the shape of the helmet, and ventilation. Overall, we found the fit of the Tectal to be good, although possibly a bit on the narrow side for folks with a wider head. The size adjustment dial works well to cinch the helmet down snugly and securely around the back of your head, and the copious vents allow proper airflow to help keep you cool. The well-designed straps don't make contact with ears while riding and allow for adjustability so you can arrange them exactly how you need them.
It is worth mentioning that we have heard that the additional temple coverage of the Tectal may conflict with some sunglass arms, although we didn't experience this issue while wearing Smith Pivlock Arena Max and Pivlock V2 Max sunglasses during testing.
The Tectal Race SPIN has several adjustable features which allow you to customize the fit of your helmet for better performance. The most frequently used adjustment is the size adjustment dial located at the back of the head. This dial is large and easy to use one-handed, even while wearing gloves. It allows for quick adjustment to tighten or loosen the fit to your preferences.
The straps of the Tectal are also adjustable and feature a Y shaped plastic yoke that splits the straps and holds them securely in place. The chin strap is attached to the center of the yokes with webbing. It latches under your chin with a standard plastic buckle and has a few inches of adjustment. We found the straps of the Tectal to be far superior to all of the other helmets in our test, including highly rated helmets like the Bell Hela Joy Ride and the Smith Session and Forefront 2.
The visor is also adjustable for goggle compatibility. A small screw in the center of the visor holds it in place. You need to loosen it before adjusting the visor. This screw is relatively small and can be a little challenging to tighten and loosen with the helmet on your head, and we found it easier to adjust the visor by taking the helmet off. When in the up position, you can rest a set of goggles under the visor and secure them in the back with the "goggle clip." We prefer helmets with more easily adjustable visor designs, like the Leatt DBX 3.0 or the Smith Session, but the visor on the Tectal works well once you are used to it.
Weighing in at 12.87 ounces in the size Medium/Large we tested, the Tectal Race SPIN is competitively lightweight. It weighs 0.64 ounces less than the Leatt DBX 3.0 All Mountain. These differences in weight are virtually unnoticeable, but in mountain biking lighter is always better.
What is truly impressive is how light this helmet is considering the additional coverage of the shell and the addition of features like the SPIN technology, Recco reflector, and goggle clip. POC claims their Aramid reinforced EPS foam liner and unibody shell construction help keep the weight of the helmet down, and we won't disagree.
The Tectal has 16 vents and provides some of the best ventilation in our test selection. We ranked it near the top with several other models in this metric for its excellent airflow. Nine large vents on the front of the helmet, a design borrowed from the POC Octal road bike helmet, help keep the air moving on your forehead, and three vents on the top and five on the back of the head allow the air to exhaust and your head to breathe.
Other competitors, like the Troy Lee A2 MIPS, offer similar levels of ventilation, but none can match the performance or protection the Tectal provides. The Smith Session, however, provides even better ventilation with nearly the same head protection and coverage as the Tectal.
The Tectal Race SPIN is packed with useful features that help make this the best overall helmet in our test. Many of these features have been mentioned previously, but here we'll lay them all out together.
As the name of the helmet suggests, it features POC's own rotational impact protection system, known as SPIN. The SPIN system is integrated into the pads of the helmet and adds an extra margin of safety to this already protective helmet.
Aramid, a supposedly unbreakable woven material, bridges reinforce the EPS foam liner. The aramid is molded into the foam in strategic places underneath the outer shell to add structure and durability. POC also integrated a Recco reflector, which could help in the event of a search and rescue.
The Tectal also has several adjustable features that are intended to personalize the fit and performance of the helmet. The size adjustment system is located at the back of the head and has a large and easily manipulated dial that can be adjusted one-handed while wearing gloves. The straps of the helmet have a great design, don't touch your ears, in our experience, and are easily adjusted. The visor of the helmet is also adjustable and can be raised to accommodate goggles. A goggle clip on the back of the helmet holds your goggle strap in place should you use them.
We've been riding in this helmet for months, and so far we have no complaints about its durability. Overall, the quality of craftsmanship appears to be top notch, and the outer shell and EPS foam liner are still in like new condition. The outer shell covers the majority of the EPS foam on the helmet, which helps protect it from being damaged while riding or during transport. The straps, size adjustment, visor, and SPIN liner pads all still appear to be in great condition, other than the inevitable sweat stains.
Now, we haven't crashed in this helmet, and as lovely as it would be to have some real-world crash experience to report, we aren't going out of our way to crash and find out. Considering the excellent coverage, protective features, and apparent quality of the Tectal, we believe that it would protect you well in the event of a crash. Note: as with any helmet, you must replace it after one crash. The foam liner typically breaks to allow the helmets to dissipate impact forces. The cracks may not be visible.
We won't pigeonhole the Tectal Race SPIN into being better suited to any specific discipline of mountain biking over another. The fact is, this helmet is great for all types of mountain bike riding. From XC racing to gravity riding, it's got you covered with great fit, protection, and features. The heavy hitting downhill crowd will probably opt for full face options, but for everyone else, we don't think it gets much better than the Tectal Race SPIN.
The Tectal Race SPIN is the 2nd most expensive helmet in our test selection with a retail price of $220, but we feel that this is still a solid value considering the excellent performance that it provides. If there is one item of protective gear that is worth splurging on, we think it's a quality helmet, and the Tectal is the best in our test.
It comes with a hefty price tag, but we feel the Tectal Race is one of the best mountain bike helmets on the market and the best overall in our test selection. The combination of best-in-test coverage and POC's SPIN technology make this helmet very protective, which is the whole point of wearing a helmet in the first place. The great fit, lightweight, adjustability, versatility, and ventilation make it the total package.
Other Version and Accessories
POC makes a full line of protective gear for cycling including helmets, pads, eyewear, and apparel.
- The Tectal retails for $190 and has the same design and most of the features of the Race SPIN model, minus the goggle clip and SPIN technology. It comes in 9 different color options.
- The Tectal Race retails for $210 and has the same features as the SPIN model we tested, minus the SPIN technology. It is offered in 2 colors, white and black.
- The Tectal Race Visor is offered as an aftermarket purchase as a replacement part for your Tectal Race helmet. It comes in white or black and retails for $15.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 16, 2018
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