POC is a Swedish company with a full line of road and mountain bike helmets. The Octal Aero is a full aero road helmet designed to cheat the wind. Manufacturers take many approaches in the development of their aero helmets, from a ground up design to modifications of existing helmets. POC takes the latter route with the Octal Aero. Essentially it is an POC Octal with a polycarbonate shell permanently attached over the top. The original Octal did not score particularly high during testing, and the Octal Aero follows suit, with the exception being very limited ventilation compared to the Octal, which performed well.
POC Octal Aero Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Aero
Cons: Heavy, expensive, poor ventilation
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The interior adjustment system and padding are identical to what is found in the Octal. The padding is very thin and the retention band creates pressure points. The straps are a high point in this design, made from very thin, soft webbing that is comfortable against the face. If you are looking for a comfortable aero helmet, we suggest you try the Bontrager Ballista or the Giro Air Attack Shield.
Like the Octal, the Octal Aero has a very thin and flimsy circumferential adjustment system that we found to be prone to kink. The fore and aft adjustment system are also identical to the Octal with 2.5cm of adjustment, but the plastic spars that hold the adjustment in place are very flimsy. The adjustment dial on the back of the helmet worked without issues during testing, but due to its flimsy nature, we are skeptical about longevity.
The Octal Aero has fixed webbing strap attachment points that limit adjustability. The Y-buckles are adjustable, but adjustments are very difficult to make compared to other designs we tested, such as the buckles found on the Giro Synthe.
The Octal Aero weighs 287g. It is heavier than the Bontrager Ballista, but comes in lighter than the Giro Air Attack. However, the Air Attack has a built-in eye shield and the Octal Aero does not. Overall, the weight is not impressive when compared to similar helmets that do not have integrated eyewear such as the Bontrager Ballista.
The Octal Aero is our least favorite aero helmet, with a very egg shaped rounded profile. We do not care for the modified design approach of gluing a polycarbonate shell to their existing Octal Aero helmet. As a consumer, you have to wonder if they have built the best aero helmet that they can, or if the Octal Aero is just a stopgap to fill a hole in their lineup.
The Octal Aero is one of the worst performing aero helmets we tested in terms of ventilation. There is only one vent on the front of the helmet, with a total of 7 vents. Most of the vents are on the rear of the helmet. Our testers found the Octal Aero to be stiflingly hot, particularly on climbs. For comparison, the Bontrager Ballista is quite well ventilated, considering its aero intentions.
We like that the Octal Aero has a full wrap polycarbonate shell that protects the base of the helmet. What we don't like is the glued-on polycarbonate aero shell. It feels flimsy, and can be pushed in with light finger pressure on areas where it does not make contact with the EPS. The seam between the existing Octal skeleton and the aero shell is not tight, particularly at the front of the helmet. When compared to the solid one-piece design of the Bontrager Ballista, the Octal Aero leaves much to be desired.
The Octal Aero is best suited to race only use, as it is too hot for training and lacks durability for everyday use.
The Octal Aero is expensive. At $250, it costs $75 more than the top-rated Bontrager Ballista. We do not feel the Octal Aero represents a good value.
The Octal Aero is an expensive aero helmet that falls far short of the competition in performance and value.
— Curtis Smith