Hands-on Gear Review

POC Octal Aero Review

POC Octal Aero
Price:  $270 List | $130.00 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Aero
Cons:  Heavy, expensive, poor ventilation
Bottom line:  The Octal Aero is a modified version of the Octal; high price and questionable design make it one of the lower scoring aero helmets we have tested.
Editors' Rating:   
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Sizes:  S, M, L
Weight Grams:  287g (M)
Size Range:  54-60cm
Manufacturer:   POC

Our Verdict

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.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Curtis Smith

Last Updated:
Friday
February 17, 2017

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Performance Comparison


Side profile of the POC Octal Aero.
Side profile of the POC Octal Aero.

Comfort


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.

The thin pads on the POC Octal Aero are not comfortable.
The thin pads on the POC Octal Aero are not comfortable.

Adjustability


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 retention band on the POC Octal Aero is amongst the flimsiest we tested.
The retention band on the POC Octal Aero is amongst the flimsiest we tested.

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 fore and aft adjustment mechanism on the POC Octal Aero.
The fore and aft adjustment mechanism on the POC Octal Aero.

Weight


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.

Looks and Design


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 POC Octal Aero has a very round  egg-like profile.
The POC Octal Aero has a very round, egg-like profile.

Ventilation


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.

Six of the seven vents on the POC Octal Aero are located on the back of the helmet.  The vent combination does not provide good ventilation.
Six of the seven vents on the POC Octal Aero are located on the back of the helmet. The vent combination does not provide good ventilation.

Durability


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.

Best Applications


The Octal Aero is best suited to race only use, as it is too hot for training and lacks durability for everyday use.

Value


The Octal Aero is expensive. At $270, it costs $100 more than the top-rated Bontrager Ballista. We do not feel the Octal Aero represents a good value.

Conclusion


The Octal Aero is an expensive aero helmet that falls far short of the competition in performance and value.

Other Version


AVIP version
-AVIP version of the Octal Aero which means higher visibility
-Features reflective paint to enhance visibility for increased safety

-$300

Curtis Smith

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Most recent review: February 17, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 4
  • 5
 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 100%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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