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POC Octal Aero Review

A high price and questionable design make this one of our lower scoring aero models.
POC Octal Aero
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Price:  $250 List | $199.95 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Aero
Cons:  Heavy, expensive, poor ventilation
Manufacturer:   POC
By Nick Bruckbauer & Curtis Smith  ⋅  Oct 2, 2019
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 15
  • Comfort - 20% 5
  • Adjustability - 15% 5
  • Weight - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 7
  • Ventilation - 20% 4
  • Durability - 15% 6

Our Verdict

POC is a Swedish company with a full line of road and mountain bike helmets. The Octal Aero is a full aerodynamic road bike model designed to cheat the wind. Manufacturers take many approaches in the development of their aero helmets, from a new ground-up design to modifications of existing helmets. POC takes the latter route with this particular model, which is essentially a modified version of their traditional POC Octal with a polycarbonate shell permanently attached over the top. With poor ventilation and an awkward shape, the Octal Aero does not score particularly high in our ratings. The Octal Aero is best-suited for race only use, as it is too hot for training and lacks durability and comfort for everyday use.


Compare to Similar Products

 
POC Octal Aero
This Product
POC Octal Aero
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $199.95 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$168.71 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$324.95 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$100 List$63.71 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros AeroLightweight, comfortable, low profile, good ventilationGreat ventilation, elegant style, advanced MIPS liner designWell ventilated, affordable, comfortable, uses CES protectionLightweight, well-ventilated, very affordable
Cons Heavy, expensive, poor ventilationExpensiveExpensive, heavier than other high-end helmetsForehead padding requires visor, bulky, doesn’t use MIPSNot as durable or adjustable as high-end models
Bottom Line A high price and questionable design make this one of our lower scoring aero models.A high-end road biking helmet with a semi aerodynamic profile, that is lightweight and well-ventilated.A high-end road biking helmet with excellent ventilation and a unique MIPS liner design.A playfully designed offering with plenty of features for casual and serious riders alike.A low-cost, lightweight helmet with many of the same features as higher priced competitors.
Rating Categories POC Octal Aero Giro Synthe MIPS Giro Aether MIPS Catlike Kompact'o Urban Giro Foray MIPS
Comfort (20%)
10
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5
10
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9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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7
Adjustability (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
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6
10
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6
10
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9
Style (15%)
10
0
7
10
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8
10
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8
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7
10
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7
Ventilation (20%)
10
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4
10
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7
10
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9
10
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8
10
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8
Durability (15%)
10
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6
10
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7
10
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8
10
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8
10
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6
Specs POC Octal Aero Giro Synthe MIPS Giro Aether MIPS Catlike Kompact'o... Giro Foray MIPS
Weight (grams) 287 g (size M) 312 g (size L) 330 g (size L) 291 g (size M) 312 g (size L)
MIPS No Yes Yes No Yes
Number of vents 7 19 11 21 21
Sizes S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L
Size Range (cm) 54-60 cm (size M) 59-63 cm (size L) 59-63 cm (size L) 51-61 cm (size M) 59-63 cm (size L)

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


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

Comfort


The interior padding on the Octal Aero is very thin, and the adjustable headband system tends to create pressure points, leading to below-average scores in our comfort ratings. The chinstrap system is a high point in this design, with straps that are made from very thin, soft webbing that is comfortable against the face. If you are looking for a more comfortable and lighter weight aero model, we suggest you try the Bontrager Ballista.

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

Adjustability


The Octal Aero has a very thin and flimsy headband adjustment system that we found to be prone to kink, earning it low scores in the adjustability metric. The fore and aft adjustment system provides approximately 2.5cm of adjustment, but the plastic spars that hold the adjustment in place are also 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 its long term performance.

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 challenging 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 in at 287 g in a size Medium. It is heavier than the Bontrager Ballista. Overall, the weight is not impressive when compared to similar helmets that do not have integrated eyewear such as the Bontrager Ballista.

Style


The Octal Aero is ranked as our least favorite aero model, with a very rounded egg-shaped 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 this design 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 only seven vents. Most of the vents are on the rear of the helmet. Our testers found this model to be stiflingly hot, particularly on long, slow climbs. For comparison, the Bontrager Ballista is quite well ventilated, considering its similar aerodynamic 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 outer shell on top of the helmet. It feels flimsy and can be pushed in with light finger pressure on areas where it does not make contact with the EPS foam. The seam between the existing helmet's skeleton and the outer shell is not tight, particularly at the front of the helmet. When compared to the solid one-piece design of the Bontrager Ballista, this product leaves much to be desired.

Value


The Octal Aero is expensive. With a $250 list price, it is much more expensive than other higher-performing aero helmets in our lineup. Given its limited performance and high price tag, we do not feel that this model represents a good value for most riders.

Conclusion


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


Nick Bruckbauer & Curtis Smith