We take a look at two top-end helmets from Bontrager and POC with nifty features and designs to help you go faster and stay cooler all while keeping safe.
Ridden & Reviewed: POC Ventral Spin & Bontrager Velocis MIPS
The POC Ventral Spin and Bontrager Velocis Helmets
Helmets are the type of gear that you probably always wear and hope never to use. Most of us choose helmets based on some combination of color, fit, price, and style. And that makes perfect sense since each helmet sold in the states meets the same safety standards, be it a commuter helmet, an MTB lid, or an aero road racing model.
What you’re typically deciding between when you’re looking at helmets at different price points are features that tend to make the helmet more comfortable. Helmets that cost more typically have larger and/or more vents, perhaps they are more aerodynamic, and they are likely lighter weight than a more affordable helmet. For some folks those added features and benefits, for a piece of gear that’s worn on every ride, are well worth added costs. Amortized over all of your rides, even the most expensive helmets end up being quite affordable.
Today we’re looking at two helmets towards the top of the helmet pyramid, the Bontrager Velocis MIPS and the POC Ventral Spin.
The Bontrager Velocis MIPS
Trek’s Bontrgaer accessory brand has been producing helmets for a number of years. Their newest helmet technology, Wavecel, designed to reduce rotational forces and linear impacts, is not present on the Velocis MIPS, which instead uses the MIPS slip plane to achieve the same goal—a safer helmet. MIPS is used by many helmet makers, not just Bontrager, and the technology generally sits between a helmet’s EPS foam layer (the bulk of the helmet) and the pads that increase the helmets comfort.
The Velocis MIPS hemet is true to size as it was designed around the MIPS layer. Early MIPS helmets tended to fit small as the MIPS layer was simply added to existing models. Not so with the Velocis, but best still to try any hemet on, especially if you like to wear a cycling cap under your helmet. The overall fit is quite comfortable thanks to the ubiquitous BOA retention system as well as the shape of the shell and the quality pads inside the Velocis.
The straps on the Velocis are very long. Like needlessly long. Sure, you can cut the excess and use a lighter to prevent fraying, but that seems antiquated. The straps, like on the majority of helmets out there, are “laced” through contact points inside the shell. So pulling on one side shortens the other. Adjustability is managed by buckle clasps below each ear that allow you to adjust strap length in front of and behind each ear. While common on many helmets, again, this seems pretty rudimentary these days. Size-specific straps would be a more elegant solution on a helmet that’s this high-end.
The Velocis pads are nice and placed well. They do tend to get heavy with sweat, but it’s Texas and usually it’s pretty hot and you’re gonna sweat. Speaking of keeping cool, the 12 vents feel well-placed and sized well aided by the deep channels inside the helmet. The helmet actually saw a reduction in vents a few years back in order to make the Velocis more aero. Set next to the Ballista aero helmet, you can see the tilt towards race performance. The finish of the helmet is nice. The shell over the EPS foam wraps underneath and gives the Velocis a very high end feel. And it’s easy to store riding glasses in the helmet when the clouds come out. One really cool feature from Bontrager: a crash replacement program if you crash in the first year of ownership.
The Velocis balances performance and everyday helmet needs and leans slightly towards the racer crowd. The Velocis has a claimed weight of 300g for a large, which measures from 58-63 cm. It retails for $209.99.
Bontrager Velocis MIPS Helmet - VIDEO
The POC Ventral SPIN
The POC Ventral Spin is a new-again to the shop helmet offering. Unique styling with a specific focus on safety makes POC a helmet that many riders specifically seek out. Rather than MIPS, POC Sports utilizes their own slip plane technology called SPIN. SPIN stands for “Shearing Pad Inside” and it’s the same concept of a plane that helps reduce rotational forces on the head in the event of a crash. The SPIN structure is built into the helmet’s pads, an interesting and unique design answer.
The POC Ventral SPIN fits well and is quite comfortable. There seems to be more overlap in the sizing of POC helmets based on their fit recommendations, but overall, a large feels like a large. Again, it’s best to try on any helmet before buying to make sure it sits well on your head and adjusts easily.
The Ventral SPIN tilts towards being an aerodynamic, race helmet first. The companion Ventral Air SPIN boats additional vents whereas the Ventral Spin trades some of the added vents for solid construction that reduces drag for a faster helmet. The Ventral SPIN also features a trailing back end that specifically reduces drag from air passing through and over the helmet. The Ventral SPIN is decidedly a performance race helmet.
The Ventral SPIN’s construction, like the Velocis MIPS, is a PC layer over EPS foam. The finishing is similar as well, with under finishing that evidences the Ventral SPIN’s quality look and feel. The straps on the Ventral SPIN are, in our tester’s opinion, nicer. They are anchored to the EPS foam in four spots, similar to other high-end helmets on the market, rather than being a continuous strap laced through a number of contact points. The straps are also not readily adjustable under the ear and instead feature a fixed for/aft positioning. In terms of looks, this is great and it makes for a pretty comfortable strap system. But if you need that adjustability, it’s decidedly harder to do that compared to the Velocis. Otherwise, under the chin strap length is adjustable on the right side, with the left being a fixed length.
Like nearly every helmet out there, the Ventral SPIN has a BOA-like retention system that works well in terms of providing fit tension for the helmet’s shell. That said, two of our testers wish it sat lower on the back of the head. Even with the retention system adjusted out to its furthest point, the dial mechanism sits fairly higher than similar systems on other helmets from other brands. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s something to be aware of.
The Ventral SPIN pads are decidedly thicker than those on the Velocis MIPS. This makes sense given the slip plane membrane POC has built into the pads. They do not seem to make the helmet fit differently (read: smaller) and arguably add comfort. There are also more pads and they also sit further back compared to other helmets, which again makes sense given their design purpose.
Each of the vents features a deep channel, like that on the Velocis MIPS. And in the few warmer rides we’ve ridden the Ventral SPIN on, we’ve not noticed the reduced number of vents. The helmet has proven quite comfortable and solicited a number of positive comments regarding its looks. One thing we’d like to see is either a color matched eyeglass retention pad or a removal of it altogether. On our white-on-white test helmet, the black friction tape looks a bit cheap. We bet glasses of all types will stay just fine based on tension on the glasses’ ear sockets without the friction pad. In the end, it’s a minor quibble.
The Ventral SPIN also has a claimed weight of 300g for a large, which measures slightly smaller from 56-61 cm. It retails for $290.00.
POC Ventral SPIN - VIDEO
The Bottom Line
Bontrager and POC helmets are among the best wearing we’ve tried. And having Austin’s largest selection of helmets—from Smith, Fox, 100%, Thousand, and Laser as well as Bontrager and POC—we’ve tried a large number. However you ride, regardless of your style, and whatever your budget, we have a helmet for you. Stop in and check out the Bontrager Velocis MIPS, the POC Ventral SPIN, and all the other helmets to find the perfect one for you.