Extensively testing the POC Octal-X
Misfortune on the bike path leads to more thorough first impressions than I would have liked
You could say I had the misfortune of extensively testing the POC Octal-X on my first ride wearing it. While normally after a ride in a new helmet I would be thinking of its comfort, ventilation and fit, after this ride I was just thankful I was uninjured.
Riding along a local bike path chatting with a friend, an off-the-leash dog (in an on leash area) ran unexpectedly across the path beelining towards a flock of geese. Fortunately, we were not moving fast and the dog was uninjured just very surprised when my front wheel made contact with it.
I, however, was slightly less lucky and the tumble left me bruised and scratched. That surprised my two riding companions who were worried I had knocked my head on the pavement going down. I had grazed my head on the pavement but the helmet stood up to the test.
The Octal-X borrows its shape and design from the POC Octal but has been beefed up to make it more suitable for riding off road. When POC first released the Octal, it’s beefy shape made many question the aesthetics of the helmet but it has become commonplace on the heads of world class cyclists and trendy riders. You could say it’s now a cool helmet and POC are leaving the aesthetics unchanged as they gear it for riders tackling rougher roads, gravel and cross-country singletrack.
The Octal-X has the features that make the Octal such a great helmet with generous ventilation, low weight (claimed 250 g for the small I was testing) and a unibody shell construction. With an EPS foam core and the added protection offered by aramid bridge technology, the helmet is more robust and better prepared to spread the forces of an impact.
The aesthetics of the helmet are great too. Instead of a single tone white finish like offered on the Octal, the Octal-X hydrogen white version is two toned with a black finish on the back and underside of the helmet. If you think the Octal looks a little too bulbous, this makes it look less so. The sizing of the small 50/56 helmet fit my head great as well. On hot rides, the ventilation was welcome keeping the air flow over the top of my head constant.
POC has always geared their helmets towards safety, hence the shape of the helmet which is designed to offer generous protection of all parts of the head. When I got off the ground after crashing on the bike path, I was certainly grateful to be wearing this helmet and not one of the more minimally designed ones. It didn’t move around during the fall and I was confident after having a few moments to access the damage that I was uninjured. I was fortunate not suffering from whiplash or worse in the coming days as my bruises and scrapes healed.
So maybe my lack of injuries was simply an indication that I was lucky but I like to think that on my first ride I just thoroughly put the POC Octal-X through its paces.