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The POC Ventral took its New Year’s resolutions seriously this year.
One of the marquee helmets in POC’s road cycling lineup, the Ventral has undergone a diet, becoming the Swedish safety gear brand’s lightest cycling helmet ever. Meet the new Ventral Lite.
The Ventral Lite is not a replacement for any helmet. Rather, it joins three other helmets in the Ventral series: the more aerodynamically focused Ventral SPIN, the lighter, more ventilated Ventral AIR SPIN and an additional version of the Ventral AIR SPIN with an NFC Medical ID chip, which provides first responders essential information in a crash.
Creating a lightweight helmet requires both innovations in manufacturing and design, and paring back features to what’s minimally required. The Ventral Lite used the Ventral AIR as a foundation. And indeed, side by side, the two helmets look almost the same, with nearly identical ventilation. Under the hood, things change. The Lite is able to make use a lower-density EPS liner and still meet safety requirements thanks to a new lightweight in-mold PC shell. Together, the liner and shell combo shed weight while creating a helmet that passes all major safety standards.
While the new EPS density and shell molding process are hard to notice, some of the weight saving measures are more pronounced. The Lite gets new lightweight straps, which feel the same as before, but feature less adjustability around the ears. And the helmet adjustment system has been scaled back significantly, replacing the plastic band that surrounds the entire head on the Ventral AIR with a minimalist wire based system. Luckily, neither feature detracted from the experience for us. The strap fit perfectly around our ears and chin, and the adjustment system was plenty robust, feeling just like the system used on the Ventral AIR. While more strap adjustability is nice, for most riders it won’t be missed.
The lightest possible version of this helmet tips the scales at a mere 180 grams for a small, and 190 grams for a medium, but that is for the version made to the European CE helmet standard. Buyers in the U.S. will be looking at the CPSC model which comes out to a claimed 240 grams for a medium. On our scale, our medium weighed in a bit heavier than that at 255 grams. Ultimately, it saves about 20 grams over the Ventral AIR SPIN NFC, which weighs 274 grams for a size medium on our scale.
The CPSC version of the Ventral Lite weighs a claimed 220 grams for a small, 240 grams for a medium and 270 grams for a large.
No SPIN or MIPS
Though this helmet meets all safety standards in each respective market it is sold, it is missing one prominent feature: SPIN (Shearing Pad INside), the POC version of the MIPS liner. This safety feature allows the helmet to move independently of the head in the first moments of an impact, alleviating forces on the neck and head and reducing the worst effects of a crash. This has become an almost expected feature in high end helmets, and increasingly in helmets across all price points, even down to budget models. Omitting it here presumably in the name of making the absolute lightest helmet possible will give many riders a reason to opt for the slightly heavier Ventral models with SPIN.
One other safety feature we’re used to seeing from POC is the option for high visibility colors, but the Ventral Lite keeps things much more subdued, offering gray and black versions, with only minimal accent coloring available.
But POC thinks there is an audience wanting something as light and ventilated as possible. “We strongly believe that the safest helmet is one you choose to wear, one which you always look forward to wearing,” said POC head of product Oscar Huss in a press release. “With the Ventral Lite, we used our Whole Helmet Concept to create a helmet that provides the best protection and still meet the needs of those riders who don’t want to compromise on weight or ventilation.” For riders most concerned about performance, or those who might forego a helmet on hot days, the Ventral Lite is a very safe option, and much safer than wearing none at all.
Pricing and Options
The Ventral Lite retails for $275 and comes in five colors: Granite Grey Matte, Uranium Black Matte, Uranium Black/Basalt Blue Matte, Uranium Black/Fluorite Green Matte, Uranium Black/Hydrogen White Matte.
First Ride Thoughts
Overall, the overwhelming takeaway is one of similarity to the Ventral AIR. Wearing the Ventral Lite feels just like the Ventral AIR, a helmet whose fit we already really liked. As we mentioned before, the lightweight straps and retention system, though minimal, are plenty comfortable. Having a lightweight helmet that doesn’t compromise on fit or comfort is quite welcome. Ventilation in the Ventral series continues to be good, with the Lite feeling similarly breezy to the AIR. And on the head, it’s pretty hard to notice the weight difference between the two, which, at about 20 grams, is marginal.
Is It Worth It?
Though it has some small tradeoffs, like losing the ability to adjust the straps around the ears, the Ventral Lite by no means feels cheaply made to cut those grams; it’s just as robust as other POC helmets. And though it doesn’t have SPIN, it still a safe helmet, meeting all helmet safety standards. What you have to ask yourself is if it’s worth spending the same $275 as the Ventral AIR SPIN NFC to save 20 grams on the head but lose the added protection of a SPIN/MIPS system and an NFC Medical ID chip.
Lightweight gear exists in just about every category for a reason. There will always be people who crave minimal weight above all else. If that’s you, you probably already know it. But if you’re on the fence about this helmet, you’re probably better served spending the same money on a helmet like the Ventral AIR SPIN NFC for the enhanced safety features.
Keep an eye out for the Ventral Lite as it makes its pro peloton debut at Paris-Nice in March on the heads of EF Education – NIPPO riders.
$275; 255g (medium, CPSC version); 5 colors; na.pocsports.com