POC's Ventral Lite is the lightest helmet we've had through the Cycling Weekly testing doors. The massive air vents make it one of the coolest too. And on the subject of cool, the latest collaboration between Rapha and POC mean it's currently available in a special edition design and colourway too. At $325 / £230 you're paying a lot for the weight shaving. To get such a lightweight helmet also means you'll go without any non-critical fit adjusters and additional safety features. On the plus side, the Rapha version retails at the same price as POC's standard offering.
Understated Rapha design for extra fashion points
Lack of strap adjustability
No rotational safety features
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Following on from the successful collaboration in the summer which saw the release of EF Education’s Tour de France and Tour de Femmes kits, Rapha and POC are back again with a two special edition helmets for road and gravel.
There are two POC models available, firstly the Omne Air with MIPS which comes in stone or navy colours with a ‘contour-line’ design and retails for $190 / £140. Alongside the Omne Air is the Ventral Lite, the, err, lightest of POC’s four Ventral helmets which we look at here.
Rapha + POC Ventral Lite: construction
First up, the Rapha part of the collaboration. For the limited edition release Rapha has returned to its classy style routes and has ditched the lurid hues of EF’s kit for the greyscale. There are white and black versions of the Ventral Air – although I’d personally describe the black it as "very dark grey-navy" – with a lined pattern on the shell which rather looks like small fan vents (I think I can see what they’ve done there). Design is completed with simple Rapha logos on the rear of each side and POC’s logo at the back.
For POC’s part, the Ventral Lite hasn’t changed in design since its release early in 2021. This is a helmet that’s designed to minimise weight and maximise ventilation with everything else scaled back to achieve the goal. The medium is a claimed 200g, the small I had to test weighed in at 170g which is a whopping 30% less than my Specialized S-Works Prevail.
The retention system uses a circular nylon string which runs through the helmet’s cradle and band, and cinches up via a dial. I found this to be really effective and comfortable. Side and chin straps are kept minimal with just a single slide adjuster on the chin buckle.
Rapha + POC Ventral Lite: the ride
Out the box there's very little to do except wind in the retention dial, clip and cinch up the buckle and then marvel at how astonishingly light the helmet feels. It really has to be felt to be believed.
For fit the Ventral light comes in three sizes and two fits (standard and wide) which is a huge positive, a helmet is useless if it doesn’t fit you properly. There are useful sizing charts on Rapha’s website so you can check which will fit you best.
The 14 huge vents and six rear ports keep the air flowing through the helmet. Sadly there has been no testing on hot Alpine climbs to verify the effectiveness of these in proper conditions but I've certainly been able to feel plenty of the cool British wind blowing across my head.
A helmet so pared back for weight-saving is always going to have its downsides. Personally I find the straps are a little wide above my ear and there’s no slide adjuster to change this angle. This lack of adjustability also means that you can’t re-position the chin clip if it doesn’t sit centrally; probably not a deal breaker, just something that feels a little odd.
There’s no rotational protection such as MIPS on this particular version of the Ventral. It does, of course, meet relevant safety standards in the EU and US (different versions for each region).
Rapha + POC Ventral Lite: value and conclusion
Pricing for the Rapha POC helmet is $325 / £230 which is exactly the same as the POC helmets without the Rapha design and branding. By my calculation that means you can grab some Rapha kit for absolutely no money at all which you may see as an total bargain.
In comparison to other lightweight helmets, the Rapha + POC offering is a little more money but also a little less weight. The closest competitors we've tested are the Lazer Genesis ($250 / £210 for 205g helmet) and the Kask Protone for ($240 / £200 for 220g helmet).
Overall this is an incredibly lightweight and airy helmet with added bonus points of Rapha design and branding. It's never going to suit the safety purists with its slimmed down design but if you are one for gram counting and style, you'll likely love it.
Rapha + POC Ventral Lite: specs
- Sizes - small, medium and large in standard and wide fit
- Weight - 200g medium (claimed), 170g small (as tested)
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