The original POC Ventral was launched back in 2018 as an aerodynamic alternative to the company’s super-airy-yet-polarising Octal road helmet. It quickly gained traction owing to its impressive fit and performance credentials – most notably its ability to provide effective air ventilation and aerodynamic profiling by harnessing the Venturi effect to reduce turbulence.
The concept eventually morphed into the Ventral Air, which ditched the smoothed off aero panels in favour of extra ventilation, and now this – the Ventral Lite. Designed to appeal to those who favour lightness and cooling above all else, POC describes the Ventral Lite as a helmet that’s been ‘engineered to achieve the optimal balance of weight, safety and performance.’
We were sent a POC Ventral Lite ahead of the launch and have been out and about testing its credentials to bring you this exclusive review.
Design and aesthetics
There’s no denying the POC Ventral Lite’s design DNA and heritage. While its overall blueprint is based largely on the original Ventral concept and Ventral Air, it also bears a striking family resemblance to the Octal, most notably in profile where its flanks are dominated by a similar venting layout.
Closer inspection, however, gives the Ventral Lite its own identity with more pronounced, chamfered edges around the vent cutouts taking centre stage. The rear portion of the helmet is structurally identical to its Ventral siblings using the same six-channel exhaust layout and shell.
The Ventral Lite is available in five colour options: Uranium Black, Black/White, Black/Fluorite Green, Black/Basalt Blue and Granite-Grey (pictured here). This matte-grey hue, while very unlike POC’s traditionally brazen colour palette, is intriguing nonetheless and tastefully matches the EPS foam architecture. Unlike its stablemates, the foam structure is more exposed and the PC shell covering is used strategically and sparingly as a weight-saving measure.
Branding, on the other hand, is rather stealthy with a solitary POC logo taking residence at the rear. The only thing referencing its model designation is a lumo-orange ‘Ventral Lite’ inscription located on the rear of the helmet just above the exhaust port.
Performance and fit
The POC Ventral Lite is all about lightweight performance and that means it’s been stripped of unnecessary frills without affecting the comfort, fit and performance. Helmet safety evangelists will be quick to point out the Ventral Lite’s lack of rotational slip-plane integration but the helmet was designed to give cyclists a choice based on what and how they ride. Besides, if its rotational safety that you’re after POC believes its helmet portfolio offers a comprehensive enough assortment of advanced safety protection systems to sate the needs of all riders.
To create the lightest helmet in the range POC’s industrial designers needed to reengineer everything including the retention system. When looking at its Ventral stablemates the differences in fabrication and materials used is clearly evident – the Lite uses a nylon string and PET Perspex headband system while retaining the same dial and backing plate to ensure even pressure distribution. In fact, this nylon string is similar to the one used on the Skull Dura Comp ski racing helmet. The stripped-down retention system has done little to impact comfort or fit and, while longterm resilience may prove wanting, it’s working impressively well.
The straps are another area where POC managed to cull some fat. While threaded through the helmet in much the same way as Ventral Air (the regular Ventral threads through two independent buckles on each side of the rear assembly) the strap width has been (marginally) shaved and the divider buckles ditched to reduce complexity. While this may affect some users, the semi-adjustable straps fit snugly against my face (a defining attribute of the Ventral range’s interior strap anchoring system) and line up perfectly below my ears.
In terms of the EPS foam structure and shell, POC has made some significant adjustments by reprofiling the air-flow channels and using less PC shell coverage. Sure, this exposure can lead to the EPS getting damaged over time but all hotspot areas have been covered up. POC claims the new helmet is its lightest lid to date with figures of around 180g for a small. Put to the test on our scale of truth, the Ventral Lite registered bang-on with the claimed 180g.
I’ve been using the POC Ventral Lite for just under one month now in various weather conditions and it’s yet to disappoint me. That said, while I am a weight weenie at heart I’m still a firm believer that comfort should never be adversely comprised. As such, POC has done a superb job in keeping everything hunky-dory, especially the fit. It works really well with my head shape, needing very little in the way of adjustment – it’s one of the few helmets that I’ve been able to wear immediately out the box, no fettling needed.
Unfortunately, POC has stripped away the little fabric grippers that make up the Eye Garage system. While this might pose an issue for some, I tend to slot my sunglasses in the neckline of my shirt anyway, so its omission hasn’t affected me personally – I imagine those interested in this helmet may also overlook the lack of convenience novelties.
And the cooling properties? Taking its ventilation blueprint from Ventral Air, the Lite is as much about cooling as it is feathery weight and that’s where it makes a serious case for itself, especially when considering those who reside in hot-weather climates and countries. The ventilation properties are hard to dispute and while not ideally suited to winter riding that’s nothing one of the best cycling caps can’t sort out.
Could we see it used during hill climb season? Well, UCI rules don’t apply to such events but should stricter protocols be set in place by the Cycling Time Trial (CTT) for events such as hill climbs, the Ventral Lite would prove an ideal solution given its incredible airflow and weight.
POC’s Ventral Lite is the lightest helmet I’ve tested to date and all the measures taken to create it have done little to negatively impact comfort, fit and performance.
In fact, it’s one of the very few helmets that has required little-to-no fiddling upon unboxing thanks to its no-frills approach to execution. Yes, the stripped-down retention system is flimsy in appearance and feel but works just as well as the bulkier systems of its stablemates providing a stable and tailored fit.
Bar the lack of a dedicated slip-plane rotational safety liner, the Ventral Lite is a quality helmet that offers great all-weather performance – not to mention the super-light construction that makes it feel like you’re not wearing anything. POC has not tested this helmet with a rotation system and won’t be offering it as an option either – the company believes it’s important that riders have a choice based on application.
The Ventral Lite will make its pro peloton debut with riders from EF Education-Nippo WorldTour team at Paris-Nice on 7 March.
Pricing is in line with the range-topping POC Ventral Spin at US$330 / £230 / €270.
View the Ventral Lite at POC
Tech Specs: POC Ventral Lite helmet
- RRP: Starting at US$330 / £230 / €270
- Weight: 180g (claimed), 180g (actual, small)
- Rotational safety: No
- Aero: No
- Sizes: S, M, L
- Colours: 5
- Pro team: EF Education-Nippo