by Mihai Moga
POC, a fairly young and very successful Swedish company known primarily for high quality ski helmets, has made waves in the world of mountain biking over the past few years. Their unique designs and innovation are quickly gaining recognition. The new Trabec Race MIPS is their top of the line trail helmet for 2013. This helmet stands out for several reasons, including the use of the radically different MIPS technology.
POC Trabec Race MIPS Highlights
- Inner Aramid filament reinforced EPS core
- Outer PC shell with seams in the areas of least exposure
- Equipped with the patented MIPS system
- Aerodynamic channel system and 16 vent slots
- Fit is designed to be around the head versus on top
- Polygiene anti-odor treatment
- Sizes: XS/S, M/L, and XL/XXl
- Colors: Black/White, White/Black, or Radon Blue
- $200 to $220 MSRP
The reason I wear a helmet is to protect my head in case of a crash. With that in mind, safety should be the number one reason when determining which helmet to purchase. Comfort and style would follow, and then of course the price. Having said that, let’s have a closer look at this new lid.
At first glance, the helmet looks and feels well made - it feels like it could take a hit and protect the head that occupies it. The outer shell is made with an Aramid (similar to Kevlar) bridge. POC claims, “By using the extreme strength provided by the Aramid fiber in bridges in the helmets shell, the structure is reinforced and at the same time, the impact energy deforming the helmet is spread over a larger surface.” The Aramid bridge also helps to increase the helmet's resistance to penetration.
While many POC helmets use an EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) type of foam, which does not deform permanently on impact and is therefore suitable for multiple impacts, the Trabec Race MIPS is made with EPS (Expanded Polystyrene). EPS is used in many traditional bike helmets and permanently deforms after just one impact. Unfortunately that means for the Trabec Race MIPS helmet, it's a one and done affair.
Everything is wrapped in a very smooth, shiny, shell with a contrasting patch of color on the back of the helmet. It's definitely unique looking, for better or worse.
POC's distinctive style is very smooth and free flowing. There are no sharp edges or corners anywhere on the helmet. This might make it less likely to snag on anything on impact. Fourteen large vents plus two smaller vents located under the somewhat flexible visor provide good ventilation.
The chin straps are very neatly molded into the helmet, eliminating the chance of fraying at one end.
As you flip the helmet over and look inside, you will notice there is a thin yellow layer between the pads and the inside shell. That's the MIPS Technology, short for Multi Directional Impact Protection System. According to the creators of MIPS, the system is designed to reduce the rotational forces to the brain in the event of an oblique impact. MIPS utilizes a low friction layer on the inside of the helmet liner to absorb much of the energy created by both unilateral or oblique blows to the head. This is achieved by allowing a controlled rotation of the shell relative to the liner. To see the MIPS system in action, take a look at this brief video:
The helmet is very comfortable, feels secure once it’s on, and the retention system and straps are intuitive and easy to adjust. My head is round shaped head and a little on the larger size, and this XL/XXL sized Trabec Race MIPS fit very well.
On The Trail
On the trail, the Trabec Race MIPS feels comfortable while climbing. There are no noticeable pressure points anywhere, and I never felt that I needed more ventilation. On the descents, the helmet moved around more than I'm accustomed to. Some of the movement is can be attributed to the shell floating on top of the MIPS system, which I was able to get used to very quickly. However, on slightly longer and more aggressive descents, the helmet migrated slightly forward on my head. I cinched down the retention system at the back of the head as tightly as I could while still being comfortable, and that seemed to help, but it did not fully resolve the issue. This was a very slight movement and not a significant issue - more of a nuisance than anything.
Things That Could Be Improved
The plastic retention piece in contact with the back of the head at the bottom of the skull is very slick. This sometimes causes it to slide out of place unless the retention is very tight. If that piece was made with a grippier material it would help keep the helmet from moving without having to cinch it down so tightly.
Also, a better mechanism to adjust the visor would be greatly appreciated.
What’s The Bottom Line?
It’s great to see companies like POC going beyond the minimum safety requirements, developing high quality helmets with increased protection for riders.
The Trabec Race MIPS offers some of the most researched and innovative protection available in a trail helmet, and all the comfort that you would expect from a high end helmet is there. The style on the Trabec is unlike any other helmet on the market, and definitely unique to POC.
All that innovation and comfort comes at a price, though, and in this case it's $220. That's roughly half the cost of a full face downhill helmet and twice as much as many traditional mountain bike helmets. We can see how some people would be reluctant to spend the extra money on the Trabec Race MIPS, especially when there are many other options available that offer good protection and great style for a lot less money. But if you are looking for the latest in safety and innovations, then the higher price tag might not surprise or deter you. Considering all the above, this is an excellent helmet that offers some of the best protection, and is definately worth considering before you purchase your next mountain bike helmet.
For more details about the Trabec Race MIPS, or to find out what the heck POC stands for, head over to pocsports.com.