The POC Trabec Race MIPS is a solid lid designed with safety in mind to protect your belfry on the trail.
First, you’re probably wondering what MIPS is. MIPS stands for Multidirectional Impact Protection System, and it is a patented protection technology that can be used by any helmet manufacturer who wants to license it. In simple terms, it adds a low-friction plastic layer between the fabric liner and the outer shell of the helmet. This layer helps diffuse impact forces and redirects them away from your noggin, ultimately reducing the likelihood of a serious brain injury from a crash. You can read more about the system here.
Swedish sporting goods company POC is one of the first helmet makers to adopt the MIPS system, first in winter sports helmets, and now for cyclists. (You can also check out element22′s review of the non-MIPS version of the Trabec helmet here.) In addition to the MIPS system, this model is also upgraded with a kevlar layer for puncture protection.
As I unboxed the Trabec, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that POC included a cloth bag for storing the helmet and a spare terrycloth liner. I use the storage bag when I am transporting the helmet in my duffel bag, and the cloth liner, which is held in place with velco tabs, is easily switched out. I have been swapping the liners regularly and running them through the washing machine to get the sweat out and to keep the helmet fresh.
The fit of the helmet is superb. It comes with a number of internal adjustment points where the MIPS layer attaches to the outer shell, but out of the box it fit me perfectly. The liner hugs my cranium with equal pressure from all angles and with no tight spots or areas with too much empty volume. This was an issue with my Giro Xen; it would be tight around the bottom edge, but loose in the top. You can really feel this when you have a light or camera mounted up there.
At the back there is a ratcheting tightener that is pretty basic in design but gets the job done. On the sides are the customary adjustable straps and buckle, however the shape of the helmet allows a mounting point that keeps the straps off the ears, which is a big pet peeve of mine with other helmets. Up front is an adjustable, removable visor to round out the features. My Med/Large model weighs in at 360 grams, making it about 100g heavier than a dedicated race helmet like the Specialized S-Works Prevail, but in line with other all mountain type helmets.
Out on the trail, the excellent fit and fairly light weight make it feel like the helmet is not even there. On more that one occasion I have ridden off from a rest stop and quickly put a hand to my head to make sure I had put the Trabec back on. I know this sounds cliché but it really is that comfy! The cloth liner does a good job of siphoning sweat away from the eyes, however there is also plenty of room for a bandanna if you need one.
There are only a couple of downsides to this helmet, and they are really minor: first, the venting is decent, but it definitely doesn’t allow the massive airflow of some other helmets. I think POC has made safety the top priority, and then designed other features around that … and I am okay with that! Another thing I noticed was loud wind noise at high speed (20 MPH or so.) I don’t find it all that annoying, other than the inability to talk with riding buddies, but it is worth mentioning. Finally, it is admittedly a bit goofy looking, putting function over form, and couple of times on the trail I’ve gotten “nice helmet (snicker)” but again, POC is all about the safety. I’ll admit that when I first saw this helmet on Jeff, I was the one pointing and laughing, but the style of it is growing on me.
This helmet fits great, manages sweat, is reasonably well vented, and offers full coverage for your head, especially around the back. With the addition of MIPS technology and kevlar, POC took an already well designed helmet, and made it even safer. While there are a couple of annoyances, the features and benefits of this helmet far outweigh them and make this a solid choice for any dedicated XC/AM rider looking for the very best in comfortable, reasonably light head protection. Think of it as a Volvo for your skull.
With an average price just shy $200, the POC Trabec Race MIPS helmet is certainly not the cheapest option out there. But when you factor in the extra protection of the MIPS system combined with POC’s unique design and fit, it’s definitely a strong value.
I’ve been testing this helmet for the last 6 weeks or so, and it ROCKS! We get to test a lot of well made stuff here at Singletracks, but every once in a while a real stand-out product comes along, and this is one!
Thanks to the folks at POC for sending over the Trabec Race MIPS for review.