South Wales is amazing for mountain biking, I'm super lucky to have awesome trails right on my doorstep. So once I was more familiar with my local nature trails and got more confident on my bike, I bit the bullet and decided to pop my Bike Park Wales cherry. It was the most terrifying exciting fun I've ever had. However, I am somewhat of an accident queen and these monster downhill trails had me feeling a little under-protected with my MET Parabellum helmet. Ideally I wanted an entire body suit of thick bubble wrap, but I started off with a full face helmet.
With full face helmets, admittedly the deciding factors were protection, price and look. My MET Parabellum is super angled, vented and something that you'd expect to find on an alien spaceship, but I wanted my full face to be the polar opposite. I saw the POC Cortex Flow helmet and I just loved it. It's smooth, simple design and bold flat colour reminded me of a retro space helmet. There's plenty of colours to choose from which is great, they look awesome and they come highly recommended by online reviews. Based on the measurements of my MET, I went for a size medium 55cm - 57cm which weighs 1000g and retails for approximately £195. I found it slightly annoying that the POC Cortex is only available in three sizes. Ideally, I would like to have try-before-I-buy, but in this case, I had to just go with a comparative measurement.
The design of the POC Cortex Flow is quite a lovely piece of engineering with a single strong fibreglass outer shell and a multi-impact liner which is highly durable to withstand multiple impacts. Not to be deceived by the smooth simple design, it's actually very well ventilated which is essential on those hot days as you really don't want to overheat. The helmet is extremely comfortable, it's like wrapping a pillow around your head with a belt. My hamster cheeks are cosy against the face padding, which comes with the helmet in two different sizes: thin and thick. My ears nestle nicely inside the little cavities allowing me to still hear reasonably well in case another rider needs to get my attention, and stay warm from the harsh winds. The chin strap is padded and snug, which doesn't restrict the breathing in any way and yet keeps the helmet securely in place to protect your face.
So it looks like a colourful space helmet from the 60's, it's comfy and well kitted out with cutting edge protective technology,.. but what's it like in action?
Where better to test it out than at the scary exciting adult adventure playground that is Bike Park Wales! It was definitely a strange adjustment to make, going from a half lid to a full face helmet as I felt like a bobble-head. A warm comfy ninja bobble-head. And I did feel like a ninja! I felt invincible and gnarly, and relieved that the helmet and 100% goggles successfully hid my face of constant terror while whizzing down the trails. And on the POC cortex's maiden voyage, she really came in handy when I dropped in too slow on a trail and went straight over the bars, and head first into the floor! I felt so stupid, but my face and head were ok! Apart from a bumped knee and wounded pride, my face and head were totally fine! I cannot stress enough how relieved I was to have a full face on, otherwise my plump hamster face would have been road-kill. Despite this hefty face-plant, my helmet came away fine too. barely a scratch on it!
Overall, this helmet is great! It's been unintentionally impact tested, and passed with flying colours. It's comfy, well ventilated and it makes you look like a retro spaceman. I can't find a fault with it! A great product from POC Sports, and I can't wait to see what they have in the pipeline for the future!