I was a professional cyclist, and these are the bike helmets I trust most for safety on the road and the trail — here’s why they’re worth the investment



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Swedish sport-safety brand POC burst onto the cycling scene seven years ago with a series of helmets that, at the time, were widely hailed as looking far too goofy for any fashion-conscious cyclist. Early POC time-trial helmets bore more similarities to the Super Mushrooms from Super Mario than anything cyclists were used to seeing.

POC marketed their helmets as a safety accessory and not a way to go faster or look cooler. They safety-tested helmets in different ways, designed them based on that testing, and came out with a product that didn’t look like anything else. It took the cycling world a while to come around, but POC’s newest designs have netted over 60 international awards for safety and innovation.

POC has continued to design bike helmets that, first and foremost, focus on safety and not aesthetics, but has also worked out innovative ways of slimming down its helmets, bringing the look more in line with other brands. Most importantly, their standout features of high visibility colors, greater protection for the back of the head, and science-led design continue to define the collection.


My experience with POC helmets

I personally wear a POC helmet when I ride my bike every day. In part, this is because it feels comfortable on my head, leaves no hot spots, and doesn’t feel too hot even in the middle of summer, but it’s also because I want to make sure that I make it home safe from my ride. Of course, a large part of my safety comes down to not hitting my head in the first place, and to try to prevent that, I make sure to make full use of the lane, avoid high speed straight roads, ride on roads where there are bike lanes or sharrows when I can, and ride defensively in traffic when there is no safe bike lane.

I also try to ensure that drivers can see me, and this is another area that POC helps with. Products such as their AVIP jersey ($140) are designed to be as visible as possible, day or night, in order to increase the safety of riders. Of course this won’t help if a driver decides their Facebook post is more important that your life, but in low-light situations or when drivers are trying to process a lot of visual information, research suggests that bright colors will stand out and make drivers aware of you and thus keep you safe.

The helmet I use for road riding is the Ventral Air Spin ($232).

It’s lightweight, comfortable and uses SPIN technology to help prevent brain injuries from the sort of multi directional impact which is common in a bike crash. The Ventral works by adding a robust inner layer that sits in between the external foam and your head. This allows the helmet to move in any direction and dissipate the force of an oblique impact (when the direction of one, or both, of the colliding objects is at an angle to the line of impact) as well as a central impact (like a head-on collision). This technology should help prevent brain injury better than a traditional EPS foam helmet. The Ventral is also aerodynamic enough to enhance your speed compared to models a few years back.

What’s not to love? It is fast, light, safe, and comfy. That’s why I pull it down from my (shamefully large) bike helmet shelf whenever I am headed out on a road ride.


When I’m out on my mountain bike, I opt for something that trades a little more weight for a lot more protection and a visor: the Tectal Race Spin ($176).

It sits comfortably on my head and is well-vented enough that I leave it on for climbs, but when things get rocky, rooty, and generally sketchy, I feel confident that the full coverage and Spin technology will protect my brain if I do happen to make an unplanned dismount. For me, having a special mountain-bike helmet is worth it. I value the visor to keep the sun out of my eyes, and the increased coverage makes sense given that mountain bike falls are often less linear than road falls and there is no telling where a rock, tree, or bike part might hit you. The Tectal is a little less lightweight than my Ventral, which is why I leave it at home for road rides, but I would never hit the trail without it.

For the rides when I don’t want to don the lycra and heart-rate monitor, or send the gnar on my trail bike, I look to a helmet that is a little less aggressive: the Corpora ($120).

I find that the aesthetic and value of POC’s Corpora helmet ($120) hits the perfect sweet spot. It’s safe, stylish, and while it is far from cheap, it is not so expensive that I live in fear of having it stolen from a café or bar if I leave it on a table while I order a drink. The magnetic buckle of the Corpora easily fastens and unfastens with a single hand, and there’s a color for every taste.

POC and Volvo have joined forces to test helmets in simulated vehicle-to-bike crashes

Like POC, Swedish brand Volvo is also known for breaking aesthetic rules, and it only makes sense for the two to work together given their shared commitment to placing utility and safety at the forefront of design.

Cars and bikes are often seen as inherently in conflict, but both POC and Volvo share a commitment to keeping their customers safe. That’s why, earlier this summer, the two brands joined forces to perform bike-helmet crash tests with motor vehicles in order to better understand how both could be made safer. Current helmet-testing procedures are fairly rudimentary, involving bike helmets being dropped from different heights on either a flat or an angled surface, and they don’t generally consider vehicle-to-bike accidents. The more stringent protocol that POC and Volvo have developed aims to increase both brands’ understandings of the forces involved in such a crash, so products can be refined in the future to help riders emerge with fewer injuries should the worst happen.

The bottom line

Just like those old square station wagons, POC’s helmets have come a long way. Not only is their design now coveted in the cycling community, they have also managed something amazing in making safety a fashion statement. But the work with Volvo should result in even safer helmets for years to come. In the meantime, it is worth remembering that cycling is a very safe activity and, whatever you wear, it seems to be the method of transport that is most likely to prolong your life.

Buy the POC Ventral Spin Helmet, $231.96, at Competitive Cyclist

Buy the POC AVIP Ceramic Short-Sleeve Jersey, $139.96, at Competitive Cyclist

Buy the POC Tectal Race Spin Helmet, $175.96, at Competitive Cyclist

Buy the POC Corpora Helmet, $119.96, at Competitive Cyclist

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About Ronnie

Ronald Antonio O'Sullivan OBE (born 5 December 1975) is an English professional snooker player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. He has won five World Championships, a record seven Masters titles, and a record seven UK Championships, setting a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments. He shares the record for the most ranking titles (36) with Stephen Hendry. His career earnings of over £10 million put him in first place on snooker's all-time prize-money list. Winning the Tour Championship on 24 March 2019 made him the sport's current world number one, the fourth time in his career that he has held the top position and the first time he has been number one since May 2010. This is the longest gap between number one spells by any player in history.