Our Early Verdict
A playful take on an already five-star-rated helmet
- Brillaint ventilation
- Superb protection (Spin rotational-impact protection)
- Semi-aero design properties
- Polarising sticker aesthetic
Few WorldTour teams possess the panache of the EF Education-Nippo squad - particularly when it comes to sartorial direction. In fact, from the Kermit-green argyle motifs and shocking-pink hues that have underscored their kit designs over the years, the team has always stood out in pro peloton.
The Rapha X Palace collaboration of last year, however, took things to another level and while the disruptive imagery polarised opinion, it echoed the laid-back character of the team and reiterated why they're so popular in the eyes of the fans.
As the team’s bike sponsor, Cannondale also embraced the unconventional design language from Palace rolling out the graphic imagery across both its SystemSix and SuperSix race bikes. Helmet supplier, POC, also came to the Palace-inspired party with a sticker-bombed version of its semi-aero Ventral Spin helmet. The good lads at POC in Sweden sent us one to photograph and test - here are our impressions.
Design and aesthetics
In terms of aesthetics, POC is known for its bold design language and use of colour but in recent years, the Swedish firm has toned back its palette somewhat offering a more traditional selection of hues to cater for the conservative cyclist. Of the colour spread, black and white are two of the most popular choices - the latter, of course, was used as a blank canvas before getting plastered with Palace's polarising imagery and cartoon-style graphics.
This special-edition helmet, however, differs somewhat from the regular run of Ventrals in that it uses a unique combination of colour details. Elements such as the yellow-coloured retention system and navy-blue rear exhaust vents and straps differentiate it from the standard model and do well to accentuate not only the sculptural contours of the Ventral itself but also the bright and bold sticker layout. Speaking of stickers - unlike some of the fakes doing the rounds, the stickers on a genuine Rapha x Palace lid can't be peeled off as the entire surface has been treated to UV varnish clear coat.
As a finished product, a design treatment of this nature will never appeal to all. In fact, it certainly divided opinion when the team rolled out their Palace-adorned kit and paraphernalia onto the Giro d'Italia presentation stage in Sicily in October but it attracted more positive attention than anything else, and subsequently broke the internet with everything from the limited run of kit and helmets selling out instantly..
Performance and fit
As senior tech writer, Graham Cottingham, mentioned in his POC Ventral Spin review last year, 'The Ventral is easily forgettable once on the move. The retention system doesn’t sit as low on the back of the head or feel as grabby as other helmets but, once dialled in and riding, there is no suggestion that it wouldn’t stay in place.'
It really is a snug-fitting helmet made better by the strap management and the way they sit close to the face - it's all very unobtrusive. As the name suggests, the Ventral Spin excels when it comes to ventilation with five low-cut central scoops taking centre stage. Two extra vents take up residence at the top while six exhaust ports complete the rear. Despite the plethora of air channelling the Ventral also benefits from some aero trickery - a central panel above the front ventilation system ensures less turbulence and adds a touch more slipperiness to the package.
Just like the regular POC Ventral Spin, the Palace X Rapha version is a superb piece of kit. Bold and playful in design, when it comes to the best road bike helmets it ticks all the boxes for performance, functionality and safety - the latter coming compliments of POC's very own Spin slip-plane technology.
Now for the crazy part, the pricing. Considering a standard Ventral Spin retails for US$290 / £270 / €300, the Rapha x Palace POC Ventral Spin is fetching some eye-watering high prices on eBay - in some cases as much as £1,220.
Tech specs: Rapha x Palace POC Ventral Spin helmet
- Price: £1,220
- Weight: 248g (medium)
- Rotational safety: Spin
- Aero: Yes
- Sizes: S, M, L
- Used by: EF Education-Nippo
- Colours: White only (9 in regular guise)
What is a hands on review?
'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.
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