Although in commercial circles the famous quip attributed to German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has been exploited far from its original intent, the notion of “less is more” can still have relevance. When it comes to helmets, most of us are always desirous of more protection, more visibility and more comfort—all with less weight.
As soon as we received POC’s latest Ventral Lite helmet, it went straight to the scale where it weighed in at an impressive weight of just 201 grams, which makes it one of the lightest helmets we’ve ever tested. We were intrigued at how much more we’d desire from a helmet.
Entering its 17th year of manufacturing safety gear, the Swedish brand has made a name for themselves with a combination of a simple design and flashy color options as found in the WorldTour peloton on the heads of the EF Pro Cycling team.
Design-wise, the Ventral Lite resembles the POC’s Ventral Air model with the same 20 vents found throughout the low-density EPS foam shell. A .5mm-thick polycarbonate micro-shell scantily covers the helmet, resulting in more exposed foam. Deep channels promote more airflow front to rear to efficiently allow heat to escape. A bare-bones retention system uses the same dial as other POC helmets, but a cable runs around three-quarters of the shell to shave some grams off of the typical molded-plastic design most other helmets use.
The Ventral Lite lacks many of the safety cues, like MIPS, on other modern helmets. The lack of the nearly ubiquitous slip-plane technology (especially as this price point) that reduces rotational forces on impact raised a few eyebrows. With top-tier helmet options like Specialized’s S-Works Prevail 2 and Giro’s Helios that include rotational protection around the same price point and weight, it comes down to personal preference whether a rider would opt for the Ventral Lite.
We like the medium profile build of the helmet, as well as the amount of coverage on the back of the head, which is a nice feature for a lightweight helmet. The retention system is minimal with pressure points on the front and back of the head. We noticed a fair amount of sweat dripping onto our glasses due to the pressure on the padding around the forehead. Despite the padding, some riders with less hair felt pinch points on the edges of the rear’s molded-plastic bits.
Bottom line? The helmet provided the best airflow of any helmet we’ve recently tested. Heat easily escapes out of the top of the helmet, thanks to the multitude of vents and deep channels. This makes it ideal for summertime riding, but due to the amount of exposure a helmet gets, it’s best to avoid the rain and winter.
We don’t have any firsthand experience to weigh in on how much protection the Ventral Lite provides. POC offers three versions of the helmet that individually pass American, European and Australian safety protocols—each of which are slightly different to shave marginal grams, with the American version being the heaviest.
So, even though our American-certified helmet is the safest of the three versions, lacking the added safety features that have become standard on most modern helmets was a turn-off for some. However, if the comfort of the Ventral Lite convinces a rider to wear it instead of nothing at all, then that may be enough to justify the stripped-down design.
Although we admit this helmet isn’t for everyone, those looking for a helmet with minimal impact while riding should consider the Ventral Lite.
Riders hesitant of the safety features should look at POC’s Ventral Air SPIN with POC’s rotational protection SPIN (shearing pad inside) technology. The Ventral Lite is available in three sizes, but only gray and black colorways. The muted gray goes well with just about any kit combination, but is missing the vibrant gloss hues that have made POC helmets standout on the road for the last nine years.
Due to the impressive amount of airflow and overall lightweight design, the Ventral Lite has remained in our daily rotation of helmets. On long rides in extreme summertime heat, we felt fresher during rides, thanks to the great ventilation, and that’s never a bad thing.
Stripped down, lightweight
Lacks modern safety features
Minimal, muted color options