POC OTOCON RACE MIPS REVIEW
Review by Max Rhulen | Photos by Brian Niles
Hitting your face on the ground is going to suck no matter what type of terrain you are riding. Does that mean you should always wear a full-face helmet? Many mountain bikers have now taken to the lightweight, pedal-friendly full faces, and we’re a fan – we need all the good looks we can get! POC is now throwing their helmet in the ring to join in this lightweight category. POC’s line of pedal-friendly full faces includes the Otocon and the Otocon Race MIPS. We got the Otocon Race MIPS in to test and have some interesting takes below!
The POC Otocon Race MIPS full face helmet is one of POC’s lightweight full face helmet options. It is built for enduro racing but has ASTM downhill helmet certification to suggest it’s tough enough to take on the gnarliest of downhill tracks. At a $350 price point the Otocon Race MIPS is one of the more expensive helmets on the market but weighing in under 750g it is lighter than most.
As it states in the name and like many other POC helmets, the Otocon Race MIPS comes outfitted with MIPS technology. Protecting your brain is one of the key reasons to wear a helmet and MIPS only increases that protection, using a slip plane to improve on rotational impact protection. Most of us are familiar with MIPS at this point and it is becoming hard to find a helmet that doesn’t feature it, or a similar technology. In addition to MIPS are multiple other technologies to enhance protection and safety. The liner uses a combination of EPS and EPP foams to tailor the protection and weight – EPS in the upper portion, and EPP in the lower that’s more likely to sustain low speed impacts. There’s an injection molded liner and aramid bridges to bolster the strength and penetration resistance without adding significant weight.
The fixed visor is designed to break away in a crash to minimize the chance of neck injury; and there’s a removable mouth grill to tailor the preference of protection and airflow. The cheek pads are removable for increased ventilation when climbing on long enduro transfer stages and can be swapped between two included thicknesses to tailor the fit. Tailoring the fit on a bigger scale is the Race Lock integrated adjuster, giving the classic open face style cradle adjustment with a ratchet inbuilt to the rear of the helmet shell.
A RECCO reflector is fitted to the Otocon Race MIPS and used to locate those that have gone missing. First responders use a RECCO detector that emits a radar-like signal that the reflector reflects back. Many first responders are outfitted with this technology, and it could save your day if you take a spill in the backcountry. In addition to RECCO, the helmet features another technology called twICEme. With the use of your smartphone, you can load your medical history and emergency contacts to the twICEme chip built into the helmet. This enables those that are first on scene to give you a higher level of care. The chip is about the size of a coin and does not need batteries or to be charged.
POC currently offers the Otocon Race MIPS in a choice of 5 colors. My favorite being the black and white we had here for testing – It looks like a killer whale! The Otocon comes in sizes Extra Small to Large, to fit a range of heads from 48cm to 62cm. With different thickness cheek pads and the Race Lock adjustment, the majority of riders should be able to find the correct fit.
Touching on the sizing that was just mentioned above, even though the sizing range is wide and adjustable, most of us here at The Loam Wolf struggled to make the Otocon fit nicely. We all had issues similar to the POC Kortal trail helmet we tested recently. The Otocon has a very oval-like shape, causing pressure points in various places around the head. We had less of an issue with the full face then the trail lid. This was likely because the Otocon Race MIPS doesn’t rely solely on fastening the ratchet in the back to keep it secure thanks to the cheek pads. It doesn’t need to be cranked quite as hard to prevent the helmet from wiggling around, reducing the likelihood of the pressure points causing discomfort. The helmet still doesn’t fit me perfectly, but I didn’t have any overbearing hot spots. Everyone is different and you have to find what works best for you. If your skull matches the ovality of the POC head form, then you’re in for a treat with the quality of the Otocon Race MIPS.
It was apparent from the start how light this full face is, both in the hands and on the head. The Otocon didn’t cause stress on my neck and the extra weight over an open face was hardly noticeable while riding. The cheek pads are comfortable, and my goggles sat nicely on my face without a gap exposing my forehead. The vents on the front allowed for a slight breeze to cool my head down on sections of trails that required some pedaling. I never got any extremely hot days pedaling in this helmet but being a full-face helmet it is warmer when pedaling uphill. Compared with the competition in the pedal-friendly full-face market, it manages heat quite averagely – it’s certainly not the hottest, nor ultra-airy. To help with the increase in temperature when pedaling up for another lap I would often remove the cheek pads, which effectively increases the breathability. At the top I would just pop them back in and be on my way, which is easy to do with the helmet off, but tricky when still on your head. The grill in front of the chin bar is also removable if you are looking for maximum airflow, but it could be nice when you take that faceplant to keep dirt and rocks out of your mouth!
Besides for the fit I don’t have many gripes with the Otocon Race MIPS. I like the safety features, the appearance, and the low weight. I personally would have liked to see a Fidlock magnetic buckle or some of that nature, but the buckle that is on the Otocon does not hold it back in any fashion. That said, when you are paying $350 dollars for a full face, it’s all in the details.
The Wolf’s Last Word
POC is packaging supreme quality, comfort and safety in the Otocon Race MIPS full face. While many of us here at The Loam Wolf struggled with the fit, you might not. POC goes above and beyond featuring MIPS, twICEme, Recco, and other safety features in this lightweight full face, which could give it the safety and protection edge over competitors if it suits your head shape.