I’ll admit, when POC first launched the Octal helmet a few years ago, I wasn’t in love with it. The original Octal was part of POC’s AVIP collection (which stands for Attention, Visibility, Interaction, Protection), and the eyeball-searing orange hue and chunky design put me off.

But I also remembered a conversation with an editor of a motorcycle magazine at the publishing company I used to work for in Los Angeles. Art had a garishly bright neon orange helmet, a color I’d never seen anyone else wear. He said he liked it because he felt it made him more visible. One day, coming home from work, a bright splash in my rearview mirror caught my attention. Sure enough, there was Art, maybe 50 metres behind me.

With that memory in mind, I started wearing the Octal, and gradually fell in love with it. That chunky style I first disliked? Well, it makes for massive entry and exit vents, making the Octal one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve worn in hot weather. (The white EPS foam helps, too.)

 

Here's the best way to fit your helmet (video courtesy of our American sister title Bicycling):

 

 

It’s also quiet, which seems like a strange thing to say about helmets, until you experience the difference between a loud one and a quiet one. And it’s light; my size medium weighs 278 grams.

I appreciate POC’s focus on safety, with design elements like fuller rear coverage, thicker foam at spots like the temples where you’re more likely to hit in a crash, and the MIPS liner for helping dissipate the concussion-causing rotational energy of a crash. And yeah, with distracted driving on a seemingly inexorable rise, I came to view the bright orange color as just one more tiny way I could catch drivers’ attention.

The downside? The Octal AVIP is not cheap at $449. But there’s also a non-MIPS version of the Octal in several colours that will set you back $349 (same helmet, just no MIPS liner.) If you’re looking for a high-quality road helmet, both are worth checking out.