POC Cortex DH Review

by Brian Mullin on July 4, 2010

I have been using the POC Cortex DH full faced helmet for several months now, and it has been comfortable, durable and safe. The helmet offers a plethora of protection and features, which are all engineered with safety in mind, and my crashing and tumbles have shown it to be an ideal candidate for the wicked world of rocky gnarliness and speed.

The Swedish based POC company was predominantly a snow sport protection company, and they have always had safety at the forefront of their research and technology. They have recently morphed over into the biking protection world, and their full faced Cortex DH helmet is their epitome of safety standards. The POC Cortex DH uses an innovative 2 layer shell, a lightweight carbon fiber wrapped around their aramid (aromatic polyamide) reinforced in-mold liner. The liner has a thin shell of polycarbonate covering the multi-impact Super EPP (expanded polypropylene) core. The double overlapping shell design, uses their VDSAP (Ventilated Double Shell Anti Penetration), allowing a fully ventilated construction with maximum comfort without sacrificing penetration resistance or impact energy management. The helmet will eventually be equipped with the patented MIPS system to reduce the rotational forces to the brain in case of an oblique impact.

Wow, that is a head full of techno babble, but when it comes to safety, and especially with my noggin, I am all for it!

The chin bar size and distance have been optimized for protection, without sacrificing breathability. The Cortex DH has a plethora of vents, over the top, the sides, under the visor, and next to the ears. They have something they call “Ear Chambers”, which are designed for increased equilibrium, balance, and ability to hear better on the trails.

Impressions
It was a nice warm day to take the POC Cortex DH full face helmet out for its maiden voyage. The helmet comes in 2 sizes (M-L and L-XL), and my 59.5 cm head fit just perfect in the L/XL size. I am used to wearing a street motorcycle helmet, so it felt pretty normal shoving my head into the helmet. At first the upper edge of the helmet padding seemed slightly hard, and it poked me in the brow, but after wearing it for a few minutes it softened. It was surprisingly comfortable, and I had no pinch spots. It comes with two sets of cheek pads (thick and thin) for fitment, and has a removable liner, which is a nice touch for cleaning purposes.

The only trouble is, how the heck do you spit with it on?

Once you start moving the subtle ventilation ports actually start working just fine, and the helmet stays fairly cool (for a full faced helmet). The adjustable visor offered lots of shade relief for the face, and acted as a great air scoop. I wore sunglasses with the helmet, since I completely forgot about getting a set of goggles for it, and like any full faced helmet some sunglasses might not fit properly. I immediately felt a greater sense of security wearing the helmet, and it even made me creep up the speeds in many sections of my usual rock gardens. I always worry about what could happen if you took a chin dive onto the rocks with a normal helmet? Sure it will do fine for a head first shot (done plenty of those), but what about chin first or anything oblique? I have taken a couple of minor tumbles with it on, and I worked just fine, and I felt a lessened impact in direct comparison to a normal helmet. It is nice to know that it’s a multi-impact helmet, and will not need to be tossed away after most crashes.

Measured Weight: 2.26 lbs / 36.2 oz / 1025 grams

I had to get used to the subtle roar that the wind would create when you got going, which was due to a combination of the vents and the visor, and it sounded like after burners kicking in. I got to speak with someone when I had the helmet on, and I had no issues with a conversation, so the little ear opening/ports do just fine. Sometimes while moving along, the air movement makes some strange noises, and you swear someone is walking and talking on the trail near you, like ghostly voices! I had worn my normal helmet when I rode up the trail, figuring (rightfully so) that I was going to get quite hot with a full faced helmet. If any sort of long uphill slogs are going to occur, then it is highly suggested to strap the big boy on your pack, and stick with a usual helmet until the danger zone begins.

Revvin’ up your engine
Listen to her howlin’ roar
Metal under tension
Beggin’ you to touch and go
Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone

Yes, I know it’s Kenny Loggins, but the darn song started to poke around in my head.

With the Cortex on, I did a long rolling traverse out in the sun, and it was fine until I started to pull up some steep terrain and my head built up some heat. Since I wasn’t moving fat enough, the venting system wasn’t coming into play, and I soon had to take the helmet off. Breathing inside the helmet was fine, albeit somewhat slightly constrained due to the tight cheek pads. One nice aspect is the front chin bar vent, which power jams air to straight you.

Helmets 101
The major components of a helmet, are the outer shell, the foam liner (SEPP for the POC Cortex DH), the retention system and the padding. The hard shell helps spread the impact over a larger surface (specifically to the liner), accentuates sliding and prevents object penetration. The foam helps prevent or reduce brain injury by managing the energy of an impact through its own compression or destruction, and it does that by converting a small part of the crash energy to heat. Its main duty is to slow the stopping process so that the head slows down during its inertial of the impact (deceleration). Our heads are soft and malleable, and the brain itself moves around inside a gelatinous ooze (cerebrospinal fluid). A major issue in crashes, is the coup-contrecoup (brain rebound) injuries, which can cause concussions, contusions, DIA’s (diffuse axonal injury) and even epidural hematoma.

Bottomline
All things considered, the POC Cortex DH is an excellent helmet! POC is at the forefront of safety in regard to multiple sports (snow, bike, skateboard) protection, and the Cortex DH helmet is the epitome of their substantial engineering and research prowess. I not only felt safer while riding the steep and gnarly, but I found myself riding with more speed and freedom down the trails. The multi-impact, anti-penetration and impact softening abilities are really nice features in this safety juggernaut. The ventilation works fairly well, but even for a full faced helmet it was slightly warm. The helmet was comfortable, lightweight and the simple buckle closure system was easy to adjust and put on.

I am looking forward to more continued adventures in the Danger Zone using the fine POC Cortex DH!

Strengths
-Light
-Comfortable
-Removable Liner
-Multi-Impact
-Safety engineered!

Weaknesses
-Slightly warm
-Expensive
-Only 2 sizes

Specs
Color: White
Size: M-L (55-57cm), and L-XL (58-60cm)
Weight: 1050 grams
Outer Shell: carbon
Inner shell: PC
Membrane: Aramid
Core: SEPP
Fit: LD Foam
Comfort: SynVal
MSRP: $599

POC Cortext DH url: http://www2.pocsports.com/products/showproduct.asp?category=10-Bike&id=10310

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