POC Trabec Race Review

by Brian Mullin on November 21, 2011

The Swedish based POC gravity sport protection company recently released the trick Trabec mountain bike helmet, which comes in two flavors, the Trabec Race and Trabec. The helmet extends down the back of the neck, and it uses Aramid filaments combined with an In-mold Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) foam liner for maximum protection. The three-piece outer polycarbonate shell has optimized sections that don’t have seams in the most vulnerable areas, and its bonded to the reinforced core, for strength and lightweight. The comfortable and extremely safety engineered Trabec Race helmet, offers extra Aramid reinforcements than the Trabec, and weighs around 380 grams and costs $180.

The major components of a helmet, are the outer shell, the foam liner, 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 EPS foam helps prevent or reduce brain injury by managing the energy of an impact through its own compression or destruction. Its main duty is to slow the stopping process so that the head slows down during its inertial of the impact (deceleration), by cushioning and redirection.

Impressions
The Trabec Race is a pretty comfortable helmet, with enough padding in the proper places, and a good form fitting inner shape, that has adequate room to accommodate varying head geometries. It’s not the most fashionable looking helmet, and it looks sort of blocky and chunky perched on top of your head, but safety is its preeminent point, not fashion. The helmet offers excellent protection, coming deeply over the ears, and drooping far down onto the neck in an enduro type styling. The additional coverage certainly adds a great sense of reassurance for protection in case of a crash, and the hidden features such as the Aramid reinforcement and extra thickness of the liner, and the shell seams in non vulnerable areas, make for an extensive safety dominated package. The liner uses a web or grid of Aramid filaments molded inside the EPS foam, acting very much rebar in concrete or the skeleton inside a body, to works in a synergistic manner to offer strength, resistance and durability, and keeping things together throughout an impact. The thickness of the liner is close to 4 cm in places, which gives it the bulbous height and shape, but it creates a greater amount of material to envelope your noggin for protection. I liked the simple color scheme for the helmet, and the White kept the head from baking in the sun, although the lighter toned chin straps did stain after some usage. The three-piece shell, is comprised of the main upper piece which starts just over the ears and covers the top of your scalp, the rear piece which covers the back of your head, and then a long sliver piece that rolls around the entire bottom of the helmet.

Note: Aramid fibers are a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers. They are used in aerospace and military applications, for ballistic rated body armor fabric and ballistic composites.

The helmet has 16 large air vents with an internal air channel, which help with air flow, but it can still feel a bit warm compared to a highly ventilated cross country helmet. It is kept purposely rounded, without any extraneous pointed sections, so that during a crash it will roll better, and nothing will get caught or pinched in debris or terrain obstacles on your terra firma encounter. The visor is removable and will break away in a crash, and has an adjustable tilt, which is nice in variable light conditions, and allows you to either put it down for maximum coverage or up out of the way for more expansive viewing.

It comes with two sets of padding, one thicker than the other, which allows for micro alteration for varying head shapes and sizes. The helmet padding was durable and comfortable, dried quickly and wicked well, and they’re removable and machine washable. The padding was treated with Polygiene, which uses a natural silver salt, and has anti-microbial and anti-odor properties to keep the helmet fresh, so it doesn’t get the funk. The helmet sizing is adjusted by four systems, a chin strap, two ear adjusters, a rear circumference closure and a three-point height setting, the latter two being very much like the Giro Roc Loc system.

The straps are set or molded directly into the EPS foam, and the inner end piece of the chinstrap isn’t adjustable, so I ended up having to have the outer chin strap too close to the ear adjuster. I found that the side ear adjusters on the chin strap liked to drift downward, so I had to move them back up into place on occasion. The ear pieces didn’t have a clamp to snap down, and worked on tight friction with the webbing. On every ride, I used the rear closure and chin strap, opening them for spinning, and then closing tightly for technical terrain and running downhill.

The rear circumference system consists of two push button ratchets that click into indents, giving a good deal of adjustability for fitting and comfort. I could get it to work on the fly, but it was easier to loosen then tighten. To relax the fit you tapped the buttons, and they would easily loosen, while to close the system, you had to squeeze the buttons towards each other, and doing on the fly adjustments required you to reach over the top of the helmet. It usually worked just fine and clamped down tightly, but it occasionally would pop out of the ratchets indents, and the reach over the helmet was awkward to perform. I think the adjustment system, specifically the ear and the rear circumference adjusters, needs some refinement, as it just doesn’t function to the performance standards this helmet emulates towards.

The helmet has been very durable, and has shown no signs of wear, scratches and dings. Another nice little bonus is that it comes with a useful helmet bag, and I certainly wish more vendors would include a simple bag with their helmets?

Measured Specs:

  • Weight (size XL-XXL) – 392.8 grams

Bottom Line
The POC Trabec Race is comfortable, well constructed and an eminently safety oriented helmet. It includes superb safety features, such as extended rear and side coverage, and an extremely thick liner with a grid of Aramid filaments reinforced into that EPS core, and a polycarbonate shell with optimized sections. The helmet is expensive, isn’t the coolest on a hot day, and the rear retention system was awkward to use, and the chin strap ear pieces like to droop out of place. What you do get is one of the most sophisticated helmets for protection and safety on the market, and POC has certainly pushed the science of gravity sport protection to the maximum, without compromising functionality or performance.

Strengths

  • Aramid filament reinforced EPS core
  • Liner thickness
  • Comfortable
  • Adjustable, removable and breakaway visor
  • Safety engineered throughout

Weaknesses

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Can get warm
  • Ear piece on chin strap – creep downwards
  • Rear circumference adjuster –  awkward to tighten on the fly

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Trabec Race Specs:

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