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Curious Orange

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Photographs: Guy Andrews

People keep asking my thoughts on this new helmet from POC. Never before has a piece of kit in my possession aroused so much interest. Flashy bikes, whizz-bang wheels, shiny shoes: all pass with barely a mention from my riding companions. Stick an orange lid on top and suddenly their interest is well and truly piqued. Bizarre.
Those who have taken against its styling are politely keeping their traps shut, it seems. There are plenty more whose boat is floated by the fluoro orange pot that remains out of my vision when in situ.
Working for a cycling magazine, I’m supposed to have strong opinions on these equipment-related matters. But what’s to be said about a helmet?
It fits well, I tell them. It’s only 195g, I brag. The air flows through those whacking big vents like a Dyson hand dryer at half speed, I bluster. It’s kind of pricey, I caution. And that’s about it.
For all the ventilation, featherweight design and comfortable fit in the world mean nothing if it doesn’t protect your head in a crash. That, I tell those enquiring, is one aspect of the Octal’s design I have absolutely no intention of testing. Despite my attempts of bribery with jelly babies, intimidation with a mini pump and pleading like a three-year-old at Sainbury’s checkout, none of the younger (therefore less risk-averse, you’d think) staff at 1 Towers were prepared to go that extra mile for me. Lightweights.
For now, the fact that these Swedish (relative) newcomers to the road market have put in an inordinate amount of research to all things safety-related will have to suffice. As they come from a world of skiing, snowboarding and MTB, it’s a fair bet they know what they are doing.
In the meantime, I’ll carry on fielding the questions. The attention is rather nice, truth be told. The only downside to the orange Octal is working through the rest of my kit to avoid colour clashes. As Peter Drinkell points out in his excellent book The Road Cyclist’s Companion, the whole outfit has to match: leave those retro Mapei shorts in the wardrobe unless you’ve got the balls to carry off the whole shebang.
It’s not only a matter of riding kit either. The deep red of my Genesis commuting machine does not work. It’s either a respray job or it has to go. 
I’ve decided to start with a cap from the punk losers at ViCiOUS Velo and work down from there. Anything goes with their kit. Anything and nothing. This could get expensive…

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