POC’s Kortal Race MIPS helmet puts safety and protection at the forefront of its design, but happily not at the expense of comfort or ventilation. POC released it a little over a year ago and it’s one among a legion of lids aimed at enduro and trail riders. It also meets the e-MTB helmet safety standard.
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Although this is a unisex lid, we previewed it in our guide to the best women’s mountain bike helmets, and it comes in a wide choice of colors to suit all genders and coordinate with your bike.
Design and specifications
The Kortal Race packs a lot of technology into its deep dish design, from integrated MIPS to medical and rescue tech. MIPS is a slip plane that protects your head from rotational forces and the Kortal uses MIPS Integra, which is integrated into the helmet’s EPS liner so it’s not visible; it also doesn’t obstruct any of the 17 vents. The one-piece removable padding attaches to the top with Velcro.
Impact protection is further enhanced by the helmet’s Aramid bridges, which add structural strength, and the three-position breakaway peak that is claimed to reduce neck injuries in a crash. The high-quality construction is finished with a one-piece polycarbonate shell that wraps under the rim, so none of the EPS foam is exposed. All this means the Kortal meets the NTA 8776 e-bike helmet standard, which tests at higher impact speeds than regular helmet standards.
The Kortal’s oval-shaped fit is easily adjusted with the indexed dial at the rear of the height-adjustable cradle that fully encircles your head. It’s available in three sizes, to accommodate bonces from 51-62cm circumference, and really protects the whole of your head with its extended rear. Being an enduro lid, it’s designed to be compatible with goggles – they can be pushed up under the peak when you’re not using them and the strap doesn’t cover any vents.
POC’s more unusual safety features will appeal to more adventurous riders who like to venture away from civilization. An NFC chip stores your emergency contacts and medical details (via an app) for instant access by a first responder via a smartphone, while the RECCO transponder (which, after initial set-up, doesn’t need activating) enables rescue services to locate you in the event of a crash or being buried in, say, an avalanche.
Despite looking rather big in comparison to my other helmets (a Specialized Ambush and a Troy Lee Designs A2) when I took it out the box, the Kortal sits well on my head and doesn’t appear over-large when on. I’m between two sizes (at 55cm) and could maybe have got away with the small, but at just under 400g the medium option doesn’t feel heavy to wear.
The Kortal immediately felt comfy, and the straps sit nicely around the ears and jaw. The outstanding impression is its excellent ventilation, though. I’ve worn it through the UK’s summer heatwave and was surprised how cool it is – the deep channels obviously work as I could feel the air flowing over the top of my head as I rode. The flipside is it may be a bit cool in winter, but it’s easy to pop a skullcap or hat underneath.
Fit for my head shape is good and secure, and it makes you feel you’re as safe as you can be with its full coverage.
My only quibble is with the peak – the label says “it may be necessary to use force” to push or pull it between its three settings, and it certainly is on mine. There’s no way I can move the vizor without using both hands, so on-the-fly adjustment isn’t an option, which is something I tend to do in changeable weather. However, I’d leave the Kortal’s peak in its low position because, although it’s just visible in your eyeline, it sits quite high relative to other helmets’ peaks, and doesn’t do that much to shade the sun out of your eyes. Thanks to climate change and our current drought conditions in the UK, I’ve not yet had the chance to wear this helmet in proper rain but feel the vizor should keep vertical rainfall off your face but not the driving, wind-blown type we often get here come autumn and winter (oh joy!). However, the peak is a minor niggle that doesn’t detract from the Kortal’s otherwise exceptional performance for me.
POC’s Kortal Race MIPS is a top-quality, great-looking open-face enduro helmet that offers superb ventilation and excellent protection plus additional high-tech safety features. Add to this its extensive rear coverage, extra-high e-MTB safety certification and comfortable fit, and you’re onto a winner. Yes it’s expensive, but you get your money’s worth and besides, you can always find deals – even POC has currently discounted some of the colors on its UK website. At this price, a spare set of helmet pads would be nice, though.
Tech specs: POC Kortal Race MIPS
Price: $250 / £220
Weight: 394g (size M tested)
Sizes: S, M, L
Colors: Sapphire Purple (pictured), Opal Blue, Epidote Green, Fluorescent Orange, Hydrogen White, Fluorite Green, Uranium Black