POC 2012 helmets and armour – First look

By Matt Pacocha, US editor, in Boulder, USA | Thursday, August 11, 2011 9.30am

POC’s 2012 bike line brings the MIPS protection system used in their Cortex downhill lid to their open-face helmets for the first time, and also introduces an all-new soft protection system called VPD 2.0.

There are now three models of Trabec – the enduro cross-country helmet introduced last year – along with the Swedish company's first performance-oriented sunglasses, myriad new colors and updates to the whole line.

It's the fourth year that POC – the name stands for ‘Piece Of Cake’ – have developed products specifically for the bike world, and the seventh in snow sports, where the Swedish brand established themselves.

MIPS now in three helmets

MIPS – it stands for ‘Multi-Directional Impact Protection System’ – was developed by a Swedish neurosurgeon and a researcher at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology. It places a low-friction layer between a helmet’s outer shell and its inner protective liner in order to absorb rotational energy as well as that from direct impacts, much like the human skull and cerebrospinal fluid protect the brain.

During a vertical impact, it's up to the Cortex DH's in-molded foam liner to absorb the energy, as any traditional helmet would, but when the impact comes at an oblique angle, MIPS allows the foam liner to move within the carbon shell and, POC claim, absorb more energy than a fixed liner.

The cortex dh is poc's original mips helmet and also sports a carbon fiber shell:

The Cortex DH is POC's original MIPS helmet and sports a carbon fiber shell

The MIPS system is offered as an option in three of POC’s helmets for 2012: the Cortex DH, Trabec Race and Receptor Backcountry. Both the Cortex DH MIPS ($500) and Receptor Backcountry MIPS ($250) are built with POC’s multi-impact liners, meaning these aren’t ‘one and done’ helmets, like standard EPS lids – rather they’re engineered to take multiple impacts and still offer rated protection to the rider.

The $250 receptor backcountry helmet with multiple impact protection:

The $250 Receptor Backcountry helmet has multiple impact protection           

The Trabec Race MIPS ($200, three sizes), on the other hand, has an EPS molded foam liner, shared with the rest of the Trabec line. This saves weight but means the helmets fall under the standard ‘one and done’ rule. As well as MIPS, the top-of-the-line Race model features aramid under mold technology, where POC place aramid cloth (similar to Kevlar, and also used in bulletproof vests) under the whole of the plastic shell to provide extra puncture protection.

The trabec race offers full aramid coverage below its pc cover:

The Trabec Race MIPS offers full aramid coverage below its polycarbonate cover

The Trabec Race ($180) is differentiated from the standard Trabec ($140) by also incorporating a full aramid undercoat, while the standard model has an aramid grid under its polycarbonate shell.

VPD 2.0 soft shell protection said to meet motorcycling’s highest standards

VPD (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough) is POC's equivalent of the d3o material used in pads from the likes of SixSixOne, Race Face and Bluegrass. For 2012 it's evolved into VPD 2.0, which is said to incorporate better shock absorption than the previous version. In fact, POC say it ends the traditional trade-off between flexibility and protection.

The material has the ability to transition from soft to hard when impacted, and to do so multiple times, so that its protective qualities remain high under multiple impacts and over time. “This is an important issue for us since a back protector will take several beatings both during one fall and also during its complete lifetime,” say POC.

POC's spine vpd 2.0 jacket ($300) a complete upper body system that is said to fit under a t-shirt:

POC's Spine VPD 2.0 jacket is a complete upper body system that's said to fit under a T-shirt

POC’s flagship downhill protector is the long-sleeve Spine VPD 2.0 jacket ($300). The VPD 2.0 plates are 3D molded for fit and perforated for ventilation. The spine features an additional thermoplastic layer for puncture protection and is held tight with an integrated kidney belt.

“VPD is not based on molecules binding,” POC designer Oscar Huss told BikeRadar when asked how VPD differes from d3o. “The material consists of a fine microstructure of chambers linked together. If the VPD material is exposed to a low energy impact, the air inside each cell is forced out slowly through micro-holes and the structure feels very soft. If the force is greater, the air hasn't enough time to go through the micro holes, which makes the VPD stiffen and maintain its shock absorbing properties.

"In other words, it works like an air-based car or motorbike shock absorber where you have a defined hole (valve) and a volume of air that has to go through. At low speed there's enough time to evacuate the chamber and at high speed, it's getting stiffer. D3o are marketing their material as molecules binding together upon impact.”

POC will offer shorts, elbow, knee, long-knee and shin pads that use the new VPD 2.0 material. All of the pieces will come in three sizes and will range in cost from $300 (jacket) to $90 (shins). The standard VPD line will remain, with additional T-shirt and vest style protectors, each of which knocks off plates when compared to the jacket. POC will continue to make VPD elbow, knee and shin guards, as well as polypropylene plastic faced knee-shin and elbow guards.

POC's standard vpd t-shirt style protector:

POC's standard VPD T-shirt style protector

POC eyewear: A new performance model, Strive

Previously POC’s sunglasses line was born from fashion and modified for performance. According to POC, the new Strive is a ground-up design that’s first and foremost a performance piece. The Grilamid TR-90 frame is semi-rimless and comes with three different lens shapes that vary in size and coverage. The fixed-tint, replaceable lenses are made from NXT, which wraps to better protection and peripheral sight, and will be offered in various tints. Tints and prices for the Strive have yet to be set.

The new strive sunglasses:

The new Strive sunglasses

POC gloves: Popular Index Air branches out with two new models

POC’s most popular glove, the Index Air ($50), will continue for 2012 along with two new variants: the Index Air Adjustable ($55) and Intex Air 1/2 ($50). The minimalist glove sports a synthetic leather palm with silicone grippers and pre-bent ergonomic shape, and it's won over everyone from downhillers to cross-country hammers. The ‘Adjustable’ model adds a Velcro strap (the standard version is a slip-on), while the 1/2 version is fingerless.

POC's index air adjust: poc's index air adjust

POC's Index Air Adjust

2012 POC ride wear

Keeping up with a design-minded Swedish firm’s seasonal clothing is tougher than winning thimblerig on a street corner in the Bronx. However, POC’s Trail T-shirt and short stand out for 2012. The T-shirt ($50) is said to hang like a regular old cotton tee, but is treated with polygene to control odor and manage moisture. The Trail short ($100) is POC’s lightest model and comes with three pockets and in six sizes.

POC's trail t-shirt: poc's trail t-shirt

Related links

POC's Trail T-shirt

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