The Kortal Race Mips helmet from POC marries a fully decked-out feature-rich shell with a range of very cool safety tech. It’s stylish, comfortable and incredibly breezy, which puts it in line with many of the best mountain bike helmets. But, now, its location and NFC tech are redundant in the UK.
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POC is a brand that’s famed for pioneering safety tech in both MTB and snow sports and its wealth of experience in this area is glaringly clear in the design of the Kortal Race Mips. There are an awful lot of features to cover with this one, so let’s get started.
POC Kortal Race Mips - Technical details
The Kortal Race Mips is built around an EPS liner, as is almost every helmet on the market, but what makes this one stand out is its fancy aramid bridges. These sections are said to improve the structural strength of the helmet while adding protection against penetration. Making this tech extra cool is a little window in the unibody shell where you can see the material.
Inside the helmet is the highest-end Mips Integra which handles rotational impact protection. This version of Mips is extra smart because rather than taking the form of a yellow cradle, it’s integrated into the helmet. This integration means that designers can build in better airflow than Mips cradle systems, as there’s nothing to get in the way of the vents.
Speaking of ventilation, the Kortal Race Mips comes with 17 vents with the forwardmost connected to some very deep channels that guide air over and around the head. The two at the brow can then vent air towards eyewear which should reduce fog. POC has gone so far as to design the ventilation so that goggle straps shouldn't cover any of the vents at the rear.
Upping the protection factor is a four-way adjustable breakaway visor using POC’s patented design. In a crash, the visor will easily snap off which protects the neck from over-rotating. All of these physical safety features work to help the Kortal meet Dutch NTA 8776 e-bike helmet standards, even though it’s not e-bike specific.
The Kortal employs a 360-degree fit system for secure fit and comfort. It’s also compatible with goggles, offering a seamless fit to the brand’s Ora goggles which can be put underneath the visor when not in use. It wouldn't be too crazy to expect a Fidlock buckle on a lid of that price, but the Kortal Race Mips forgoes one in favour of a traditional buckle. Though this isn't all bad really, as it doesn't massively affect the helmet's performance, and many prefer normal buckles.
Not that everything we’ve gone over isn’t clever enough but POC has really pushed the boat out in its pursuit of creating a seriously safe helmet. The Kortal Mips Race benefits from a RECCO Reflector, which is a smart bit of tech that helps rescue services find you should you bin it in the middle of nowhere.
Then once they find you, they can find your emergency details simply by waving their phones over the NFC logo on top of the lid. This of course only works if the phone has NFC capabilities. Anyway, information such as your name, date of birth, and emergency contact can be programmed into the helmet using the twICEme app.
POC Kortal Race Mips - Setting up twICEme
Unfortunately, POC’s website isn’t massively clear on how twICEme works, and being uneducated in the ways of this app, I didn’t know it was a phone app before taking to Google. Though once the app is installed onto your phone, you can create profiles for particular pieces of NFC-equipped tech and this is where you fill out a form with all of your details. The info is pretty in-depth, too, ranging from your name and date of birth to whether or not you’re an organ donor and if you've got any recognisable features, such as scars or birthmarks.
Then you simply wave your phone over the NFC logo on the Kortal and it’ll beam all of the information over.
The cool thing about twICEme is that you don’t need the app to access the information as it can open in a normal browser but users will need an internet connection and a phone with NFC capabilities.
However, twICEme relies on the rescue or emergency service finding the NFC logo and knowing that this NFC tech is key to finding out your emergency info. Having spoken to paramedics, it isn’t common in the UK at the moment, though it is something that may help those outside of the UK.
The same goes for the RECCO Reflector built-in. As it stands, there are three locations in the UK (and by the UK I mean Scotland) that has a RECCO detector. Although, there are a number of locations in the Alps, which is great if that’s where your riding takes you. But while cool and possibly incredibly useful, this infrastructure isn’t available in the UK just yet.
POC Kortal Race Mips - Performance
One feature that stands out for me compared to all of the helmets I’ve tested is its huge coverage. It’s a deep-feeling helmet that covers so much more of my head. It’s low above the ear and extends down the back of the head. This depth alone is very confidence inspiring, and a useful safety aspect of the Kortal.
The coverage does come with a bit of a downside though as it makes the dial on the fit system tough to reach when at its shallowest setting. When on the head, with or without gloves, it’s hard to turn which can become a bit of a pain. The dial is small and slim, too, which doesn’t really help things. Though as a fit-and-forget setting, it gets the job done.
It has proven to be incredibly comfortable. I’ve happily ridden in the Kortal for long stints and quickly forgotten that it’s even there. Given that it's not the lightest helmet on the market, weighing 396g (still, not too bad), its comfort is impressive. But if I were to be really picky, I’d say there’s a bit of a hot spot at the forehead, and the fit is a smidge on the narrow side, but honestly, it’s never become an issue and it’s very rarely been noticed.
POC can only be applauded for its efforts in designing this lid’s ventilation. The use of Mips Integra paired with some thoughtful design helps the Kortal engulf air, as its deep channels efficiently guide it around the head. It’s a cool, and breezy lid, so much so that it’s been a little too cold through the winter.
The visor is tough to adjust though, and when it's in the lowest setting, it doesn’t offer much shade or protection against rain. It is secure, but it takes a firm effort to change its angle. However, it’s incredibly uncommon that I adjust the visor’s position while out riding, so again, I’m being really picky.
While there are a few minor downsides, I’ve been very impressed with the Kortal Mips Race throughout my test period. It’s comfy, breezy and let’s face it, the futuristic shape is pretty slick.
POC Kortal Race Mips - Verdict
At £220, the Kortal Race Mips is scraping the premium ceiling, losing out to only the Giro Manifest Spherical Mips at £250. Though, you are getting a lot for your money, including that airflow, the aramid bridges, coverage and comfort.
As a direct comparison, the Troy Lee Designs A3 will also set you back £220 and while the brand’s name exudes nothing but cool, the A3 doesn't have as many features as the Kortal Race Mips. Comfort-wise, both helmets are neck and neck, with the TLD maybe pulling a fraction ahead, but in terms of safety tech, it struggles to square up. It doesn’t breathe as effectively either, but the A3 does come with a very useful Sweat Glide System which keeps sweat out of the eyes.
There are plenty of helmets cheaper than the Kortal Race Mips but few match its top build quality and design that combines all of those useful features, as well as the safety tech.
Even though the RECCO Reflector and NFC tech isn’t terribly useful in the UK yet, that doesn’t mean that the POC Kortal Race Mips is a bad helmet. Actually, it’s the exact opposite as it offers a combination of comfort, airflow, and coverage that’s rarely found elsewhere, and because of this, it’s been the helmet I’ve picked up the most before heading out for a ride. If you’re after a stylish but seriously effective trail lid, this one is one of the best.