Review: POC Cerebel Raceday Aero Helmet
May 19, 2016
article & images by Nick Salazar
This is a bit of a funny story. A few years ago, POC released their first time trial helmet, called the Tempor. It was ... ridiculous in appearance. Maybe it was fast for some athletes, but I don't know of any. And anecdotally, I spoke to one wind tunnel tech who had tested dozens of athletes with the it, and never found one for whom it was faster than other modern lids.
Fast forward to 2014, and POC releases a completely different design that has me foaming at the mouth with excitement. This new lid, the Cerebel, looked awesome. I've had my eye on the POC Cerebel since it was in prototype stage under Pro Tour riders. It's a short-tail lid with an integrated magnetic visor, slick minimal design, and a shape that looks to lend itself well to a wide variety of head positions. I finally got my hands on one, and have been very happy with the helmet. So let's take a look at this thing.
Minimal, modern design
The Cerebel is something that POC developed in collaboration with Team Garmin, so it's probably no accident that it looks a lot like the no-tail Giro Selector team-only prototypes that the team rode for a couple of seasons. Looks like when Garmin switched helmet sponsors, they made clear that they wanted a helmet with similar characteristics. Fortunately for consumers, this time it was destined to become a retail product.
The basic concept of the helmet is to provide a short, snub-tailed shape that works at various angles of slip and attack, mnaking it less sensitive to head movement. This was a requirement Garmin thought important for Team Time Trials, where riders' heads move quite a bit. And it turns out to work very well in the case of triathletes, who move around a lot. But my eyeball guess is that even if you take out the "high movement" use case, the helmet stacks up very favorably to others. That is, I'm willing to wager that in a normal tuck, the helmet still puts out very good drag numbers compared to traditional helmets. At least for my position, where the helmet fits very nicely. It would take a wind tunnel test to confirm, but absent a specific study for my own position, I'm inclined to say I like it. A lot.
Aero speculation aside, how does this thing actually work? How livable is it? Actually, it's fantastic. Well, it's fantastic for me. The Cerebel comes in two sizes: a Small that fits 50-56cm heads, and a Medium that fits 54-60cm. In general, you want to use the smallest helmet that can fit your head, as to reduce that frontal area. My head is a 59, so the Medium is a perfect fit for me. It comes down over my big monkey ears without any fuss, and I can keep the ratcheting adjustment knob pretty loose.
I'm also a big fan of integrated helmet lenses, as seen on the Giro Selector and Louis Garneau P-09, currently my two other favorite helmets. POC doesn't make any mirrored versions of its lenses, like Garneau does for the P-09. A mirrored lens would easily make this my favorite helmet, for reasons of pure vanity. But the shape, comfort, construction, and light weight of the Cerebel still put it into first place for me, perhaps just tied with the P-09, and the Selector just slightly behind. At $380 retail, it's not cheap, but absolutely worth a look.