Having been the most prestigious eyewear brand in sport for decades, Oakley are trying their hand at bike helmets for the first time in 2018.
The line-up features the ARO3 road, ARO7 TT and the ARO5 aero road helmet on test here, all with the MIPS system inside to reduce rotational force in a crash. Oakley say they’ve done their homework on the design floor and in the wind tunnel, so we were keen to find out if there’s substance behind the hype.
The ARO 5 comes in small, medium and large, and we weighed our large at 314g. That’s not super-light, but the MIPS integration adds a few grams and the shell is quite large. To refine aerodynamics, Oakley used a clay modelling process to create potential shapes for the shell, before 3D-scanning and running Computational Fluid Dynamics to see how the air moved through and over it. The finished product is more well vented than most aero road helmets.
Oakley’s ARO range is the first to use the BOA FS1-1 retention system, with a thread of lace around the helmet instead of extra plastic, aiming to be more comfortable and better for pairing with eyewear. The two side vents have additional indents inside to keep your shades more secure when stowed. In use the BOA system means there’s nothing to impede the eyewear’s arms when you’re sliding them on, which is very useful for quickly flipping them on and off depending on the weather.
The MIPS layer felt quite detached from the rest of the shell, so we found it best to dial in as tight as possible; luckily the plush front padding and BOA lace meant it was still very comfortable. The ARO5 offers plenty of cooling through large front vents and, although it’s not comparable to a climber’s lid, it’s better than many aero road options. In comparative 8km rides to power against the Giro Vanquish, our issue 346 grouptest winner, we found no discernible speed differences with both runs being within two seconds of each other.
In our opinion the ARO5 is up there with the best aero road helmets. While £200 is expensive, we’re surprised there isn’t a price premium over other top-end road helmets, and the BOA FS1-1 system for better eyewear integration is a genuine improvement on other methods. Without comparative wind tunnel data we don’t know if it’s the out-and-out fastest, but our own testing and anecdotal evidence would suggest it’s up there with the best while offering exceptional cooling for an aero road lid. The MIPS integration could be refined, but overall it’s a hugely impressive effort.
Verdict: A quality debut from the eyewear giants, and packed with innovation 90%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk/oakley-aro5-helmet