Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Oakley Aro 5 helmet review

1 Nov 2017
Verdict:

The masters of eyewear hits the mark with its new aero helmet

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£199
For 
Very comfortable lightweight and breathable with excellent eyewear integration
Against 
Looks a touch bulkier than equivalent aero helmets, especially on narrow face/head shapes

The Aro 5 is the aero-road offering, sitting in the middle of Oakley’s newly released three-tiered range with a lighter, more vented ‘road’ lid and a more ‘aero’ TT lid either side of it.

None of a helmet’s claims about safety, aerodynamics, ventilation and the like mean a jot if when you put the thing on your head it feels like a torture device.

Believe me it does happen. I’ve been super excited about certain new helmet releases in the past only to discover that it feels like someone’s pushing pins into my skull once on my bonce.

And, for the record, I don’t think I have a particularly weird shaped head.

Buy the Oakley Aro 5 from Evans Cycles here

In my experience, a bit like shoes, some are just well suited and others less so, only with helmets they won’t ‘wear in’ or ‘soften up’ with age, so you’ve got to be happy with the fit straight off the bat.

The best case scenario for a helmet is that you can hardly notice you’re wearing it at all, and for me, the Aro 5 was as if Oakley had taken a plaster cast of my head and custom made it just for me.

The Aro 5 (size medium) slotted straight onto my (56cm) head like a glove, no pressure points and had a really assured feeling to the fit. Even before I’d started twiddling the Boa dial to fine tune. So we were off to a good start.

Starting with the Boa dial retention system then (the same kind of dial we are more used to seeing on shoes), unlike most helmets the ARO 5 does not rely on an internal cage/cradle. The TX1 lace is almost undetectable, but does a superb job of cinching up the fit.

For me the rear portion of the retention system (which is also height adjustable) snugged nicely against the occipital bone at the base of my skull, providing a real sense of security; an almost locked on fit, without needing to be skull-crushingly tight.

What proved to be an exceptionally comfortable fit is made all the more impressive by the fact that the ARO 5 has just one single brow pad, suggestive the design is well considered – not just a case of bunging in loads of soft padding to give the impression of comfort.

The chin straps are very lightweight and minimalist, plus soft to the touch such that I was barely even aware they were there once they were done up.

While I’m on the subject of weight, this size medium came in under Oakley’s claimed 300g; at 289g according to our scales.

There are lighter road-aero helmets out there, but it’s not far off the mark – for comparison I weighed the same size Giro Synthe Mips at 249g and Bontrager Velocis Mips at 255g.

Photo credit: Tim Redgrove

Shady business

The integration of eyewear was obviously something Oakley couldn’t fail to provide for its range of helmets. Thankfully it seems to have delivered.

I found it was very easy to dock glasses on the fly. Helpfully it didn’t seem to matter whether they were Oakley glasses or not, as several brands (POC, Kask, Scott) I tried fitted with ease into the two large front vents.

This stands Oakley apart, as it just feels more comfortable to dock your eyewear in this way than with other helmets. My experience is it’s usually a bit hit and miss, really depending on the specific combination of helmet and glasses as to how well they integrate. Oakley though appears to have this more broadly covered.

Fast and cool?

Oakley claims to have invested significant wind tunnel time into making sure the ARO 5 has some impressive aero credentials, plus a decent amount of vents so you don’t boil.

It should then arguably be the all rounder in the range, capable in all areas, and most likely the racers choice.

It’s impossible for me to make any quantifiable judgments around how slick the ARO 5 actually is in cutting through the air, but I can report that there’s ample cooling on offer.

I’ve yet to experience riding the ARO 5 in anything like a heatwave but racing in temperatures of 17-18°C was no bother at all.

On a chilly early morning ride too, I was really aware of how much cold air was being sucked in by those large front vents, which gives me confidence overheating should not be an issue once the mercury rises.

Buy the Oakley Aro 5 from Evans Cycles here

If I were to criticise the design at all I would say that it’s slightly bulkier, compared to other equivalent sized aero-road lids.

On a skinny/narrow-faced individual it will likely appear quite proud, to the sides especially.

Overall though I feel Oakley has made a great job of its first stab in the helmet market. The ARO 5 has a premium price tag but it’s delivered a premium product, that’s hard to fault.

Read more about: