Although today Oakley are better known for their consumer sunglasses and for innovation in extreme sports such as skiing and snowboarding, the company made a name for themselves producing custom motorbike grips in the mid-1970s. Their first big break came with an expansion into BMX however, growing exponentially after introducing bike grips, goggles and helmets into their range.
It would seem the company hasn’t forgotten their heritage too, with the introduction of the Oakley ARO Series Cycling Helmets, which are available in three new models – the ARO3, ARO5 and ARO7.
The most expensive of the range, the technology-laden ARO7, is aimed at serious BMX enthusiasts, particularly those looking to improve their times on the track. The $500 helmet features drag reduction and the protection you’d expect from a brand such as Oakley, but also integrates Oakley’s new Prizm Road Shield lens, which is among the best set of built-in lenses you’ll come across at any price range. The Prizm technology has been included in everything from the latest range of Oakley goggles (the Airbrake XL are particularly good) to their consumer-focused sunglasses, and their clarity, depth and glare reduction are some of the best we’ve ever come across.
If the ARO7 are a little too expensive for your tastes, then the ARO5 come in at half the price. Extensively tested in the wind tunnels, this helmet boasts superb aerodynamics without compromising ventilation, and it’s also lightweight, comfortable and offers excellent protection as you’d expect.
Most of us however will be looking towards the entry-level ARO3, although it’s still not what you’d call cheap at $180 in the US. The ARO3 is particularly focused at those who require as much ventilation as possible, particularly during long climbs in hot, arid locations.
Whichever helmet you opt for, you’ll find Oakley’s superb AKA MIPS multi-directional Impact Protection System, which helps minimise rotational force crashes. The ARO5 and ARO7 models also feature the BOA fine-tuning system for the perfect fit, letting you adjust the helmet with just one hand. As you would probably expect from a company that’s become known for their quality and innovation, the helmets are all extremely comfortable and offer excellent protection, making them an expensive but extremely high-quality addition to the BMX helmet market.