Designed with input from Greg Minnaar, will the Oakley DRT5 helmet deliver more than just a designer branded head protector?
What do you want from a helmet? Protection – definitely. And comfort. It would be good if it looked cool. But beyond that – what features could make you choose one helmet over another? Would being designed with input from Greg Minnaar do it for you? Certainly, he’s been racing at a top level for so long that he must have been doing a good job of protecting his brain. But if celebrity endorsement alone isn’t enough for you, the DRT5 helmet from Oakley tries to win us over with a list of technical features: MIPS impact protection, a BOA fit adjustment, silicone sweat management band, and an ‘eyewear dock’ for stashing your glasses. On paper, only one of these – MIPS – would have had me trying it on (or, more likely, pressing the ‘buy now’ button’). But what about real life? Could any of these features prove their worth to me?
Oakley DRT5 Helmet Specification
- EYEWEAR DOCK: Integrated eyewear dock to securely stow your shades and keep them handy for quick and easy access.
- BOA® 360 FIT SYSTEM: With its soft textile feel and flexibility, the TX1 Lace lies flat against your head, allowing for seamless eyewear compatibility.
- X-STATIC® BROW PADDING: X-Static® harnesses the power of silver to create a powerful technology that inhibits the growth of bacteria on fabric, eliminating odor for the life of the product. Also ships with secondary set of pads.
- MIPS® INTEGRATION: The MIPS® Brain Protection System is a helmet integrated, low friction layer designed to reduce rotational motion transferred to the brain during an impact.
- Helmet Travel Bag and Oakley Decal Included
- Small (52-56cm) / Medium (54-58cm) / Large (56-60cm)
- CPSC 1203, EN1078 and ANZ2063 Certifications
On The Trail
Starting with the first feature – an eyewear dock. Most of the time, I’m wearing glasses because I need them to see. So, I’m not about to take them off on a ride. If I do suffer the trouble of putting contact lenses in, I’m still going to be wearing some other glasses, as I find any dirt or water in my eyes is intolerable when coupled with contact lenses. The only time I’m going to want to stop wearing a pair of glasses is at the end of a ride, or if my ride goes on so late that it gets too dark for the tint on the glasses I’m wearing.
As luck would have it, one ride did see me running out of light, but as I couldn’t actually figure out how to use the clips, I just pushed on. Further investigation by the light of day and from the comfort of my armchair revealed how to use the clips, and for the sake of testing I went out looking utterly ridiculous with glasses on my face and on my helmet. The glasses didn’t budge or rattle noticeably in transit, despite not looking very secure, but it’s not terribly easy to put them in place – I think you’ll find you’re stopping to put them there, rather than doing this on the move. I also felt the stash points were quite widely set – which will suit many Oakleys, but perhaps not so much glasses for a narrower face. The green glasses shown here wouldn’t sit comfortably the other way round, the legs were too short – but they’re more ‘casual’ glasses than sports ones, with long curved legs. Online, there’s a video suggesting that a great use for the docking station would be when fixing a mechanical, so you put your glasses safely on your helmet rather than scratching them or losing them. I remain unconvinced, but if you often feel the need for somewhere to keep your glasses, then the solution is here.
If you’re a goggle wearer rather than a glasses wearer, the visor can be adjusted right up to an almost vertical position to stow your goggle under your visor. I guess fashions have moved on, and it’s now totally socially acceptable to wear goggles with an open face. Riding along with your peak up without goggles really shouldn’t be.
The next feature then – the silicone sweat management. Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough, or maybe it’s just been autumn/winter in the UK, but I’m just not sweaty enough to discern any benefit from this feature. Whether it stops my sweat from trickling into my eyes, I can’t say. It was however comfortable, and my initial concern that it might pull my hair or skin in uncomfortable ways was unfounded. It does leave something of a striped mark on my forehead, but it’s not terrible, and I think that the slight stickiness of the silicone at the front of the helmet actually allowed me to have the helmet slightly less tight than I would ordinarily need for it to feel secure. So, whether it works for sweat or not, I don’t care – I like the silicone band.
The BOA adjustment was something that came as a real surprise. This is the first time I’ve had a BOA fitted helmet that has been comfortable. In every other instance, I’ve found that the thin cord of the BOA has created a pressure point that has been uncomfortable, even on shorter rides. In some instances I’ve also found that there’s a clash between the legs of my glasses and the BOA. Neither was the case with the DRT5 – whether it’s the silicone strap meaning I just don’t need to wind the BOA so tight, or it’s that Oakley is a major supplier of eyewear so has actually thought properly about how they fit with a helmet, I don’t know. It’s possibly also down to the fact that the BOA cord is a TX1 textile like cord, rather than the hard plastic ones I’ve previously tried. Whatever the reason, I found the fit comfortable and secure without being overly tight.
Worth mentioning at this point is the chin strap – unlike some other helmets I’ve seen, the chin straps come out of the body of the helmet, keeping them nice and clear of the BOA fastener and your glasses. The fore and aft position of the meeting point of the straps can be adjusted separately to the length of the chin strap itself, removing some of that brain boggling Mobius strip effect you can get with other strap arrangements. It’s a simple clip, no magnets or Fidlock, but it does the job.
MIPS is the one feature that would have caught my eye on paper. I’m all for protecting my brain, and while this is the ‘basic’ MIPS and not the more advanced MIPS Spherical, I am glad to have it. Not that I’ve tested it, and nor do I intend to. But, it’s there if I need it, and I’ve found the way it integrates with the helmet to be comfortable. Previously I’ve found some MIPS equipped helmets catch on my hair, but I had no such issues here.
It’s not the mostly hugely ventilated helmet, but just as I can’t sweat enough to test the sweat band, I can’t heat up enough to complain about getting too hot. I’m happy to take this to a far flung land of warmer temperatures if you really want to know how it performs in the heat, but from the perspective of a UK rider in November, I’ve no complaints there.
Had I been testing it in warmer months, I might have wished for bug mesh on the vents. However testing in the cold and dark of winter has thrown up one disadvantage: I can’t fit any of my helmet lights to this helmet. The MIPS liner sits very close to the helmet shell with no gap in between, which means I don’t want to thread one of the velcro strap attachments through the vents. There’s no GoPro mount built-in either which some lights would fit. You could fit an Exposure mount into the vents, but it would be off centre (the vents on the top of your head are a pair), which would annoy me. If you’re a keen night rider and this will be your only helmet, you might like to think twice about the lights you have and how they might fit.
Aesthetically, when I first took it out of the box I thought it looked rather round and white, like a canoeing helmet perhaps. I don’t actually think it looks so bad on my head, and there are some other colour options – though currently all are on the understated side of things. I like the colour choices, but none are going to make you stand out in a race or make you easy to spot.
I’ve been out in this helmet for long and short rides and never had to think about my head – apart from trying to make myself think about it for the sake of this review. My kitchen scales aren’t precise enough to give exact weights, but it’s a little lighter than some helmets I wear, and a little heavier than others. Off the scales and on my head, I’ve not noticed the difference. Usually I find that any pressure points or discomfort in my helmet really get to me and can give me the feeling that I’m about to get a migraine, so to be able to put the helmet on and just ride and forget about it has been very welcome. I might not be sold on all the features, but I’m sold on the helmet as a whole – I’d be interested to try something less ‘feature packed’ at a lower price, if such a thing were to exist.
3 things I’d change
- Don’t bother with the eyewear dock
- Add a GoPro or light mount option
- Knock a few quid off having saved on the eyewear dock
3 things I loved
- Compatibility with glasses
- The textile style TX1 BOA cord
- Overall comfort
Despite my initial scepticism over some of the technical features this helmet sells itself on, I will be happily continuing to wear this helmet for the foreseeable future. Particularly if you’re a glasses wearer that struggles to get a comfortable fit, I’d recommend giving this a try. It’s the most comfortable helmet I’ve put on my head in some time.
|Tested:||by Hannah for|
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