A little known fact about Oakley, whose sunglasses are ubiquitous among both suburban dada and world-class athletes across a wide range of sports, is that they got their start selling motorcycle grips in 1975 and first rose to prominence when it added BMX grips, goggles, and other safety gear.
The company announced recently that they'd be making another big splash in the bike world, with a new line of helmets and apparel.
“Two wheels are in Oakley’s DNA," said Olaf Dunz, global Marketing Director at the company.
The Oakley ARO Series Cycling Helmet collection includes three models. The tech-heavy ARO7 (above) for time-trialing and triathletes for whom every second is critical. The $500 helmet reduces drag and makes sunglasses unnecessary with the inclusion of an integrated Prizm Road Shield lens (one of the best we've ever tested) at the first if the helmet. The ARO7 will also ship with a clear shield as well as a custom storage case.
The ARO5 is a race helmet that’s both aero and lightweight (no specifics on just how light, yet). Unlike most race helmets that try to slice out as many vents as possible, the $250 ARO 5 has fewer vents that are larger, but deliver less ventilation than some to make it more aerodynamic. Perfect for aspiring-Sagans AKA sprinters, Oakley engineers fine-tuned the shape with extensive wind tunnel testing.
And the $180 ARO3 is the helmet for most of us. Aimed at riders in hot climates who are targeting big climbs, where maximum ventilation is critical. There’s a reason pro bike racers of yore often rode helmet-less during mountain stages during massive ascents: it gets damn hot when you’re working hard to go up, but low speeds translate to minimum breeze. The AR03 is the most ventilated of the bunch.
All ARO helmets include Multi-directional Impact Protection AKA MIPS, a system that helps reduce rotational forces crashes. A BOA system that lets riders fine tune fit with just one hand via a quarter-sized dial secure the ARO5 and ARO5.
Although there are a lot of great helmets and manufacturers out there, we’re excited about Oakley’s entrance. The company started building snowboard/ski helmets two winters ago, and they’re some of the best available.
Oakley is also collaborating with a manufacturer of the custom cycle clothing manufacturer Bioracer Speedwear. The collection shares the name of Oakley’s popular sunglass frame (and one of the best punk bands of the 90s), the Jawbreaker. The Oakley Jawbreaker Kits come in two assortments, Premium and Road — both include road jerseys, bibs, outwear and accessories like a backpack.