Oakley ARO3 helmet review

Market-leading in the glasses department, we test out Oakley's helmet offering

Oakley ARO3 helmet
(Image credit: Michelle Arthurs Brennan)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

A comfortable helmet that offers plenty of breathability for hot days in the saddle. The Boa dial system wasn't a winner for us, but it did its job as required and we'd recommend this helmet for those seeking a cool head under the hot summer's sun.

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    Retention system

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    Not much space for hair

Whilst there are other brands beginning to take a pretty sizable chunk of the pie, Oakely is still very much the market leader when it comes to cycling sunglasses. It's not a brand that I immediately associated with helmets. This is a shame, because Oakley does stock a sizeable range of rather nice helmets for cyclists.

The ARO3 is the entry-level road offering, though it still comes in at £149 so it's a considered purchase. One up is the ARO5, for £199 then the visor equipped aero lid, the ARO7 at a rather jaw-dropping £409.

The ARO3 does not boast any particular aero claims. Rather, it's designed to be a lightweight helmet with plenty of ventilation. This comes via 12 vents, with a total of five gaping holes at the front to let the cool air in. At the rear, two further ports sent hot air out - acting much like an exhaust. The other five vents are positioning along the top of the helmet.

Oakley ARO3 helmet

(Image credit: Michelle Arthurs Brennan)

Padding comes in the form of 'X-Static' fabric, this is designed to resist the growth of bacteria, thus eliminating the chance of odor build-up. I wore this helmet for several long days in the saddle, under some pretty beating sun during a recent UK heatwave, and with this tech alongside the many vents, my head stayed pleasantly cool.

Of course, being Oakley, eyewear has been considered - and there's a useful 'eyewear dock' system to ensure you can safely stow your glasses when they're not covering your eyes.

Oakley has incorporated a MIPS layer. Unlike systems such as the 'Float Fit' developed by Bell in the Zephyr, the MIPS layer has been slotted in as opposed to being embedded as part of the construction. This means it moves around freely, and I was aware of it when putting the helmet on. However, once riding I forgot all about it.

The retention system used for this helmet is a Boa 360 fit system. The dial pulls upon two TX1 laces, which sit flat against your head. Oakley says this system aids eyewear compatibility. The laces are flat and thin, a big plus as any bulk which can be reduced is a bonus. However, I found the dial itself a little chunky and clunky compared to the slimline options available on market leading helmets (most use systems designed by Roc Loc).

To add further insult, I found that though it was possible to feed a ponytail through the gap at the back, the space was narrower than those provided by brands who boast a dedicated hair port.

Oakley ARO3 helmet

(Image credit: Michelle Arthurs Brennan)

At 254g in a size small, this helmet is reasonable, but not as light as competitors - it's not as impressive as the 204g HJC Atara (£90) - but that was probably the lightest entry level lid we've ever tested. It's still heavier than the Endura Pro SL (£149.99), however, which we'd consider representative at this price point.

The fit however, was excellent. The size small (for 52-56cm) fitted my head perfectly, and it was extremely comfortable for me - leading to zero pressure points despite long days on the bike. I tend to get on well with helmets for quite "round" heads, Giro being a regular winner for me.

I also really like the look of this helmet, with its rounded top and classy rear exhaust ports, I enjoyed wearing it and will continue to do so as the summer rumbles on.

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.

A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly. 

When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.

She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6. 

Height: 166cm

Weight: 56kg

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