If it works once, do it again. That seems to be Oakley’s cycling product-launch philosophy. Last year at the Eurobike trade show in Germany, the company launched its new cycling helmets and apparel, and the internet pretty much freaked out with excitement.
This year (as in right now!), the company launched its new mountain bike helmet, the $200 DRT 5, and a small line of mountain bike apparel. There’s also a new high-tech (it’s Oakley, of course it’s high tech) jersey.
To help show off the helmet, Oakley enlisted three-time world champion downhiller Greg Minnaar. The South African has won more World Cup races than any other DH rider—21. That’s also the number of years Minnaar has been sponsored by Oakley. But this was the first time he had significant influence on a product design. As he held the battleship gray—Oakley calls it Minnaar gray—helmet in front of a crowd assembled to see it for the time, he smiled with pride as he pointed out his favorite features.
The new helmet is not a full-face; it’s for trail and all-mountain riding and looks from a distance like some of the more popular models in that category—Giro’s Montaro and Poc’s Tectral. But get closer and the features start to pop. On the outside, toward the rear are two clips that point up like mouse ears. Oakley calls them the Eyewear Landing Zone. They’re there to hold your glasses to the helmet so you no longer have to shimmy ear pieces through the vents, which is a common but not super effective way to secure your shades on mountain bike rides.
With the clips up, you can snug your arms into them and rest your glasses on the top of your helmet. If you’re going to descend, or go rumbling through techy sketchy trails, you can close the clips, locking your arms in place. It’s a nice way to keep your sunglasses secure to your helmet before and after a ride, too.
Inside, the helmet has a BOA dial fit system, which make adjustments easy. There’s also the MIPS protective liner, which can reduce the forces on your head in a crash. To keep sweat running down your face and sunglasses, Oakley added a silicone gutter across the brow to divert sweat away from your eyes. Designers also removed the front pad, which they felt only collected sweat. Inside the helmet, you’ll see just one minimal pad that sits on top of the head.
“We’ve all had pretty bad experiences with helmet pads, “ said Chad McKonly, Oakley’s helmet team leader. “They work for a while then fill up with sweat and at some point just let go, usually all over your glasses.”
On the exterior, Oakley carefully shaped the profile, especially around the ears to not interfere with sunglass earpieces. The hinged visor pivots high to fit goggles below it and it fits almost seamlessly with the helmet. It’s the one detail Minnaar obsessed over to get right.
It’s a great-looking helmet, with features that could make it more enjoyable to ride in than some others. The Landing Zone and sweat guard should keep your glasses secure and free of sweat while the Boa fit system and MIPS protective insert can help deliver a better fit and potentially reduce injuries. The $200 helmet will be available March 1.