Oakley’s DRT5 mountain bike helmet tears up the rulebook.
While many people judge the comfort of the best mountain bike helmets by the quantity of lush padding present, or the feel of a stodgy brow pad across the forehead, Oakley has thrown all of those conventions out of the window.
With the DRT5, you get one pad on the top of your head, and the rest is direct head-to-hard-plastic-MIPS liner contact. It feels austere on first try, but not as mean-spirited as the silicon brow seal.
This is not a plump pad, but a ribbed strip of silicon that seals against the skin and directs the sweat away rather than trying to absorb it.
But here’s the thing. It works.
Oakley DRT5 mountain bike helmet performance
Against the odds, the DRT5 is a seriously comfortable helmet that I have picked up again and again when I have had the choice of many others.
In warm weather, the lack of padding allows an unrestricted airflow over your head that is refreshing – it makes more padded helmets feel stuffy by comparison.
The silicon forehead strip can feel a little clammy when first pulled on, but that lasts for only a few seconds and is quickly forgotten.
It doesn’t allow any sweat to drip down, even on hot rides, and on the rainiest training day there have been no stinging eyes from salt wash – there aren’t any pads to store up salt, which helps too.
In the box is a standard brow pad you can swap the silicon strip out for, but I would give it a chance before you do. It’s nice to have the option, of course.
There are a few standout features on the DRT5, other than the surprising comfort.
As you can imagine from Oakley, a brand renowned for its sunglasses, these features relate to eyewear. There are a pair of storage clips for eyewear on the rear of the rounded helmet profile, providing an alternative to sticking them in the vents.
They do work, but with the clips high and to the rear, you wouldn’t know if a branch had knocked them off while riding.
If these aren’t your thing, as with the silicon brow pad, there’s an option to remove and replace them with plugs.
The Boa-branded retention system is easy to micro-adjust tighter and release, and being a thin lace rather than the usual bulky plastic moulding up the side of your head, it’s far less likely to interfere with eyewear.
As with the rest of the helmet, it looked as though it might be uncomfortable, but really wasn’t.
Oakley DRT5 mountain bike helmet bottom line
An excellent, positively indexed visor was the icing on the cake from the Oakley DRT5. It offers plenty of range from high goggle-stowing to low, sun-shading positions, making it effective in all situations.
Despite first impressions of its minimal padding, it’s an enormously comfortable helmet. It’s usefully adjustable and will keep your head well ventilated in hot weather.
The only real downsides with this helmet are the punchy price and relatively hefty weight, although Oakley does offer 50 per cent off replacements within three years of the original purchase.