Most cyclists are familiar with Oakley’s high-end eyewear, but this year they introduced something new for mountain bikers – The DRT5 helmet. As you might expect, Oakley didn’t mess around with their first foray into MTB helmets; the DRT5 was developed with input from World Cup downhill superstar Greg Minnaar.

I’ve been riding the DRT5 since mid-summer, and loving it since day one due to the fact that it fits my head extremely well. Aside from a near-perfect fit the DRT5 offers good ventilation, complete head coverage, compatibility with sunglasses and goggles, and proved to be quite comfortable despite its minimal interior padding.

Oakley DRT5 features:

The DRT5 is built with a thermo-formed polycarbonate shell covering an injection molded EPS foam liner. Oakley fit the DRT5 with a MIPS brain protection system to help reduce rotational forces in a crash.

One key feature of the DRT5 is the Boa TX1 Lace retention system. As a company best known for their eyewear, it’s no surprise Oakley decided to make their helmet sunglasses-friendly.  At the sides, there’s nothing but a thin string which won’t interfere with the arms of your eyewear. The TX1 Lace design also allows the retention system to adjust evenly all around your head, and avoids putting pressure on your temples. The retention system also offers three positions for adjusting the rear cradle height.

Oakley’s unique squeegee-style silicone gel sweat band proved quite comfortable, but has some funny quirks that some people might not like… in case you’re not a fan, the helmet ships with a set of X-Static antibacterial foam pads as well. Aside from the forehead pad, there is only one other thin pad inside the top of the DRT5.

The DRT5’s adjustable visor offers five positions. I rode with the visor in its lowest position, and still had almost a complete field-of-view with a little sun protection up top. The upper most position is way too high to block any light, but it provides enough room on the forehead area for stashing goggles.

Again, with sunglasses in mind, Oakley equipped the DRT5 with an Eyewear Landing Zone. Two of the rearward top vents house clips that pop out and hold your sunglasses on top of the helmet. The clips are removable, and can be replaced with provided plugs if you don’t want to use them.

The DRT5 is not the lightest trail helmet out there. The sticker says it weighs 397g, but my scale shows my size small at 412g.

Fit:

The DRT5 offered a great fit for my head. My noggin measures 56cm’s around, and the 54-56cm size small is definitely right for me. The shell is just big enough to leave a tiny bit of space on all sides of my skull; with a few clicks on the Boa dial I had a solid, comfortable fit.

The shell shape lines up very nicely for me too (FYI, my head is on the shallow side and a bit narrow). The DRT5 doesn’t look particularly deep but it provided complete coverage on my head. The top of my skull fits almost perfectly with the helmet’s interior shape, and its rear coverage extends down to the middle of my ears. The DRT5’s shell isn’t the slimmest width-wise, but I didn’t find it looked or felt overly bulky.

The DRT5’s side straps have slim buckles that allow you to adjust the fore/aft position and chin strap length independently.  It’s a bit finicky adjusting the fore/aft straps underneath the sewn-on chin straps, but once they’re set up they stay put.

Ride impressions:

When it comes to helmets, there’s no more important factor than fit. The DRT5 became my new favourite lid right away simply because the shell shape and sizing is nearly perfect for my head. I was pleasantly surprised to find that with almost no interior padding, I had no comfort issues with the DRT5. Even with my rapidly thinning hair (dammit), I never found the almost-bare MIPS interior uncomfortable while I rode.

I found the DRT5’s squeegee-style sweat band quite comfortable. The silicone gel is soft against your skin, and does a pretty good job of keeping sweat from dripping through it. I did catch a few drops falling in front of my face on some hot mid-summer rides, but most of the time the squeegee held them back.

One of the quirks of the squeegee is that your sweat will fill up its grooves, and if you tip your head backwards that built-up sweat dumps down the sides of your head. On one ride I tipped my head back and the sweat dripped right into my ear (eew)! The other funny thing about the squeegee is that it absolutely will leave lines pressed into your forehead after a ride.

The DRT5’s ventilation isn’t the best I’ve ridden, but it’s plenty good enough that it got me through some really hot rides this summer. This also isn’t the lightest lid I’ve tested, but it taught me that a solid fit can make up for a few extra grams. Since the DRT5 sat so flush on my head, I never noticed it feeling heavy during my rides.

I tried a few pairs of sunglasses with the Landing Zone; Oakley Five-Tens (a non-sport model), Rudy Project Tralyx, and POC Craves. The POCs were a bit too narrow for the carrier clips, but the other two glasses fit in well. When I tried each on my face, it was the Rudy Projects that posed a problem. The arms are quite long on these sunglasses, and they butt up against the shell behind my ears. The Oakleys and POCs, however, both jived with the DRT5. As for goggles my Oakleys fit into the shell just fine, and despite not having any channels or clips to hold the strap it settles in on a flat area of the DRT5’s backside.

Oakley’s DRT5 won my love because it happens to fit my head very well. But overall, there’s nothing I don’t like about it… it’s vented well enough to ride any time, I found it quite comfortable, and I think it looks pretty nice! The DRT5 comes in five colors; Matte Blackout, Matte White, Matte Balsam, G. Minnaar Grey, and Dark Brush (as tested). It is available in S/M/L sizes, and sells for $200.

Zach’s Alternative Take: Not for the bald, or wider heads

Obviously, helmets can be a very personal piece of gear. With only a few helmet sizes available and millions of different head shapes, what works for one rider will not always work for the next. That seems to be the case for me with the DRT5.

Compared to Steve, I have a lot less hair. But I also seem to have a different head shape even though my head also measures 56cm around (yet I wear a medium, and Steve went for the small). Just about every helmet I’ve ever owned has been a medium, but in this case, the medium was too narrow. This caused a lot of pressure at the temple which made the helmet extremely uncomfortable to ride in. You can actually see in the photo above where the Boa lace has left an indentation in my head just above my ear. This helmet puts so much pressure on my temple that I would get a painful headache after about an hour of use.

While the lines left by the squeegee pad are somewhat annoying, more concerning for me was that the pad didn’t really work as intended. You can see that the lines are less pronounced in the center which makes me think the pad isn’t as tight against my forehead in that area. Which is probably why there was still plenty of sweat dripping down into my eyes. After a few uses, I swapped it out to the standard helmet pad which was more comfortable and didn’t leave any lines. However, I didn’t find the rest of the helmet, which lacks padding save for one tiny pad at the rear, to be as comfortable as other fully padded helmets.

I like the styling of this helmet, but that’s about as far as it goes. At 435g, this is the heaviest trail/enduro helmet I have on hand by quite a big margin (it’s more than 100g heavier than a Specialized Ambush MIPS with ANGi!). I would also gladly give up the quirky sunglass holder for a dedicated light or GoPro mount.

Ultimately, for me this helmet is a no-go. But if you have a different head shape like Steve where it actually works for you, then you might find it to be a good option. Just make sure you can try it on before pulling the trigger.

oakley.com

7 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if Zach would’ve been better served by a size large? The sizing on these seems a bit odd as people I’ve come across seem to love them or hate them regardless of their head size/shape. The sweat squeegee seems like a fantastic idea that I’d like to see other helmet companies look at doing. I may get one of these lids from Amazon as no place around here sells them and worst case scenario I can return it.

    • Great question. I haven’t tried the large so I can’t say for myself. But I was talking to a friend the other day who purchased this helmet about the very same thing. He had similar issues with the medium, and switched to the large. He found that the large was more comfortable but too big, and was in between sizes which seems to be the case for many who try this helmet.

  2. I love the squeegee. I wish it was standard on all helmets. If you’re a heavy sweater, foam pads saturate quickly and pour into your glasses. The occasional drip from the squeegee is much better.

    • I would agree if the squeegee actually worked for me as intended. Once I start sweating, it’s a constant stream of sweat into my eyes that’s no better than a foam pad. Except you can squeeze out the foam pad every few miles and get a little respite as the pad will soak up more sweat before becoming completely saturated again. I tend to sweat a lot from my head, so regardless of padding I’m usually running a SweatHawg helmet liner though.

  3. I rounded my new helmet choices down to the Oakley DRT5 and the POC Tectal Race spin. Both helmets have a very nice build quality and have extra safety measures build in. I chose the POC because the M/L fit me perfect and with the Oakley, medium was too small and the large was way too big.
    I do like the looks of the Oakley though.

  4. No doubt, some helmets work well for some and not for others. I’ve found this to be especially true with Catlike helmets which tend to work better for people with very round heads. I used a Specialized helmet for years, and then a Fox. Both fit me perfect in a medium. I then switched to a Rudy Project for my road riding and also had a decent fit, but in a large. Recently I’ve been using a POC Tectal for road/commuting and a Bontrager Blaze for MTB. The POC (size M) is a bit voluminus forward but works well because it allows me to use extra layers for winter riding. The Bontrager (M) fits my head like a glove, but the chin strap is a bit short and fits tightly under my chin, especially when my beard is a little fuller. It’s not a problem, but if I was any fatter and had a fat double chin, I’d be in trouble. Oddly enough, I was really concerned that the Wavecell was going to be hot, and it has proven to be fine, plus they have a sweat gutter pad and it works pretty well too.

  5. Huge fan of this helmet. I wear RX glasses riding and having a safe place to stow them on long climbs has been really helpful. This is not why I bough this helmet, but I do love it.

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