While Oakley is best known for their sunglasses, they also have a full lineup of ARO cycling helmets. The lineup currently consists of the highly ventilated ARO 3, the high-performance ARO 5, and the aerodynamic ARO 7. In this review we’ll be looking at the latest addition to the lineup, the $120 ARO 3 Lite cycling helmet. The ARO3 Lite sheds a few grams and offers a $60 discount from the standard ARO 3 helmet by removing the MIPS liner. Otherwise, the ARO 3 features the same BOA 360° fit system for an adjustable fit and soft X-Static Brow padding. The ARO 3 Lite is also designed to work seamlessly with sunglasses with an integrated eyewear dock. While the ARO 3 features a variety of color options, the ARO 3 Lite is currently limited to matte white or black color schemes.
The ARO 3 Lite cycling helmet offers distinct styling and optimized ventilation at an affordable price point.
|Measured weight (in g)||286 (medium size)|
|Likes||+ Affordable price|
+ Distinctive and simple styling
+ Excellent airflow with large vents and internal channels
|Dislikes||– Limited colors|
– Lacks MIPS or other secondary safety features
|Where to Buy (US)||Oakley|
The Oakley ARO 3 Lite comes in a black helmet box with minimal branding and premium appearance. To protect the helmet during shipping, Oakley wraps the helmet inside a plastic bag with all the accessories stored in a separate compartment under the helmet. Inside you’ll find:
- ARO 3 Lite helmet
- Fabric Oakley branded storage bag
- Extra brow pad
- Info pamphlet
We were happy to see that Oakley includes the fabric storage bag with the helmet as most helmets near the $100 point tend to not include one. The bag makes it easy to grab and go while travelling or for storage to avoid dust or damage.
FIT & FINISH
Despite having “lite” in the product name, the ARO 3 Lite isn’t as light as featherweight POC Ventral Lite which is nearly 50 grams lighter. That said, at under 300 grams, the helmet is light enough that you forget you’re wearing it. Visually the ARO 3 Lite helmet shares the same styling as the standard ARO 3 helmet with a sleek and vented design. The contoured front air vents are large and U-shape with side cutouts. Particularly with the matte white version of the helmet, the black EPS foam contrasts well with the helmet shell. The strategic placement of these vents also doubles as an integrated eyewear dock. The external shell is a two piece design with a large upper piece and a bottom ear cutout that curves upward along the side of the helmet to follow the character line.
The side profile looks similar to the POC Ventral helmets with a flat top and sharp trailing edge for an aggressive overall appearance. There are sharp curves along the ear cutouts that add some visual flare to an otherwise unvented flat portion of the helmet. What we like best about the helmet is the rear profile which is one of the most distinctive design elements of the ARO 3 Lite. Rather than placing large aggressive vents, Oakley has added an upside down U shaped cutout into the shell with two rectangular vents on each side. The design reminds us of exotic cars such as the Aston Martin as the cutouts mimic sport car tail lights and diffusers.
As the ARO 3 doesn’t have a MIPS liner or other secondary safety features, the inside of the helmet is airy and open. There are uninterrupted channels inside the helmet that connect the front and rear air vents to keep air flowing through the helmet. Oakley uses what they call X-Static brow padding which is a plush pad that doesn’t stick to hair and can easily be removed from the velcro attachments for cleaning. The ARO 3 Lite even comes with an extra pad which is a nice feature as the padding cannot usually be purchased separately without going through customer support. The helmet also has a standard wrap-around cradle with 3 indexed height positions and a light weight wire system to connect the front portion.
The medium sized ARO 3 Lite helmet we wore fit similarly to other medium sized POC or Bollé helmets. It’s easy to adjust the helmet fit with the dual-direction BOA dial as well as by moving the rear cradle position. With the BOA branded dial, the engagement and clicks are particularly smooth especially compared to lower priced generic helmet dials. The side straps are also lightweight and wide with adjustable straps to dial in the fit. The most noteworthy feature of the ARO 3 Lite are the large internal air channels which provide excellent airflow to keep you cool during warm days or long slow climbs. We found the helmet well ventilated and comfortable even during 90°F days thanks to the combination of vents and soft padding.
Overall, we found the Oakley ARO3 Lite helmet to be comfortable and well ventilated. The large air vents and internal air channels help pull air through the helmet to keep you cool on warm days. Although it isn’t the lightest helmet on the market, the sub 300 gram weight for the medium size we tested is light enough that you’ll forget you’re wearing it. What’s more impressive about the helmet is that even with the BOA dial and Oakley brand name, the ARO 3 Lite is quite affordable. The main downsides of the helmet is the lack of MIPS or other secondary safety features and the limited color selection. If you’re looking for a stylish well-ventilated helmet on a budget, then the ARO 3 Lite is a good option to consider.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Oakley. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.