Although a touch weightier than much of the competition, Bontrager's new high-end Oracle helmet - the one being used by the Leopard Trek pro team this year - is among the most comfortable I've ever used.
It's really well vented. Bontrager use an in-moulded carbon fibre skeleton to provide the strength and load dispersal needed for such large vents (which is very similar to what Giro do with their airy Ionos lid). You get a huge central port at the front and sizeable ones towards each side and over the top. Just as important, internal channelling distributes the air all over your head for maximum cooling, and funnels it out the exhaust ports at the back. If your noggin gets uncomfortably hot in other helmets, it's worth giving the Oracle a go; it will certainly help you stay cool. It's comparable with the Ionos in that respect and I'd struggle to tell them apart.
The Oracle manages to combine improved ventilation with a pretty low profile - again, much like the Ionos - so you don't look like a Mekon when you put it on. Bonty's Headmaster retention system is neat too. You get three different height positions on the cradle to set how far down the back of your head it reaches. I'd have preferred one more for a slightly lower position, but fit is always going to come down to the individual.
The diameter of the cradle is controlled by a rotatable ring on the back. You twist it one handed to either tighten or loosen it - easy peasy, even in gloves and while you're riding along. Unusually, there's no clicking as you turn - but that's neither here nor there. The main thing is that it feels perfectly secure. Silicone rubber pads hold it comfortably in place and the retention device starts at the temples and adjusts to all kinds of head shapes.
A note on the sizing: I usually take a medium, and the medium review model (54-60cm) fitted okay, but only with the retention device dialled right in. So there's a possibility you'll want a size smaller than normal. The only way to tell for sure is to try one for size.
The straps are easy to adjust, although you'll probably want to get busy with the scissors and lighter afterwards to stop the ends flapping around. Once everything is set up right, the strap dividers lock firmly in place so it stays that way.
The internal padding, like the helmet itself, is low profile, but it's still very comfy. The AgIon (ag as in silver, ion as in atom) pads wick moisture well. They're antimicrobial to inhibit the growth of nasties in there after a long, sweaty ride. The front pad extends right around your forehead too, which stops any sweat dripping down and getting into your eyes or, just as annoying, onto your glasses and distorting your view.
The only issue I can see anyone having with the Oracle is that it's not ultra-light. Although Trek claim 295g, the test model hit the scales at 314g (compared to 304g for the Giro Ionos that I tested last year). Bearing in mind that the lightest helmets weigh less than 200g, and that many are around 250g, that's pretty beefy for a top-end helmet.
Having said that, in the overall scheme of things 100g is negligible. And sacrificing a few grams in return for increased ventilation makes a lot of sense, especially in hot weather.
Oh, one more issue: the price. The Oracle is far from cheap as helmets go, but for a high-quality helmet with this much venting it's not mega-expensive either.
Naturally, it meets the EN 1078 European safety standard. As well as this Leopard Trek version, the Oracle comes in white/silver and black, and in three different sizes: S (50-56cm), M (54-60cm) and L (58-64cm).
High-quality helmet with a low profile and masses of ventilation
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Make and model: Bontrager Oracle Helmet
Size tested: Leopard Trek
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Bontrager say, "Low profile. Massively ventilated. Exceptionally aerodynamic. Oracle is a pro-caliber road helmet for riders who won't settle for anything but the best. Featuring an in-molded carbon fiber skeleton that provides the superior structural integrity and load dispersal necessary to create the biggest possible vents in the lowest-profile design, Oracle uses internal channeling and CFD-optimized ventilation to maximize airflow efficiency through the helmet and over the head, for impressive levels of cooling and drag reduction. No wonder Oracle is the official helmet of Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, and the rest of the pros on LEOPARD TREK."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
What allows Trek to provide large vents without affecting the helmet's safety performance is the in-moulded carbon fibre skeleton that extends around the helmet within the polystyrene. It adds a little weight but supports the structure so that the size of the ports can be increased.
High-quality in-moulded construction.
You can buy a helmet that performs equally well from a safety point of view much cheaper, but this is a decent price for a helmet with an in-moulded carbon fibre skeleton.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.