If you asked me how much I'd be prepared to pay for a comfortable, well-ventilated helmet, with a good dial retention system and modern construction techniques, that weighs about 250g, I'd probably say that was about sixty quid's worth of hat, or more. So the fact that the Oxford Raven is just £39.99 makes it a bargain, if the performance lives up to the spec on paper. Which it does.
This is a proper road lid with an in-mould construction, where the the outer shell is attached to the EPS foam during the moulding process rather than being stuck/taped on afterwards. That makes the helmet look better and last longer. The 28-vent design put me in mind of the Giro Aeon, although it's not quite as nicely proportioned, and you get a height-adjustable dial retention system to keep it on your head. Inside there's a single piece pad which should be easy to remove and wash; it also incorporates a bug net on the biggest vents to stop your hat filling up with wasps. The straps are fairly basic – there's no lock on the strap guides so they sometimes move about – but they keep the helmet planted and there's a generous padded bit for your chin which doubles as a tidy for any extra strap.
Mostly you want to put a helmet on your head and forget about it until it's time to take it off again. The Raven is EN1078 rated so it should do the same amount of protecting your head as any other helmet with the same rating, should the worst happen. And once you're off and running it's an easy helmet to forget. It's comfortable and it's well ventilated, and the retention system is secure without exerting undue pressure. I've completed some long rides in this lid (including this 280km all-dayer ) and I've had no major issues with it. It doesn't play particularly nicely with my favourite Tifosi sunglasses; the thick legs get knocked about by the helmet and straps a bit. It's much better with glasses that have thinner legs, and ones that bow out from your temples a bit more. The only other issue is that the pads at the front have fairly rigid spines that press into your forehead: it's not at all uncomfortable, but it does make you look like an extra from Star Trek when you walk into the cafe.
The only other issue with the yellow one is the colour: it's a bit 'cheap fluoro' and the black/blue/red/white ones are better, especially black and red. If it was my money I'd probably plump for one of those two. But if it was my money, or a friend's, I'd certainly be happy to lay it out on this, or recommend that they did, if they were looking for an inexpensive road helmet that put in a solid performance. For forty quid you're getting what would normally cost you significantly more.
Great value road helmet that's light, comfortable and well constructed
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oxford Raven helmet
Size tested: M, Fluo yellow
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Adjustable dial-fit retention system
3 position rear headlock
Good. Some cheap bits, like the non-lockable strap guides, but very good for the money
Comfortable, close fitting and adjustable
255g used to be a decent pro-level lid a few years back
Pretty good, front pads a bit firm
Really good value for money
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, did some very long rides with no issues
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit, quality for the money
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Firm pads, non-lockable strap guides
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Absolutely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Absolutely
Use this box to explain your score
For £40 you're getting an in-moulded helmet that's functionally indistinguishable from some lids costing twice as much.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.