Oakley have been making claims along the lines of ‘reinvented’ when describing the new Oakley Airbrake MX goggles, and whilst I normally try to pay as little attention as possible to all the marketing chat I have to admit that these really do seem to something pretty special.
The biggest change compared to previous Oakley goggles is the new lens which made from injection moulded ‘Plutonite’. This is the same magical material that Oakley use in their sunglasses and it provides incredible optical clarity along with outstanding impact resistance. Simply put, it’s a substantial step up from your regular goggle lens. The fact that it’s also rigid again helps with optical quality as it reduces distortion. The moment you look through a pair of these goggles you can tell that this is no ordinary lens.
Like their sunglasses these new lenses will be available in several different tints (including clear of course) to best suit conditions and Oakley have made swapping lenses easier than ever with a ‘Switchlock’ system like the one that we first saw on their Jawbone sunglasses. You simply flick both the catches up, pop the lens off the location tabs, and then reverse the process to fit a different lens. It’s incredibly quick and simple to do, plus you don’t cover your lens with fingerprints in the process.
Aside from the quality of the lens the other thing that has really impressed us about these goggles is the fit. At first we thought it was just down to a good shape and decent foam, but upon closer inspection you realise that although the outer frame is fairly rigid the inner frame is actually incredibly pliable. This design means that the foam is sort of suspended and the goggles really can mould to your face. Oakley haven’t forgotten about the little details either as the internal finish of all the goggles (regardless of outer finish) is matt black so as to reduce any glare, plus the field of vision is superb. Side to side vision is as good as any, but it’s increase in upward vision that I really noticed. I find that some goggles restrict your view when hammering head down, but with these the frame seems nicely tucked out of the way.
As you can probably guess Oakley’s new flagship goggles don’t come cheap, but as much as it pains me to say it (considering what they cost), I reckon they could be worth it. Firstly they offer the kind of optical quality that you will struggle to find anywhere else. Secondly the lens is also incredibly strong and so offers the best possible protection for your valuable and fragile eyes. Thirdly the goggles can easily be stripped down into numerous parts, all of which are replaceable, and so they should last you for years. And finally, we were dreading looking up the price of a replacement lens as we thought it might be astronomical considering the quality, but at £19.99 we reckon they’re fairly reasonable. People are already selling them cheaper than that too.
Each set of goggles comes as standard with a rather flash bag to keep them in tip top condition, and you get seven laminated tear-offs and two lens protector shields. The lens protectors do as their name suggests and are much better than running a single tear-off to protect your lens. If you’re a roll-off rather than tear-off fan then you’ll also be pleased to know that Oakley are offering such a system, and it’s a very good one too. For starters it looks very neat as it is built into the alternative strap outriggers, but more importantly the film is very tall compared to your standard roll-off system so your field of view is much improved. The roll-off version will set you back an extra £30, but it does also come with the standard outriggers for those days when you don’t need to run the roll-off. Oh, and it kind of goes without saying, but of course Oakley also offer these goggles in a whole pile a great finishes.
Overall then these are definitely premium priced goggles but we reckon you definitely are getting something more for your money. If you’re after the best goggles out there then we’ve got a feeling that these could well be the ones.
Photos: Ben Winder