Written by Giordano Piccolotto, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team Member (he’s the guy seen above on the right)
Oakley , the name is synonymous with quality athletic eyewear. I remember being a kid and seeing Andre Agassi with those original Oakley sunglasses and thinking they were the coolest looking shades around. Well Oakley has never deviated from it stylish roots and continues to this day to deliver awesome looking glasses that are still top notch when it come to athletic design as well.
This year the Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDog Race Team has been lucky enough to partner with Oakley, something that a lot of us were excited about. I chose to go with the “ Racing Jacket ”, renamed this year from “Jawbone”. A few of the racers received their orders in time for this year’s Ontario Cup Provincial Championships. I was one of them and looked forward to seeing how they preformed. I’ll skip to the conclusion now.
I was impressed.
I’ll let you know I’m a new user of contact lenses and I am still getting used to them so my eyes are prone to feeling dry. A cyclist’s glasses are used as much for keeping the wind out of their eyes as the sun. Compounded with the issue of contact lenses drying out in the wind I was curious to see how the Oakleys would fare. They didn’t disappoint. Even with the vented lenses I found them keeping almost all the wind out and a great deal of water too. I forgot to mention the Provincial Race this year was nothing short of epic, taking place during a lightning ridden, torrential downpour. Add in a big climb and a long, fast descent in the wind and you’ve got the ultimate testing ground for cycling eyewear.
With the race starting in the bright sun I found that the lenses did a great job of keeping the sun’s glare to a minimum while adding a lot of contrast, impressively so. Note; I was using the VR28 Blue Iridium lenses. Once the rain started it came down hard. I was surprised at how well the Oakleys kept the water out, not that I thought they would fail, I just didn’t think any glasses would help through that kind of rain.
The Oakleys performed better than expected. At certain points they did become unusable though, the water whipping off riders wheels as we descended coupled with what was coming down from the sky rendered me sightless at times, I don’t blame the glasses though, that’s all on Mother Nature. I seriously doubt anything would have been able to cut through all that rain and splash. All of this being said, the water was not entering my eyes at all, something I was certain would eventually happen. I should also point out that Oakley sells a hydrophobic coating that can be applied to their lenses. I didn’t have a chance to try this out but I’m betting that it would have proved useful.
So far the glasses have done really well on all fronts; great light reduction and contrast, superb protection from the wind, and better than expected performance in the rain. I’m happy. Then there are the little things. They’re feather light, not that it really matters in the end, but you don’t even feel them when you have them on, and that’s not an exaggeration, it’s actually kind of cool. The material used for the frame constructions is pretty incredible too; it’s super pliable and bends back into shape immediately. The arms snap off to ensure that they won’t break and are easily snapped back into place. And all of the rubber nose and ear pieces are made of a special compound that becomes stickier when it comes into contact with sweat. Oakley has been really thorough in its design process. Everything is well thought out and very functional with all the details being paid attention too. On top of this, they’ve made the glasses totally customizable. You can pop out your current “O” icons and pop in a different colour. And the lenses are completely interchangeable; one of the main features of the “Racing Jacket”, and it’s very easy to do (they come with two lenses btw). You can switch out your ear socks for new ones if they wear out or if you just want a new style. I’ve already started adding splashes of white to my glasses and think they look even better than they did before.
All in all I’m seriously impressed with these glasses on all fronts. Oakleys may be a bit pricey but after wearing mine for the last few days I’d be willing to pay for them over again.
Photo credit: Peter Kraiker, Studio f-Stop