What are they?
These are Oakley’s latest ultimate top-end goggle. Big lens size and that’s a lens that pretty rigid, like a visor, made from what Oakley call ‘Plutonite’. The near-rigid lens allows for an all new method of attachment, called ‘Switchlock’ with an arm at each end of the lens that hinges up to release the lens – super quick and so much less hassle than the usual fiddle with goggles. There’s also an outrigger system for the strap which is said to create a better fit, while the frame is made from ‘O Matter’ – Oakley certainly went to town on the trademarks!
How do they rate?
Warren M.: These are my goggle of choice more often than not. I have two major points I look for in a goggle. The first point is all about protection. In the past I have had a number of instances were I have taken rocks to the face and one particularly nasty branch, all of which could have resulted in loss of an eye. Lens strength and frame integrity is vitally important. The Airbrakes are the first goggle to feature a near rigid lens and I can see these being the last word in protection.
The second point is about visual quality which is impacted by lens compound, contour and lens geometry and light management lens technology. I suffer from Photophobia (light sensitivity) so having a good quality goggle is a must for me. The Oakley PRIZM lenses are unique in that they allow the transmission of variable light wavelengths, either amplifying or lessening them. The resulting contrast of colours achieved help your eyes to differentiate between the different colours by turning up the contrast which is delivered in lower light conditions that bright sunlight.
The black iridium lens I was using was the wrong choice for the early morning start (the light was really low as a result of some storm clouds) but I stuck with them and although not perfect in these conditions they weren’t a hindrance either. Within an hour the sun had come out and I was thankful to have them.
I love the Switchlock lens system on the Airbrakes, changing lenses is a cinch, they are very comfortable and the sweat absorption of the triple foam layer is excellent. These bad boys leave the pocket hurting so while I think that they are worth the spend I would be choosing the Jade Iridium lens as the best all around choice.
JB: Warren loves his Airbrakes. It’s going to take a while longer for me to be quite so enthusiastic. I used these for the first time at the rally raid and I’ve probably been running with the wrong lenses for the conditions so far (need to go back to the manual) and when using the clear lens option in rain I got a very odd reaction that seemed to leave my sight unfocussed, in the end I rode goggle-less! Curious. Now I’m not saying the goggles are duff, I’m just saying you too might not get instant satisfaction, like me, so be ready to bear with them and work through the tech. They’re a beautiful design, comfortable, solid and the Switchlock is great, but I’m going to need more time with them to make them truly work for me!