A couple of weeks ago Oakley's 2017 Tour de France range landed on my desk. Cracking open the box resulted in some serious excitement.
These things are loaded with Oakley's Prizm Road lenses that I have never tried out on the road. After one ride I was completely hooked. They are hands down the best lenses I have ever used. In fact, I'm kicking myself for not getting some sooner.
Images - Jarrod McShane
So, you probably know that each year Oakley releases a Tour de France range of glasses. It's all about personal preference, but the previous years have not really done it for me. This year is different. Oakley has gone low key on the design, mainly white with just a hint of yellow design work across the tops of the frames. Add in the Prizm Road Lenses... which I managed to waste a good 15 minutes yesterday just looking at from different angles becuase they look so cool, and you've got a seriously good looking pair of sunnies.
I'll just go right to the most impressive aspect for me. The lenses. Their ability to be used across a massive range of light conditions is powerful. I quickly found myself using them in some seriously low light conditions, from just on sunrise through heavy fog on a dull Melbourne morning right through to super bright and clear days. They have the ability to add useful contrast to your vision, making it easier to see what you need to, where most other tinted lenses will just make everything uniformly darker.
As the sun reaches higher and gets brighter they remain impressive providing excellent contrast, clarity and overall 'viewing' experience. Road surface visibility remains high as you rush in and out of bright light and shadowed ares, with spotting road imperfections, cracks, dips, bumps and other hazards a breeze.
I've being using all three frames in the range, here's my thoughts on each.
JAWBREAKER PRIZM ROAD
The winner for me was the Jawbreaker. The coverage is brilliant from the big lenses and frames, I found the large lenses had close to no restriction on visibility and protected my eyes from the freezing air. Another big plus was that I had no problem with fogging, even on my most recent 2 degree morning ride. While they are the heaviest pair on test I never had an issue with them feeling heavy or uncomfortable. Swapping lenses is quick and easy and I think they look crazy good. The arms are wider and have a smaller amount of grip compared to the other two frames below, but I has no trouble with movement while riding.
EVZERO PATH PRIZM ROAD
If you're after something more lightweight head straight to the EVZERO. These little units are so light that you'll barely notice that they are on your face. The frameless lens still provides excellent coverage and protection, with the lens itself being very similar in size to the Jawbreakers but being narrower overall due to being frameless. Again the optics are awesome. I found the level of grip provided by the narrow arms and nose piece, that uses Oakley's Unobtainium grip, was very good and no amount of sweaty head shaking could remove them from my face. A great choice if you're all about low weight and high comfort, or want to use them for multi-sport events.
RADAR EV PATH PRIZM ROAD
Finally there's the RADAR EV PATH, I'd describe this a halfway model between the other two, and a more traditional looking frame and lens set up. If you're blessed with super high cheek bones check these out, the frames are more narrow that the other two. Personally I prefer the additional coverage of a bigger lens though. Just like the other two they are comfortable and provide a fantastic optical experience. I did find that I was able to see out under the lens even with some adjustment. The arms are great, with the full arm being covered by Oakley's rubberised 'Unobtainium' grip that holds onto your head gently but securely.
All three worked well with the helmets I tried, being a Giro Synthe, Kask Majito and Kask Protone.
Frame choice and lens shape largely come down to personal preference. What you're getting with all of them though is the Prizm Road Technology. I had a chat with the guys at Oakley after riding in the glasses as well as checking out the information on their site, and it's clear that the tech behind the lenses is serious. I won't go into all the detail, but the Prizm Road lens actually picks out individual colours to optimise everything in your field of view, helping you see better. It brightens whites, enhances yellows, greens and reds. This helps see those changes in the road so you can adjust as needed. Does it actually work? Yes.
While I opted not to test the impact resistance, Oakley are big on this feature and for me it's an important part of choice when purchasing.
There's three models, all loaded with Prizm Road lenses, they come in a hard case with a very cool Tour de France soft back/cleaning cloth and spare nose piece.
Yes I would buy these. I wish I had gone down the PRIZM ROAD lens option sooner. I've genuinely enjoyed the experience of riding with these. Of the three I'd be putting the Jawbreakers on my Christmas list.
This is not a paid review, Oakley Australia provided us with a pair of each model for the duration of the test.