It’s not very often that one needs to write a review for sunglasses. I mean, how important can something so seemingly insignificant of an accessory be?
Seemingly. That’s the key word there. A sunglass is very important and if you don’t think for functionality, then at least think about form when you cross the finish line; don’t you wanna look your cool and “I mean business” meanest at the same time? Well, if you are running, you may think of sunglasses lesser than those who bike, and let me not even stress the importance of the right swim eyewear.
But why Jawbreaker?
Recently, I got my hands on the Jawbreaker series, the latest from the Oakley platform. And these, let me clarify right at the very outset, are not intended for everybody. Sure you can use them for a run, you may even use them while catching a morning flight, but where they are most at home is when you are gazing out at the world from the comfort of a bike saddle. (But runners, don’t leave yet, there’s something for you as well here.)
Jawbreaker, (honestly, I find that name disturbing and far from reassuring) is the latest from the Oakley platform, a collaboration between this sporting brand and famed pro-cyclist Mark CAVENDISH, whose obsession with precision and aerodynamic form is exemplary (read: borderline-obsessive ). Over a 100 models and 2 years later, they have put these on the market, glares made to handle all that cyclists would require, nay, demand, from their ultimate eyewear.
So here’s what makes the Jawbreaker cycling-specific: (*) It rises high over the brows so even when you are down on the drops the view isn’t obstructed by the top-frame. (*) The large lens allows for a wide viewing angle. And the most useful, (*) the temples (or side-sticks) are customisable for length, and that is quiet the boon, for almost all other sunglasses, no matter which brand, normally get caught in the helmet or have to be wedged in somehow, whereas with these, you can just reduce the length so they don’t wrap all the way around and thus stay away from the helmet-band perimeter. I have been using them on the shortest length and even when not on my bike they stay firmly put.
In fact, I have barely had them and still managed to use them for a good few races and sessions and they seem to hold up rather well. The wide lens may feel a bit less airy than my Radarlocks but the visual advantage while cycling does weigh in their favour. That said, the Jawbreaker too does have air vents to facilitate air-flow but given their wider footprint, they just feel a tad less conducive for ventilation. On a humid morning run, I was almost tempted to peel them off and feel some air brush by.
As for the rest, the Unobtainium (the ‘stickier when wet’ material that is ideal for nose-pieces and temple grips), the hydrophobic (water-repelling) lenses, and the general jargon of HDO (High-definition Optics) type, although salient and indispensable are still pretty much standard with all performance wear from Oakley. Even the Switchlock technology which helps for easy exchange of lenses is not a new feature but how it is executed here (by lifting the nose piece) is different from, say, the Radarlock series.
But, the best, I saved for last.
Ladeez n gennelmen, do have a look, pun intended, at PRIZM, the latest lens technology from Oakley. Without getting into the technicals as to how it was developed, mostly because I can’t do it justice and you, frankly, dear reader, couldn’t give a damn, safe to state that it provides some pretty good contrast and apart form cutting glare, it reduces colour noise so what you see appears crisp and vivid. This can be useful as it removes the blinding effect that one can encounter on a bright sunny day. Best yet, it isn’t just made to combat the sun; say while on the move on a sunny day, you go through an intensely shaded patch, a portion with no direct sunlight at all: unlike photochromic lenses or dark tints, all light isn’t cut off here and the PRIZM affords you a lot of visibility. So basically what we have here is a lens that can provide high contrasts under the sun and still not blackout completely in the shade: this one feature makes them utterly desirable and is the deal-maker.
PRIZM has a trail and a road version, and then even a golf version. For reference purpose, I consider golf as much of a sport as catching a flight connection. Oh no, not even…
Here’s a press release I was provided from the company so am sharing it here as is
So, all said and done, a great frame with an excellent new lens. Now, the sum-up
PROs: Cycling-geometry, Wide viewing angle, Easy lens-change with Switchlock, adjustable temples, Unobtainium grips, lightweight, shatterproof
CONs: None really except that runners may not like/need them as much.
And then there is the PRIZM lens:
PROs: Super contrasts, Don’t blackout in the shade, impact protection
CONs: Only available for certain frame types so might require you to change frame-platforms
This is a collection of my running columns that have appeared in MW magazine, India’s leading men’s lifestyle publication. All reviews were based on first-hand trials (10kms for swimming, 200kms for cycling, and 100kms for running) and nothing is paid publicity. That said, if I have enjoyed a certain product more than average, it will certainly reflect in the stories.
Choosing a Running Shoe (Apr 2015) – Some advice on how to pick your first pair. Don’t worry if you hate it almost immediately; most of us do.
Importance of Patience (Feb 2015) – How training requires strength, stamina, dedication, and oodles of patience!
Getting Started (Jan 2015) – Tips on how to go from couch to coached!
Everyone knows that when it comes to sunglasses Oakleys are quite the definitive brand. They are big on the sports and performance scene, provide all sorts of frames, lenses and coatings, and other gear to keep you visually at an advantage. Mind you they are not the only brand on the international scene (Rudy Project, Smith Optics, Tifosi, Julbo, Ryder, Bliz, Kaenon, and so on) but they do manage a good balance between performance and commercially popular. Also, they are the only ones you will find in India and their range is not at all lacking so you’d be fine with these.
But, like performance sunglasses, they aren’t cheap. What else would you expect from a sunglass brand that delivers you functionality and practicality as also all the technical capabilities that you didn’t even know you can or should expect from sunglasses?!
Here are a few features (the ones I remember that is, for am too lazy to pull out the press kit, or even google it for that matter):
1. They are incredibly light and the rubber grips help keep them in place without any pinch even as you bob up and down. I have worn mine for a good few hours and never experienced any pain. A small dent on the nose (as also on the sides of your head) however is inevitable. And the marks on the sides of my head were only noticed in my case on account of my bald head.
2. The water-repellent lenses keep sweat at bay and even when you a few drops do splatter on them, they disperse quickly without smudging. I do hope this coating doesn’t come off easily.
3. Small vents on the sides help with
air-flow so as to prevent fogging. The general aerodynamic design as it helps in this regard and although you won’t feel any special draft hitting you through the tiny slits on the lenses, just know that they are doing their job.
4. The polarised lenses are great and came in extremely handy when running in white deserts which stretched on for miles in every direction. With no mirages to distract, and cutting out all the glare off the surface, they helped in the, pun intended, long run.
5. Oh, the best part, the lens is one contiguous piece of plastic (I know, that didn’t sound very complementary but praise and prose aside…) and it can be removed very easily with a simple Switchlock® pull, click, and lock mechanism. You can replace this with another lens which comfortably snaps into place. Why would you need to do that? Well maybe not in the middle of a race but say if conditions were to turn, on the same run or on two separate occasions, all it would take is a simple manoeuvre to switch from a dark shade to a light tint lens, something that is more suited for the time of day and lighting conditions.
6. The half-rim design supposedly provides an unobstructed view on the lower half but I don’t know how pertinent or useful that might be. So far I have used normal glares and glasses and any stumbles that I have had are nowhere more frequent that one may attribute to my general clumsiness.
7. The advantage of the half rim that I can easily acknowledge is that you can have shape options for the bottom half. So you have Path® and Pitch® where the former is a slightly leaner cut whereas the latter provides more umbrage.
8. HDO® or High Density Optics is how Oakley defines their line of lenses which provide the best of their engineering prowess (clarity, impact resistance, et al) in one transparent (OK, translucent) piece of plastic.
I would love to get my hands on the photochromic lens which would be a great addition to the pair I already have. But choice is always consuming so for now, I think I will manage just fine with the set I already have.
Going ahead, it would be fun to see if they can create more frame shapes that can take these lenses or, alternatively, do something that can make this rather sporty pair convert into something more conducive for urban wear. Now that would be straddling it all. It also goes to show that no matter how intense and serious a brand gets with its product, we the lazy consumers will still expect more.
PS. I really enjoyed putting in all the ® throughout this piece. To use current parlance; it was definitely “trending” on my mind.