If you were to ask 100 mountain bikers which brand of eyewear they desire most, I’m pretty sure there’s one brand that would stand out – Oakley. Oakley opened their doors in 1975 and have grown right along with the cycling industry. Today riders like Brian Lopes and Cameron Zink wear Oakley optics for their superior clarity and durability. Oakley continues to push themselves into better designs and higher performance optics and I recently got a chance to try out a couple pairs – the Jawbone and Crowbar MX – on the slopes of Blue Mountain (DH) and throughout Ontario (trail riding).
The Jawbone represents another big leap in the evolution of sports eyewear. From the initial idea to the final release of these glasses, Oakley paid attention to what riders and athletes need through the full range of light and environmental conditions. The new SwitchLock frame minimizes the need to handle the lens during a swap while ensuring comfort and protection on the face. SwitchLock allows the lower part of the frame rim (the jaw) to swing open, making it easy to swap out the lens.
The extremely clear and durable Plutonite lens filters all UVA, UVB, UVC and blue light (up to 400nm). But you don’t have to take my word on durability: these lenses are ANSI Z87.1 certified for high velocity and mass impact resistance. How important is durability? I still remember seeing a rider go down face first into the ground and shattering his sunglasses into his face – not pretty.
The lenses also feature a hydrophobic treatment which helps repel dust while preventing smudges. Depending on your choice you can also pick these up with a polarized coating and various other lens tints. To keep the Jawbones on your face, the stem sleeves and nose pieces are made of a non-slip formula rubber called Unobtainium (seriously). When you order your set you also get a second set of nose pieces for that custom fit.
I picked an atomic orange frame on my Jawbones with the Fire Iridium and Persimmon lens (vented). The Fire Iridium lens works great in mixed light conditions with the ability to dramatically reduce glare and improve contrast. I found during the summer months here in Ontario with very little clouds and a sparse canopy overhead, these excel at providing protection and tint the view slightly brownish. The Persimmon treatment offers a perfect complement for low light conditions boosting contrast and depth perception. Add to that a warmer tint which makes these a comfortable lens on the trail.
Now when I’m wearing my full-face helmet and ripping it up on the slopes, I need more protection than a pair of sunglasses can offer. The Crowbar MX goggles are just the ticket. With 25 years of refinement, Oakley ended up using a proprietary material they call “O MATTER” for the frame. An optically pure LEXAN lens maximizes impact protection and meets ANSI Z87.1 and EN 1938 standards. The lens has an anti-fog treatment which I found works well when I’m traveling slow and working it.
On the inside of the goggles Oakley designed a triple-layer face foam to help absorb and move sweat away from your eyes. Oakley has the strap attached to an outrigger for balanced pressure distribution and clearance for your helmet. And to keep the strap from sliding, there are three beads of silicone (you cannot believe how great that feature alone is). The nose guard is removable and tear-offs can be added to the three pin set-up.
The Crowbar’s biggest performance feature is the perfect face seal you get with it and how well it holds in place on your helmet. Having used other goggles without that feature can be a pain so I’m really loving the no-slip strap. As far as optics are concerned, the lens works alright – just not great. Having used a hemispherical lens before I was more impressed with the fact that you get almost zero distortion. The Crowbar does have a minute amount of flare but I doubt you will pick up on it (you have to be looking off the side of the lens and not down the slope). The standard clear lens work well for most conditions but I chose the Fire Iridium lens which looks pretty cool and matches the Jawbones. Besides, the lens coating drastically improves contrast and the tint helps on those transitions from dark to light.
The biggest problem with the Crowbar MX is choosing a style to match your helmet. There are over 20 designs to choose from with a range of patterns and colors. I decided to go with the One Icon pink to match up with my THE T2 helmet. I’d love to see the addition of vents on the lens in a future update, especially for the slower techie sections that I encounter from time to time.
For an MSRP of $250 for the Jawbones and $85 MSRP for the Crowbar MX goggles, you’re getting high definition optics, a pleasing and comfortable set of eyewear, and important protection regardless of your MTB discipline.
A quick thanks to the folks at Oakley for sending down the eyewear for review. I also have to give credit to my friend Bruce C for taking the photos.