Oakley Airbrake MX Goggles
Words & Photos by Chili Dog
While people will argue all day long that their Dollar Store clear plastic safety glasses are just as good as an engineered set of eyewear, goggles seem to be a sacred space. There truly is no alternative for a quality set of goggles in the bike park. Oakley has long been one of the most respected and powerful names in eyewear. Many of their designs and technologies have set the bar for what a good set of goggles should be.
The Airbrake MX is the pinnacle of Oakley’s goggle line. We’re normally a bunch of budget dirt bags driven by our empty wallet, but when it comes to eyewear and protection products, we invest what we can to keep us riding longer and faster. You truly do get what you pay for, and when a few extra bucks means the difference between seeing that sneaky rut or not, the choice is clear.
Oakley’s Airbrake goggles boast a nearly frameless design for a maximum field of view. About the only frame visible when wearing them is the nose bridge and side wings for the strap attachements. Those extra degrees of unimpaired vision might seem trivial, but come in handy when judging obstacles on the trail through your peripheral vision at speed. The outer frame is separated from the foam face band by a breathing vent that is clad in a thin foam layer for dust filtering. Highly breathable, it helps to evaporate moisture before it forms fog on the lenses.
Oakley’s Switchlock technology makes lens changes not only fast, but clean. Gone are the days of covering your lenses with fingerprints while trying to pop and jimmy them into place. Simply snap the side wings of the goggles open, exchange the lens, and pop them back closed. It’s one of the best systems on the market.
Speaking of lenses, the crown jewel of the Airbrake goggles is Oakley’s Prizm lens. Made of an ultra durable material, they resist impact or cracking, protecting your eyes from debris or dirt. The Prizm technology also boosts contrast, and brings out shadows. Oakley offers a host of color options to best suit conditions. We found ourselves using the tinted amber lenses on the sunny Southern California trails, but clears in the forest.
After riding these goggles for the better part of five months, we’ve been spoiled when it comes to wearing anything else. Also, the field of view is exceptional. Optical clarity is top shelf, with no perceivable distortion, rich colors and exceptional details. While some color/contrast boosting tech is gimmicky at best, the Prizm lenses on the Airbrake goggles work.
One part we especially liked during winter riding was the raised wings that the tear offs mount to. Because of the raised edges, it was easy to tear off the plastic sheets with pro racer like precision.
Summer riding in warm weather let the vents shine and proved these goggles work well in the cold or hot. Even on days when we were dripping sweat, fogging and sweat-splatter were not issues.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Is it worth it to spend $220 on a set of goggles? Some riders will argue no, citing plenty of more affordable options. For us however, clear vision and safety are two things you can’t put a price on. I’d rather skip a few dinner dates and have a nice set of goggles, than constantly fight fogging and poor vision. The Oakley Airbrake MX goggles are some of the best on the market, with truly premium performance to match the premium price. While they aren’t for everyone, we know what we’ll be reaching for when packing our bags for DH days.
Field of View
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