Words by Drew Rohde & Nic “U-Turn” Hall | Photos by Drew Rohde & Sourpatch
It’s hard to think about performance eyewear and not think about Oakley. They’ve been around forever and have some of the best optics in the business, of course they also have the price tag that lets you know, they’re proud of that. The Airbrake goggles have been some of our favorites for a couple years now, and with the introduction of new technology, like Prizm, found in their Prizm Low Light glasses we reviewed last year, we’re always excited to get new Oakley products in the mail. We’ve been riding the Airbrake MX goggles on our dirt bikes and DH bikes for a while and are happy to have the new Oakley Airbrake MTB google to join the lineup. We have been wearing these goggles for months now and are happy to report on the Airbrake MTB and the differences between this and the Airbrake MX google.
Most goggles were first developed for motocross applications, which has some similarities to mountain biking, but also has some major differences that can hinder a product’s effectiveness in either application. Dirt biking is a cardio activity, and riders sweat a ton, however speeds are often much higher than those achieved on mountain bikes. Combine that with the occasional climb and frequent stops and you’ve got a serious difference in air flow that will lead to foggy lenses and “Oh shit” moments.
Air flow and moisture management were some of the main factors that took Oakley to the drawing board when it came time to develop an Airbrake worthy of their mountain bike athletes. In an effort to increase air flow at lower speeds, Oakley eliminated the foam barrier between the goggle and lens, replacing it with a micro screen called the Factory Lite Vent mesh. It is small enough to prevent mud and debris from entering the goggle, but allows enough air movement to prevent fog or moisture build up.
The lens is attached with a Oakley’s quick release system, which offers very quick lens swaps with the push of two bright red tabs. Speaking of the lens, the model we tested came with the Prizm low light, which offers 75% light transmission while increasing contrast between colors. There are many other lenses available and we experimented with quite a few during our test period. The strap has three large silicone grip strips and the attachment points are offset from the frame.
The Prizm Low Light is one of, if not our number one favorite lens on the market right now. From medium bright sun to dark shadows, the lens is versatile and ultra-sharp. Colors pop a bit more and shadows don’t seem to be as much of an issue compared to other lenses. No matter what model of Oakley eyewear you prefer, try a set with the Prizm Low Light. As with all Oakley products, their optically correct lenses truly enhance the rider’s vision, depth perception and are unmatched compared to everything else we’ve tried over the years. They’re really that good.
Oakley’s new mesh design does work as intended, even on some race runs requiring full effort on soggy days, we never managed to fog the lenses during a ride. Oakley nailed the mesh thickness allowing for superior airflow compared to the standard Airbrake while preventing almost any debris from entering. Even while riding behind some buddies in very wet and muddy conditions, no mud or debris entered the google. Field of view in the Oakley Airbrake MTB goggles is spacious and offers plenty of space to look around, which is always important in dynamic riding environments.
The strap offset design works with every helmet we tested it with and allows for comfortable grip on your helmet without crushing your face. The silicone grips work well by holding the googles tightly to flat and high gloss helmets alike. Another nice feature was the nose relief. All of our testers felt that breathing was unrestricted and easy with the goggles on.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Oakley knows eyewear, and they proved it again with the Airbrake MTB. With outstanding design changes such as the micro mesh coupled with the Prizm Low Light lens, the Airbrake MTB and Airbrake MX are our favorite goggles hand down. The price is high, but so is the performance.
If you are a rider who is looking to eek the best performance out of your ride as you can, having the best possible vision will give you an advantage before your bike ever touches the obstacles ahead of you. Seeing better lines, spotting obstacles, undulations and spots of the trail with sharp definition are incredibly important, and something we’d argue is worth the investment. In our goggle roundup, the Oakley Airbrake MX and Airbrake MTB goggles are the no-holds barred winner. If budget is a real concern, then we’d suggest taking a look at the Leatt 6.5 review here.
Incredible Definition Clarity Ability to Breathe Through Nose Airflow Quick Swap Lens Prizm Low Light Lens
Eating Cheap Burritos For a Month to Afford Them
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