Sea Otter: Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses for road and MTB

Features include expanded field of vision and activity-specific lens options

Apparel Sea Otter Classic

2015 Sea Otter Classic

Road lens tint on the left, trail on the right.

Road lens tint on the left, trail on the right (click to enlarge).

Call it a case of unintentional retro. At least that’s how Oakley is spinning its latest cycling-specific shades, the Jawbreaker, which bear a distinct resemblance to one of the company’s original offerings, the Eyeshade.

Instead of making what’s old new again (a practice Oakley says it avoids), the famous eyewear maker told us at Sea Otter that the new sunglasses were designed in part to satisfy the needs of Mark Cavendish. For a while the top sprinter was a devotee of the full-frame Jawbone model. Cav likes the “gladiator look” we were told. But he’d recently switched over to the Radar, with its more traditional (at least for cycling) frameless design.

During a visit to the U.S. a few years back, Cavendish was asked by a member of Oakley’s design team why the switch, and the Brit laid out his needs. Primarily he wanted a larger field of vision. Easier to know when Marcel Kittel or Alexander Kristoff was pulling up beside him.

It all started with Greg LeMond and those Eyeshades.

It all started with Greg LeMond and those Eyeshades. But that’s not where the Jawbreaker came from (click to enlarge).

The Oakley design team went to work, and this year debuted the Jawbreaker, which is claimed to have a 44-percent wider field of view when compared to an average pair of sunglasses. “It just validated that the Eyeshade we made nearly 30 years ago was almost perfect,” one Oakley staffer told us.

Perfect is certainly in the eye of the beholder. But the new shades also have a host of other cool features that set it apart from the face-covering eyewear first made famous by Greg LeMond. The potentially coolest of those enhancements is something Oakley calls Prizm technology, where lens tint is tailored to the environment it will be used in. In the case of the Jawbreaker there are road and trail options.

The star sprinter is back on the framed-bandwagon and looking as gladiator-like as ever.

The star sprinter is back on the framed-bandwagon and looking as gladiator-like as ever (click to enlarge).

The road-specific lens is designed to enhances the paint on the road, as well as break apart various shades of black, making it easier to differentiate between smooth tarmac and wheel-eating potholes. The trail lens, on the other hand, is designed for mountain bikers, so it accentuates reds and browns.

Oakley says it figured all this out by using a special camera, which helped them observe color patterns and high and low peaks in various user environments. They then tinted the lens in such a way that it highlights the colors you need to see, while dropping those you don’t. We have yet to put the idea to the test, but it’s certainly an interesting concept.

The switchlock mechanism allows for fast and easy lens changes.

The switchlock mechanism allows for fast and easy lens changes (click to enlarge).

Pricing for the Jawbreaker starts at $220, with an extra lens adding $100 to the price tag. Here’s a rundown of other key features. And by the way, Cavendish has indeed been rocking the new shades during races, so mission accomplished there.

  • Temples adjust to three different lengths to improve helmet compatibility
  • Lens venting helps prevent fogging
  • Switchlock technology allows for easy lens swapping
  • Gimbal mechanism pivots to separate upper and lower jaw when switching lenses
  • Reinforced frame material for improved durability
  • Hydrophobic lens coating to repel dirt and sweat
  • Frame bumpers minimize compressive stress on lens

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This article is part of RoadBikeReview’s coverage of the 2015 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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