Oakley Sports Frame Shootout

 Oct 26, 2010 article & images by Nick Salazar

Since its debut in 2007, the Radar has been standard equipment across the entire sports world. How does it measure up for tri?

We'll admit it right now: we are big fans of Oakley. While they don't make the cheapest shades on the market, they certainly make some of the best. They consistently improve the fit and functionality of their frames, while simultaneously pushing the design frontier and creating styles that are mimicked the industry over. In 2008, the brand was acquired by Luxoticca, and there was a lot of specualtion about what would happen with the brand's quality after that point. The intervening years have proven that Oakley has lost none of its creative edge, and continues to produce some of the most exciting and usable athletic eyewear.

In fact, if there's a problem with Oakley's lineup, it's that there are potentially too many athletic pieces to choose from, leaving consumers with a bit of a riddle in terms of what to choose for a given activity. Specifically for us, which set will be the best for the triathlete? That's the question we've set out to answer in this review. We've taken four of Oakley's athletic pieces - the Radar, the Radar XL, the Jawbone, and the Split Jacket - that pitted them against one another in a battle royale.

Function over Form

The new Split Jacket is Oakley's latest addition to its venerable sports line.

Note that we won't be going over much of the aesthetic features of these shades. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. What we're interested in is how these shades perform for triathlon. That query ultimately comes down to two main considerations - how the glasses fit (and the features of the design), and what field of visibility they offer. Which frame will come out on top? Read on.

Tags » oakley,  shootout,  sunglasses
  • The Jawbone offers a lot of customization options, including the color of the jaw's thru-bolt.
  • The new Split Jacket is basically a smaller version of the Jawbone, to accomodate smaller face sizes.
  • The Radar was Oakley's attempt to supplant the ubiquitous M-Frame, and has enjoyed tremendous success in that effort.
  • The Radar XL is our favorite tri frame. It's got the most coverage above the eye, making it the easiest frame to use when tucked in an aggressive aero position.
  • The Radar XL looks a little larger than what you're probably used to with the standard frame, so it might not be your first choice for casual wear.
  • This Antifreeze Green and Positive Red combo reminds us of the Ninja Turtles.
  • The Jawbone offers more above-eye coverage than the standard Radar, but less than the Radar XL.
  • The Jawbone introduced some thoughtful ear stem design - it's shorter, to minimize possible interference by your helmet.
  • The standard Radar is a very useful and versatile frame, and no rim on the bottom of the lens means it's easier to look behind you to check for traffic while riding.
  • Both the standard and XL versions of the Radar have long arms, which can get in the way of some aero lids.  You'd be best to take your helmet to the store when trying on these frames.
  • The new Split Jacket is like a mini Jawbone.
  • The Split Jacket maintains the short arms of the Jawbone, getting it out of the way of aero lids or helmet straps.

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