Review: Oakley RadarLock XL eyewear.

RadarLock XL in white with Jade Iridium lens.

 

By Jay Ferguson

Oakley dominates high-end cycling eyewear like Mark Cavendish owns the last 500 meters of a Tour de France sprint. There’s Oakley and everybody else dying to just hang onto their wheel.

There’s no questioning Oakley’s technological prowess and design skills. The issue as always is whether the performance justifies the XL price tag. Their new RadarLock XL’s ($220) give us a chance to put that query to the test.

The new RadarLock XL’s are essentially 7mm taller versions of the regular Radars — which promises you an extra measure of coverage and protection — and an incrementally more badass appearance.

Initially, the upsize had us concerned that the XL is dialed for a larger face but that didn’t end up being the case. These fit superbly and the frame lens is always well out of view no matter what position you’re in on the bike. The taller shape closes that open gap between frame top and helmet bottom. It’s almost like you’ve got a Giro Air Attack visor. Coolio.

The O-Matter frame and hinges feel durable yet lightweight. We found the three point fit of the frame paired with the ear and nose pieces to be completely comfortable on long rides. Even with helmet straps and a hat layered below the helmet, the XL’s were always right where you want them.

Like most other Oakley sport models, the Radarlock XL features Unobtanium ears socks that activate when you sweat to create a fantastic grip to your head. There’s a near zero need for re-adjustment and pressure points were non-existent.

Having owned Oakley glasses in the past, we were prepared for the ear pieces of the frame to be long enough to bump into the helmet retention system. In a word, nope. And here’s an often overlooked fit test: “Do the ear pieces fit comfortably in the air vents of my helmet?” Yes, the XL’s look just as stylish mounted in the vents.

Our test model came with the Jade Iridium lenses and the clarity is killer. Oakley calls it their Polaric Ellipsoid technology and it eliminates the kind of distortion you see in other brands when your eye engages the lens at an angle. Not only do the XL’s give you wide screen peripheral vision but that vision is not subject to alteration.

Here in Northern California, it’s microclimate central and light conditions vary from minute to minute. The Jade Iridium lens and the second yellow lens cover all the conditions. The Jade Iridium has a technology called Photo-chromatic applied to the lens that actually makes small self adjustments in changing light levels. In our experience, the Jade will deal with 90% of the situations with the yellow lens solving the low-light and gloomy days. A Plutonite lens material filters out the damaging UV light. Sadly, RadarLock and RadarLock XL lens are not interchangeable.

The full vertical and wrap around size of the lens brings up the issue of fogging. However Oakley’s venting work up top seems to have eradicated any fog. We’ve done climbing intervals in the cold, working at threshold and didn’t experience any fogging.

What’s nice about the Switchlock mechanism is that after a few times in practice, you can switch out lenses without fingerprinting the entire lens. There’s a small switch on the inside of the left frame corner. Simply press and the frame edge angles open and out. Then it’s a simple pop out proceedure. We should mention the first step is a quick pinch of the nose piece, that slides it down and out of the way. Like all new tricks, the initial learning takes a moment, but it quickly becomes a snap.

So on pure optics, build quality, venting, fit and and lens switching, the RadarLock XL’s are an awesome way to go. Now you might still be thinking $220 is plenty of cash but consider the two lenses, Soft Vault case, the extra option on nose pads and the undeniable Oakley “wow” factor and the credit card comes out. Fact is, you pay a premium for the right to say, yeah, I want the outrageous best even if I’m not Mark Cavendish.

Oakley RadarLock XL

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  • Shawn

    Could you compare them to the Smith PivLock V2 you reviewed previously?

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      Shawn, the two are pretty different. I like the Smiths for their simplicity and slightly smaller scale. The pivlock design is a simpler mechanism than the swtichlock on the Oakleys. And if you like your eyewear more fitted in terms of facial real estate, then the Smith’s are good. At $160 for the Smiths you’re also saving $60 bucks. I give the Oakley the edge on optics and the frame is more robust in terms of build and there’s more design flash — and of course you pay extra for the cache of the Oakley brand. My sense is the Oakley’s will prove more durable over time. It really comes down to how much cash you’re willing to part with and how much you value that extra measure of cool. Matt

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