Aesthetically, Oakley’s wrap-around sunglasses seem stuck in the nineties; aggressively shaped shades built for guys who still listen to rap metal and consider “No Fear” a personal credo. In other words, we don’t advise wearing them socially. But put us on the back of a bike with a fistful of elements smacking us in the face, and we’ll reach for a pair faster than you can say Fausto Coppi.
From Greg Lemond to 2012 Tour de France champ Bradley Wiggins, there’s a reason why the world’s best cyclists have always worn Oakley, and believe us, it isn’t because it makes them look like Steve McQueen. Despite the garish colors and futuristic design (remember these bad boys?), the California-based eyewear company has always been first and foremost about performance. And, thankfully, that’s exactly what you get with their new RadarLock sunglasses. Light, durable, and capable of clinging to your face no matter how rough the ride, Oakley’s latest specs are ideally designed for long days in the saddle, while vents prevent them from fogging up whenever you need a pit stop. But it’s the frame’s Switchlock feature, a proprietary technology that allows riders to easily change lenses, that sets these shades apart. Interchangeable lens systems are nothing new, but rather than fumble with a quiver of lenses, the Switchlock’s simple, swing-arm design means you can easily swap optics every time the light dims or brightens.
Not that you’ll need to. During a recent road race in the Berkshires, we were surprised by how deftly the RadarLock’s iridium lenses adjusted to fluctuating light conditions. From exposed plateaus to shaded climbs, the road and surrounding landscape unfurled ahead of us in HD clarity. Hell, we’ve even stuck with the polarized lens in a thunderstorm and still spotted every pothole on the way home. And as for those aforementioned garish color schemes, “Blood Orange,” the boldest of the bunch, soon won us over. In an era where understated kits rule the road, it turns out it’s still fun to accent your getup with a little flair, so save your tortoiseshell designer shades for the golf course. [$220; oakley.com]