A few weeks ago I wrote about my eyewear coming up short leaving me with very irritated eyes for the remainder of the day. My eyes have been getting beat up a little more than normal lately, so I knew I had to make my decision sooner than later. I had been looking at many models of glasses, particularly from Oakley, and even considered trying out contacts to avoid having to deal with the high cost of prescription lenses. I was favoring the Half Jacket XLJ, a sports oriented model with great wrap around protection. They’re stylish, fit me well and seemed to be the ideal pair, but then I revisited the Jawbone and Split Jacket models again which are purpose built for cyclists.
The Jawbone model took the cycling world by storm a couple of years ago becoming the de-facto standard. They are designed with protection and clarity in mind with unmatched optics and fit. Add to that the innovative “switchlock technology” allowing easy lens changes for differing conditions, and you have the quintessential cycling glasses…except for one thing. They are absolutely huge!
They were very difficult to fit people with smaller faces, women in particular. Without a proper fit, many of the advantages of the glasses were negated. Luckily Oakley recently came up with a more svelte/streamlined version of the Jawbones called the Split Jacket, which addressed the fit of these individuals while retaining all the other exceptional features of the Jawbone’s.
I dragged my wife out to the local Oakley Vault store yesterday to help me give all these glasses one last look. While there I tried on just about every sports model Oakley sold, but I kept coming back to the Jawbone and Split Jacket. My wife was highly amused as I kept shaking my head violently trying to get the glasses to slip down or fall off. She almost lost it when I got in an aero tuck in front of the mirror to see if the frames got in the way. I’m sure other shoppers there must have thought I was a nutcase, but the sales person recognized I was a cyclist and knew exactly what I was looking for.
Functionally both the Jawbone and Split Jacket were far superior than all the other sports glasses. They hug your head and have great eye coverage essentially placing your eyes behind a large, optically perfect lens which seemed to have no end. In fact the field of view is so large that it’s nearly impossible to see the frame. They basically become a part of you instead of the typical feel you get from glasses where you can not only see the frame, but you can see beyond it. Both these glasses gave the impression you were wearing goggles, but without all the weight and restrictions they bring.
Sure, the Half Jackets looked much better on, but I was looking for function over substance. These were to be cycling glasses only…good thing too as both the Jawbone and Split Jacket make you look like some sort of futuristic B-movie alien, and although very funky, they can’t be described as stylish or cool in any way shape or form, unless your wearing them all kitted up on your bike.
The Jawbones had an impressive fit, but they were absolutely huge! I was afraid that they would not fit under my helmet (I forgot to bring it with me). On the other hand, the Split Jacket fit perfectly and provided nearly the same coverage without the extra bulk. I did my head shake test, my aero tuck, heck I even walked around outside with them, and although funky looking, they provided every feature I was looking for, even if they made me look like a bug from outer space.
I decided to go with the Split Jacket. When I informed the sales person of my decision, he immediately opened up a few drawers revealing literally thousands of mix and match configurations for the glasses. Not only could you choose the optics, which by the way is an impressive list in itself, but also frame color, jaw color, icon color, bolt color and ear sock color. Now, since us cyclists are NOT VAIN, configuring my glasses took a mere 40 minutes…..My final choice was the Split Jacket with white frames, Ice Iridium lenses for the bright Florida sun, yellow vented lenses for gray/rainy days, a black jaw, silver bolt, silver icon and white ear socks (black was not available).
I put my new glasses to the test today. I really could not have asked for better testing conditions as it was extremely sunny with very gusty 20 MPH winds. The kind of day where my Square Wires would fail miserably leaving me with those oh so lovely stoner eyes by day’s end. I’m ecstatic to report that my new Split Jackets performed far better than I had hoped for. No wind, debris or miscellaneous road crap was able to get to my eyes. My eyes were perfectly comfortable behind those big blue iridescent domes. In fact I was so comfortable that I really did not mind fighting the wind at all. I was really amazed at how wearing ideal eyewear can positively impact your ride. I also believe the lens color had something to do with it, as the cool blue tint of the ice iridium lens actually produces a soothing effect.
So next time you see a blue, bugg-eyed, extraterrestrial, insectoid in lycra cycling down the boulevard, don’t panic….it’s not an invasion, it’s just me and my very happy eyes.
Ride Time: 1:40:58
Stopped Time: 26:13
Distance: 29.76 miles
Average: 17.68 mph
Fastest Speed: 25.11 mph
Ascent: 181 feet
Descent: 194 feet