Story and Photos by Sean Klinger
Oakley took a different approach to the goggle market when developing the new Airbrake goggle. Available to the public in March 2013, the goggle has many features that are simply not found in any other off-road eyewear. And they will comand a price higher than most at $160 to $200.
One of the main differences that sets the Airbrake apart from other goggles is the plutonite lens. Instead of a piece of clear plastic that is stamped flat, then bent into a curved frame, plutonite lenses (a material developed by Oakley and used in many of their glasses) are formed in a curved shape. According to Oakley, this eliminates image distortion and provides an optically correct field of vision. Also, the lens is rigid just like one big sunglass lens, offering superior impact protection.
The frame is also rigid to compliment and securely hold the rigid lens. Borrowing from their Jawbone sunglasses, the Airbrake frame has the capability to switch lenses quickly and easily with its Switchlock system. Basically, on both ends of the frame there is a tab that, when pulled, releases a hinged lens holder that swings up, allowing the lens to be taken out.
Another major change is the Airbrake’s roll-off system, which is fully integrated into the frame. Instead of a thin strip in the middle of the goggle, the roll-off strip covers almost the complete lens surface, meaning more clear vision with each pull of the string actuator. “It’s the roll-off system that, when riders get in a pinch, has to work,” says James Stewart, who has been working with Oakley in the Airbrake’s development. “To have that wide strip gives the rider more vision when you get hit with mud or water.”
Ryan Villopoto is another rider that has been working closely with Oakley on this project. “It [the Airbrake] fits great in my helmet and it fits right to my face with even pressure,” Villopoto explains. “You can tell a huge difference between standard goggles and the Airbrake.”
Another goal Oakley set out to meet was adding range of vision. The Airbrake is designed to increase a riders peripheral vision as well as looking down and up through the goggle. Stewart says there is a noticeable widening of his visual range, which, at first, took some getting used to.
Overall, the Airbrake goggle is probably one of the most technically advanced goggle on the market. Whether this brings more race wins or more fun riding a dirt bike is yet to be seen. Either way, the Airbrake is leading the charge into a new goggle frontier.