Oakley Prizm MX Goggle Demo Ride Day

Unearthing the technology behind the most expensive motocross goggles on the market

The Oakley demo rig on site may not be the biggest, but it served its purpose well for this first (hopefully of many) demo ride days.Mark Kariya

Why are high-end goggles three times (or more) expensive than the cheapies? Are the high-priced ones worth it? Oakley has always positioned itself as a premium brand and that’s reflected in the prices for its eyewear. But despite what its ads try to convey and the endorsements by a number of championship-winning racers, many dirt riders can’t justify buying a set of goggles that cost more than $200. So Oakley set up its first Oakley MX Prizm Goggle Demo Ride Day at the Cahuilla Creek MX track in Anza, California (hopefully with more to follow in other areas).

The top-of-the-line Airbrake and Front Line goggles have been available for a while now, so there was nothing new to introduce. Instead, the aim was to provide an educational day at the track to explain to potential customers the benefits of all the research and development that went into the company’s goggles. And better yet, riders could borrow a pair to try for themselves, even switching between various Prizm tints and between models. With complimentary gate fee for the first 100 riders, as well as the hourly drawings for goggles and other swag plus a free lunch, you couldn’t pass it up, even if you weren’t convinced you should spend that much on Oakley’s innovative offerings.

Naturally, Oakley displayed a variety of both the Airbrake and Front Line goggles as well as the Signature Series versions.Mark Kariya
There’s a huge amount of R&D that went into creating what Oakley feels is the best goggle on the market from both a protective and user-friendly standpoint. Here, Oakley rep Darren Sanford (himself a former Baja and ISDE racer) explains the technology and convenience of the Airbrake’s chassis.Mark Kariya
Born from a US military request, Prizm lens technology is sport-specific. For dirt riders, the most important thing is being able to see subtle differences in the track or trail ahead—be it in bright sun, cloudy conditions or under a canopy of trees—so all Prizm lenses are designed to enhance one’s vision in that part of the light/color spectrum. This instrument shows on the screen how different Prizm tints (the raw materials contained in those tubes) help separate colors for maximum visual definition.Mark Kariya
Instead of being manufactured into a single complete goggle frame, the Airbrake consists of several key parts that are replaceable/swappable. This inner frame for the face foam is softer and snaps into the more rigid outer frame that holds the easily replaceable polycarbonate lens (which employs Oakley’s unique Switchlock system that permits quick yet secure lens swaps via a lever on either side of the frame).Mark Kariya
The primary job of goggles is to protect the eyes. With bikes getting more powerful and faster every year, one of Oakley’s design parameters was to ensure that its lenses wouldn’t get blown out of the frame or penetrated. To demonstrate, this test was devised. First, put goggles on a helmeted head form then add rocks.Mark Kariya
Next, let former champ Grant Langston line up just inches away and do a practice start aboard his 450 SX-F.Mark Kariya
Despite that abuse, the goggles survived intact, as seen here after some of the dirt is wiped away. Instead of a simple flat lens stamped out of Lexan, Oakley employs a thicker, shaped polycarbonate (what it calls Plutonite) with enhanced impact protection and penetration resistance, exceeding ANSI Z87.1 and EN 1938 standards. Combined with the Switchlock and rimless mounting, there should be virtually no chance of blowing out the lens. In addition, the Oakley roll-off system uses a wider film than competitors.Mark Kariya
A number of riders took advantage of the opportunity to try a set of Airbrakes or Front Lines at Cahuilla where the tracks were prepped and watered nicely.Mark Kariya
Some jump action on the main track.Mark Kariya
Even a few younger riders sampled the wares.Mark Kariya
Oakley gathered feedback from a number of riders after they’d tried goggles.Mark Kariya
Not only did David Glass try out a new set of goggles, he also went home with a pair after being the winner of the first hourly drawing. Coincidentally or not, he was a customer before he arrived.Mark Kariya
Another test apparatus that Oakley demonstrated to mimic what might happen when your face hits the handlebar area. No penetration and no lens blowouts with an Oakley product. Not so with competing lenses.Mark Kariya
Nothing like free tacos and taquitos to wrap things up—thanks, Oakley!Mark Kariya