Radars and Jawbones

Those of you who have been studying our catalog of The Rules will have noticed that eyewear is to be cycling-specific, and should always accompany you on your rides.  There is a functional reason for this: your eyes are a valuable asset which you want to protect from UV rays, debris, and wind.  There is also a stylish reason: in this age of near-universal helmet usage, your helmet will look way too bare on your noggin without the balance provided by your eyewear.  (It is not acceptable, by the way, to wear a full beard as a counter-balance to your helmet.  The only “cyclist” ever to wear a full beard was that Russian Guy in American Flyers, and I think one look at that guy will explain to you why that doesn’t work.)

I have cultivated a life-long obsession with finding the perfect pair of sunglasses.  It started when I was a kid, buying authentic imitation Oakley Blades at the local Fleet Farm so I might look a bit more like my childhood cycling hero, Greg LeMond.  I ran through lots of cheap pairs that looked like Oakleys (but weren’t) until I was perhaps 13 years old and I bought a used pair of old black Blades from my dad who had just bought a fluorescent yellow pair of Mumbos.   I remember sitting in my room, mesmerized by the iridium lens and running my finger over the white “OAKLEY” logo on the earpiece.  I was well on my way to looking like a Pro.

But eyewear satisfaction proved temporary and elusive.  By the time I owned the Blades, they were already terribly outdated, with the the Mumbos replacing the Razorblades, which replaced the model I had.  My quest continued.

Eventually, I purchased my first pair of Shots, beginning a 15-year love affair with Briko.   In the Nordic skiing microworld, these babies were the shit because they had the full ski goggle-like band that kept them on your head and allowed you to perch the glasses safely on your hat without worrying about them falling off during a race.

This seemingly minor detail inadvertently changed my life, as I became consumed by the details of how best to wear hats, and how best to pair your sunglasses with them.  In skiing, it became a very carefully studied system of wearing your hat using a technique I call the Three-Point System where the hat sits just above the point where your spine enters your skull, covers the tips of your ears, and comes to rest close above the eyebrows.  The sunglasses must then be perched upon the hat at just the right height and just the right angle in order to maximize what my dad always teasingly referred to as “the Pro Look”.  (It goes without saying that “the Pro Look” also involves a carefully cultivated facial expression and a plethora of other accessories.)

This also influenced my technique for wearing cycling caps as well.    (I hereby formally confess to breaking Rule #11 as a reckless, fool-hearty youngster.)    When the cap was worn visor-forward, it could not be too high or low, and could never be tilted too far forward or backward, with sunglasses to be be placed just above the brim.  If the cap was worn visor-backward, its positioning bore great resemblance to the Three-Point System, with the back low to the eyebrows, sides just above the ears, and the visor just above the nape of the neck.  The sunglasses in this configuration were always perched high up, towards the top of the brow.

The problem with the Briko Shots was that, unless your name happened to be Mario, they looked terrible when used on a bicycle (and thus came dishearteningly close to breaking Rule #25), and as such I ran through various iterations of Briko models and spent gobs of money in my quest for the perfect pair of riding shades.

The matter has been further complicated by a related ailment: I am overcome by a feeling of overwhelming claustrophobia caused by wearing sunglasses when I’m exercising at my maximum.  This was true during my ski racing career, and is still true today, whether I’m riding or skiing.  If I’m hot and fighting to get enough air into my lungs, having sunglasses pressed up on my face and pushing down on my nose is a feeling I cannot tolerate.  At the same time, I’m sensitive to light and wind in my eyes, and as such generally need to wear them.  Without getting into this too deep, I’ll just state that it is important for me to easily and quickly take my sunglasses on and off.  The problem was solved for me when ski racing by the Shots’ ability to easily, quickly, and securely get shoved onto my hat, but it has been an ongoing problem for me as a cyclist since there has never been a good place to quickly and easily store my sunglasses when I’m hot.

Until recently, that is, when helmet manufacturers started building helmets that receive the earpieces of your sunglasses with little or no hassle.  Unfortunately for me, my Brikos at the time had earpieces that didn’t slide properly into my helmet and for this offense were cast aside.

Based on evidence that the Pros were able to stick the Oakley Radars into their helmets with no issue and still managed to look cool, a few years ago I decided to return to my Oakley roots and buy a pair.  (White, of course.  Because that’s the coolest color.)  Ever since, I have been absolutely amazed at how good these sunglasses are.  The hydrophobic surface coating keeps water beading off them, so when you get sweat splashed on them, can spray them with your water bottle and they clean right up.  If you overheat when climbing, you can pop them into your helmet and maintain your Pro Look.  The Radars are the perfect cycling eyewear.  At long last, mission accomplished.

Imagine my amazement, then, when Oakley released the Jawbones.  They are ugly and look like they’d be even hotter than normal sunglasses, with no open-air system between the glasses and the cheek.  Besides, the dual-color version that many pros have been sporting is no good whatsoever and should be abandoned as quickly as possible.

What was the deal with the Russian guy in American Flyers, anyway?  That guy was a jerk.

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50 Replies to “Radars and Jawbones”

  1. Man, for years I rode with no eye protection at all – nada. Well, no helmets back then either – but that’s another story.

    I’m not big on buying tons of sunglasses, so tend to live with one pair at a time – for riding and civilian life.

    First pair I ever bought was the original Oakley Eyeshades – just like Greg Lemond. I still have them around somewhere. I went to hear Greg speak once in Seattle. Afterwards, he signed whatever you wanted. I should have brought the old school Oakley for him to sign. That would have been cool.

    They were replaced with another pair of Oakley shades, but I don’t remember what model. I used ’em for years on my bike and motorcycle – since they fit easily into my full face helmet. I used ’em so much, they eventually snapped in two pieces.

    Replacement was Rudy Project – just like Jan. I’m on my second set, after the first pair snapped off one arm – and quite easily I must add. Considering I own multiple lenses and dig the way the look, picked up another pair.

    Now that I’ve ridden for years with shades, find it hard to ride without ’em. I didn’t realize how much abuse my eyes were taking riding bare.

    Plus, let’s face it – they look cool too.

  2. I had a Briko moment at the Cairns (Queensland, Australia) MTB World Cup in 1995. Volvo-Cannondale rider Sarah Ellis (she was Tinker Juarez’s girlfriend at the time) was climbing and passed her Brikos to me, saying “give them back at the end of the race”. Yeah right! But being the upstanding, honest citizen I am, I gave them to a team mechanic later on. Idiot.

    Later that year, at the Worlds in Germany, I saw her walkng around and told her the story… she remembered, thanked me, but didn’t offer me another pair as I had hoped. Thankfully, she was dumped both by Tinker and the team the next year.

  3. @Dan O
    As for one pair for riding and life, I don’t think there’s an issue here at all. So long as they are for riding, and are worn as a compliment to your shaved legs when you’re out in civilian life.

    The Eyeshades were rad. Is that where the expression “shades” comes from? Probably. Hampsten was another Hardman of the Eyeshade.

    How can you argue with that?

    As for the ‘Projects, always wanted a pair of those, especially during the Ulli/Dekker days of glory. Those are super sweet-looking.

    The reason I never bought them was that they never felt as solid as the Brikos, but MAN, that was a cool look.

  4. @brett
    I’m ashamed to say that I don’t recall Sara Ellis. A quick Google Image search yielded a decidedly non-cycling related and NSFW set of photos. I suspect that perhaps there is also a nude model named “Sara Ellis”.

    Contrast your tale to the story of the spectator who punched Albert at the Belgian Championships. Upstanding citizens, while obviously exhibiting idiotic qualities from a souvenir perspective, are what keeps our sport’s open format kicking.

  5. @frank
    I too still have a pair of Oakley Eyeshades, too old to use but too nice to throw away…er, maybe I did come to my senses and chuck ’em in the great hoe-out 2009. Now I have a set of Oakley M frames, beat, loose, frayed, repaired and I love the hell out of them. I patrol eBay for replacements but now I’m thinking Oakley Radars. They get Frank’s seal of Approval. Hmmmmmmm. White is cool. I’m an Oakley boy-eeee.

  6. Gotta say I’m very happy with my Tifosi Pave’s. After losing my favorite bolle’s, crushing some sweet sunclouds, and never being able to find oakleys that fit, I went for the shades named for Italian racing fans and the model named for the most baddest-ass cycling surface known. They’re light, don’t fog up, have interchangable lenses and the zero line frameless bottoms allow unrestricted vision on the road. For a big dumb Norwegian I sure do gravitate to most things Italian when it comes to cycling. Skol.

  7. @john
    If you did not throw them away, I know what I’m going to “find in my luggage” and you’re going to “mysteriously lose” when I come visit you.

    You can even customize your Radars on the site. Match them to your Velominati kit.

  8. @Marko
    Skol back at ya! Oakleys can’t help but fit my huge Swede/Welsh/Yankee skull because they are so flexible and the arms are straight. Most glasses never fit me. I like to go to the Sunglass Hut and try on all their shiet and walk out. What a weed I am. The Oakleys sound just like the Tifosi actually, without the cool Italian name.

  9. @Marko
    Your logic is sound, can’t argue with any of it. I’ve never even laid a hand on a pair of those, so I’ll check ’em out. Although, I have to say, I can’t imagine them being more rad than the Radars. The Radars are so rad they have the word “rad” in the name.

  10. I agree with you both but whatever frank just said would never fit on the sides of sunglasses.

  11. @Marko
    Well, it is certainly the easiest to defend and most universally accepted means of being a hardman. I mean, who would argue that Andrea Tafi or Michele Bartoli wasn’t a hardman?

    But there are other paths to being a hardman. All of them, however, involve bad weather and pain.

    As mentioned in The Rules, Stijn Devolder on Rule #5, in defense of staying in Belgium when his teammates went off to train in sunny Spain: “It is not so cold that you freeze on to your bike. You go from a temperature of zero (Celsius) to minus one and you’re not dead; It hardens your character.

  12. @frank

    Anyone with a northern european or flemish sounding name who rides a bike like Stijn Devolder, automatically conjurs up images of a hardman for me. That’s not to assume they are actually a hardman, but if your name has double o’s (pronounced OH, not OO), has a De, Von, or Van, ends in a hard vowel sound (ckx), or is a derived from scandinavian (ovd, vkist, or gen), the hardman stereotypes begin to circulate.

  13. @all
    In case you’re wondering, this is the type of thing the Three Point System was designed to avoid:

  14. How nice is it that everybody get’s to wear Big George’s brand on his team? It’ll be like having DutchMonkey all over the goddam place on the velominati kit.

  15. These – http://www.adidas.com/Eyewear/content/products/10214/evil-eye-pro-L – may not look as cool. They may even break a Rule or 2. But anyone who (i) needs corrective lenses to be able to see where they’re riding and (ii) doesn’t tolerate contact lenses very well could do worse than check them out. They give all the benefits of “proper” roadie glasses (apart, perhaps, from the cool factor), but are made to accommodate corrective lenses made up to your prescription to clip inside.

  16. Damn! Missed this one.

    Glasses are almost as important to me as the bike. But… I have struggled to find glasses that I like and can afford/justify over the last 7-8years. Anyway I started off with Oakley Eyeshades because, as with most things in my cycling career, I’ve generally waited until expensive stuff is no longer new so that I can afford it. Also I was a massive fan of Phil Anderson. I then moved onto Oakley Razor Blades. Possible my favourite glasses ever with Purple/green iridium lenses. I was devastated when the frame cracked.

    After that I ran through a series of Oakley’s, ending up with some Fives, which had orange lenses and the frame was the same transparent orange colour. They were great and covered every weather condition apart from night-time.

    By ’00 though I needed new glasses and was on bit of a Mapei/Museeuw trip and so moved over to Rudy Project. Besides my Local Bike Shop didn’t stock Oakley and I couldn’t afford them. That year Museeuw wearing Rudy’s with Racing Red lenses and I had to have a pair. After that I’ve worn Rudy ever since, mainly because on the lens colours. I don’t need a full tin, Britain really isn’t that sunny, but it can have a lot of dull overcast days or sunny intervals and I found lenses like the racing red ones allowed me to need only one set of glasses, except for riding at night. I was looking around for a new pair of glasses recently and was struggling to find anything other than Rudy Project that offered the lens options that I wanted. The only problem is that sometimes Rudy Project seem to employ children or drunks to design their glasses and come up with some abominations.

    Anyway, there is a reason to my obsession with sunglasses other than vanity. My eyesight is appalling – for the vision deficient here, it’s -11. So after riding through most of my teenage years wearing glasses, I got fed-up of trying to peer through raindrops and misted glasses so I got contact lenses. But due to my prescription I was advised on gas-permeable lenses, these had a downside that if you got dirt behind them it hurt like hell. So I needed to wear shades, otherwise I’d be no better off than when I wore prescription glasses.

    I like the Jawbones, but I won’t buy Oakley anymore because of their sponsorship of Armstrong.

  17. @Jarvis
    That’s a mighty tale. The Eyeshades were so cool. Bauer, Anderson, Hampsten, LeMond…those lads looked proper cool in those.

    I am very, very tempted to buy a pair of JawBones that match the Velominati kit. I’ve discussed it with our genius designer and we’ve settled on a color combination. Now it’s up to getting it past the Finance Committee.

  18. I have a bunch of “FLEX” money I have to spend or lose it. I would really like to get some Oakleys but my eyes are so bad that none of their models will accommodate my prescription without a lot of distortion. In fact, I am VERY limited in my selection of “sporty” sunglasses. Forget “cycling specific” and I don’t want anything with an Rx insert behind the glasses so the choices of anything that will accommodate any sort of wrap is dismal. I did, however, find some Ray Bans that will work…

    …With the 1/2 off lens sale at Lenscrafters they’re still gonna cost me $350. But at least the frames are made in Italy!

  19. Older article, but I have a sunnies question. Heading into my first cx fall season and don’t think I want to wear my pricey Oakley’s in the woods, on the gravel, etc.

    I was considering just buying a new lens for some Radars I have. But, I realized you can get Tifosis with 3 lenses for less than just the Radar lenses.

    1) Anyone tried Tifosis? How is the quality, the clarity?

    2) I’ve got a smaller face, wondering if anyone has found a pair that work well for non-Dutchman who aren’t 6’6″.

    Tifosi seem to get pretty good reviews, positive feedback for what they are. I’d solely use mine for cross and while I’m not eagerly planning on going in face first, it would be nice if when I did I was in $60 shades, not $250.

  20. @frank

    In case you’re wondering, this is the type of thing the Three Point System was designed to avoid:

    I know this is an old thread but just saw this and that is a fucking travesty. To look like that with World Champion bands on as well, has he no shame. As a side note he sure has hell has got the chin to be a world class snooker player where he can also probably get away with his appearance.

  21. Sorry to dredge up an old post, but I have been unsuccessfully researching rule guidance on proper eyewear color. Can or will anyone enlighten me on the proper criteria for choosing the correct frame color for my new shades?

  22. @Lee
    Welcome. Please don’t apologize for delving into the archives. We like when that happens and if the original drivel is still poignant and subsequent posts relevant then all the better.

    To your point. There is no rule on frame color but match to kit or black.

  23. @marko

    Welcome. Please don’t apologize for delving into the archives. We like when that happens and if the original drivel is still poignant and subsequent posts relevant then all the better.
    To your point. There is no rule on frame color but match to kit or black.

    Thanks for the response, Marko. I rather enjoyed my foray into the archives; maybe a little too much. I only apologized to cover myself as I don’t want to be the guy who doesn’t try to find his own answer before asking a question. Unfortunately, my simple mind kept getting distracted by shiny bikes and mud covered hardmen charging up hills made of wheel crushing cobbles, so I wasn’t sure if I had somehow missed the obvious.

  24. @marko

    Welcome. Please don’t apologize for delving into the archives. We like when that happens and if the original drivel is still poignant and subsequent posts relevant then all the better.
    To your point. There is no rule on frame color but match to kit or black.

    PRO white is always a safe choice as well.

  25. @VeloVita
    This. Try to create some contrast with the frame color, so white or gray is always good. With Jawbones, you can go all-white, or use a dark color up top with a light one below, or vice-versa…

    My personal taste is to avoid black frames; when in doubt, go white.

  26. Yup! White or black frames for me. I have one white helmet, one black so it makes coordination easy.

    I picked up some Uvex shades from bonktown earlier this fall. White frames, three lenses for $25. They are nice, not as nice as my Oakleys, but I wanted a pair I didn’t mind cross riding with in case I go down or hit them on a branch or something. My Oakleys are so nice and pricey that I worry about hitting them or scratching the lenses.

  27. I want some white-framed sunglasses, but I’m not sure how good both white sunglasses and a white helmet will look on me, as I’m as pale of a white guy as you can get without being a redhead from Ireland (apologies to Dr. C!).

  28. @frank
    I like to match the frame to my helmet colour (usually white) and then have the lenses coordinate with my kit. Similar to what you did with the custom jawbones you agonized over.

    I’m sure it has been brought up elsewhere, but I’ve been MIA for a while – what is the consensus on the new Assos Zeghos? They look like my grandma’s bifocals had sex with a dragonfly, but the reviews I’ve read seem to all rave over them…

  29. @VeloVita
    The Assos Zeghos are a travesty of style and look like the result of Vic Beckham being let loose on a specialist cycle clothing factory, and you’d have to sell your house to afford them. As as been said before in order for an item to be revered it must marry form and function….they don’t. Not in my book anyway

    This is all close to my heart atm as contact lens tech has finally caught up so i can now realistically wear sunglasses on the road instead of the bog-eye goggles i had before. The Folks bought me an (entry) pair of Tifosi for christmas and i love with them, they look fantastic, very Italian design and the fit fantastically, wiithout use of a length of elastic.

  30. Perhaps you lot would be better off riding your bike than trying badly to look cool.

  31. @andy

    Perhaps you lot would be better off riding your bike than trying badly to look cool.

    It had never occurred to me that riding a bike and trying to look cool (whether badly or otherwise) were mutually exclusive.

    I will do 10,000km this year, like I have done for at least the last five years, and look damn cool doing them.

    If you want to do whatever miles you do and look like a douche, that’s your business.

  32. @andy
    Have you no idea how dangerous that cycling shit is? Much better to ride (gently down a cycle path) to the local coffee shop on a sunny Saturday morning and compare the smoothness of ones guns and engaging in some light hearted one-upmanship about who’s got the lightest bell.

    Incidentally, if you’d spent more than a cursory five minutes forming your opinion of the place you’d have noticed that the general attitude towards Cav has changed in the last twelve months.

  33. Time-travel bump.

    Anybody have any strong positive or negative feelings about polarized lenses?  I have use polarized exclusively for years, but that’s ’cause up ’til now I’ve bought eyewear for flyfishing first and everything else second.  Now I’m looking for some rule-compliant eyewear and am wondering if this feature matters to anyone.

  34. @PeakInTwoYears

    Time-travel bump.

    Anybody have any strong positive or negative feelings about polarized lenses? I have use polarized exclusively for years, but that’s ’cause up ’til now I’ve bought eyewear for flyfishing first and everything else second. Now I’m looking for some rule-compliant eyewear and am wondering if this feature matters to anyone.

    I have two pair of Jawbones that I use to run or ride. One pair with polarized lenses and one with standards. I strongly prefer the polarized lenses. My eyes seem to fatigue much less while being out in the sun for hours on end. They take a bit of the bite out of the reflections from the road, car windows, etc. I wouldn’t go nearly as far to say the Jawbones are crap with standard lenses, just not the quality you would expect.


  35. Hey, Stig, thanks for the input. What went unstated in my post was that polarized lenses make it hard for me to do non-rule-based shit like look at the topo app on my smartphone when MTBing and (sorry) using the music app sometimes when road riding alone out here at the Ass End of God.

    Having since then picked up a pair of old M Frames with non-polarized lenses for a song, I completely agree about the difference. But for much of what I’m doing on the MTB, I’ll take the ability to read the screen on my phone.

  36. @PeakInTwoYears I really like polarized lenses. I just bought new nose pieces for my Oakley Flak Jackets and also some non-polarized clear lenses for night riding.

    Their polarized Iridium lenses have worked well for 90% of the situations I’ve been in and I feel that I don’t need the super dark lenses that I had on my Smith glasses previously.

  37. @PeakInTwoYears

    Ahhh, I gotcha. I totally understand that. I use a Garmin 800 on my bike and DO have issues with the polarized lenses when looking at the Garmin on really sunny days. I should have mentioned that! My apologies.


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