Oakley Airbrake MX Goggle w/ Clear Lens
- Race-Ready roll-off System (optional)
- Switchlock technology locks lens in place
- Low-profile frame
- Injection-molded Plutonite lens
- UVA, UVB, UVC, and harmful blue light up to 400nm
- Flow-Coat Anti-Fog coating
- Integrated tear-off posts
- Meets impact requirements based on ANSI Z87.1 and EN 1938:2010 standards
- 7-pack of Oakley laminated tear-offs included
- 2-pack of Oakley lens protector shields included
Duration of Test: About 2 months
Locations of Test: Whistler, Whitefish, Fernie, Big Sky
Prior to trying the Oakley Airbrake, almost every biking goggle I’d used was more or less identical. I’ve had Scott, Spy, Thor, and a few other brands of motocross goggles, and each uses roughly the same lens attached in roughly the same manner. The lenses are a semi-soft plastic material that attaches to a relatively flexible frame via a groove that’s lined with little pegs.
That system has two big flaws:
1) The lenses are a pain in the ass to swap out.
2) The soft lens material scratches easily.
The Airbrake system solves both of these issues—the lens is very durable and easy to replace.
The Airbrake goggle has a rigid lens that’s made from the same material, called Plutonite, that Oakley uses in many of their sunglasses.
(In case you were wondering, plutonite is a name for rocks that form at high temperatures and at high pressures. As a category, it includes rocks like granite—don’t say that you never learned anything on Blister.)
The Plutonite lenses are injection molded in a process that supposedly makes them stronger, clearer, and more impact resistant. Based on YouTube videos of people shooting Plutonite lenses with a shotgun, it does appear that the lenses can withstand a beating.
Most other motocross goggle lenses (including non-Airbrake Oakleys), use fairly thin Lexan lenses that are very similar from brand to brand. These Lexan lenses are inexpensive and have relatively good optical clarity, but they’re not particularly impact resistant. And since they’re not rigid, it’s tougher to make an easy-to-use “quick swap” system.
- Swapping out the lens
It’s very easy to swap out lenses on the Airbrake.
The lens attaches via two pegs on either side of the goggle frame, and then is secured by two simple clips. Because the Plutonite lens is rigid, it doesn’t require any further attachment points. This system works really well, and it makes me wonder why I’ve been bothering with the other crappy options for so long…
With my old Thor MX goggles, it took me a little under two minutes to remove the lens and then reinstall it. With the Airbrake, it takes me about 20 seconds to carry out the same procedure. It’s even easy to swap out the lens with gloves on.
Check out this video from Oakley for a detailed explanation of how to remove and replace the lens.
I don’t switch out my lens very often for summer riding—I run a clear lens at all times. With the Airbrake, however, I’ll remove the lens fairly often to clean it. Especially on a muddy or wet ride, it’s much easier to get the lens clean if I pop it out of the frame. I never did that with other goggles because the lenses are so difficult to reinstall.
If you’re the type of person who changes lenses a lot or is very particular about your lens color, there are a few options available for the Airbrake: Clear, Dark Grey, Black Iridium, Fire Iridium, Iridium, Jade Iridium, Dual Clear, Dual Persimmon. The replacement lenses cost between $25 and $45.
Since the Airbrake’s lens is built out of a stiffer, harder plastic, I’ve found that it doesn’t scratch near as easily as the Lexan goggle lenses.
I treat my goggles with a pretty casual level of respect: I clean them with dirty T-shirts while sitting on the chairlift; I toss them in the back seat of the car; I clean mud off by spitting on them and wiping them with whatever piece of cloth happens to be handy.
With regular motocross lenses, my poor maintenance habits mean that my lenses get scratched very quickly. I’ve treated the Airbrake lens with the same (lack of) respect, yet it’s still virtually perfect after a couple months of use.