Triathletes spend a serious amount of time on the bike and protecting your eyes from the sun and debris is a must. Sport sunglasses have come a long way and continue to add specific features. One feature that triathletes benefit from is lenses designed specifically for riding in the aero position. As you tuck your head down and peer out of the tops of your eyes the frames of many sunglasses impede your vision. At best you’re constantly pushing them up, at worst you’re putting yourself and others in danger. Here’s a look at two sunglasses specifically designed for better vision when tucked in the aerobars.
Oakley Tour De France RadarLock XL Straight Stem ($240, Oakley.com)
The Oakley RadarLock XL Straight Stem is a larger version of the RadarLock. The XL denotes that there is an extra seven millimeters of lens, pushing the frame up higher. The extra lens height means that when you put your head down you have a clear view. The straight stems are another slight differentiation from the RadarLocks. By straightening out the slight bow in the RadarLock, the Straight Stem models fit slightly closer and better under helmet straps. Also provided are two different nose pieces to further customize where the sunglasses lie on your face. Oakley also includes two lenses, an Iridium and G40, both vented. The Iridium is meant for bright days while the G40 is better in cloudy conditions. Swapping out lenses is now super easy as the RadarLock uses the SwitchLock system. Fold in the arm and a small slider appears. Push the slider back and the frame will release with ease. Slide in the new lens and it will pop in securely. Like all Oakley sport sunnies these feature their Unubtanium rubber for the nose piece and along the stems. Just in time for the 100th edition of the Tour De France, Oakley released two special Tour De France versions, one white and one black, both with blue, white and red accents inspired by the French national flag. The Tour De France logo is also etched into the lower right lens and they come with a special yellow TdF microfiber cleaner bag.
On the road I came to appreciate the extra seven millimeters of lens. I’ve worn the RadarLocks and I was often bothered by the frame being in my view. The XL fixes this issue. Even when I’m on my road bike in a less aggressive position I prefer the XL option. With the extra lens, the frame sits higher and kept my vision clear. When on the tri bike the advantage is even greater. No longer was I pushing sunglasses higher or trying to look over the frame. For the majority of my riding I used the wider of the two nose bridges with comfort. If you have an upright position or a broader nose, the wider option will be a good choice. If you have a narrower nose bridge or ride in an aggressive position with a low head, the narrower nose piece will be a revelation for you. The straight stems are also a noticeable difference from the standard RadarLock, especially when wearing a close fitting aero helmet.
The lenses are incredibly clear. The bright sun of Colorado can be intense, but the Iridium lens kept the rays out of my eyes. The G40 lens was a nice option for the cloudier days and it’s a pretty good do-it-all lens in its own right. The larger lens surface also offers extra protection from the wind and elements. The three vent slots on each side help to bring in some air flow. This cools you a bit and keeps the lenses from fogging up. On the head, these feel light but secure. The ear stems don’t have much flex to them but I never experienced any pressure points along the temple. The Unobtanium rubber is amazing at becoming more tacky as you sweat.
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