The clarity of Prizm lenses, unobtrusive frame of Radar and cool looks to boot - all with a fit now suited to small faces. Not much to fault, really.
Clarity of Prizm lenses
Clear view with zero obstruction
"A mile stone in the heritage of performance is now available for youth," Oakley says. It doesn't mention that the introduction of youth fit cycling glasses in Oakley's Radar style also means that the same standard is available for adults who just happen to be bestowed with small faces.
>>> Best cycling glasses
Most of Oakley's glasses are available in standard fit, and 'Asia fit'; but the latter isn't as easy to get hold of from mainstream retailers in the UK. That means that in the past the small face brigade (and, I suppose, the actual youth contingent) has generally been forced to stick within a limited range of models.
Up until recently, I've worn Oakley's Youth Fit Quarter Jacket Prizms. The Prizm lens is excellent, but the shape wouldn't be my first choice, bucking current fashion trends in being a bit bug-like (let's call it "understated") in style and failing to offer the distraction free wrap around fit of the Radars. And so, it has been with much jealousy that I've oggled the glasses of my buddies on club runs - until now.
I've tried 'adult' standard Radar glasses, but they just interfere with my helmet, take up half my face and feel like they'll fall off if I lean forwards.
Oakley Radar EV Path Youth Fit Sunglasses construction
The Radar EV's are award winning - taking a position in our 2017 Editor's Choice awards. The one-piece lens means that there's no frame interference with the rider's view of the road - giving a panoramic picture of the outside world from behind the safety of your glasses.
The lens in question uses Oakley's High Definition Optics - this promises optical clarity, "visual fidelity" and impact resistance. It's a Prizm lens, well known for offering unrivalled performance thanks to colours which are tuned to maximise contrast, making obstacles and road imperfections easier to spot.
The fit is 'specifically engineered to fit youth faces' - with Unobtainium earsocks and nosepads designed to increase grip, even when you sweat.
I measured the width of the youth glasses as 14.5cm hinge to hinge, compared to 15.5cm for the standard model - the difference is quite clear when the two are placed next to each other.
Oakley Radar EV Path Youth Fit Sunglasses - the ride
I put the glasses to their first test over the course of a 70 mile road race in the worst conditions I've even raced in. It rained from mile zero to the end and I rarely put my nose into the wind, so it's fair to say there was a lot of spray involved.
Initial impressions were that the frame fit was absolutely spot on - there was no notable gap between helmet and glasses, but the two didn't interfere with each other either. The nose piece sat perfectly - though it can be removed/replaced but can't be adjusted.
When I first put them on, the lens was crystal clear - and on race day remained so for about 40 miles in consistent rain.
The clarity lasted until about 50 miles in the steaming rain - at which point a large drop of muddy water made its way onto the inside. I had nothing clean on my whereabouts to wipe it with so I decided the grit of going glasses free was a more friendly option. But that was always going to happen at some point. If it had been a normal ride I would have been able to wipe them with something clean and continue in comfort and clarity.
Testing the glasses on more sedate rides, I found they remained clear, even in damp conditions. There was some fogging when I stopped, but it was never necessary to wipe it away - as soon as I began moving again the mist would clear, I expect thanks to venting at the top of the lens.
In the sunlight, which admittedly has been limited so far this year, the Prizm lenses perform excellently. I'd say that whilst they work well enough in low light conditions, they're more suited to sunny days where they ensure that obstacles are easy to pick out and your eyes remain shaded from the rays.
Gaps around the top of the lens did trap quite a bit of grit and dirt. However, this is easy to remove with some handy q-tips (the best invention ever for bike cleaners with a touch of OCD) and of course the lens can be removed for a proper clean.
Got a small face? We've got good news for you: you can go VAT free.
The standard Oakley Radar EV Path Prizm glasses come in at £155, but the youth fit version carries an RRP of £120 (shop around and you'll pay less).
Over £100 may seem like a lot for a pair of glasses, but considering they can be worn in all conditions and will therefore be your partner on almost every ride, it's not a lot.
The lens is the most important element of a pair of glasses, and Oakley's Prizm technology really does stand head and shoulders above other options on the market in terms of clarity; improved vision is something worth paying for.
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