Oakley Encoder sunglasses review

Excellent lens clarity and contrast, they’re a comfortable and secure option if the futuristic design is for you

Image shows the Oakley Encoder sunglasses
(Image credit: Charlotte Broughton)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Encoder glasses are a solid option for anyone in the market who’s after versatility coupled with a quirky design. The Prizm lens technology is as excellently contrast enhancing as ever, whilst the frameless design and jaunty cut of the lens plays nicely with helmets and high cheekbones. The downsides are the price and the inability to swap lenses.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Produce a really good contrast

  • +

    Enhance colours in the environment well

  • +

    Great to use for cycling as well as other activities

  • +

    Offer great coverage of the face and eyes

  • +

    Very comfortable to wear

  • +

    High quality feel

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Can’t change the lenses thus have to buy new glasses for different lens options

  • -

    Finish on the side of the lens looks a little messy

  • -

    More expensive than other competitors

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The Oakley Encoders are a set of futuristic-looking multi-sport sunglasses and share a few handful of design cues with the more head-turning Kato sunglasses – most notably the flared lens around the nose bridge.

Although this specific model of the Encoders is equipped with the Prizm Road lens (which is used across all of Oakley’s best cycling glasses), there are other lens options available which have been designed for usage across a range of sports – boosting the Encoders versatility.

Image shows the Oakley Encoder sunglasses

(Image credit: Charlotte Broughton)

Oakley Encoder sunglasses: construction

The Oakley Encoder glasses are quite simple in their design, being essentially just a lens with an arm on each side. This lends the glasses a weightless feel and is in keeping with the current trend for more minimalist frames.

To keep the sunnies in their place, Oakley has used its grippy and time-proven ‘Unobtainium’ earsocks and nose pad - they come with three different nose pads to suit different noses for a tailored, secure fit. 

As mentioned, the lenses (or, really, just ‘lens’) here are Oakley’s Prizm Road. Whereas some sunglasses only aim to provide a little shade for your eyes, the Prizm lens is designed to heighten the contrasts and actually make it easier to pick out imperfections in the road surface than without them.

If you’ve not tried them, you might be raising one eyebrow at this. But all we can say is if you have the opportunity, do really test out a set – you’ll be surprised at how you see.

Oakley Encoder sunglasses: the ride

Image shows the Oakley Encoder sunglasses

(Image credit: Charlotte Broughton)

The shape of the Encoders was spot on for me. Due to not having a big bulky frame sitting around the lens, I had no troubles with the glasses not sitting flush with my helmet – a perpetual source of irritation with some other models.

Moreover, I also found that the cut of the lenses allowed for my high cheekbones which have, at times, been a cause of concern regarding the fit when trying to find glasses with bigger lenses for extra protection. Luckily though, the lenses on the Encoders have been shaped in such a way that means they sit comfortably on top of my cheekbones.

Oakley’s ‘Unobtainium’ earsocks and nose pad were also really grippy, and proved to reliably keep the glasses in place while they were on my face. They were also grippy enough to ensure they stayed in place when stowed away in my helmet vents. This feature is particularly useful while racing, so you don’t have to waste time fighting with your helmet and glasses to keep them paired with one another.

Image shows the Oakley Encoder sunglasses

(Image credit: Charlotte Broughton)

Regarding the lens, Oakley’s Prizm technology was excellent as ever. It was as if my eyes had been upgraded to high definition. Colours and contrasts were enhanced, which definitely helped highlight details when riding under shadows and for texture change on the road. I also wore them in slightly brighter light than their usage recommends and, to my surprise, they still did a great job of protecting my eyes from the harsh sun.

It wasn’t just riding I ended up using these glasses for – they became a firm favourite for driving and out walking as well. In my opinion the Oakley Encoders are every bit cool as they are practical. I also really liked how well protected my eyes were from the elements thanks to the extended wrap lenses, which is definitely vital if you are like me and wear contact lenses.

But not being able to change the lenses was their main drawback.

Oakley Encoder sunglasses: value and conclusion

Image shows the Oakley Encoder sunglasses

(Image credit: Charlotte Broughton)

Regarding the price and given the versatility, technology and high quality feel of the Encoder glasses, I feel that the RRP of $255.00 / £210.00 is reasonable with regards to value for money – although I do appreciate that this RRP is higher than some of their competitors. 

100%’s S3 cycling sunglasses cost $185 / £199. Although they aren’t frameless, the huge lens does offer almost limitless vision, and the fit is excellent too. 

That said, considering Oakley has been a heavyweight in the sunglasses industry for a long time, you’re paying not only for the technology, but the name as well. In all, the Encoder glasses are a solid option for anyone in the market for style and quality but who also wants versatility coupled with a quirky design. 

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