Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses review – there's a reason we all want Oakley sunnies
Excellent clarity, terrific adaptation to differing light, and incredibly lightweight
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Oakley may not offer ability to swap any other lenses into this frame, but when the photochromic performance is as exceptional as it is here – adapting so quickly and strongly to differing light conditions – that really doesn't matter so much.
No fogging up
Secure and comfortable fit
adjustable nose pads
No replacement lens
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Cyclists are just meant to like Oakley sunglasses, right?
It’s a thing, a feeling we’re meant to have. We know they’ll set us back a few notes, and we know there are other manufacturers which rival Oakley’s products, but think of cycling sunglasses and we’re all drawn towards the big American brand with the oval squashed O as their logo.
Being a reviewer, however, it’s as much my job to examine both the positives and negatives of a product. As soon as I took the Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses out of their protective case, I was immediately looking for things I didn’t like.
I didn’t see any.
After the period of testing, I’m still searching for things I don’t like about the Oakley EV Zero Blades, and it says a lot that what I’ve written down in the against column is more to do with what the glasses don’t have.
The clarity is outstandingly high. The fit is superb. And even though they’re not quite as big as today’s fashion tells us glasses should be, they would score top marks on whatever the equivalent is of a sunglasses catwalk.
The Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses are easily the some of the best cycling sunglasses for those looking for sunnies that adapt well to changing light conditions.
Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses: construction
The most striking thing about the EV Zero Blades is that it is a frameless design, held together between the arms and the lenses by a single piece of black plastic.
My initial fear was the lack of a frame - though certainly stylish - would result in the glasses having too much flex in them, but that was allied as soon as I flexed the arms. They adjust and bend to the shape of your head, but retain their sturdiness and never once felt flimsy.
I tested the clear to black iridium photochromic glasses, lenses that use Oakley’s in-house high definition optics technology that Oakley claims automatically adjusts to changing UV light exposure. The adjustable nose pad, meanwhile, features a very soft and forgiving plastic coating which rests well on top of the nose and is designed to aid venting and to reduce a fogging up of the lens.
Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses: the ride
It’s a prerequisite for any glasses that the optical sharpness is on point, but I was stunned by just how great the clarity of the EV Zero Blades were. It was terrific to the point that I spent a good proportion of one ride removing them for the fun of it, and struggling to notice the difference with or without the glasses.
The clear lenses are primarily designed for use in the shoulder and winter months, for when there is considerable cloud cover or even rain. I can attest that they were certainly great in such conditions (although I never got to test them in heavy rain), but what impressed me most was how they adapted to changing light conditions.
On one such ride the sun appeared unexpectedly and I rode the final hour in bright conditions that really warranted summer sunglasses. It would have been nice to have had the option of changing the lenses, but the EV Zero Blades responded superbly to the increased amount of light.
The frameless design is not just a tick in the fashion box, but it has its riding advantages, too. I’ve often found that when down in the drops and pushing hard, my upper view can be slightly obstructed by the upper frame of the sunglasses. The absence of any plastic sitting on top of the lenses, however, meant that this simply cannot be an issue with the EV Zero Blades.
When this range was first introduced to the market several years ago, Oakley boasted that they were the “lightest performance sunglasses in history”. I’m unsure if that claim stands the test in 2022, but I can certainly confirm that they mimic a feather. I rarely ever even realised they were on my face.
That’s both a testament to the minimal weight as it is to the comfortable, secure fit. There was no digging into my temple, no pressing against my skin, and the glasses stayed exactly where I wanted them to.
The only time that I did have to readjust the glasses was during one morning ride when I had a very minor stuffy nose, and I could sometimes feel the weight of the glasses putting pressure on my nasal passages. It didn't cause me too much discomfort, but it did alert me that when feeling under the weather it’s probably best to sit the glasses a little further down my nose.
Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses: value and conclusion
As mentioned above, I’ve struggled to find much to be critical of. The clear Oakley EV Zero Blades are an excellent shoulder season and winter pair of sunglasses that not only keep the dust and grit out of your eyes, but offer unobstructed viewing, and clarity that is so good it took me a while to really believe it.
It didn’t matter if I was riding on a bumpy or smooth piece of road, the glasses stayed in place. Neither was it a concern that they would steam or fog up, ensuring that perfect clarity and vision was guaranteed at all times.
They’re most certainly not the cheapest on the market at $224 / £180 - Endura's Dorado II sunglasses cost considerably less at $139/£99, as do the highly-rated dhb Vector photochromatic lens ($120/£90).
But the Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses remain one of the best. I understand now more than ever why cyclists are just meant to like Oakley.
Oakley EV Zero Blades photochromic sunglasses: specs
- Price: £180, €206, $224
- Colours: Clear to black iridium photochromic lenses, prizm black, matte black, prizm sapphire, prizm multicoloured road
- Sizes: universal fit
- Website: oakley.com
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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