The ability to see clearly is the most important aspect of riding a motorcycle. Oakley recognizes this that’s why it created the Airbrake MX Goggle. Released earlier this year, the Airbrake is Oakley’s top-of-the-line goggle designed for riders and racers seeking the best performing off-road eye protection made.
With a price tag of $160 the Airbrake is easily the most expensive motocross goggle made today. To put that in perspective, you could purchase two sets of its older-generation Mayhem ($80) or Crowbar ($70) goggles for around the same price. Put these Oakley’s over your helmet and the first thing you notice is the giant field of view. The lens’s surface is substantially larger than other brand’s offerings allowing you to see more of what’s ahead especially when you’re standing in the attack position with your head over the handlebar. Another big plus is the greater peripheral range which helps keep you alert to the surroundings especially when racing handlebar-to-handlebar.
The Airbrake uses a conventional elastic adjustable strap with silicone on the inside keeping it in place against the backside of the helmet shell. The shape of the frame is compatible with the eye ports of some, but not all helmet brands. It fit Troy Lee Design’s SE3 helmets the best but also worked well on Fox’s V4 and Shoei’s VFX-W. However, it doesn’t mesh too well with TLD’s Air lid or Thor’s Quadrant helmet. The biggest issue is getting the frame to seat right within the eye port. If it doesn’t, dirt and debris will get past the foam and into the goggles. Tightening the elastic strap certainly helps but the goggles can only get so tight as the shell of some helmets keeps the goggle from form-fitting the rider’s face.
When seated properly the foam does a pretty good job of absorbing sweat and condensation during the course of a moto. It doesn’t soak up all moisture and can leave traces of sweat on the inside of the lens after a ride necessitating a wipe down before riding again.
The Airbrake uses an injection-molded plastic lens similar its line of sunglasses. Available in a variety of tints ($25 and up), the material provides adequate impact protection from rocks thrown up by knobby tires as well as other obstacles, including tree branches and mud encountered on tracks and trails. There’s also a clever roll-off system for use in wet or muddy conditions though we haven’t had a chance to put it to use yet.
Having raced with the goggles a few times, we’ve yet to encounter any object that can put a dent in the lens. Though in order to keep the lens from getting worn out it’s important to run tear-offs ($15) as the lens can be scratched and pitted relatively easily. Removing the lens for cleaning is a snap courtesy of the plastic levers on either side of the frame.
- Huge field of view
- Excellent impact protection
- Easy to care for and clean
- Not compatible with all helmets
- Foam could absorb sweat better
Durability-wise the goggles are holding together after nine-months of regular use. We occasionally wash them in a washing machine, with regular detergent, allowing them to air dry after. While we love the huge field of view, protection from flying debris, and ease of care, the lens is extremely susceptible to scratches, and occasionally dirt can get inside the lens if you’re not careful putting the goggles on.