Everything is cyclic. Lairy fluoro came back, tan-wall tyres came back, suspension on road bikes came back, and now big-ass sunglasses a la Andy Hampsten and Greg LeMond have come back. There is nothing new under the sun, which these Oakley Flight Jackets have been expressly designed to be under.
Whys and wherefores
I’m going to jump straight in here and ask the question you probably think every time you see a new pair of shades being released and reviewed. What’s the point? Or moreover, why should I care?
With the Flight Jackets the answer is ‘Yes’, there is more here than just another pair of sunnies in a different shape. These are better than your average glasses in (almost) every way.
First, the lenses. Oaklet’s Prizm lenses are honestly second to none. Rudy Project do some fantastic photochromatic lenses, Smith do lenses with fantastically wide coverage, but Oakley’s Prizm lenses genuinely improve vision on the bike; they are better than just the naked eye for clarity. That isn’t just marketing gumph.
They have been tuned (no, seriously) to augment certain colours and filter others using ‘hyperpectral imaging’, which apparently satellites use to better see things from space.
On a road bike it means the sharpness of a road surface is increased noticeably, and I could really see more detail with the Flight Jackets on than off, which in theory means I react quicker to things, eg patches of gravel, errant stones, tyre-deflecting sticks.
It’s along the lines of the way reaction times slow as light fades. The more you can see in the greater detail, the better chance you have of reacting to it in time.
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Oakley has also chosen to boost blues and greens (hyperspectral imaging basically means filtering some wave lengths of light in order to make other stand out more), which gives everything a dreamy Instagram filter look.
Not all riders will like that aspect of course, but Prizm lenses certainly make dull days look more inviting, and bright days feel like a movie. Prizm lenses are available on a host of cheap Oakley glasses, not just the Flight Jackets, and come in a variety of types for different sports, including Prizm Fishing, which Oakley alleges boost ‘green and coopers hues that define hiding spots’.
Those carp ain’t got a chance. So maybe just get some Prizm lenses for your current Oakleys, which is quite possible. But, the Flight Jackets have more to offer than any pair of replica Oakleys – or cycling sunglasses – I’ve ever tried.