Oakley Radarlock XL review
The Oakley Radarlock XL review will be quite similar to the Radarlock Path review since the Oakley Radarlock XLs are very similar to the Oakley Radarlocks in quite a few ways.
Oakley Australia very kindly sent me some Polished White Oakley Radarlocks with Jade Iridium lens and second Yellow lens – both vented.
About the only main differences between the Radarlock Paths I reviewed and Radarlock XLs are the bigger lenses.
I do like the fact that the glasses ship with low light lenses which will really suit people at normal latitudes, where winter light at 6.30AM is very very dark.
Where I live, near Byron Bay (sub tropical) latitudes, the winter light at 6.30AM is so bright that there is no need for lights, so the second lens is pretty much superfluous to my requirements (and you avoid riding country roads at night unless lit up like the White House Christmas Tree).
In any case, for places like Melbourne, London and similar places in winter, the second lenses will be super useful.
If you are on the mailing list you'd have seen my hopefully respectful yet humorous introduction to this review which touched upon the Australian SAS's use of Oakleys. Join in the hilarity here.
Here's proof – Australian SASR member and Victoria Cross and Medal of Gallantry recipient Ben Roberts-Smith. (Read the incredible story of his actions that led to the awarding of his VC here.)
Do you think a man capable of these actions would tolerate some $20 milkbar sunnies? (That might be a rhetorical question.)
The Oakley Switchlock technology is a great idea.
Allowing simple, easy lens switching is a good idea given that many of Oakley's sunglasses now ship with spare lenses.
In the past, you basically needed to wrangle your lenses out, which Oakley says leads to lens distortions and as a consequence, sub-optimal optics.
The lenses are swapped out by closing the left arm (the left side, as you wear the glasses), releasing a hinge, and popping the lenses out (more on this later).
Initially, the Switchlock is a bit fiddly as the instructions don't make it 100% clear how to pop the lenses out. To be fair, it's hard to properly convey the process via drawings (I made a quick video, see below).
Here's how to do it.
After releasing the lock (which is easy), you need to squeeze the plastic part of the nose bridge together lightly at the end (i.e. where the gap is the widest). Then, move the nose bridge flange (that comes out in front of the lens to hold it in place) to behind the lens. Do that on both sides of the nose bridge and the lens should come clear.
It's a little bid fiddlier than I expected, and you might get some fingerprints on your lenses until you become accustomed to it at which point it becomes a simple process – probably not as simple as Racing Jackets (read my Oakley Racing Jacket review).
Here's a quick video I made, showing how to do it.
I know I bang on about it, but the quality of every pair of Oakleys I've owned is top notch.
Again I will pull out the SASR – would they use inferior quality equipment?
No, dear reader, they would not.
Like I said, if the Australian SAS Regiment reckon Oakleys are the good enough for deployment, then they are good enough for me.
These are light but feel very robust.
I've seen a few comments before about Oakley nose assemblies (aka “nose bombs”).
Some people liked the plastic-only construction of the Jawbone nose bombs (this is now fixed on the Jawbone replacement Racing Jackets – read my Oakley Racing Jacket review), and others like the rubber nose-bomb inserts present on the Radars, Radarlocks, M Frames and others.
I'm in two minds here.
On one hand, the rubber stops the glasses slipping down the nose.
On the other hand, the rubber nose bombs have a tendency to become looser over time (through the pulling-off action when you take the glasses off, and other travails of sunglasses-wearing action) and can fall off. I reckon I have lost about half a dozen nose bombs from my M Frames – they are expensive to replace.
However, Oakley seem to have addressed that issue with a new design with better hooks on the nose bomb assembly. It's actually hard to remove the rubber nose bombs now (which is a good thing).
Since using these quite a bit in hot and humid (i.e. sweaty) conditions, they appear to be holding up well.
The Radarlock Path XLs fit my head perfectly (I am a M size helmet). They're light, will fit a range of head sizes (the arms are slightly flexy) and they just get out of the way (a function of really great design).
The big lenses might touch your cheeks if you've been eating too many donuts and are a bit muffin-mannish (“I'm on a rest month” I hear you decry. The sh#t cyclists say, is my snorted retort!)
An important consideration for cycling sunglasses is unobstructed vision.
I really like Radars because they provide great unobstructed vision, especially when quickly shoulder checking.
They're particularly good in spring time, when one needs unimpeded vision whilst riding through the local magpie alley, to keep a lookout for these pesky blighters, who can mount extremely effective aerial attacks.
With the Oakley Racing Jackets for instance, because of the thick lens frame, I find the bottom (bottom right for right eye, and bottom left for left eye) peripheral view is obstructed when quickly flicking a look over your shoulder. Obviously this is potentially problematic in races, and for keeping an eye out for nasty magpies, but for casual rides isn't such an issue.
The Radarlocks XLs have no such problem and offer clear unobstructed peripheral views.
Straight-on optics are beautiful with clear and crisp vision and of course reduced light transmission.
I live on the far north coast of NSW near Byron Bay with lots of sun glare, so these particular lenses are great, even in winter.
Dappled light (i.e. as I move through shadow/light in forests) is an issue but that would be the same for any set of sunglasses.
Fitting the helmet
An all important thing I like to check is “do these fit in the helmet vents?”. We all know how EuroPro it is to wack our sunnies on our helmets (upside down – just like the pros) as we charge uphill or cruise for a coffee. These fit in the vents on a Specialized SWorks 2D in much the same manner as standard Radarlocks.
I didn't snap a pic of the Radarlock XLs on my helmet but they've a similar footprint to standard Radar Paths and Radarlock Paths (VeloNomad Oakley Radarlock Path review), so, if you have Paths and they fit your helmet, then you'll be sweet.
Judging by the number of pros wearing them now, and the many-varied types of helmets, and pros' propensity to wear them upside down in their vents, you'll be fine fitting these into most helmets (maybe not with the crazy Catlike Whispers).
When you pull them out of the vents, or put them in, the arms have a bit of give, so there's little chance of them snapping.
Downhill cold wind test
There's a steep hill near my place that's perfect for testing whether sunglasses prevent high-speed (i.e. 80km/h+), wind-induced, watery eyes. This is important because if you're heading over to Europe to the big mountains, you want sunnies that prevent watery eyes on the fast (fast!) descents (Ventoux, 90km/h).
The results of my testing were excellent: pretty much water-free eyeballs. In fact these are pretty much the most effective sunglasses at preventing watery eyes out of any sunnies I have tested.
In other words: these will largely prevent tears on a Galibier descent (unless you are crying in fear).
Lens and frame options
As always, there are a bevy of lens and frame options, including my favourite: polarized vented lenses.
For me, vented lenses are essential in summer as it's pretty humid where I live, and there is a lot of climbing through becalmed rain forests.
And for folks in colder climes, they're handy when doing early morning rides in cold weather; when you stop at traffic lights, the propensity for the lenses to fog is reduced.
I also consider polarized lenses a MUST where I ride in northern NSW – the light in summer is harsh and the Polarized lenses are great for the eyes.
I will be brutally honest here: these are not Oakley's best-looking glasses.
When I think of things of beauty, I think Mont Ventoux, a Specialized Roubaix, a perfect 3 foot left hander barrel and sparkling ocean.
The Radarlock XL lenses are like big bug eyes.
But to be honest, I couldn't care less – they keep the wind and bloody insects out of my eyes, so that is good.
As with most Oakley sport sunglasses, these are great value in terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
As I've said before, Oakley sunglasses should last you 5-10 years, so really, they're very cheap.
They can be had for around AUD$300, and only slightly cheaper if you look around.
Spare lens (yellow vented in this case), Oakley Vault hard case, spare nose bomb, great warranty and hands down best cycling sunnies going around = great value.
Oakley Radarlock XL Review Summary
The Oakley Radarlock XLs are practical, high quality cycling sunglasses.
They're light, robust, flex a bit (great for cyclists) and have amazing optics (as always).
Whether you want them for racing or coffee shop runs, you can't go wrong with these.
About the only thing you need to worry about is which combination to choose, and whether to buy the Radarlock XLs or Radarlock Paths.
The Radarlock Paths look better but for me the Radarlock XLs are more practical and better suited for what I want.
Where to buy
You can buy these at your local bike shop or local dealer. Remember, supporting your local shop and dealer makes it easier for you if something goes wrong.
They're also available online at loads of places, but you can get them pretty cheap (with free shipping) at:
- Chain Reaction Cycles
- Evans Cycles
- [easyazon_link keywords=”Oakley radarlock XL” locale=”US” tag=”velonomad2-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link]
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Thanks for the review. Really helpful as I’m considering of getting one myself. But I have a question here, are the lens of Radarlock XL interchangeable with Radarlock Path lens? In other words, can Radarlock XL frames take Radarlock Path lens? Thanks in advance.
Mike, not sure so I have asked the good folks at Oakley. Stay tuned!
Mike, not interchangeable!