- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 23 September 2013
I’m very glad that Oakley didn’t go with maillot jaune yellow for their Tour de France collection, though there is a subtle nod towards le Grande Boucle in the French flag inspired colour scheme. Two pairs of centenary Tour de France edition Oakley sunglasses, Fuel Cells and Half Jacket 2.0 XLs, arrived at BNA headquarters during the tour and I’ve been giving them a solid trial since then.
Having recently reviewed the Oakley Radar Lock Path for BNA, I was keen to try these new glasses; the black Fuel Cells have a more attractive look than the Half Jacket 2.0s (in my opinion, anyway) and these ‘sporting style’ sunnies are cheaper than the Radar Lock Paths. The presentation of both sunglasses was basic; they come in a soft pouch rather than a hard case, though as special edition sunnies, the Tour de France theme was featured on the pouch. The black wrap-around Fuel sunglasses looked great with subtle colouring on the side in the Oakley O with silver/black cyclist graphics and tiny ‘le tour’ logo etching on the bottom edge of the lens. The Half Jacket also had an etching on the lens and a more obvious blue rubber coating on the arms.
Both glasses feature darker lenses called “Black Iridium” that have UV filtering and the good visibility that you would expect from Oakley eye wear. If you cycle in darker conditions, the Half Jacket lenses are changeable and I recommend taking time to chose the lens most suited for your riding conditions, though the specially etched Tour de France edition lenses only come in Black Iridium.
The Look and the Fit
Style is subjective, but then again, so is the fit. The Fuel Cells were a close fit for me, though I could feel the bridge on my forehead, which is not a good sign, as I will explain later. I was hoping that the black Fuel Cells would be a bit like the full-rimmed Oakley Racing Jacket sunglasses, which I had tried before, as they looked good both with and without a helmet. The Fuel Cells were, however, a little too short (in height) for my face to be able to wear as fashion sunnies off the bike, so for me it would have to be all about the cycling performance for these glasses.
The Oakley Fuel Cell Tour de France edition sunglasses
The Half Jacket glasses, in contrast, were light and comfortable but, in my opinion, this style of sporting sunnies is strictly for biking and shouldn’t be worn in “public” – it just doesn’t seem right.
The Oakley Half Jacke XL 2.0 Tour de France edition sunglasses
I took both sunglasses with me for a ride and started out with the black Fuel Cells. Visibility was good for full rimmed sunglasses and I wasn’t distracted by the frame. Picking up a steady pace after I escaped suburbia, I got onto the faster riding route where wind became a problem, the windflow onto my eyes was distracting. I adjusted the frames without relief and also got a slight fog build up in the corners, though this wasn’t cause for concern… yet. Heading anti-clockwise along the well known Akuna Bay route in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney’s north, I started the first gentle climb and, while the slower pace saw the wind issue stop, fog build up was distracting and it wouldn’t clear.
At the top of the climb, at the West Head Road turn-off, I swapped over to the Half Jackets which immediately felt lighter and less confining. On the next long descent right down to the water, the temperature can drop a few degrees, particularly in cooler months, which makes this a good way to test for fogging. The Half-Jackets thankfully remained clear and for the remainder of the ride were simply good sunglasses; they were comfortable, they didn’t let the wind in, and though slight fogging did appear in the upper inside corners, it didn’t grow and distract while riding.
Sunglasses are like a bike seat…
I tried the Fuel Cell glasses again on another ride without any improvement. Sunglasses are a bit like bike seats, one-size does not fit all. While the Oakley Fuel Cells were not a good match for me and my riding, I would be reluctant to discount them for every rider. If you have enough space between the bridge and forehead, and the right shaped face, you may not have the fog and wind issues I experienced and it is likely that they will look cooler on you than they do on me.
The Half Jackets, on the other hand, became regular riding glasses for me and are the ones that I can more easily recommend – if your budget doesn’t stretch as fair as the Radar Lock Paths, then these are the ones to get. Where the Radar Lock Path sunglasses really out-perform the Half Jackets is fog dissipation, as they have extra cut-outs in the lenses that let the air out and are really helpful when you stop at traffic lights, where I find sunnies can really get steamed up. The Radar Lock Path sunnies also have a little more space between the top of the frame and my forehead, which is more comfortable for longer rides.
The Half Jacket 2.0 sunglasses are great, straight-up cycling sunglasses and, for the $179 price tag, they are well designed and give you two things you need while cycling: comfort and good visibility.
The $199 Fuel Cells did not suit me for cycling. If you are interested in these glasses, it will be worth trying them on at your Oakley dealer to see if they suit you.
Tour de France Edition Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 XL
Tour de France Edition Oakley Fuel Cell