Mark Cavendish may be one of the most neurotic professionals when it comes to selecting his equipment. He’s been known for riding non-sponsor equipment and switching between his Specialized S-Works shoes and his long-discontinued Nikes. There’s even rumors of him switching frame sizes.
So when someone as picky as Cavendish puts his head together with designers from a brand like Oakley, the results are sure to be attention grabbing. And sure enough, the Oakley Jawbreaker is unlike anything we’ve seen from Oakley since the 1980s, when Oakley launched its first sunglasses, the Eyeshade.
The new Oakley Jawbreakers are, at face value, not all that different from other shades in the California-based brand’s lineup. The Jawbreakers are made from the same highly durable plastic frame and impact-resistant lenses. The Jawbreaker uses Oakley’s Switchlock lens changing technology, which is similar to the RadarLock and the RacingJackets. Of course, the Jawbreakers look and wear nothing like anything else in the current Oakley lineup.
“Sunglasses,” doesn’t seem do the Jawbreaker design justice. The sheer size and its features make “sport shield,” a more apt descriptor. So let’s discuss the size of the Jawbreakers. They’re some of the largest, if not the largest, sunglasses I’ve tested. Something everyone I rode with also noted. A couple of friends remarked that the Jawbreakers look like something a baseball player from the 1990s might wear.
On one’s face, the Jawbreaker feels large, but not heavy or obnoxious. The coverage is excellent. Better than any other pair of sunglasses on the market today. Though the increased coverage does not come at the expense of ventilation. I wore the Jawbreakers on multiple mountain bike rides, which better simulated higher temperatures, and slower, strenuous climbing. The Jawbreakers never fogged, and while the lens uses Oakley’s hydrophobic coating, I did find that sweat would still dry in the center of the lens on occasion.
The Jawbreaker’s size is also its weak link. While we’ve celebrated other Oakley models, such as the RadarLock, for looking good on a range of different face sizes, the Jawbreaker’s size make it look out of place on smaller faces and without a helmet on, they look even more out of place.
While the size and shape of the Jawbreakers harken back to Oakley’s Eyeshade, there are similar options on the market today. The Poc Do Blade we reviewed last year is similar in size, shape, and price, but the Do Blades are still hard to find available at retail.
The Jawbreaker’s lens is swapped out by lifting the nose-piece, which releases the clip over the center of the frame, and then the bottom half of the frame rotates down. The mechanism is reminiscent of the RacingJacket design, but a bit more elaborate because of the Jawbreaker’s one-piece lens design, though not harder.
The lens quality is exceptional. With the added field of view with the larger lens, the frame’s top doesn’t interfere with line of sight, even when in an aggressive position on the road bike. We tested the Cavendish edition with Oakley’s Prizm Road lens, which is designed to better bring out the undulations of a paved road. We cannot confirm whether it does or doesn’t, but the lens quality is nothing short of exceptional.
The earpieces of the Jawbreaker are adjustable by lifting a piece of the arm and sliding the earpiece in and out, giving the wearer three different positions from which to choose. I decided on the mid setting, as it was most secure over my helmet retention system.
The Jawbreakers did not play nice with all helmets when they needed to be stored. They fit fine in the new Giro Synthe, a design that works with nearly every pair of sunglasses, even when the Jawbreakers were stored during rough mountain biking. However, the Jawbreakers did not store as securely on the Lazer Z1, even when riding on the smoothest road. The Jawbreaker is also hard to store behind the helmet, as the large lens pushes up against the bottom of the rear of the helmet.
The helmet interaction could vary with different sizes. This is, of course, a small sampling of the market, but I’d recommend taking your helmet to your local Oakley dealer to see how the Jawbreaker interacts with your helmet of choice.
When Cavendish puts on the Jawbreaker, he claims that he feels like he’s “putting on armor.” While I cannot recommend you enter a joust with naught, I would say that the Jawbreakers are a unique piece of kit. They offer solid coverage and with a price tag starting at $200, they’re certainly expensive, but the lens quality and durability will be sure to hold up for the long haul. You’ve always wanted to dress up like a modern Greg Lemond in a futuristic pair of Eyeshades, haven’t you? Well, the Jawbreaker would be your ticket.
Suggested retail price: $240
We like: Best coverage and ventilation make for a dangerous tag-team
We don’t like: Not the most versatile eyewear when it comes to looking good on a variety of face sizes
The scoop: Performance — and the price tag — we’ve come to expect from Oakley