With my recent acquisition of an Oakley M2 I thought I'd put together a little photo spread of the frames history along with my review. Instead of just a plain old review.
Before we know where we're going, we need to know where we've been.
Back in 1989 Oakley debuted the Mumbo. The first HDO, XYZ optically corrected pair from the company. Carrying over from the Blade system, the Mumbo had 3 lens options; V, 67, and Hybrid. Due to copyright issues (which still plague Oakley today with pairs like the Jawbone) the name was changed to "M Frame" in 1990. One of the main features of the Mumbo were the hammer stems - a bend in the stem at the temple that moves the stem out from the head to accentuate the 3-Point-Fit principle and allow room for things like helmet straps. Below is an example of the first generation M Frame which is identical except in packaging to the Mumbo. The example has a Sweep lens in Blue Iridium. The Sweep lens was added, along with the Strip and Heater in 1991.
Skip 1992, and in 1993 The Strike and Slash lenses are added to the lineup. The Slash is unique in that it's coupled with a frame upgraded with a foam strip at the brow for sweat and a strap to keep the pair even more secure. This pair is a Fingerprint frame with Black Iridium lens.
A year later in 1994 the M Frame is overhauled for the first time. The stem hinges are reinforced and have a slight geometric change, the stems are extended past the earsocks with Oakley's "Hammer Fangs" and the logo on the stem is changed from the familiar Oakley font to the molded Icon. This pair is a second generation with a swapped set of stems and a Hybrid lens in Blue Iridium.
1996 saw an expansion of the M Frame with sports-specific collections, most notably a straight stem version in the Baseball lineup designed to fit in a ball cap more easily. Late in 1996 we also had the introduction of the Pro M Frame. This was another overhaul in the design of the M Frame. The boxy lines were left behind and curves took their place. The hammer stems were revised to form "wings", a design cue that carried over into several other pairs of the era. The stems on the Pro pair are fixed, which makes one handed manipulation easier while performing tasks such as riding a bicycle. The rubber on the stems was changed to mimic what was used on the Jackets and increased the surface area in contact with the user's head. This pair is a Pro frame custom painted by Dr. Chop and has a Heater lens in Ice Iridium.
The beginning of the modern era was marked by an entire product-line update in 1999. Oakley's O Matter frame material was reformulated to a more resilient, flexible blend. The M Frame benefited greatly from the update and had the 'New' moniker added unofficially. The third major overhaul brought the design of the Pro frame to the main M Frame with only a few subtle changes. Hinges were added, of course. The remaining boxiness of the interior of the frame was changed to sculpted features, the hammer wings were toned down a bit, and the icons were changed from the raised/molded type to the "true metal" type that is still in use today. This frame is a New M Frame in black with a vented Heater lens in Slate Iridium.
Fast forward all the way to 2006. A prototype M Frame, inspired by the design of the Thump and trialed by Lance Armstrong is released as the M Frame 2.0. This is a military-specific release and is a Ballistic model. Subtle changes to the existing M Frame had been made prior, which included thicker lenses to resist harsher impact, and the addition of a lens clip to pass military requirements for lens retention during an impact. The intent of the 2.0 is to provide an eyewear package that fits inside helmets and has less wrap to the stems to make use easier. The frame is thicker and has substantially less torsional flex. The option of a clip on strap is also introduced. The 2.0 was redesigned in 2012 and the M Frame 3.0 was released through SI. The 3.0 retains the style of the 2.0, but has several design changes aimed at improving performance for military use. To better interface with night vision optics the fit is slightly slimmer and the rake of the lens is increased to hug the face more closely. Anti-fog coating is standard to combat fogging with the closer fit. The size of the lens is increased to provide more peripheral coverage (later named the Agro lens). To work better with hearing protection and communication equipment the stems are thinned, the rubber removed, and the wrap increased to improve retention without rubber. This pair is a 3.0 frame in Dark Bone with a ballistic Strike lens in Grey (note the clip is removed to allow use of lenses without a clip hole).
The 'New' version of the M Frame remains in production. It's still sold as Oakley's Industrial Eyewear and through Oakley's SI program. With the addition of the M2, the M Frame line has been in continuous production for the last 25 years.
Stay tuned for the next post with the M2 specific review.