It's that time of year again, which more or less people can expect updates to Oakley's sport line: R2 2016. Last year introduced the Jawbreaker, Radar EV, and Flak 2.0. All of those pairs had strong promotion and hype leading up to their release, and surely lived up to it. This year was a bit quieter, though. Less than three months before release, a new comeback pair was unveiled at the ISPO tradeshow: the EV Zero.
A mix of old and new, the EV Zero brings back the frameless character of the original Oakley Zero series with the brand's current Extended Vision lens design. To incorporate even more nostalgia, the EV Zero brings back the lens etching and Planet X colorway of the Sub Zero. If you've been following the other thread in the Upcoming Releases forum, it'd seem that the Planet X colorway is most people's first option. Unfortunately I'm not so original, as that's what I went for myself.
This review is mainly going to pertain to use with cycling. I'm not sure if @Rustpot t will post his own review (which are always great reads) in regards to shooting vs. Oakley's Tombstone, but he'd definitely be the guy to address those matters. He also holds the Range cut while I have the Path.
I did just get my pair yesterday with just one ride. That is really soon for a review, but to be honest I can't see myself developing new opinions with more time. The EV Zero is a very simple pair with very familiar features, and as Oakley introduces it as "NEXT TO NOTHING. AGAIN — Oakley's lightest sport frame ever" on their website. I don't have a scale to confirm that claim, or the previous Zero's to make the comparison, but I'm not gonna doubt it. Rustpot determined that the Range cut was 23 grams, which is less than the Tombstone at 27. Presumably, the Path cut may be a gram or two down at 21-22 grams.
1.1 Features and Finish
1.3 The whole lens swap decibel
1.4 Final Thoughts and Short List
1.1 Features and Finish
As you'd expect, the EV Zero is a pretty simple pair. The stems are so thin to attribute to the minimal feel of them, the earsocks are perhaps duller than the M-Frame's — a very far cry from the more recent sport pair setups which stretch far long the stems and kinda lock into place. Sorta lame for a display piece, but the intentions are very clear here. The paint work (or well, print) for the Planet X colorway is, for lack of a better word, sick. The blue base glistens in sunlight and does add more detail to an otherwise simple design. Hope it sticks.
The stems are not entirely featureless as they feature hammer profiles. Gonna note that the finished width at the edges closely match the Radar EV, for anyone trying to anticipate fit off experience. The hammer profiles not as aggressive as the Radar series, but they are short and set forward like the current Radar EV. If you caught my review there, I thought it was a smart move by Oakley vs. the Radarlock as they're more likely to get along with helmets. Also, there's a channeled profile running on the inner side of the stems from the hinges to earsocks. Not only does this perhaps shed some more weight, but help make the stems more rigid.
The emblems on the EV Zero's stems are perhaps the smallest that can be found in Oakley's catalog. So yeah...they really acted in the interest of minimalism. The hinges do lock, which surprised me because this feature was missing on the M2 which was otherwise more "sophisticated". The locking/cam profiles are very positive on my pair, so despite the stems being so thin, there's a bit of a premium feel. Flared ends are absent on the EV Zero, but in use this was a non-issue, even when I wanted to have the stems over my helmet straps. Stem length is on the longer side, roughly the same was the Radar EV, but with the shape being so minimal I don't expect many helmet issues.
The nosepiece is seemingly a hybrid setup. The actual solid mount for the pads interfaces with the lenses similarly to the M2 where it catches onto the lens' "hooks". However, you cannot interchange the pieces since the EV Zero's piece has an additional centering tab on the top/bridge. That's a shame, because the other half of this piece is the reuse of the Radar nose pads. If you dig up my M2 review from a long while ago, I fiddled with the nospiece to accept an AF Radarlock pad, and that was a bit of a working solution for the M2 (for me). Because it wasn't a reliable hackjob and the M2 was still a bit loose, I had to part with that pair. If the EV Zero piece could be swapped in, I probably would've revisited the M2, because I love this pad. One of the "grippiest" due to shape and softness.
Regarding the etched lines, they are in the line of sight since eyes can see past the bottom and peripheral edges, but they're not prominent. You'd have to be pretty near-sighted to find them remotely distracting.
So overall, under the EV Zero's simple guise, there are a good share of details.
These numbers are listed the exact same for the Asian Fit model I have. As far as I can tell, there's no difference in frames or lenses. It's just the nosepad.
Light, very light. You could tell by looking but put it on your face and it is eerily so. Immediately after noticing that, I feel a lot of people will then realize it's also very secure. This is where I feel the Radar nosepad really does its work. The stems don't pinch since the lack of a center frame/rim allows for a lot of deflection, but the hammers and channeled profile seemingly does enough to keep things in place.
I was cycling in 80 degree weather (Fahrenheit), at relatively slow speeds since it was mostly climbing, and despite the sweat, the EV Zero didn't budge.It's crazy to find as the tighter fitting Radarlock and EV, as well as my #1 pair (or is it?) in the Jawbreaker sometimes demand an adjustment — but Oakley did it: a properly light pair that doesn't compromise hold. I've had other frameless examples like Rudy Project's Hypermask Performance and Smith Pivlock V90 (and V90 Max for that matter). Those felt looser for me, and so how is the EV Zero getting this done?
My best take is resting angle. At least with the AF pads (and my head/face), the EV Zero lens is spaced from my forehead. This eliminates any shifts due to brow movement. There's little smudging as a result, too. With my experience with frameless sports eyewear, it'd seem that the design path was to run the closest fit and create a seal against wind. In this case, it's like Oakley treated a pair like it lost its upper rim, and kept it at that. No "compensating" to eat dead space or anything, and it works. The whole EV concept extends the lenses a bit more upward, so that in mind, any potential wind issues up top are considered to be taken care of. I also found that the bridge of the AF nosepad was better positioned against my nose, acting as a bit of a "stop" from letting me push the lenses so close to my face. That could just be me, and not an intentional design cue, though.
Another testament to the security of the EV Zero is successful use by Kerri Walsh Jennings during Olympic qualifiers. It's volleyball: there's a whole lot of rapid and abrupt movements; and it's Kerri-freaking-Walsh. She's like a thesaurus entry for the term "winner".
"These EV Zero's! They're stuck to my face!" — take note of those losers wearing tired and old RadarLocks behind her
(from Oakley's Facebook page)
Going further into the EV Zero's Path cut, it's more or less what you'd expect if you've used the Radar EV or Jawbreaker. I provided a couple overlay pics below, with the Sapphire lens coming from the Jawbreaker. In that comparison, the EV Zero takes advantage of there being an absence of frame material and so it runs a bit wider. Against the Radar EV Pitch cut, the lens runs significantly higher. Before taking both overlay pics, I did try to center and angle the standalone lenses as parallel as possible in respect to the nosepiece. To sum it up, Oakley actually used all the estate they could with the EV Zero. I take it the Range must add up to a huge lens.
Peripheral coverage was well taken care of and fogging was a non-issue. Airflow is mainly drawing from the bottom and nose area. The EV Zero actually exceeded expectations for me in this regard, and for general use. Oakley clearly didn't just do some copy and paste act from the existing EV blueprints.
1.3 The whole lens swap decibel
In the other topic I mentioned that I could see the possibility that lenses could in fact be swapped despite an Oakley rep telling another user it's unlikely. Yet in the pic below (from Oakley's website), the URL actually includes the term "replacement". My best and hopeful guess is a pivoting action could get it done. It's just really tight, though. With the stems being so minimal I'm actually worried about breaking the hinges more so than the lens.
(from the EV Zero product page of Oakley's website)
So until someone figures that out, this is the only lingering downside of the EV Zero for me. Like @max4321 put it in the other thread: "(it) turns a lens scratch from a $50 problem to a $160 problem."
That's precisely what it is: you get a scratch, you're sorta screwed into getting a new pair. Nostalgia or being minimal can't really pass for me. It's 2016, almost all Oakley pairs, even non-sport pairs can have their lenses swapped. Even something as putrid as the Carbon Blade can have its lenses swapped.
I've gone into possible explanations before, such as it may be the most robust approach and/or Oakley doesn't want to create a redundancy to the Tombstone; but $160 can get you an M2 and a bag of chips, or a Radar EV. I got my EV Zero under F&F for a total of ~$122 after tax, and that's still a lot to replace a lens on a non-collector pair.
Another possible measure to swap lenses is perhaps just pop the stems at the hinges. They're using the O-Matter nubs instead of metal pins. Only issue is that the stems are still so thin that you're bound to flex them if you're not very careful. Bleh.
1.4 Final Thoughts
Hearing about the EV Zero's light fit, presumed lack of swapping ability, and questionable performance over @cyclerdoug 's patented "vigorous head shake test", I strongly considered just getting my package and sending it right back to Oakley without a peep at the pair...but I just popped it open. That new vault smell was hard to turn from and I'm overall holding a positive outlook on the EV Zero.
When I look at the end package, it's the "toy" in Oakley's lineup. The overall relatively delicate nature leads me to never hang it on my collar or rest it on my head. It goes right back into the vault or shelf. It's totally non-existent when wearing, perhaps the most comfortable pair I've ever worn, and it's definitely in my ride rotation....for isolated rides without much stopping where I'd probably have to handle the lenses. I have Jawbreakers for that. Still, Oakley seems to have actually given the EV Zero's design process serious attention. They were attentive in addressing rigidity, security, and making the most out of the available lens estate.
Had there been a (known) lens swapping ability off the bat, the EV Zero would definitely be notches higher for me, and perhaps entertained as my new main pair. Kinda sucks to know that such potential may have existed because most of what makes this pair for me is how functional it has been otherwise.
So I don't see myself getting another EV Zero just because of price for replacement, and general disinterest for the other frame options at the moment, but I look forward to a successor.
+Very light, yet still secure; comfortable at that
+Love the use of the Radar nose pad
+Even better range of visibility than the Radar EV and Jawbreaker
-Lens swapping is currently not an option
-Questionable price for the package
-Expect to be relatively delicate in nature
Overall: a well thought-out pair for the most part. It definitely executed the "non-existent" appeal. For all practical intents, this is more of a supplement towards an Oakley enthusiast's selection, not so much a primary option. Ideal for trips to Planet X.