We review Oakley Jawbreaker Sunglasses to see if they can actually improve your performance, or if it’s all marketing.
We’ve got our hands on a pair of the latest Oakley Jawbreaker Prizm Road Sunglasses and we’re ready to put them through the ringer. Now that we’ve got our hands on this high-tech pair, this review will dive into the frame, lenses and design of the Jawbreakers so you can determine if they’re right for you!
Background and Initial Impressions
The Oakley Jawbreaker is the latest in Oakley’s sports range of sunglasses, specifically built for cycling featuring the ability to swap lenses for varying light conditions easily and conveniently. With a large visor-like lens, the increased viewing range offers superior performance during your peak movement.
Now onto our review, to accurately get a first impression, we got these home and took them for the inaugural bike ride. In short, these are a fantastic pair of sunglasses, though there are a few challenges I experienced. A lot of these initial judgments are relative to the Oakley Radarlock, another Oakley shield pair, and namely a go-to of the cycling community almost since it was introduced.
Oakley Jawbreaker Lens
Let’s face it, if you’re looking at the Jawbreaker you’re likely interested in maximizing your viewing range and performance! We’ll compare these lenses against the Oakley Radar Path – another top Oakley cycling sunglasses.
The Jawbreaker lens definitely has a larger viewing range than the Radar Path. However, it only mildly trumps the Radar Pitch in upper visibility. Overall the lens size is smaller than initially perceived in photos. If you’re worried about the Jawbreaker lens being too larger for you face, it’s definitely still worth a try on – you might be surprised.
The image below outlines the shape and size comparison of the Oakley Jawbreaker versus the Radar Pitch Lens. Overall, the Jawbreaker mainly has additional visibility towards the top of the lens than the Radar Pitch . In the end, they are both similar, but if you’re concerned with visibility, you’ll likely prefer the Jawbreaker.
Peripheral range of the lens isn’t that much better, if at all than the Radar. Nonetheless, in the interest of cycling this is a general step up from the Radar/Radarlock in this aspect. The Jawbreaker only seems a bit bigger than the Radar XL when considering the “jaw”, which adds a bit of bulk.
The reality of the lower “jaw” is if your eyes are looking that low, they likely shouldn’t be there (especially during cycling). In comparison, with most other lenses you’d be looking at exposed daylight. Overall the visibility is fantastic.
Vented Lens Design
The vent design worked out nicely as well while cycling. Compared to the Jawbone and Radar/Radarlock, the vents are a bit more inward (towards the face), and of course there’s now two added to the center like the XL. Wind was not a problem, and when riding with a mask, neither was fogging. The airflow was noticeably better across the ride.
Overall, I had no eye irritation, but I could really feel the flow in cold weather — enough to make me consider a different lens in such conditions. When we first saw the Oakley Jawbreaker on Mark Cavendish, it actually had no vents, so it is possible Oakley will release such an option in the near future.
One perk to this pair is that the lower jaw just makes it more friendly to handle. You can set it down knowing the lens isn’t sitting directly on a table. Removing and shifting the pair on your face is also comes with knowing you’re less prone to smudging the lenses.
Prizm Road lenses
Our pair of Jawbreakers was equipped with Oakley’s Prizm Road lenses. We’ll give a brief review here but if you’re interested in learning more about Prizm technology, be sure to check out our complete Oakley Prizm Guide.
Prizm Road overall is a fantastic lens, though it can differ from the perceived tint on Oakley’s website. In the current market, this would likely be my top choice of lenses especially for cycling sunglasses.
Overall, I had no vision fatigue on my ride despite being rated at a supposedly higher transmission rating (20%) than the neutral lenses I typically use. When I initially wore these from the O-Store, my first impression was that they can definitely flex as a daily use lens, as they are likely ideal over most for low-light conditions. One point of exception over the Echelon lens is that these don’t need photochromic properties to handle changing environments.
Oakley Jawbreaker Frame
The Jawbreaker frame is composed of Oakley proprietary “O Matter” material, which minimizes the overall weight of the frame. Combined with unobtanium earsocks and grips, with advanced design for airflow, Oakley definitely thought through this design.
In essence, the Jawbreaker fits very similar to the Jawbone but with longer ear-stems.I ran these sunglasses on full length (more about this feature below) going for the tightest hold possible, which make the stems almost just as long as the Radarlock.
Hold is really dictated by pressure rather than the minimal segments of unobtanium. I hated how the M2 was the opposite. Oakley clearly gave attention to detail in flaring out the tips of the ear-stems to help prevent sliding even on the longest settings. Additionally detail is highlighted in how the lower jaw was sculpted strategically to aid airflow.
The photo below captures how the profile slims near the vent, to follow facial contours better and to aid airflow, and how the outer edge is also tapered.
Nose Piece and Bridge Design
The nose piece is a major highlight of the Jawbreaker frame. It’s “bridged” like the other shield pairs but the bridge is wide and a bit supported (so it doesn’t move) to actually offer more effective grip on the face, especially when looking down on a bike. Unsure if that was the actual idea, as the design could exist to allow it to bend with the Switchlock mechanism.
The center link to the nose piece is notably less obtrusive than previous pairs. It’s a thinner piece, and while the Radar/Radarlock isn’t a problem, the difference is apparent when looking left/right and it generally attributes to the “shield” profile. Of course the Oakley M Frame eliminates this center piece entirely, but such is life with a different swap mechanism.
Oakley actually did away with the slits and flares of the past, and made the nose pads solid. They’re also deeper than the ones found on the Radar/Radarlock. The mounting surface is more whole, over the little pins of the Radarlock, however it is a bit of a tug/push, like working on earsocks, and it certainly feels like you might break them while trying to swap the grips.
I found it a bit difficult to clear helmet straps, but overall it was not a deal breaker. I found it easier to go over the helmet straps by swapping in the Asian Fit pad, otherwise I would go under with a regular pad. Going back to how the jaw is sculpted, I have high cheek bones and I’m very surprised I can use the regular pads. On the M2 and Jawbone I needed the Asian Fit pads. I can go either way on a Radarlock (even better than the Jawbreaker) but considering Jawbreaker still has extra material below the lens, I still find the fit impressive.
Gonna put out that I do have a 59cm head (so usually a Large with helmets). My nose is pretty narrow and like I said I do have high cheek bones. Like with any pair, I wouldn’t be too sure if this is a one-size fits all, even with adjustable stems. To me it does seem a bit more accommodating than some of the other sport pairs I mentioned.
The Jawbreaker offers several advertised features including Switchlock technology, and adjustable ear stems. From my initial impression, I found the challenges of this pair to be in swapping the lenses, but read on to see where I ultimately landed.
To start, the lens interface design is fantastic. Oakley found a way to do without the typical “hooks” in a locked-in setup (well, Switchlock as we know it).
To be honest, however, it’s still a bit of a fiddly process — namely in terms of closing the jaw. It’s a pretty flimsy component standalone and there was a post here citing that it’s very easy to remove. It doesn’t help that the upper rim is isn’t so rigid standalone as well. Maybe it’s just my pair, but there’s no way that jaw just goes right on without some careful aligning and fiddling. Edit: I found days later there’s actually a very easy way to do this – details and guide below.
Took me a while to figure this out after fiddling with these, but there’s an even easier way to swap the lenses:
- Bring the jaw up to the lens of the sunglasses
- Then simply close with your fingers behind the outer portions of the jaw with a slight bit of forward pressure while making your way towards the center if necessary
Like the Radarlock it’s something to learn, but it can become very quick once you get it down. I originally found the process for that pair a bit tedious as well. In all, swapping Oakley Jawbreaker lenses can take under 20 seconds, so it’s not horrible by any practical stretch. Just not Jawbone-smooth of a process like I thought it’d be.
In the instances (multiple, so I can’t single anyone out) I’ve seen the swap demonstrated, everyone skipped a step, and that’s what I went on. In Oakley’s defense, the instructions (I ignored) are clear on it.
What is this step? Simply closing the nose piece again with the metal hook folded back before opening the jaw. Gives so much more clearance than shown above. Derp.
Adjustable Ear Stems
The ability to adjust the ear stems of the Jawbreaker is definitely a cool feature because it lends itself to the ability to fit multiple heads and helmets alike. My own gripe, though, is that I feel very uneasy opening and closing the latch. It’s a thin piece to start, but requires more pressure than say, the Jawbone/NRJ nosepiece latch.
I really feel like the interfaces are getting worn fast and don’t know if this can take frequent changes. Also would point out that the hinges for stem adjustment are pins, not screws, so replacing the latch itself is a real question mark.
My best take on opening the ear stem latch is avoid pulling at the end, and instead closer to the pin/hinge. This should lessen the likelihood of bending and breaking. Still, this all adds up to potential degrees of delicacy that shouldn’t come with a sports pair.
There are supposedly 27 pieces that go into the Jawbreaker according to BikeRadar’s report. Between this and the jaw closure, I don’t believe it’s fair to say Oakley cut any corners here – I really just hoped/expected the lens swap would be perfectly smooth and the ear-stem latches were an easier action.
On the Cavendish pair, the pins and metal center link/clip are painted green. My pair actually has some wear on one pin. This was my fault since the store associate let me inspect them before buying, but I was overexcited (literally the first buyer). I’m not really upset, but it’s something to consider during OCP, etc.
Last details are that the ear-stems lock into place like sport pairs should, and you’ll find those same rubber pads in the lens interface as you do with the Jawbone/NRJ. The Oakley Jawbreaker supposedly weighs more than a Radarlock XL, but it really doesn’t feel heavier than a regular Radarlock.
I’ll admit I’m not the most complete Oakley fan and mainly look out for sports pairs. When the hint was dropped to keep an eye out at the start of last year’s TDF, I’ve been hyped ever since. The M Frame 2 was a letdown (as well as to others), and generally Oakley lately has been looking like it’s starting to ride on gimmicks. While I do have concerns over the robustness (and need) in the Jawbreaker’s mechanisms, the pair in its set and ready-to-wear form is great for me. Didn’t quite blow my mind, but had some steady improvements and exercised some cool ideas. From the input by other posters, the new Flak 2.0 and Radar EV seem promising too.
It’ll be some time until we all know how worthwhile some of the complexities of this pair are. Once I got the lens swap down, my gripes with the process and execution lightened up. Just wish it could be as simple as the Jawbone.
Where I’m on the Fence
I’m on the fence about the adjustable stem length. I feel like it only effectively caters to how tight the fit is. The profiles are flat so I can’t imagine the feature being a huge difference maker for helmets.
To be honest, if Oakley would just make anything resembling a Range or M2 lens for the Radarlock, that’d pretty much be everything I could look for in a cycling pair. That could actually could be what the Radar EV is. Maybe we can argue the original M is/was an end-all pair for function. But as things are, the Jawbreaker is a cool piece to change things up.
If Oakley wanted to produce somethingas that got the job done on simple terms, this wouldn’t exist, Oakley wouldn’t exist. Will re-iterate that this is an imperfect pair, but I undeniably like it. Also will admit to being guilty of favoring the sense of excess and vanity that comes with the Oakley Jawbreaker.
Overall while there have been some improvements over existing Oakley shield designs, against the Radar EV, I’d say this is the only alternative in terms of fit and vanity.
- Lens shape/visibility
- Lower rim is nice to have for general handling
- Fit options
- Lens swapping process
- Questionably sophisticated
- Some parts feel fiddly and/or delicate
- Small parts (stem latches and pins) appear to not be replaceable if broken (at least my impression)
Note: Original content provided by member @Ventruck. This was adapted to article format and additional details added, but all credit to him for this amazing review!