The Oakley Radar EV Sunglasses are the 3rd generation in the radar family, but do they live up to the name? We break them down in this review!
It’s been over two months since the 2015 release two models hit store shelves. While I picked up the Oakley Jawbreaker instantly, I held off on the Oakley Radar EV Sunglasses until now. Oakley’s famed friends and family sale and passing by the store put me in the inevitable position of going home with a pair (like virtually everyone else on OakleyForum).
The purpose of this review is to help others who are unclear or undecided on the Radar EV. This is Oakley’s 3rd iteration of the Radar series and 6th member of their current shield collection. I personally was on the fence, already owning the Radarlock, M2 Frame, and Jawbreaker.
Oakley Radar EV Sunglasses Frame
In this review I’ll address the Radar EV in general and in comparison to those pairs, as well as in the context of cycling. I bought the Pitch Cut in Matte Uranium with Prizm Outfield lenses. Included was the typical Vault, instructions, and warranty papers. The frames weren’t perfectly straight, but I’ve had this happen with a brand new Radarlock and in the practical sense it can’t be felt.
Lens Coverage and Fit
Standing for “Extended Vision” the, Oakley Radar EV offers a taller profile than the equivalent Path or Pitch cut of the original Radar and Radarlock. Also extended is the peripheral coverage, as evidenced by the edges running past the frame. The edges don’t go as far as the M2’s cut, but with the close fit it’s hard to find gaps in all directions. Overall the frame is well out of sight.
As you can see in the photos, the Oakley Radar EV runs a bit taller than the Radarlock (both being Pitch cuts). Remember when it’s up in your face, mere millimeters will feel like a bigger difference. Against the Jawbreaker, a lot of the difference is just the presence of the lower jaw. Lens sizes alone are similar, although the EV actually runs a bit wider as I curiously tried to slip the lens in the Jawbreaker frame, where the extended sides blocked off closure of the jaw.
Nosepad and Earstems
The nose stem is also a bit slimmer – partly because the taller profile puts the pads further from the frame – and appears more carefully-shaped. Like I described the Jawbreaker, you’d have to try to find an obstruction or gap in order to catch anything. Only exception is perhaps bigger faces.
The Radar EV stays true to the Radar lineage in incorporating hammer stem profiles. This results in some of the firmest (not necessarily tight) fits in Oakley’s sport line. In a relative perspective, the ends finish a tad wider than the Radarlock, virtually on par with the Jawbreaker (stems at longest setting), and narrower than the M2 (which has shorter stems).
While I like this firm fit, the EV’s hammer profile is more forward than the Radarlock, specifically more forward than some helmet straps which include my own. I personally strive for “un-interrupted” contact, currently also coping with this when using my prime option Jawbreaker. It’s not something that I think comprises fit or security, but just pokes at my own obsessive awareness.
In terms of shape the EV’s stems curve more than the contact areas of Radarlock, drawing back to the original Radar profile and arguably being more ergonomic. This, paired with the wider and longer earsock design were upsides for me as I felt reduced feel of pinching over long periods of time.
Features and Details
Continuing from the comments regarding hammer profile being more forward, there are potential upside/purposes to this design. A quick one to spot is to aid clearance with TT, batting helmets, headsets, and virtually any headwear that covers the ears. Usually, riders had to opt for the original Radar again in TT’s or use straight stem Radarlocks.
Another upside on this design is that the Radar EV has seemingly departed from the “surge port” design, the holes in the ear stems of the sunglasses. Instead these employ a more sideways-facing cutout. At least from my observations, the “surge port” really served no major purpose. I believe Oakley promoted it as a cooling measure (of your temples?), but really the stems of these pairs aren’t so wide that heat build up/conduction would be a big deal, if at all.
In the case of the Radar EV’s ports, it seems like the be more ideal for ventilation. The finishing profile emulates more of an exit than entry. If that wasn’t enough, air can escape above and below the protruding profiles of the stem. This all compliments and perhaps compensates for the wider coverage and reduced dead-space that would be found in the Path/Pitch cuts of the Radar and Radarlock.
There are no mounting holes for a strap. I assume Oakley decided that it wasn’t a popular accommodation for sports pairs as of late as I believe the M2 was the last pair to have the holes. In regards to the target market of cyclists, most would just put their eyewear in their helmet if they had to remove it.
Lastly, Oakley moved the stem hinges more rearward so the tips don’t hit the lens when folded — something people found undesirable about the Radarlock.
Oakley Radar EV Lenses
Path vs. Pitch Lenses
In debating between Pitch and Path, it’s really just a matter of cheek clearance. I started with Path when I used my Radarlock, but upon getting my last lens, I realized I can actually get away with Pitch. In the end this pair included EV Radar Pitch Prizm Field Lenses, specifically designed for Baseball.
The difference in Path vs Pitch is the corners of the lens. Overall Pitch is a bit bigger than the Path size, so this may work if you have a larger head. If you look closely you will see that Path curves up in the corners near the cheek making it smaller than Pitch.
Prizm Field Lenses
The pair in this review features Prizm Outfield lenses, which are designed for bright light conditions. Compared to Prizm Road, Prizm Field has a stronger red tint. Functionally it works similarly to Road, and in essence is tuned to induce even higher levels of light/dark contrast and depth perception. Road retains a bit of violet/purple, which if I get my “optical logic” correct, maintains color perception better in comparison and reduces “washing out” reds in the environment. On the bike, Outfield feels at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people found it better since we all have slightly varying color perception at the least.
The Iridium coating on Outfield is less reflective but has more consistent color with less “fade” to yellow at the edges. It’s pretty nice overall. Not only did I find favor the Pitch Cut because I had no clearance issues, but the straight look compliments the frame better.
Ventilation and Air flow
Ventilation continues with the Radar EV lenses using the “new generation” vents similar to the Jawbreaker. One pair of vents at the rising points of the frame and another pair at the nose bridge. However, the cuts aren’t quite as large as the Jawbreakers vents. I’d assume Oakley determined this was appropriate without the presence of a lower rim.
The last detail I’d like to touch on is the finish of the lens edges. Nothing exceptional, but the fact that they don’t finish flush under the frame should be ideal for managing heat/airflow as well.
In practice, this works superbly without any buffeting behind the lenses. However, in the case of wearing a mask or baclava, fog does build up more easily in my experience. I experienced this with the Radarlock and it would seem the Jawbreaker excels in this scenario because the jaw keeps the lenses spaced away and so the low vents aren’t blocked.
Replacing Radar EV Lenses
The Radar EV uses the typical “clip-in” method found with most half-rim shield designs, including the original Radar. It’s a proven and robust design, especially since the nose piece acts as a secondary measure of retention.
Maybe it’s the case of still being in new condition, but I found re-installation a bit tough. My only comparison of this type of swapping method is the M2, a Tifosi Logic, and some Rudy Project pair whose name escapes me, and those were far easier for me. The EV seems to have tighter tolerances and runs a bit stiff, and this includes unclipping the nose piece. If I didn’t have the Uranium pair, I wouldn’t have realized I didn’t have one side completely seated upon re-installation, which led to an unpleasant “pop” (but thankfully no damage).
I wouldn’t call this an actual con for the Radar EV, especially when you figure out how to feed the lens back into the frame. I perceived the Jawbreaker as a fiddly process at first, and now see it as a simple ordeal. The Radarlock can be an 8-10 second complete swapping process with familiarity and purpose, but what’s the rush? Swapping time is a bit irrelevant in my view as majority of people won’t find themselves needing to swap lenses on a frequent and urgent basis, let alone on-the-fly and without smudging the lenses. Between pairs we’re talking seconds, and at worst (with meticulous care) just a couple minutes.
This sorta goes back to my speculation of Oakley looking towards a one-lens-do-all approach. In the context of the Radar EV, it’s very unlikely to need to change lenses mid-ride. Only scenario I can imagine is riding into dusk or out of dawn. Prizm Road further attempts to simplify this situation, but in all fairness the Oakley Radar EV doesn’t hold a singular purpose for cycling. The example I reviewed is a lens targeted towards Baseball outfielders.
Radar EV vs. Radarlock and Jawbreaker
If you decided to skip the wall of text before this (we understand). My comments pointed to a lot of improvements I found with the Radar EV over previous generations. We’ve already broken down the Radar vs. Radarlock vs. Radar EV in detail, but the points below summarize the improvements:
- Larger viewing range
- Simpler design
- Vents on the lens and frame are more strategic,
- Less prone to pinching with virtually the same hold quality
- Easier to put on because of the flared stem tips
- Gripping points to handle the pair
- Revised hinge placement to avoid stems hitting lenses when folder
Now it is true that you could deduce that the Radar is also a smarter pair than the Radarlock. And so against the Oakley Radar EV it’s less of an upgrade. Especially when you tie in the Radar XL which will offer a similar addition in upper field of view. What’s left for the EV’s advantages is peripheral vision and improved vent design.
Despite finding even more upsides over the Radarlock, you don’t need to jump ship from either predecessor; but if I had to start fresh and pick just one Radar iteration, it would be the EV.
If you’ve read my Jawbreaker review, we touched upon the strong possibility that the Oakley Radar EV was the more practical buy: cheaper, simpler, yet the comparable coverage and function. I find there is truth to that thought, but you have to weigh-in on each aspect to determine if it’s really the better buy.
One big upside to the Jawbreaker is the glaring difference between the pairs: the bottom rim/”jaw”. Not only does this aid in wind deflection and potential added protection, but simply handling of the pair. Every time you remove and replace it on your face, every surface you set it down upon. A sense of delicacy goes away with the Jawbreaker vs. the half-rim shield bunch.
Do adjustable stems really matter? To be honest I don’t see the point of the shorter stem settings since that should make them looser. If anything I find the advantage of the Jawbreaker’s stem design to be that they’re already thinner/flatter. Therefore more likely fit under TT helmets and headsets. Maybe there are advantages realized in practice to run shorter (full face helmets, perhaps?).
Yet when you sum it all up, the complexity of the Jawbreaker isn’t an issue. Once you’re set, and we’re talking about a $30 difference in retail pricing. So if anything, fit is the prevailing factor in deciding between the two pairs. If that’s even, then comes down to which one you think looks cooler. It’s just hard to go wrong.
If I personally could only pick one to set off with, it would be the Jawbreaker. But again that really doesn’t imply anything negative about the Radar EV.
It may look like Oakley toned down from their radical aesthetic, yet the original M-Frame really had little going on in that department save for paint-jobs. And yet, it became immensely popular, applicable, and imitated worldwide. If you make more out of less, it’s more impressive from an engineering standpoint.
Right now Oakley’s signature shield pairs are by Mark Cavendish (Radarlock and now Jawbreaker). Spiffy sprinter and personality, but before that there was a much bigger name wearing the M-Frame. The name that first comes to mind for almost anyone when it comes to cycling: Lance Armstrong.
I find the best way to judge the Radar EV is on how it improves on the original Radar design. It’s a strong execution of Oakley paying attention to details that add up to a considerable refinement of their original design. That being said I’d like to reiterate that this isn’t something that makes the previous iterations obsolete.
Seems like we’ve seen Oakley replace pairs more so than improve them. Ultimately, this leave us to get hung up on a hit-or-miss mentality in retrospect. I think the EV really is all about building on a good thing. When (or if) the original Radar ever gets phased out, I don’t think people will say “what were they thinking?” because I’d say it’s pretty evident.