We first saw Oakley’s new Jawbone back around last year’s Tour de France and the eyewear company’s bold new style has definitely found greater appeal at the Tour of California on such notable riders as Lance Armstrong (Astana), Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) and Thor Hushovd (Cervélo Test Team).
Though Jawbone vaguely resembles the old Racing Jacket its appeal extends more to its optical quality than anything else, according to Oakley marketing guru Steve Blick.
Jawbone supplants the usual snap-in arrangement for its interchangeable lenses in favor of a unique system dubbed Switchlock. Lens are encapsulated in a hinged frame and gently held in place with a small rubber pad embedded in the upper frame. To swap tints, users simply flip out one of the hinged dual-density nosepads, open up the lower ‘jaw’ then remove the lens.
Blick says Switchlock’s convenience will undoubtedly draw in users but the so-called floating lens makes for minimal bending stresses and thus even less distortion than Oakley’s other already-superb optics.
Other features include a hydrophobic lens coating to repel rain, sweat, road grime and oils, a wider field of view at the upper edge, slightly shorter earstems for reduced interference with helmet retention systems, and lens vents to prevent fogging.
Oakley also tuned the frame construction such that only the earstems – and not the frame – flex to accommodate different head shapes and further maintain optical clarity. As with several of its other models, users can swap to thicker nosepieces to customise the fit, too.
Jawbone is slated for public release sometime in May and retail prices will range from US$190-250 depending on lens options, which will include the usual range of regular and Iridium-coated lenses plus photochromic, polarised and prescription options.
Watch the video of the new Jawbones as demonstrated by Oakley’s Steve Blick: