Oakley has been a visual part of pro cycling since the mid-1980s when Greg LeMond and a small group of young riders started rocking the company’s Eyeshades. They may have been giggled at, but the Californian-born brand was here to stay.
This year, it’s making a big deal of 30 years spent designing and making glasses, and at the start of Paris-Roubaix, a travelling exhibition is displaying the company’s greatest hits.
The original Oakley Eyeshade
Eyeshades, of course. Frogskins, yep, them too. And all the rest: Razor Blades, M-Frames, Racing Jackets, Sub Zeros and those over-the-top Over The Tops that David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) once wore back in the mid-noughties.
For Oakley fans – and there are plenty out there – it’s a treasure chest of retro pieces. And even some of their newer sunnies like Radars have been treated to a 30th anniversary colour scheme makeover and a lazer-etched 30 in the lens corner.
There’s some great little touches to the show too: the original – very twee – Oakley logo, the creepy, Predator-esque leather Medusa snowboard helmet and even the gigantic truck that pulls the show around is a statement in itself. It all starts with a pair of white and indigo motocross grips which represent where the founder Jim Jannard started in the mid-70s. With $300 and an idea to make grippier grips for motorbike riders he spawned an international brand – named after his dog – that was bought by Luxottica in 2007 for $2.1bn.
This weekend, riders out and about around Compiègne, Paris-Roubaix’s start town, were all out there wearing Oakleys. BMC’s Thor Hushovd started his training ride with an updated version of the Razor Blade and teammate Greg van Avermaet, started the day’s recon in a set of Radarlocks.
Thor Hushovd (BMC) in the Oakley Razor Blades