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Oakley Radar Pace review and Oakley Trillbe review

4 Nov 2016
Verdict:

Cutting edge tech and high fashion design keep the Oakley juggernaut on track

Price: 
£400 / £100

From 1988 and the Factory Pilots aboard Andy Hampsten’s nosebridge to David Millar’s Over The Tops at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Oakley has been no stranger to headline grabbing sunglasses. Hampsten’s would have looked more at home on the ski slopes were it not for a blizzard up the Gavia in stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia; Millar’s, well, not only did he race through the dark, he also got dressed in it. And now, ladies and gents, here are two more, very different, yet equally ‘Oakley’ pieces for your delight and delectation.

Oakley Radar Pace, £400

Although based on Oakley’s modern day classic, the Radar, the Radar Pace has some striking resemblances to another set of shades, the Oakley Thump. Released in 2004, the Thump had integrated headphones and MP3 player that boasted a whopping 256MB of storage, barely enough room to swing a digitised Cat Stevens. It’s fair to say they never really caught on, but the idea was admirable, and 12 years later you could be forgiven for thinking it’s been rebooted. Only there’s something a-brewin’.

The music is still present in the Radar Pace courtesy of the ‘in-ear booms’, ostensibly little pull down in-ear headphones. However, the source is now your smartphone and accompanying app. And it’s arguably the app that’s the really exciting story here, developed with Oakley parent company Luxotica and tech giant Intel.

Beyond cruising to your favourite podcast (we like the Adam Buxton Podcast, but ONLY on your turbo trainer), the genius of the Pace lies in the smart coaching system built into the app. ‘Coaching’ because it operates like a coach, guiding your riding through the headphones like a smooth-talking spin class instructor, and ‘smart’ because the app can plan your sessions based on certain parameters to build up your prowess in areas such as stamina or power. Furthermore, Oakley says the Pace app will enact a training plan based on a date and event. Got a 100-mile sportive 8 weeks away? Tell the app, enter information such as how much time you have to spare to train each day, and Pace will develop a blow-by-blow training programme. It will even adjust the programme to reflect missed sessions and tweak subsequent ones, and ask it a question mid-ride such as ‘What’s my heart rate?’ and it will chirrup back with an answer.

It’s a very interesting new world that Oakley has painted, though whether the Radar Pace catches on is another matter. But until we have the benefit of time-travel, the implications for real-time, personalised robotic coaching seem pretty huge, and history might just recognise Oakley as the pioneers. Watch this space/barricade the door because the robots have come.

Oakley Trillbe, £100

The next big release for Oakley couldn’t be more different. The Trillbe is a much more relaxed, and considerably robot-free set of shades, although the styling is somewhat sci-fi.

Technically the Trillbe’s are ‘Performance Lifestyle’, which means they lie somewhere between posing and exercising, which is good for us cyclists. After all, when was the last time you bought something on functional merit alone?

As such there’s no fancy lens shaping or vents, but what you do get is a set of sunglasses where high-fashion meets sports performance, a mode kicked off by Poc and continued by the likes of Rapha, but ultimately traceable back to those first Oakley Factory Pilots (as before that, well, there was kind of nothing but the goggles of the 1900s and Coppi in his Persol aviators in the 50s).

The lenses come from the Shield range, which while to our eyes don’t offer quite the same enhanced vision of Oakley’s superb Prizm lenses (which feature on the Radar Pace), still offer exceptional clarity and wide field of vision. It’s probably this last point that will divide or conquer opinion over the Trillbes. The fact the lenses extend over the nose bridge is a big plus-point for wide angle vision, but equally is what makes the Trillbes so striking and Tron-like, which won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

For our money, though, with the right helmet like a Giro Synth or Met Manta they look rather good, but whether you agree is subjective. That they feel perfectly comfortable to cycle in is more objective fact.

uk.oakley.com           

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