A lot of products are one size fits all. There is no drama in buying a new chain, set of handlebars, brake pads, seat cover, grips or tires. All you have to do is pick the size, shape and color you want and you are on your way to motocross bliss. Not so with goggles. Not only is every goggle different, but so is every face. As a rule, most motocross racers find a brand of goggles that fit their mug and never change brands. For the MXA wrecking crew its not so easy. We have to wear different goggles in every photo shoot. And, depending on the rider’s nose, forehead and cheek profile that can be a good thing or a bad thing, but at least it is only a temporary. Once the camera is shut off, the MXA test riders revert back to the goggles they like the most. We thought you might like to know the personal choices of MXA’s Daryl Ecklund, John Basher, Dennis Stapleton and Jody Weisel. Here is what they race in.
FOX AIRSPC GOGGLE BY JOHN BASHER
Ernest Mach I am not, but it doesn’t take a physicist to understand the danger of a rock hurtling off the rear tire of a 450 four-stroke towards one’s face. Just ask Blake Baggett, who was roosted while practicing this past year (he was wearing goggles) and suffered a deep laceration to his eyebrow. The former 250 National Champion missed several races. A strong case could be made that the injury foiled his chances of winning a second outdoor crown, costing him millions of dollars. The human eye is fragile. Damage to the cornea, sclera, iris or lens can be detrimental. That’s why, when forced to choose between riding without goggles or pulling off the track, I always head to the pits.
I’m very fickle about what goggles I wear. As a test rider it’s my job to try out every goggle under the sun. Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of most goggles, because many goggle companies choose form over function. Style should never trump safety and performance. For my money it doesn’t get much better than the Fox Racing AIRSPC goggle. In fact, the only major complaint I have about the goggle is the name. All caps and misspelled, the AIRSPC moniker reeks of new-aged marketing insolence against those who know how to spell. But I digress.
The Fox AIRSPC was introduced in late 2013 and followed the Main and Main Pro offerings. It has since put the Main Pro out to pasture–not that I really care, because the AIRSPC is an improvement over the Main Pro. Fluctuating between $54.99 (base graphics) and $84.99 (special graphics), it’s competitively priced in the marketplace, and is $100 cheaper than the wallet-busting Oakley Airbrake.
The AIRSPC’s frame is rigid and rugged. It holds the lens in place securely and directs air into the goggle for better cooling. There excellent peripheral vision, which I like because horse blinders aren’t my thing. The AIRSPC has an industry-standard triple layer face foam (which is really two layers of foam with a comfy felt liner). It absorbs sweat with ease. Fox sells a myriad of lens tints for every conceivable light condition. All lenses come with built-in tearoff posts, and lens installation is relatively easy (unless you’ve grown accustomed to the Oakley Airbrake system). The 45mm wide woven strap, with a single swath of tacky silicone, stays in place, but could stand to be a little longer (especially if you wear a 6D helmet). I like my goggles to fit tight against my face anyway. A third tearoff post affixes to the strap and is included.As for tearoffs, Fox sells packages of 25 tear-offs ($25.00) and laminated 14-pack tear-offs ($18.00). Fox includes a stack of laminated tearoffs, along with a plush goggle bag with every purchase.
I can do without the nose guard (thankfully it’s removable) and the tear-offs are rather expensive, but overall the Fox AIRSPC goggle (www.foxhead.com) is a winner. When a two-pound rock, shot off the rear tire of the bike in front of me, approaches my face at Ernest Mach’s speed, I feel confident that the AIRSPC will protect my peepers.
OAKLEY AIRBRAKE GOGGLE BY DARYL ECKLUND
For the last two decades motocross goggle technology has been in a rut. Don’t get me wrong, progress has been made, but the original characteristics of the old-school, rubber-framed, tank commander goggles of the early 1970s have remained the same. Yes, the foam has become denser, more sweat absorbent and in multiple layers, while the lens choice, in both materials and colors, has expanded exponentially. Of course, modern goggles straps are a far cry from the thin strips of elastic used back in the Golden Age. But the basic design is stuck in a time warp.
When the Oakley Airbrake goggle was released I was shocked by the $160.00 price tag. How could a goggle be worth that much? It wasn’t until I tested a pair that I realized that they were game-changers. Take the lens as an example. The Airbrake lens is made out of injection-molded Plutonite (which is a fancy word for plastic). Much like the old-school Jones goggle of the 1980s, the Oakley lens is much more rigid than a Lexan lens. It is molded under pressure, which gives the lens a high level of clarity. The lens has a fixed curvature that lines up perfectly with the frame and doesn’t create any peripheral distortion. The lens shape reminds me of a street bike helmet visor shield. Plus, the rigid lens is more resistant to roost and, in our tests, didn’t seem as susceptible to scratching as a Lexan lens.
I was equally intrigued by the Switchlock technology. If you ever spent frustrating minutes trying to put a new lens in your old goggles, you will love Switchlock. With Switchlock all you do is pull down on the quick release levers on each side of the frame, flip the levers out of the way and pull the lout ens out. It’s a breeze and has to be our favorite feature of the Airbrake. It literally takes seconds to remove and install a new lens.
I’ve always dreaded changing lenses, but I knew there had to be more to the Airbrake to justify the steep retail price. I have never been a big fan stacking a lot of tearoffs on my goggles. Dirt or moisture also seems to get between the tearoffs, not to mention those vision obscuring air bubbles. On my Oakley Airbrakes I run a seven-pack of Oakley’s laminated tearoffs. The Airbrake’s laminated tearoffs fit perfectly to the lens, leaving my vision crystal clear and making for thet easy execution of a flawless tearoff pull.
On the track the Airbrake’s were completely sealed around my face without any pressure points. The foam was thick and made a very comfortable seal against my skin. I’m a sweater (no, not that kind). I sweat and lot and the Airbrake’s foam keeps sweat out of my eyes even on the hottest summer days.
The Oakley Airbrake (www.oakley.com) is my choice of goggle when I go racing. It is most expensive goggle made, but my vision is worth its weight in gold.
EKS BRAND GOGGLES BY DENNIS STAPLETON
I consider myself to be a fairly practical racer. I’ve been racing in the Pro ranks for many years and I’ve learned more about myself and my needs with every race. That is why I appreciate my X Brand goggles—also known as EKS Brand. They do the job at hand, fit nicely and come in a wide variety of frame colors and strap designs. They don’t waste time with a lot of bells and whistles. They are simple, basic and beautifuly. My personal choice at the moment is their Fade/Scatter model (www.eksbrand.com).
As a MXA test rider I am often required to wear different brands of gear, boots, helmets and goggles on each photo shoot, but on many occasions I am given the option to choose one of more of these items for myself. In that case, I always choose EKS Brand goggles because they fit very well in a wide variety of helmets. They aren’t too wide or too bulbous. They have a flexible frame that adapts well on my face. You’d be surprised to learn that not every goggles fits on every face. But, whether you have a long skinny face, a short round one or even a face that’s slightly lopsided, the KS Brand frame molds seamlessly to the shape below it. To me the worse thing that a goggle frame can be is rigid—that type of frame always seems to be riding up on your cheeks or making its presence known in the whoops. I like to pull my goggle strap down tightly, which doesn’t work well with rigid goggle frames, but feels great with EKS Brand. The wide strap and three squiggly lines of sticky silicone help keep my X Brand Fade /Scatter goggles in place.
I’m not into the goggle of the month club. Once I find a goggle that is comfortable and broken in to my face I like to stick with that style like a pair of old shoes. But when it comes time to slip on a new pair, EKS Brand Goggles are affordable enough that you could buy two pair for the price of one of another brand. Their Flat Out goggle is only $34.00 and my favorite, the Fade/Scatter, is $47.00. The benefit of being able to afford to have extra goggles mean that on a boiling hot day when you sweat like a iron worker or on a muddy day when goop gets everywhere, you can break out a new set for each moto.
As much as I like my goggles to be broken in to my face, foam is foam and gets eaten away from the rigors of its job. EKS Brand uses high-quality, 17mm thick, four-layer reticulated foam. Nothing is better on a sweaty day than the feel of fresh new goggles—especially if you can afford them.
EKS Brand offers their Fade/Scatter goggles in eight optional colors. The less expensive Flat Out goggles come in six primary colors. And GOX Limited Series has 12 wild design. X Brand also offers racers the option of personalizing their own set of goggles. You can pick out any color frame, style of strap and lens tint to have your own unique look. Personally, I like a mirror-tinted lens with an all blue frame and a strap color that contrasts with my orange helmet.
Overall, X Brand or EKS Brand are a clean, simple design that meets my demand for practicality, comfort, style and it is economy.
OAKLEY O FRAME MX GOGGLE BY JODY WEISEL
As the only MXA test rider that dates back to the days of Carrera goggles, I have trouble understanding the current fascination with gimmicky goggles. And, just like a little old lady who grouses about the price of food in restaurants—because she used to get a roast beef sandwich for 50 cents back in the 1940s, I don’t understand goggle prices. Based on my vast reservoir of worthless knowledge, a $40.00 goggle does the exact same thing as a $160 goggle. It’s just $120 cheaper. While it’s true that it may take a little longer to replace a lens on a low-tech goggle, I like to pride myself on knowing all the tricks to putting lenses in painlessly. So, when I see outrigger strap mounts, laminated tearoffs, fancy lens colors, graffiti-style straps designs, lever-action arms and translucent plastic frames—I don’t think improvement.
When it comes to goggles I want the smallest, most basic design possible. I don’t want any moving parts or fuschia touches. To tell you how touchy I am about my personal goggles, when Oakley switched from their original Pro Frame design to the newer O Frame version, identifiable by the little loops that hang under the goggles, I refused to wear them because they felt larger than my previous Pro Frames. Johnny O’Mara was working at Oakley at the time and he said, “I have a solution for your problem.” He gave me a giant box with 30 Pro Frame goggles in it (with tearoffs already installed). I nursed those goggles for years. I even took the straps off different goggles and put them on my old Pro Frames when the elastic started to stretch. But nothing lasts forever and eventually I had to go looking for a new goggle brand to wear. It had taken me a long time to switch from my trusty Scott 83s to Oakley Pro Frames and this new journey led me through every goggle known to man. Some leaked, some were too big, some didn’t fit on my proboscis, some flowed too much air and some didn’t flow enough. I even tried Oakley Crowbars, but on my face they just didn’t work.
Then one day at Glen Helen, Oakley’s Mike Bell asked me why I didn’t wear Oakley goggles anymore. I told him my story. A week later he showed up at the track with three different Oakley goggles for me to try. I rode practice in the first model, moto one in the second and moto two in the third. I fell in love with the third set of goggles. The kicker? They turned out to be the same Oakley O Frames that I had rejected when they were changed 20 years earlier. Even through I felt that they were too big back then, they were now smaller by comparison to what was on the market. My fixation on small goggles is because I wear contact lenses. Not those new-fangled soft kind, but old-school hard contact lenses. I have discovered over the years that the closer the goggle lens is to my eye the less chance I run of having a contact lens flick out.
Oakley O Frames (www.oakley.com) meet my granny sensibilities. At $40.00 they won’t break the bank and since I only wear clear or grey lenses I have no need for Oakley’s iridium lenses that add $20 to the base price. As for tearoffs, I hate laminated tearoffs. I’m lucky to remember to pull one tearoff off during a moto, let alone seven. I prefer single tearoffs so I can put on as many as I want and then fling one gracefully away as I cross under the checkered flag.