Bradley Wheeler has been using the Oakley Airbrakes since their inception, but recently tested and tried out Fox VUE Stray goggles. Brad talk us through his thoughts on how good they really are.
On first glance it is clear which is the pricier goggle. The Oakley Airbrake roll off system is slim line and sleek on the frame, whereas the Fox VUE looks more like a traditional roll off system. However is looking flash necessarily better though?
In the past I've been an Airbrake athlete after being taken in by the hype in its early days. I now however have had the chance to run the Fox VUE and Oakley Airbrakes on the same day at a REVO British championship round, so they have had as good a test as can happen in the UK.
I’ll start with the Fox VUE Stray, retailing at £115.00 and only £18.00 for a pack of 6 roll off films, It's a decent price. Firstly, the goggle fits well on my face and the 45mm strap with the adjuster means you can easily tighten or loosen the goggle to fit the shape of your face. Importantly, the wider strap also grips the helmet well so if you suffer from goggle movement when riding this doesn’t happen with the Fox Vue.
The Vue goggles benefit from a 45mm roll off film compared to the standard 36mm that are available on most other roll offs on the market, the notable difference with this is simply a wider field of vision. The more you can see, the better decision you can make in time sensitive situations on tricky tracks, especially in the wet. The Fox Vue canisters may not be as sleek as the Airbrake but they work! For anyone who has ever been in a situation where you've really needed to use the roll off, all you care about is that they continue to work and the Fox VUE goggles do just that. Fox has really perfected simplicity with this.
The only little drawback I encountered was during the initial setting up the roll offs having found it was a little fiddly to get the cap of the canisters back on once I had set up the rolls. However I've chalked this up to my inexperience with the goggle and I'm sure after a few times setting it up, it would become easier. Apart from this the Fox VUE goggle was easy to set up and worked instantly with no problems, the cord has good recoil preventing the toggle dangling like it can on some other goggles after a few pulls.
One thing that was a breath of fresh air was FOX’s TruLock system that makes light work of getting the lenses in and out and with its pre curved design, glare is no longer an issue.
Like most of FOX’s other products the colour ways available are nearly endless, so plenty of options for you to match it with your set up with LE’s and SE’s often released throughout the year.
The VUE roll off comes with 2 mud strips, 2 roll off films and a spare spindle.
On to the Oakley Airbrake then. Retailing at the £175 mark and a bag of 6 rolls costing you £29.99 it is certainly the most expensive goggle on the market, but is it worth the extra money?
Oakley really were one of the first goggle companies to adopt the wider roll off system quite a few years ago. In 2013 Oakley introduced the Airbrake range with its easily interchangeable strap and lenses and has been the benchmark for goggles since then. In its early days the Airbrake had a problem with its small canisters not being big enough to hold a whole roll off film when it was covered in mud. Oakley remedied this with some bigger canisters but if like me you try the aftermarket films rather than the genuine ones to try save some money, you'll be disappointed to know that this is not an option. As most of you probably know already from trying it yourself, I tried an aftermarket roll in them and just had issues with it sticking and not recoiling properly. After switching to the genuine rolls that issue was resolved immediately and once again it had a smooth pull system.
The Airbrake is a lovely goggle to work on, it's easy to remove the caps on the canisters and insert the rolls. You do however have to be very precise when setting them up as they tend to be quite temperamental if not done correctly, for example after qualifying I didn't manage to get all the dirt off the pull cord and it caused it to be very stiff and not retract correctly for the race.
If you choose not to run the mud strip you can easily switch between a roll off and tear off goggle, it is just a case of swapping the canisters out for tear off outriggers and tagging the wire off the lens. Much like the Fox VUE the roll off film is 45mm wide offering a better view of the track and better peripheral vision.
In my opinion the FOX VUE roll off system wins this one as It does everything the Airbrake can do but for £60 less. It may not look as slick and fancy as the Oakley Airbrake but it is still a trick looking goggle and when you're 20 minutes into a race, you can still see where you're going and your roll off cord is still working you're not going to care.
A worthwhile mention is, if you used a bag of rolls a weekend and you race 40 weekends a year that's a saving of nearly £500, I don't know about you, but that's money that could be spent on something else. For these reasons it’s a cheaper alternative to the Oakley Airbrake.