The Oakley Plazma photochromic sunglasses are a tribute to the iconic American brand’s running jackets made famous by public relations nightmare Geraint Thomas.
Whatever contractual pressures there may have been, the Welsh Tour de France winner has shown unwavering loyalty to the infamous white-rimmed Oakleys throughout his career. No matter how many times he lost a pair on the side of a mountain after a premature fall, he always reappeared at the start of the next stage or race in a new pair of racing jackets, long after he had finished. ‘Oakley focused on a new design.
So, as a token of appreciation, Oakley designed their new Plazma sunglasses, an almost identical replica of the just running jacket with Oakley’s latest and most sophisticated technology and one of the few eyewear of cycling sun to fight the good fight of the normal size shades.
Look through the peloton, or any weekend club outing, and it will be inundated with riders like Mathieu van der Poel and Peter Sagan wearing ski goggles that would make even Elton John back down from their extravaganza.
The irony here is that for me, personally, I’m unabashedly pro huge sunglasses. I have a big head and consider a big pair of sunglasses to provide the same effect as wearing an oversized t-shirt to hide any unwanted wood.
Despite this, I like the sober and uncluttered approach of Plazma sunglasses. Sober, retro, they gave me the essence of a Belgian powerhouse from the early 2000s that always seemed a size too big for its bike, something I personally aspire to.
One thing I couldn’t get away from was how Plazmas made me look like Bono from U2. Go watch the video for their hit ‘The Sweetest Thing’ here and you’ll see what I mean. It’s all I could think of every time I saw myself in the mirror.
The problem is, I don’t really like U2 or Bono. I don’t know him personally but I just have bad vibes. If a pair of cycling sunglasses were to make me look like a rockstar, I would much prefer Elvis
Costello or Lenny Kravitz.
Also, on a more technical note, having worn large lens glasses for so long, I’ve become so used to the protection they offer from the elements. The wind and rain were no match for the giant piece of plastic that often protected my eyes. Narrower Plazmas have sometimes been proven to be penetrable and no one wants dry and wet eyes simultaneously, right?
It’s a shame because, in terms of lens performance, these Plazmas are remarkable. Oakley uses its HDO (“high definition optics”) technology and here offers photochromic lenses which, in simple terms, are lenses that adjust the amount of light allowed through the eye based on light conditions. I have used various photochromic lenses before and these are some of the best, if not the best.
The speed of transition is lightning fast from light to dark, and I found the claimed 23% minimum light transmission to be very dark for those blindingly light winter hikes. The Plazmas were indeed the ideal partner for the bad weather that we have experienced this holiday season.
It’s also worth noting that if photochromic lenses aren’t your thing, you can also get the Plazmas with Oakley’s Prizm lenses, which are also available in a variety of light transmissions.
I found the Plazmas to be very comfortable. They sat nicely on my face, locked by the nasal handles and Unobtainium ear socks, but they weren’t tight or restrictive, and they didn’t leave any bumps on the side of my head or the ridge of my head. nose after long periods of use.
Then there is the price. “Â£ 139 (RRP) for a piece of plastic” I hear you cry. I know the markup has to be phenomenal, but someone has to foot the bill for all those race jackets Geraint is losing on the Alpine mountain side.