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Oakley introduced the PRIZM lens technology to us a couple years ago. PRIZM is an effort to build contrast through maximizing your natural color vision. What Oakley is trying to do with a PRIZM lens is identify what colors you’re naturally prone to seeing effectively then look at the environment and match up those colors, so you have a lot of contrast, which is supposed to give you better depth perception, and ultimately gives you performance value to your riding.
When it comes to motocross riding the PRIZM lens translates to the identification of bumps, square edge, and transitions between textures in dirt, thus allowing you to see better in shallow ruts. There are three PRIZM lenses to choose from: MX Black Iridium (designed for full sun exposure), MX Jade Iridium (designed to enhance the green colors when riding in and out of trees), and MX Bronze (enhances vision in lower light and is dark enough to notice subtle transitions in full sun).
I tested the black iridium PRIZM lens in the morning/afternoon then the bronze lens in the evening riding sessions. I also had another pair of goggles with a clear and tinted lenses for comparison. The first thing I immediately noticed when putting on the PRIZM-equipped Oakley goggles was the clarity the lens provided. If you haven’t tried an Oakley lens then it’s tough to describe over text how good they can be. Compared to a standard clear lens the crispness that came through the PRIZM lens is almost like you’re wearing a corrective lens inside your goggle. I tested the black iridium PRIZM lens in the late afternoon test sessions, on a track with several corners heading into the sunlight, plus sections that were through trees and completely covered with shade, and the transitions between sunlight and darker colors were easier to see. It impressed me that the black iridium lens cut down glare from the sun so much as well.
I started off the late evening sessions using the PRIZM Bronze lens, but once I switched over to another goggle company (with a clear lens) to compare is when I could really tell the difference. The glare from the sun was extremely harsh and it was more difficult to see the lines I was aiming for when entering corners. Even with the standard tinted lens the clarity just wasn’t there like when I had (when riding with the PRIZM lens). Of course, it’s never going to be perfect riding directly into the sun, but the PRIZM lens helped me considerably in those conditions.
While the standard tinted lens helped with some glare and direct sunlight, I struggled with shade though corners and through shaded tree sections. The transition wasn’t as good and I lost the ability to focus on my line where the shadows began. This is where the PRIZM lens excelled because its capability to perform in both direct and low sunlight is something I have never experienced with a goggle lens.
When stacking laminate tear offs (pack of seven) on the PRIZM lens it doesn’t lose its clarity and the benefits stay intact. There isn’t another goggle out there that I have tried that can say that. The lens itself DOES scratch easier than other standard lenses, so my suggestion is to leave at least one tear off on until you can change out to another pack. This will help prevent scratches to the expensive lens!
So the downside to the PRIZM lens is that it is costly. At $45.00-$75.00 a lens, there aren’t many of you that want to spend that much coin on a goggle lens right? I get it! This is for the serious racer that wants the most performance out of their lens. Orrrrrrr the guy who rides all freaking day and well into the evening. I am happy with a standard clear Airbrake lens and the clarity it comes with, but I do have a couple of PRIZM lenses on hand (in my gear bag) for those special hard to see places I ride. You can check out the PRIZM lens over at oakley.com.