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With their bold lens design the Oakley Kato sunglasses may not be for shy and retiring types, but Oakley has nailed absolutely everything from my point of view. These are some of the best shades I've ever worn, although, as is often the case with Oakley, they are reassuringly expensive...
At first, I wasn't completely sure if I liked the Kato's lens design, with the little bird-like beak protruding out over the nose, but it does look more subtle when you are actually wearing them. You can see where they (probably) got their name from – the black eye-mask worn by Kato, the Green Hornet's sidekick.
The fit is great, though. Behind the lens sits an 'unobtanium' nosepiece positioned in exactly the same place as normal which keeps the lens sitting close to your face. There are three different nosepieces included to dial in the fit.
Even when hot and sweaty the nosepiece stays put and the same is true for the arms where they sit over the ears.
The Katos fit very close to the face. I don't think I've ever worn another pair of glasses that literally stop any air from coming up through the bottom of the glasses. I found it a big bonus wearing them at the tail end of the grass pollen season, a time of year when I do not like any air blowing over my eyeballs.
The lens wraps around the edge of your face, too, which helps reduce airflow as well, and the lack of a frame means there's nothing to block your view when shoulder checking before manoeuvring.
This also helps when looking through the top of the glasses when you have your head down in a racing position.
For even more fit tweakage the Katos come with 'adjustable rake'. On the back of the Oakley logo on each arm you'll find a little door that you open, which lets you change the angle of the arm in relation to the lens, bringing the glasses closer to or further away from your cheekbones for a near custom fit.
Even with such a close fit there are no issues with ventilation, with only a slight bit of fogging on a muggy, rainy day when stopped at the traffic lights or something.
The Katos use Oakley's Prizm technology which is designed to enhance colour and contrast by filtering the light spectrum using sport-specific dyes.
There are seven colour options in the Kato range; I've been testing the Road Black Lens with a Grey smoke frame. This gives a purplish hue to everything in a subtle way, and they worked fine in bright sunshine and on mildly overcast days.
The clarity of the lens is awesome – crystal clear with no distortion at all, right the way around the curved section.
As I said at the start of the review, these are some of the best sunglasses I have ever worn on the bike. The quality of the lens is excellent, the build quality throughout is top notch, and you also get a hardcase included and a cloth to keep them looking their best, though you don't need to treat them with kid gloves because the lens is impressively durable and doesn't scratch easily.
You can get some very good glasses for a lot less money, though.
The SunGod Airas BF glasses Anna tested earlier this year aren't cheap at £195, but they come with a photochromic lens which changes from clear to dark in varying light conditions, so you'll be able to use them throughout the year.
But if you want a pair of frameless glasses but are on a tight budget then you can't go far wrong with the Galibier Regale Ultra Optics, which cost a mere £46.
If money was no object, these are the glasses I'd be buying, as both the performance and fit are just awesome. Money is an object for the majority of us, though, and you can get a lot of very good glasses for a lot less money.
Excellent clarity, performance and fit, but with an eye-watering price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oakley Kato sunglasses
Size tested: One Size
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Oakley says, "Oakley Kato is engineered to push the boundaries of performance with a purpose-built design that conforms to the contours of the face for a seamless look. With its progressive, disruptive wrap design, the frameless architecture, innovative tilt function, and multiple nosepads create a customized fit. Paired with Prizm Lens Technology, Oakley Kato empowers athletes with optimized coverage and an expanded field of view."
They do offer an amazingly clear lens and a great customisable fit.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* DISRUPTIVE DESIGN - Oakley Kato has a progressive, disruptive design intended to fit the lens as close to the face as possible, providing optimized coverage, wider field of view, frame retention and impact protection.
* REVOLUTIONARY LENS DESIGN - Advancements in optical design have allowed the lens to be designed with an extended wrap and rigidity in key areas that mimic the structural properties of a frame.
* ADJUSTABLE RAKE - An innovative fit mechanism helps tilt the lens to create the right bridge and cheek contact to properly and comfortably adapt to more faces.
* NOSEPADS - Comes with three Unobtainium® nosepads of different thicknesses and depths to create different offsets to give you the fit you need and no slip grip.
* LENS - Available with Prizm™ lenses that are designed to enhance color, contrast so you can see more detail.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They offer an excellent fit and amazing clarity.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Amazing lens clarity.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Katos are some of the most expensive glasses we've ever tested on road.cc, the closest being the GP-1X from Roka at £225. There's a huge number of quality glasses for around the £125 to £175 mark, with Galibier offering some of the most cost-effective performance pairs for £46, as mentioned in the review.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I really can't fault these glasses other than on cost; they're excellent, but you can get some very high performance glasses for a lot less money.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!