There are precious more important things for a racer than his goggles. Okay, maybe the fact that the bike has to keep running, but not much else. Goggles are keys to them doing well and it’s funny how one of the least expensive parts in a gear bag is the most important.
As many of you know, I’m also a part-time goggle rep for X-Brand goggles and my job every week of supercross and nationals is prepping the riders’ goggles for that weekends race. Let’s take a look at the prep involved for myself and many others in the goggle world.
First of all, supercross is way easier for the riders than the outdoors. The riders often wear the same pair a few times during the day. There are plenty of tear-offs left at the end of the night. Sometimes the tracks have sand and sometimes it’s outdoors and starts to rain but usually, indoors is easy on the optics.
Mike Alessi and his classic orange tinted lens.
Photo: Simon Cudby
The great outdoors, though, is where things get sticky. The mud, dirt, sand, and 40 riders all shooting projectiles at you test every goggle out there. The extreme temperatures also put the goggle foam to test. Sweat is a big issue out there and many riders have had a moto ruined from sweat coming down into their eyes and on the lens. Some riders, the heavy sweaters, will use a feminine hygiene product for even more absorption. (On that note, last time my mom visited me, I had a package of said hygiene products open on my desk and my mom was disgusted that my wife just left this stuff on my desk in the open. Good times explaining that deal to mom!)
The maximum amount of laminate tear-offs you can put on a goggle is about 20 and sometimes, the riders need all that and more. In recent years, the material for laminates have gotten super thin and you’re able to stick on much more than back in the Bob Hannah days. Old school, you could get about ten on there before the vision got pretty blurry, now putting a stack of 20 on is like you have nothing on.
Let’s take a look at what a typical weekend is like for myself. Every company is different as to what methods and usage the goggle goes through so I don’t want to speak for anyone else because, as well as being very important to the riders, the goggle companies themselves are competitive with each other and if I say something about what they do, I’ll hear all about it shortly. Let’s focus on X-Brand shall we?
Each week I prep goggles for Mike Alessi, the Motoconcepts Yamaha guys (Kyle Chisholm and Tommy Hahn) as well as Tyler Bright and Seth Rarick of the JWR team. Every Saturday morning, I’ll place a bag with a fresh set of goggles in their team rig. Each rider gets a refreshed pair of goggles every time they hit the track. That’s two practice sessions and two motos and the goggles are always either brand-new or two or fewer races old. Each week I collect the goggles back, wash them (cold water, delicate cycle, air dry) and use them again, after a couple of races though, they go into the “practice goggles only” mode.
(Attn, people: if you have to clean your goggle lenses, soap and water work best as some of the cleaning solutions like Windex are actually harmful to the lens).
Tommy Hahn likes to give a good strech to his goggles before the start.
Photo: Simon Cudby
They get new lenses each week no matter what (Alessi likes the orange tinted lens unless it’s really cloudy) and I typically load a pack of seven tear-offs for each practice and fourteen for the motos. If it looks like rain is coming or the track is muddy, then it’s twenty-one for the guys.
Of course we always have roll-offs available for the riders if they so choose, but most riders would rather not wear rollies unless it’s really bad. The key, then, is knowing the conditions that are coming up, and giving your guy good advice. If you see a guy just looking at the sky and then back to his phone, it’s most likely a goggle guy checking weather.com to see what is going to happen later that day.
There’s more work in making sure the rider has good vision than you thought!