Archambault’s Angle: Why Goggles?

We are all familiar with the iconic image of the adventure motorcycle rider.  The tall, muscular rider with a strong jaw line sporting the start of a beard.  He is mounted on a loaded down, pannier equipped large bore adventure bike that carries everything he needs, traversing some epic and beautiful landscape miles from anywhere. Strapped to the helmet with a dirt bike type visor, there is inevitably a pair of goggles protecting and hiding his eyes, eyes that have seen the wonders of the world that he has passed and left behind. While much of this is just marketing, the goggle does have an important place for the adventure motorcyclist. 

While a face-shield does help make a helmet quieter, provides better aerodynamics, and total protection to the face from the elements, it does so at the cost of other factors important to the off-road motorcyclist. Goggles provide the ultimate protection to the eyes from the elements, for the off-road motorcyclist dust is the big enemy. 

As you can see in the picture above, taken after a 50 mile desert race, the eyes and area protected by goggles were clean in contrast from the rest of the face.  While the conditions riding a Backcountry Discovery Route with your friends might not stir the same about of dust as a race course shared with over a thousand other racers, we all know the annoyance of dust getting into your eyes. 

All of the quality off-road goggles on the market (things have come a long way in the last 50 years since using paratrooper goggles) use mircofiber against the face. Besides being more comfortable than foam microfiber also keeps sweat from running into the eyes. Hustling a big bike though rough terrain will undoubtedly cause someone to sweat more than just cruising a clear road. Off-road goggles also feature quick changing lenses, that allow for easier cleaning, and pack much flatter than a helmet face-shield. Replacement lenses are normally a fraction of the cost of a helmet face-shield, and offered in a variety of tints (in some cases including transitional). This gives the rider the ability to always have the correct lens for the situation, and makes lens replacement easy and economical.

With goggles only covering only the eyes, the rider is no long exhaling directly onto their eye protection, helping keep vision unobstructed by fog and the lens being positioned closer to the face improves vision because the dust and dirt that builds up is less noticed by the wearer. I personally like the additional airflow to my face, allowing the sweat to do it’s job and keep me cool.

Like with knobbie off-road tires, goggles have their time and place. A face-shield is going to work better for pounding out the miles on the road, commuting, and the run to Starbucks for the morning cup of Americano (yes Touratech made a Starbucks joke).  Personally, when the miles of highway and paved roads end and the dirt starts, the face-shield gets flipped up and the goggles go on.  I recommend anyone who has not tried goggles to give them a go, the cost of a good pair of goggles is not much more than a tank of gas…


About the Author

Eric is an incurable motorcycle nut. He’s owned everything from scooters to vintage motocross bikes and now spends much of his time riding and talking about adventure motorcycles. If you have been to the Touratech store in Seattle or called the offices, chances are you’ve talked to Eric. Eric recently came in second place in the adventure class at the Desert 100 Race. He’s a key part of the Touratech race team and when he’s not at the local Harescramble or Enduro event he can be found roaming the Cascade mountains on his KTM 950 looking for new routes for the Touratech Rally.