Forget what ZZ Top said in their song “Cheap Sunglasses” back in the day. A pair of riding glasses is essential to the experience for almost any ride, at almost any time. I have two, three, no, four, maybe five pairs now. Got them for everything. Love sunglasses. Let’s examine what I have, and why.
When Diane and I found the Spokiz (spokiz.com)brand, we were quite intrigued by the prospect of sunglasses that don’t adhere to your head. This sweet setup amounts to weed-wacker nylon cables that are bound together and wrap around your head to secure the glasses on and not hit those little bony protrusions behind your ears. They do not have interchangeable lenses, at least not yet. So, for your money, you get glasses with one color lenses, either clear, ultra bright yellow, black, or amber. I used the black lenses first, since I don’t want people to see my eyes when I ride. They were wonderful for full daylight riding and just generally hanging out. However, they were not at all practical for low light riding, like afternoons or evenings at Tsali. So, I now have the amber lenses, and they seem to do a better job of transmitting light, so they are brighter for low light conditions, yet still dark enough for bright daylight.
I love the cable – not ear piece – design. Perfect for dropping them off your eyes and around your neck when riding or going inside and out. I always used to push my glasses up on my head or hat and then would take off the hat, and presto, the glasses were on the floor, or worse! With this cool invention of wrap technology, we have eliminated the sunglass hat toss. One small drawback. When leaving your favorite coffee shop, you need both hands to tighten the straps around your head. So, you have to have a place to put down the cup of coffee, or whatever you are holding.
Another awesome part of these glasses, especially for Diane and I, are that the amber and black lenses are polarized! Yes, so now your favorite biking glasses also let you see the trout in the water! This is great. So, one pair of glasses for everything.
Or so I thought.
The other day, we got in a pair of Tifosi glasses (www.tifosioptics.com)with the new Backcountry Orange lenses. They look awesome right out of the box. Back to pushing the glasses up on the hat when you aren’t wearing them, but still they look cool. And I need all the help I can get. So, off to Tsali to ride with these new lenses and to see the world through orange tinted glasses. Whoa. The orange color brightens the darks and increases contrast and dims the brights. Seems like a bunch of stuff for one pair of glasses. But, they do. And, they are photochromatic. Which is a big word and not in the word processor’s dictionary. They change the amount of light they let through by changing the darkness of the lens. You knew that already. But these things really worked for Tsali and the semi-dark conditions that the trail brings along. Going from open spaces and bright light to darker, dimmer wooded sections really posed no problems. And, unlike some colored lenses, my head didn’t hurt from the color distortion. I really don’t dig yellow lenses for that reason. Not everyone has this issue, but I don’t like the pallor of yellow lenses.
But, there is no wearing these when riding at night. And, they aren’t polarized, so no seeing the fish.
So, I have another pair of Tifosi’s for riding at night. They have clear lenses, so they don’t do anything but protect my precious vision from unruly sticks and brush. Since I wear contact lenses, I need to wear glasses when I ride so my lenses don’t dry out, as well. Something with a full-ish coverage, so I don’t take a stick to the corner of my eyeball. I hate when that happens.
And, let’s not forget the very cool (too me) pair of Oakley’s I have that are the older, huge, bug looking riding glasses with vents top and bottom. The frame is red, the lenses are that cool changing prismatic red color. No seeing my eyes with these guys on. They are really dark. I look just like Lance when I wear these, Lance circa 2001, about 100 pounds heavier. But, still.
And, let’s not forget my old fishing glasses, my Costa Del Mar’s. Oh my. I love those glasses, even though I haven’t put them on in about a year and a half. And after that, I bet I can root around and find a few more pairs. Oh yeah, the Night Tifosi’s, which have photochromatic lenses that are clear-ish, but still block the UV rays. But, can’t wear them at night. Still too dark.
Cheap sunglasses? No way. Why? Cause I love to be able to see. Cheap sunglasses almost always distort your vision in some way. I like to be able to see what I am looking at. And, I don’t lose stuff. Not much stuff, anyway. I almost never lose sunglasses, so I don’t feel that I am throwing away money on getting good ones. I think of them as an investment. Plus, all these guys that I talk about offer some warranty on lenses or offer replacements for a low price.
These are my ramblings on sunglasses.