In the last year the MBAs on Wall Street have fed us a number of interesting stories followed by dire predictions for increased disaster should we insist on continuing our wayward course. They have also stuck to the old hymnbook with the chorus that goes:
Competition begets innovation
Innovation begets revelation …
That might not have been a direct quote. Don’t hold me to that. Regardless, the MBAs are right that free-market competition is good for innovation. Witness the X Games.
Or consider Giro and Oakley. You’ve seen Lance Armstrong in his Jawbones and probably a fair chunk of your local peloton as well. The Jawbones made big noise for being the first Oakleys to use a unique lock and hinge system to make lens replacement a, um, snap.
But Giro actually beat them to the punch. The Filter debuted nearly nine months earlier and uses an even simpler lens changing system called Pop Top™ (not to be confused with an antique soda can) to allow the user to change lens without risk of breaking the frame thanks to too firm an effort. I’ve switched lenses on a number of occasions and I can attest to making the switch and being fear-free while doing it. The switch takes all of two minutes including putting away the recently removed lenses. If you’re a race mechanic, you’ll still have time to change a wheel and make a martini.
The Filter uses a half-entrapped frame so that the lower portion of the lens is frame-free for minimally interrupted vision. A lever at the temple unlocks a cam that holds the lens in place; a simple twist releases the lens, making tint choice on the morning of a ride a realistic option.
While I’ve tried the Filter with only one helmet so far (Specialized) I did find them to fit nicely in the vent holes on the few occasions I decided to take them off. The nose bridge and ear pieces are sufficiently grippy to keep the glasses in place even when you look straight down. However, I do have one minor issue with the ear pieces; as you can see from the photo above, they angle inward slightly. While I don’t have an issue on shorter rides, if I’m out for four or five hours, they do pinch me just a bit behind the ears, and I’ll notice a bit of irritation.
On fast descents the Filter does a great job of directing wind down my face without eddying up under the lens to make my eyes tear. In my experience, that is a rare quality for a lens this small.
The Filter I tried included two different sets of lenses, rose silver as well as orange selector. The orange selector was excellent for early mornings when the sun was not sufficiently up to require the rose silver lens. Under changeable and brighter conditions I found the rose silver to be one of the single most versatile lens colors I’ve ever used. I wore the Filter when I did Levi’s King Ridge Gran Fondo this fall and several people told me that my lenses were much too dark to be able to ride from sunlight into the forest-shaded areas. They were convinced I wouldn’t be able to see and would wind up some unfortunate statistic of the ride. On the contrary, I was able to see sufficiently in lower light situations and didn’t have to squint in mid-day sunlight. It’s too dark for rolling out at dawn, but once the sun is any kind of up, the tint is terrific.
I also got to try the clear silver lens which has a flash mirror coating which adds a hint of yellow mirror. They were good on really overcast days or on the occasional ride that started much too early and ended before the sun was fully up. They are fairly limited in their use but their ability to increase contrast in low-light situations can be very helpful.
Giro sells the Filter in several configurations. Glasses start at $160. As reviewed with the rose silver and orange selector lenses plus a cotton bag and hard travel case, the ensemble goes for $220. Additional lenses run from $30 to $50; those lenses with the flash mirror coatings are at the upper end of that pricing.