Okay, now that the collective gasp everyone made in reading that title has passed, I’ll confirm for you that this is a review of eyewear that you may not even have known existed. Members of the Argos-Shimano and Française des Jeux teams have been wearing pieces of Shimano eyewear for a couples of seasons (though most of the bigger names at FDJ, like Jeremy Roy, wear Oakley) as have Niels Albert and Radomir Simunek Jr., but of the many things that Shimano makes, their eyewear has gotten less promotion than a woman in Congress.
Okay, so I’m going to be honest here. There are a great many accessories produced by big companies that aren’t necessarily up to par. Trek’s water bottles can’t compare to those made by Specialized, for instance. Cycling is full of similar examples. Last month I went to the media intro for Dura-Ace 9000, and while there I tried out a pair of the Equinox just to be polite. I really didn’t think they’d be anything that I’d wear more than a week, just to make sure they were unremarkable.
Sometimes, my hunches are just plain wrong and this is one of those times. I’ve never been wrongerer about an item that wasn’t core to a company’s product line.
Look, these are just glasses. They won’t make you faster, they won’t bring peace to the Middle East and they are unlikely to make the opposite sex bat their eyes at you, but what they will do is provide you with eye protection suited to anything from midnight to noon. That’s why I’m writing.
The Shimano Equinox Eyewear kit comes with three sets of lenses. There’s a pair of clear lenses included, plus a pair of mirrored lenses with a gradient, gray tint; their materials list a fourth, yellow, set of lenses, but mine didn’t include those. The lenses included in the glasses have a slight brown tint that is very color-accurate, but what makes them remarkable is that they are photochromic, covering the broadest range of any photochromic eyewear I’ve ever worn, from Cat. 1 to Cat. 3. I timed the transition from lightest tint to darkest at under 20 seconds, though the reverse seemed to take a few seconds longer.
I never used the clear or mirror lenses. Not once. I had no need. I wore these glasses during sunny, cloudless days and in pre-dawn darkness that required lights on my bike. Never in my life has one pair of glasses been so versatile.
Naturally, styling will be a big question on peoples’ minds. I think these look sufficiently PRO not to be an embarrassment, and I’m sorry, but I don’t care how effective a piece of eyewear is—if it looks like something I’d buy off a rack at the Flying J truck stop, I’m not wearing them for all the diesel in Bakersfield.
I could go on about all the technology Shimano uses in their polycarbonite lenses, how remarkably clear they are, the scratch-resistant coating, the prescription lens clip that’s available, the nice travel box and larger-than-Oakley’s cotton protection bag, or how I was able to fit them into helmets from both Specialized (the Prevail) and Giro (the Aeon)—though not Bell—but the only other detail that really impressed me was this: They retail for $119.99.