Shimano Equinox EyeWear

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.


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  1. jason

    Could you comment on how well they might work with a helmet such as the POC Trabec? I love my Radars and I love my Trabec. I don’t love them together. And the manner in which the Radars fit, or don’t, my various other helmets is their only downside. Thanks.

  2. Chromatic Dramatic

    I have a pair of these, which I bought for the photochromatic lens.

    I love using these to commute in winter, as on the morning commute in, as it is light enough to ride in the dark / poor conditions, and by the time the sun comes up gives enough protection for the eyes. Reverse on the way home. No need to keep swapping lenses (just to clarify, I always ride with glasses, to protect the eyes from wind, things flicking up in to the eyes, and glare under the midday sun).

    On of my pet peeves with glasses is the top of the glasses obscuring your view. These rise up pretty high, so no problems there, but this contributes to the third point below.

    What I don’t like…

    The photochromatic lens isn’t that dark under full sun. So I’m not a massive fan on a bright day, especially as I suffer from migraines and protecting my eyes from glare is a high priority for me.

    They also don’t wrap around the sides much. While I’ve never had a problem with wind coming in and annoying my eyes, again it makes a problem with glare.

    Oh, they are ugly… but look a bit better once you have a helmet on. That isn’t saying much.

    1. Author

      Jason: I’m sorry; I really can’t speak to whether they work with the POC Trabec. I’m tried them with every current helmet I have, which totals three. The fact that your Radars don’t fit that helmet and they don’t fit my Aeon or Gage but do fit my Prevail suggests that maybe the Equinox would fit your helmet. Definitely maybe. But only just.

      Chromatic Dramatic: It sounds like your eyes are more sensitive than mine, and that’s saying something. And there’s something about my shark-fin nose that keeps the glasses sitting high on my head so that I don’t have problems seeing the frame. And yes, without a helmet on I wouldn’t be caught dead in these, but then the same goes for my Giro Haviks and my Oakley Radars.

  3. LesB

    Checking the Shimano site I see that these come in different colors, and they do look better in a dark color like the “shiny carbon”. Any glasses frames in white tend to look campy to me.

    Tifosi specs their photochromes by minimum and maximum percent of light transmission, which is handy for comparing different glasses. I couldn’t find such a spec on the Shimano site.

    1. Author

      I got some clarification from Shimano regarding the number of lenses included: In Europe, buyers receive four pairs of lenses, while in the U.S. buyers receive three pair—no yellow tint.

      LesB: I, too, would like to see minimum and maximum light transmission expressed as a percentage of total. Whatever it is, it’s incredibly broad. I’ve never been more surprised by eyewear.

  4. tinytim

    I dunno about these things. First, the weird pointy triangle at the bridge of the forehead makes it look at though Shimano is trying to bring the ‘widows peak’ back into fashion (even if it makes one more aero). Secondly, with the glasses being sported on Albert, Shimano makes it clear that these puppies are for the cx swamp bog knife fights. Personally, I’ll always turn to Smith Optics full on ski glasses. They have never turned me down while bombing Downieville on my coaster break monster 29++ bike. Also, the ski glasses look sharp as hell while sitting at the brewery drinking a pint with the glasses hanging off your neck like a redbull rider who is always getting the Big air and the chicks.

  5. mirror man

    hmmm…so they look good to me and they take a rx. HOWEVER there doesn’t seem to be a U.S. distributor. Any suggestions as to where to get them in the States or on-line?


    1. Author

      Mirror Man: Your preferred bike retailer should be able to get them with minimal fuss; I’ll ask my source to confirm. Alternatively, there are some online retailers that are carrying them.

    1. Author

      Michael: Not yet, but do have another pair I should try. I confess that I’ve rarely worn anything other than the Equinox for more than a month.

  6. Les.B.

    Padraig, On your advice I recently bought a pair of these only with black frames. After a week of usage I can say that the photochromic lens lives up. From a low-light cloudy or early morning condition to full winter sun they provide good light levels. Whether they do so in bright summer sun for my taste is months away to be seen. But from all indication I think they will.

    I camouflaged the silver “V” by painting it over with black appliance touch-up paint. In the 50’s a “V” stood for a V-8 engine. Hardly.

    In the sixties the word “sunglasses” got supplanted by “shades”. When did it ever get changed back? That one sneaked up on me. And now “eyewear”.

    Anyway, I like then. Thanks for the review.

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