One of the upsides to moving from Southern California to Northern California is that the sun isn’t quite as bright. You don’t need quite so much sunscreen and you don’t need your glasses to be quite so dark.
(There’s always a however in life, right? I mean, sure, there are exceptions like the love of your kids, but few other things are as perfect.)
So, however. The however being, in this particular case the fact that while bright sun on my road rides may not be as bright as it used to be, I ride roads paved and unpaved and singletrack trails where the light can be all but eclipsed by Redwoods that make telephone poles seem Lilliputian. I mean, I’m not even sure how many F-stops that would be on my camera. In the case of mountain biking I’m betting the range is on the order of F 2.8 to F 16, a change of so many orders of magnitude that I have to refer to arcane camera terminology to describe it.
The upshot to this is that I’ve become an enormous fan of photochromic lenses. I need lenses that change and change a lot and do it quickly. Transitions lenses can take 20 seconds. After investing in a pair of Oakleys with Transitions lenses a few years ago I sold them after running off the trail when they didn’t change quickly enough.
Among the many things Shimano does well (can you imagine if they started making laptops?), they do eyewear, and they do it well. Why their eyewear hasn’t caught on the way their footwear has baffles me.
As part of their S-Phyre line, Shimano has just introduced new eyewear. I’ve previously reviewed their eyewear because they have done photochromic lenses that worked very well and changed quickly. I’ve been wearing the new S-Phyre R. These are frameless and offer terrific peripheral vision, which I want when I’m doing road and gravel rides.
The kit that I have came with three lenses: polarized grey red (which has a bluish tint), clear and photochromic clear. For road riding in places with bright light that won’t be hidden by trees, the polarized grey red is a terrific lens. The clear is good for bad weather and riding at dawn or dusk. However (there’s that word again), I use the photochromic clear exclusively.
In addition to the three lenses, there’s a carrying case, an XL nose pad, and a protective bag that you can use to wipe the lens.
At its clearest, the photochromic lens lets 86 percent of the light through, while at its darkest it lets only 24 percent of the available light reach your eyes, and this change will elapse in as few as eight seconds.
Changing lenses isn’t the most intuitive process. It requires pulling the earpiece down slightly, then out and up. Once snapped into place there’s no chance of an accidental separation.
Shimano’s first photochromic lenses had one flaw that limited their use: they had no hydrophobic coating, so in rain, or even mist, the glasses were rendered useless in mere moments. The S-Phyre R lens has a new hydrophobic coating which will make them my go-to for riding in the rain, which is supposed to happen later this week.
Final thought: I wouldn’t mind having these in readers.
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