In the last 18 months I’ve tried nearly a dozen different pair of eyewear. I’ve never considered myself an eyewear snob. Sure, I’ve uncovered preferences, but we’re not talking Sonoma Coast Pinot vs. Willamette Valley Pinot here.
Before I get to my preferences or the actual review at stake here, I’m going to trot out my recurring caveat: Eyewear, like gearing and clothing, is location-dependent. A few years back when I went to Jamaica for a tour I found that my very darkest lenses were barely dark enough. And in New England, I can’t even use that lens.
I’m on record as a fan of photochromic lenses. Conditions change, amiright? But not all photochromic lenses are created equal. A great many of them don’t have any sort of hydrophobic coating, so the moment there’s drizzle, or even fog, your view would qualify as legally blind. Others have a hydrophobic coating making them usable in wet conditions.
Adding another wrinkle to my eyewear trial has been the reality that even if the lens is big enough to keep my eyes from watering on a descent, it is possible that the lens won’t be big enough to keep pollen from swirling beneath the lens and giving them the crimson burn allergy sufferers know so well.
The Rudy Project Tralyx is a pair of glasses that has captured my affection. I’ve been wearing them with Rudy Project’s ImpactX-2 photochromic lens. The lens allows a range of between 74 percent and 9 percent visible light transmission, which is to say, from not quite completely clear to very, very dark. The photochromic effect on this lens is possibly the slowest I’ve encountered; it can take minutes for the lens to transition from its darkest to its lightest, though darkening seems to be a slightly quicker process. The upshot is that this isn’t the right pair of glasses for riding out of a forest, across a meadow and back into the forest and expecting the lens to keep pace with the changes in foliage. What it is ideally suited for is riding in gradually changing conditions, like sunrise or sunset.
You may wonder why a lens that changes only gradually might be useful. What I most appreciate about this lens is that my eyes are always comfortable in a Goldilocks sort of way; with this lens, it’s never too bright and never too dark.
The styling on these glasses strikes that rare balance between Euro lines and practical design, which never seems to be an assured outcome. The nose pad is adjustable to prevent fogging in humid conditions and Rudy Project’s Powerflow design is intended to keep air flowing around the lens, again, to prevent moisture from building up on the inside of the lens.
The Tralyx is also a rare pair of glasses in that Rudy Project offers them in three sizes. Srsly. I’ve been wearing the standard Tralyx, but they also make the Tralyx Slim for small faces and the Tralyx XL for those with bigger heads.
In the world of cycling eyewear, I tend to divide designs into Oakley, and everyone attempting to copy Oakley, and then everything else. These fall into that latter camp.
Rudy Project, like Spy, gives a series of measurements for the dimensions on their eyewear, which is terrific for anyone wanting more information before ordering a pair. There’s just one issue: I don’t know how anyone takes those five measurements, which include factors like eye size, temple and base curve and turns them into something usable. After all, a 32-inch waist on a. pair of pants doesn’t mean much if you’ve never measured around your midsection.
The other detail that makes this eyewear winners are the earpieces, which are the softest I’ve encountered; that wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t stay put, though. When I go head down during a hard effort they stick right where they are meant to be. And being soft and pliable wouldn’t mean much if they were too long, which is something I’ve encountered as well.
The Tralyx vary in cost, but with the photochromic lens they come in at the high end of their range: $224.99. They come with a three-year warranty on the frame. Prescription lenses are an option as well.
Final thought: Chicken dinner.