Review by Olaf Wolff
[This Panoptx Velocity FX Cyclone Motorcycle Riding Glasses Review was originally published in the September 2006 issue of Rider magazine]
Having good sunglasses has always been a high priority for me. I equate it to the “If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet” principle. Eyes are important and I’m willing to give them every benefit of the doubt-regardless of how cool ZZ Top makes cheap sunglasses sound.
I was searching for a single pair of riding glasses I could wear all day and into the night and under varying weather/light conditions. Panoptx’s Velocity FX Cyclone riding glasses gave me more than I thought existed. Not only does Panoptx produce wraparound sunglasses with contemporary chic, they offer what they refer to as day/night lenses. These are photochromatic lenses that darken in bright sun and lighten to clear at night, and they feature a reflective coating that diminishes the glare of oncoming headlights. And here’s the kicker—they come with foam eyecups, just like goggles.
The Panoptx Company is the creation of Dr. Rudolph Kopfer, a maxillofacial surgeon, an expert on the bones and muscles in the face. The story has it he stood at the top of Sun Valley in 1989, wondering whether to wear goggles or sunglasses for his first ski run of the day, and the concept for a “goggle-in-a-sunglass” was conceived.
Putting his medical degree to good use, he measured the exact structure of the facial bones on hundreds of skulls, averaged the numbers and came up with Panoptx’s unique fit-curve. It allows you to specifically choose glasses for small, medium or large craniums. The fit-curve concept for riding glasses is particularly useful with eyecups, which function optimally when they seal against your face correctly.
Dr. Kopfer worked with skiers, snowboarders, motorcycle riders and other outdoor athletes for eight years developing prototypes, and in 1997 the patented Panoptx Eyewear Company was founded. The Panoptx line now offers a wide variety of styles, including models with removable eyecups (CV series), and most models feature the exclusive speed-rated system. They developed the “windless eyewear” category and are now the only eyewear manufacturer that has a speed-rating system. The speed-rating thing simply means someone actually understands that at 80 mph glasses need different design considerations from those used when standing or walking. That thoughtfulness is one of the definitive reasons these glasses work so well for riding.
Good lenses are the main thing, though, and all Panoptx lenses offer 100 percent UV protection and are optically correct, de-centered and tapered, meaning you get the best image possible in every direction. The NXT lenses, which come in the Velocity models, are guaranteed unbreakable for life. The inner surface of all Panoptx lenses are treated with a permanent anti-fog coating, which the company claims is the most effective treatment available. It works by absorbing excess moisture. My wife and I have been wearing the glasses for several thousand miles now and neither of us has experienced any fogging issues. Panoptix has an optical lab that can grind prescription lenses for most styles, and bifocals are also available. The frames are warranted against defects in materials or manufacturing for one year as well.
The first time I rode with my Velocity FX glasses on, I was traveling on Highway 1, head-on into a spectacular California coastal sunset. As the colors morphed and daylight faded, I forgot that I was wearing sunglasses, the photochromatic lenses work that well, right into the night. I’ve tried to nitpick and find something I don’t like about these glasses—but I’ve got nothing. At $145 a pair, they’re worth every tarnished penny.