Since Day 1, I’ve worn sunglasses when riding motorcycles. (During the day, of course. Wearing sunglasses at night, even if you’re a rock star, is downright silly.) Perhaps that is because my first helmet was a Shoei RF-800 with a clear faceshield. It never occurred to me to buy a tinted shield, especially given the convenience of simply removing my sunglasses when the sun went down. In Riderphoto shoots, we typically wear tinted shields because we want to hide the look of terror on our faces when Rich Cox asks us to do twelve more passes on a treacherous, off-camber, gravel-strewn curve…into the blinding sun.
Nonetheless, I still wear sunglasses when I ride. Especially on warm days, I like opening the faceshield to let in the breeze. To do so yet not compromise eye protection, high-quality sunglasses are essential. That means the lenses and frames should be sturdy, with quality optics and a wrap-around design to keep out sunlight and eye-drying wind.
For the past few months, I’ve been trading off between two different pair of 7eye sunglasses. Both are the men’s Maestro model (for women, the Mistral is available). The only difference between the two is the type of lenses: one has 24:7 photochromic lenses, which change from yellow tint in low light (indoors, at night) to dark gray tint in bright sunshine; the other has gray Re-ACT polarized lenses with Amplified Color Technology. Both are NXT lenses guaranteed for life against breakage and include Quarz scratch-resistant/anti-static coating and an anti-fog coating. Furthermore, the glasses incorporate 7eye’s SPF75 technology with built-in Air Dams to limit wind and glare, plus bi-material temple pads and nose pads for added grip. I ordered mine in Dark Tortoise, but Black Tortoise and Mahogany are also available (women’s Mistral are available in Glossy Black, Leopard Tortoise and Chocolate Crystal).
Hands down, these are the most comfortable sunglasses I’ve ever worn, and the optical quality of the lenses is amazing. Peripheral vision is excellent. I wear contacts, so the wrap-around design and Air Dams keeps my eyes protected from the wind. In fact, on adventure rides, I wear the 7eye sunglasses instead of goggles; when the dust kicks up, I just lower the faceshield on my Arai XD3 helmet. The Maestros fit my melon-shaped head well, the rubber nose and temple pads help keep them in place under all sorts of conditions, and their sturdy design makes them easy to put on and take off with a helmet on.
Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what our safety/skills columnist Eric Trow has to say:
I recently bought a pair of 7eye prescription sunglasses from Panoptx and I have to tell you, these are the best riding glasses I’ve ever owned. There is much talk about style and frames, but often very little discussion about lenses. Unfortunately, many of even the most expensive sunglasses have polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate, while highly impact resistant, compromises optical clarity quite significantly compared to traditional plastic (what’s known as CR-39) lenses or glass. The NXT lenses that Panoptx/7eye uses are really the best of both worlds — highly impact resistant and durable (plus chemical resistant, which poly is not) AND they have incredible visual clarity. For me as a rider, the visual performance is my first priority every time. Oh, and 7eye also has some lenses that enhance contrast, making traffic lights and brake lights a bit more vivid. And they have a “dark to darker” photochromic lens (think “Transitions lenses”) that darkens significantly when exposed to UV rays but lightens enough for night riding when the sun goes down, eliminating the need to change glasses — particularly nice if you wear prescription glasses as I do. If you can’t tell, I really like a good eyeglass product and these are terrific.
My only complaint is that the 24:7 photochromic lenses don’t get dark enough, which is why I tested a second pair with regular dark gray lenses. I love the idea of one pair of sunglasses that I can wear when the sun is high or low. In fact, I’ve been wearing my 7eye sunglasses with the 24:7 lenses on mountain bike rides at night (when the tint is yellow) to enhance vision and protect my eyes. But during the day, the darkest tint of the photochromic lenses isn’t dark enough. 7eye claims that the 24:7 lenses, at the darkest end of their range, block 82% of visible light while the Re-ACT polarized lenses block 87% of visible light. Well, that extra 5% makes a big difference. If the photochromic lenses got that dark, I’d be all set with one pair.
7eye sunglasses come with a very handy crush-resistant, zippered case. Prices start at $119. For more information, visit www.7eye.com.