In cycling, sunglasses are often seen as an item of fashion. An extension of the rider’s personality or style, if you will. But whether you’re reliving the 80s by rocking some Pit Vipers or going for that Peter Sagan bad-boy look with some 100% shades, fundamentally, these sunglasses are there to protect your eyes. Quality sunglasses are meant to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, dust and debris while also preventing eye strain and fatigue and enhancing visibility.
As someone who’s suffered eye damage, I need to wear sunglasses on every single ride – no matter if the sun has been hiding behind grey skies for days. This means I have lots of different glasses and lenses for all weather conditions, different types of riding and night rides. But since I started using Tifosi’s Rail XC sunglasses with its photochromic "Fototec" lenses, most are now gathering dust as I reach for the Tifosis day in and day out.
I’ve got a rather painful eye condition called Recurrent Corneal Erosion (RCE), and I have to protect my eyes at all times. This is especially important on the bike, where one is constantly exposed to wind, dust, bugs, and other irritants. Since wearing sunglasses is now a health concern, style comes second as I primarily look for ones that have a lightweight frame, a secure fit, comfortable arms so I can wear them for hours on end, and, of course, quality lenses.
Luckily, the market is flush with cycling-specific sunglasses and these Tifosi Rail XC sunnies have all the features one has come to expect of a quality pair of cycling sunglasses – bendable nose pad and arms for a customized fit; good airflow to prevent lens fog; rim-free lens for a clear field of vision; a lightweight 31-gram package– but comes with the added benefit of a photochromic lens.
To clarify, the Tifosi Rail XC sunglasses come in two versions: one with interchangeable lenses and another with a single “Fototec” lens. It’s the Fototec lens that has become my absolute go-to this year on the sunniest and greyest days alike. This photochromic lens gently adjusts to changing light conditions. In limited light, the lenses are pretty clear – not quite clear enough for night rides but good for even the greyest of wet days or into dusk. In full sun, the lenses darken significantly and look like any other dark-blue mirrored lenses. The transition is gradual and only noticeable in that you’re not squinting into the gleaming light. Yet according to Tifosi, the light transmission range is impressively broad, ranging from 14%-74%. This means that I haven’t had to swap lenses all year. It’s only at night rides where clearer lenses are needed.
And while you may not be making any bold fashion statements with the Rail XC’s clear arms and non-oversized lens, I do think the sunglasses look good, go with just about every kit or helmet, and, most importantly, provide good protection.
At the Black Friday price of just over $60, they're hard to beat for the price.
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