The INEOS Grenadiers cycling team have won seven of the last 11 editions of the Tour de France. Their philosophy of continuous improvement is well known, so when they make a significant change to their kit, you can rest assured they won’t have done it on a whim. In fact, shifts like this tend to make the rest of the cycling world sit up and take notice – but should we believe the hype?
Prior to this season, Oakley had been the team’s eyewear manufacturer of choice since their inception in 2010, and 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas was often sighted in the peloton wearing his familiar Oakley Racing Jackets. This year, however, INEOS Grenadiers have chosen to make SunGod their new eyewear partner, marking the challenger brand’s debut on the Men’s UCI WorldTour.
“INEOS Grenadiers is a performance-led team so we pride ourselves on working with the most forward-thinking, agile and performance-driven partners,” says Rod Ellingworth, deputy team principal at INEOS Grenadiers. “That’s why we’ve chosen SunGod as our new, long-term eyewear partner. Their product quality and commitment to continuously raising the industry bar is excellent and we’re really excited by the pipeline of innovative products we will develop together.”
Founded in 2013, British eyewear manufacturer SunGod have a simple mission statement: See Better. They’ve previously joined forces with world-class sports teams including America’s Cup sailing team INEOS Britannia, McLaren F1 and England Rugby. Now INEOS Grenadiers are enjoying the benefits of that expertise.
The team are already training and racing both on- and off-road in SunGod’s high-performance Pace SeriesTM sunglasses, the AirasTM, VelansTM and VulcansTM. The range takes advantage of sophisticated 8KO® lens technology, which offers INEOS Grenadiers riders both optical and weight-saving advantages.
The partnership works both ways, however. SunGod can now use the expertise of some of the best riders in the peloton to aid the design of new products, and the brand say they’re working on all-new sunglasses ”uniquely and directly shaped” by INEOS Grenadiers cyclists. Unsurprisingly, much of this development is currently top secret – exactly as you’d expect from a team operating at the pinnacle from elite sport – but we’re told to keep our eyes peeled for first sightings on the race circuit this summer. SunGod believe the new shades will turn some heads when they arrive.
In the meantime, we were curious to find out what we’d get when we ordered a pair of SunGod sunglasses for ourselves at www.sungod.co.
While we knew that those 8KO® lenses and 100% UV protection come as standard on the SunGod range, this had the potential to be a daunting process. After all, with lenses available in 10 refined tints (as well as two IrisTM photochromic lenses), and the opportunity to customise frames, ear socks and even the SunGod logos on the arms of our glasses, there would be more than half a million design combinations available to us.
Those concerns about having too much choice didn’t last long, however. The easy-to-use site guided us every step of the way, allowing us to see what our new sunglasses will look like when all the design elements were combined – whether we chose to go full-frame, half-frame or no frame at all. Every little tweak we made was displayed on screen in real-time, and the site also showed us what the world would look like – along with the VLT (Visible Light Transmission) value – through each lens.
Once we’d made our choice, our bespoke VelansTM sunglasses were assembled by hand in the UK, and – because we’d chosen the next-day delivery option available to UK residents – we had them in our hands the following morning.
They arrived packaged in an elegant cardboard box – SunGod are a certified B Corp™ and proudly carbon neutral, so sustainability has been part of their ethos since day one – along with a microfibre bag (made from recycled bottles) to keep them safe and clean. On top of all that, we found some additional nose pads in the box to help us get the ideal fit.
It’s also good to know that SunGod products are covered by a lifetime guarantee that covers all damage (excluding lens scratches) for life, free of charge – as SunGod put it themselves, keeping your gear in play is better than throwing it away.
SunGod say that the 2mm nylon-based 8KO® lens material is lighter, stronger and clearer than the polycarbonate that’s traditionally been the industry standard, and comes with a triple-layer scratch-resistant coating to help keep your eyewear in peak condition. They also believe they’re at the front of the pack when it comes to clarity – where polycarbonate has an Abbe Value of 31, 8KO® lenses have an Abbe Value of 45, which is comparable to the clarity of the surface of the human eye. (The higher the Abbe Value, the better the clarity of the material, meaning higher levels of optical precision for the wearer.)
But what does all that mean on the road? When Cycling Weekly’s reviewer put himself in the shoes of Geraint Thomas by putting some new VelansTM through their paces, he described them as a “solid pair of shades” that “protect from the elements and fit comfortably, both when worn and stored in the helmet”. He also described the frame design as “striking”, and noted that “the VelansTM also sit slightly off the face, allowing airflow in warmer temperatures, but not too much that it makes your eyes water.” And in the words of Geraint himself, “the moment I put the SunGods on, I was loving the lenses”. If they’re good enough for G…
The SunGod range has already shown it has what it takes to turn the heads of the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team – it could be time for the rest of us to take notice, too.
Prices on SunGod’s exciting Pace SeriesTM start at £130. To find out more, visit www.sungod.co.
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