Looking for some photochromic cycling sunglasses that change with the light? Then check out this review of Smith Shift Split MAG glasses that come with a clear and photochromic lenses.
I have tested these riding in Sussex in the UK both on and off road. This includes some long rides in the South Downs National Park and exploring the MTB trails in Stanmer Park, Brighton.
Whether on cycling holidays somewhere exotic, or riding your local trails, you’ll encounter a range of light conditions. You can start in the sun, then the clouds come in, then the sun is back out. On many rides you’ll flit between direct light and the shade, for example when cycling in and out of trees.
Obviously you don’t want to stop to change your eyewear every time the light changes. However, it can be dangerous not to have clear visibility when riding. For example, on the road you might not spot a patch of gravel and could have a hard fall, and off road you could hit any number of unseen obstacles.
My answer was always to wear clear lenses, or very lightly shaded sunnies. Neither are the perfect solution, which is why photochromic cycling sunglasses that change with the light are such a great idea.
And with light changing lenses going from clear to dark grey you are able to ride in any light conditions. Meaning even when riding late afternoon into dusk, or going from bright light to dark shade you should have a flawless view of the road or trail in front of you.
The first ride with the glasses was combined with a new Smith Engage 2.0 helmet. After adjusting the glasses to fit my wide nose, my first impression was that the two fit really well together.
However, when riding on technical trails I found that during bumpy downhill sections the helmet bounces back and forward a little. This means that the bottom of the front of the helmet bangs against the top of the glasses. Not only was this distracting but uncomfortable, hurting my nose and giving me a headache.
I have since worn the Shift Split Mag glasses with another helmet with no issues, and the Engage 2.0 lid with other glasses again without a problem. And when a friend tried the glasses and helmet there was enough of a gap to avoid the issue. So it seems to be a fit issue unique to my head and nose! But be sure to check when making the purchase.
For large glasses they are super lightweight. You don’t feel them, even when riding for hours so they are very comfortable. This is helped by the adjustable nose which ensures they sit in the right place.
Fit problems aside I have found these photochromic glasses to be excellent. The view from the Smith Split Shift Mag cycling glasses is crisp and clear. Plus the no frame system means there are no obstructions to your line of sight.
However, they come into their own when the light changes. Wearing them I’ve had mountain biking experiences in dull overcast skies, bright sunshine, rain, rolling clouds, at dusk and even in fog. The lens darkness change smoothly but quickly so even if you ride from bright light into shade you maintain optimum visibility.
Added to this the curved design has blocked the wind during fast descents. And stopped everything from branches and brambles to bugs and bits that my tyres flick up from getting in my eyes.
The interchangeable lens is very easy to use. And magnetic clips mean you can do so without getting finger prints all over the lenses.
Apart from the slight fit issue, which seemed personal to the combination of my face, nose and the Engage 2.0 helmet, these are very comfy photochromic cycling glasses. You can ride all day without having to change the lens or eyewear whilst always having crisp and clear vision making them perfect for both mountain biking holidays or a quick ride.
The Smith Shift Split MAG come in many different colours and styles and have an RRP of around £190/$280. You can pick up a pair here: www.smithoptics.com/shift-split-mag