Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago Michael Spanjol from ADS Sports Eyewear asked me review a pair of their prescription sunglasses for athletes. The product he offered looked fantastic, but since I do not wear prescription eyewear I couldn’t write the review. However, Anna, a young lady I ride with every summer as she trains for RAGBRAI, does wear glasses and as she has done on several other occasions she was willing to try the product and write an unbiased review.
I was asked to provide a review for a pair of prescription cycling sunglasses from ADS Sports Eyewear by the All Seasons Cyclist as he does not wear prescription glasses and I do. Previous to trying out the Panoptx 7Eye Briza glasses I have either worn standard non-prescription cycling glasses, or my more fashionable, albeit not as functional, prescription sunglasses—90% of the time opting for vision and fashion over glasses designed with sports in mind. This was OK, however not ideal as I was constantly distracted by the shortcomings of glasses designed for looks rather than sports. Dealing with glasses sliding down my nose, or crushing the sides of my head, not having been designed for wearing under helmets was just part of the price of fashion. However, despite these annoyances, I was reluctant to shell out the dough for cycling glasses that I would only wear on the bike and then feel like a dork in off the bicycle.
And then I bought a motorcycle. If I thought my sunglasses were uncomfortable under a bike helmet, boy, let me tell you, they were awful under a motorcycle helmet. (Part of their fashion appeal is derived from the arms being made of teak, and wood is not particularly flexible) Problem number two, that I didn’t discover till my first ride after a weekend of classes in a parking lot, Wind. And lots of it! Sure, I tear up on a brisk morning on a bicycle, but this was more tears and more speed, and they splattered against the inside of my lenses like it was raining inside out. As a totally new motorcycle rider I was already nervous and now I couldn’t see. We went to the Harley store to try on glasses to order prescription riding glasses, but I wasn’t very crazy about any of them. I had decided on a pair of Wiley-X only because they were the only ones that seemed to have a snug fit that were also reasonably priced.
Let me say here that as a woman rider most products designed for riding, either a motorcycle or a bicycle, are designed for men. A majority of riders are men and it makes sense, but it is so frustrating to feel like you only ever have a handful of options, half of them pink, festooned with rhinestones, or seem like we might have a thorny rose tattoo and listen to country music…puleez! Quit bedazzling everything!
Then I was asked by the All Seasons Cyclist if I would be interested in reviewing prescription cycling glasses. When I checked out the website I looked at the styles but noticed a tab for prescription motorcycle sunglasses…for Women…well, I was hopeful. I figured if I found a pair with removable foam inserts I could use them for both sports! I clicked on the page for motorcycle glasses and was pretty pleased with the selection—I thought could it finally be possible to not only be functional but fashionable too? Yes!
Michael was the contact person that assisted me through the process via email. I was skeptical about finding a good fit and explained I have a more narrow face and many of the glasses had not felt snug, I was going to get the Wiley-X only because I had tried them on but told him of two other pairs I liked as well. Out of the other two I liked he recommended the Panoptx 7Eye Briza CV. He needed my prescription and distance between pupils (which, as it turns out, can easily be measured with a credit card, instructions are linked to their website). I opted for black frames with bronze polarized lenses, but the Briza has a variety of combinations to choose from. The base price for the frames is $89 and you can choose to add polarization or transitions lenses, and other options such as no-line bifocals and frame color are also available. The glasses that were sent to me for review would have cost $308 (frames $89; single vision lenses $119; polarization $100). A great price for the increase in safety and clarity!
I received the glasses in about a week after providing all the needed information. Even though I had Michael to guide me through the process I went through the website ordering process and found it to be pretty easy to navigate through the available choices and prescription information. Also the technology ADS Sports Eyewear uses to create their prescription lenses is unique—it is a digitally created prescription lens that simply put, lets you see wherever you’re looking, straight ahead, or peripheral vision. A full explanation of the technology they use (Free-Form Digital Lens Surfacing) is found on their website.
My first ride of the spring was in late May, with the Briza’s. Fit under the helmet? check (my helmet is a Shoei RJ Platinum). Since I had just learned to ride in late September 2012 I was pretty nervous throughout the ride and my patient husband let me ride around the side streets for about an hour before going on about a 15-minute ride to get dinner—we ate and headed back at dusk and as we pulled in the garage I thought “Oh crap, I forgot to think about the glasses!” and then it occurred to me that’s the best thing you could possibly say about a piece of equipment, especially one designed for your vision. They did not slide around, they did not hurt my head, they did not let in wind, and they were remarkably clear and wrapped enough so I did not see them in my periphery. Best of all, they look good too—the foam insert comes out super easy so I had them on sitting outside at dinner and popped them back in before riding home. I have since logged about 300 nervous miles on the motorcycle, and about 420 sweaty miles on my road bike, but am never nervous about my sight.
I also really like the Panoptx 7Eye Briza CV on the road bike too, since motorcycle riding has a few additional requirements I addressed it first. One thing unique to the bicycle that I do not encounter on the motorcycle is riding in the drops or in the aero bars. This is where you separate the fashion from the function pretty quick. The Briza’s have stayed in place remarkably well and we have been on some tough rides so far. A short ride is anything under 35 miles, we start in the morning when it can be cooler and go for a few hours. They’ve seen humidity (over 90% some days, I’m talking a real sweat storm), rain, heat, over 20 mph wind (I remove the foam inserts for the bicycle). 90% of bicycle rides so far have been in the 50–60 mile range and I do push them up here and there, but no more frequently than I might any other sport glasses. They’ve seen a lot of sweat and so far the pads above the ears and the nose are great. I’ve had other glasses where the sweat has loosened the adhesive and the pads come loose. I also do not use a mirror and I can see great from a slight turn of my head—no obstruction from the frames and the digital prescription is fantastic. I feel like they are the clearest glasses I own (I have 4 other pair). On a recent family trip I used them for driving, shooting trap, at the pistol and rifle range, and to race go-karts. Sorry other glasses!
The Panoptx 7Eye Briza CV glasses came with foam inserts, a hard case, cleaning cloth and lens cleaner.
By the way, an average motorcycle ride for me is 45–55 mph and 2–4 hours in duration on a Triumph Legend 900 triple. Average cycling is 35–65 miles per day, 5 days a week. I will wear these glasses at RAGBRAI in July (my 11th year in a row!) for about 1,500 to 2,000 miles total from mid-June to mid-August on a LeMond Tourmalet.