04 May 2008

bikefix Initial Review: Giro Semi sunglasses

As I have said in the past, I am a sucker for sunglasses. I will try almost anything new and potentially better than what I'm wearing at the moment. When I read that the new Giro sunglasses were going to have Zeiss-certified lenses, I became very interested. Carl Zeiss is a legend in the optics industry, making and certifying some of the best camera lenses, binoculars, and scopes available. When the glasses came out, though, only the grey polarized lens for the Semi model was Zeiss certified. Because I don’t like polarized lenses for riding, I opted for the Rose-Silver- but all of the lenses are claimed to be manufactured with to the highest quality. I picked the Semi because it fit my face the better than the other “active” model (the Havik). The Havik and all its lenses are Zeiss certified, but the fit was too narrow for my face. The Havik features the only interchangeable lenses in the Giro line, which includes two "Active" models and two more casual (as in wearable off the bike) models.

One of the big selling points of the new Giro line is that the glasses are designed to fit well while wearing cycling helmets (only Giro helmets?). Giro calls this "Super Fit Engineering," which basically translates to "Short Arms." In the past I have had glasses that hit my helmet's retention system and it is a real problem (especially if they interact too much, which can cause crippling headaches). While it’s true that the Semi’s didn’t bump or rub on any of my helmets, I have a number of sunglasses that don’t get interfere with the helmet either. It has also been years since I had that problem, so it may not be a very unique feature, but it is a helpful one. Separately of the helmet issue, the Semi fit is snug at first but does loosen over the first few rides. They now fit me perfectly, even on my big round head. The Giro rep for our region said you can expect all the models to loosen after the first few rides, something to be aware of when trying them on. They don’t move or jostle around on my face when the trail gets rough, but they don’t give me a headache like some overly-snug frames have in the past. The nose and arm pads are made of a material whose grip increases when you sweat.

Another feature that took some effort on Giro’s part is what they call True Sight technology. One problem with the curved lenses that are so useful for keeping wind, sticks and rocks out of your eyes is that they tend to have more distortion than a more planar lens. The sharper the curve of the lens, the more distortion you get. However the more curved a lens is (to a point), the better it protects the eye from debris, wind, and UV rays. What to do? Giro claims you can have your cake and it too! The company doesn't go into a lot of technical detail, but they say they have vastly increased the distortion-free field of vision when compared to other sunglasses on the market. I have to agree that they are superbly clear and distortion free, but I don’t know if it is better than some of the other leading glasses out there.

Despite my dislike of polarized lenses, I plan on reviewing a pair of Giro’s with the Zeiss certification in the future. The Semi is definitely one of the nicest sunglasses I have worn. It’s easy to forget you are wearing them, and that is truly high praise for anything that goes on your face. I would like a bit more detail from Giro on their website about their glasses and the technology that goes into them, as what is there is a bit vague. I personally would like to see a red tinted lens that lets in more visible light than my Rose/Silver (23% light transmission) do, or perhaps a photo-chromatic lens option. The rose/silver, like many red-tinted lenses is designed to provide good contrast in the varying light conditions that most road and mountain bikers encounter on every ride. Giro does offer a number of different frame/lens color options for each style, but as I mention above, the lenses are only interchangeable on the Haviks. Considering their competition they are well priced between $90.00 and $170.00 depending on the model and lens.



1 comment:

Sunglasses Guy said...


I like Giro a lot. They don't have to many styles and just concentrate on what works. I think the winner of the Tour last year was wearing Havik, which I hope to do a review on sometime in the future - just need to get a pair. Not a lot of brands use Zeiss lenses, maybe 3 or 4.

Nice review