27 May 2008

bikefix Initial Review: Uvex Rebel sunglasses

Anyone who has spent time in a laboratory or factory setting has probably worn Uvex eyewear. In the US at least, the company almost certainly sells more ANSI Z87.1 compliant eye protection than anything else. The sports side of the business, which is based in Germany makes some very good helmets (reviews here and here) and sunglasses. This spring, we received a set of the company's Rebel sunglasses run through the wringer. The Rebels' are a smaller frame, interchangeable lensed with several cool features. They come with both dark gray and a high-contrast orange lenses and black, blue and silver frames for a very reasonable $60.

A unique feature of the Rebel is the lens mounting. The lenses attach at the nose bridge and essentially float next to the frame as it runs from there to the arms. Because the lenses aren't a rigid part of the frame, the entire frame flexes to gently hold the rider's head- several riders have tired the rebels and they are comfortable for a very wide range of face widths. Because the 'spring' flex takes place over a large part of the frame, they can hold snugly without getting pinchy. There are rubber arm and nose pads and thanks to their very light weight the rebels stay put without squeezing the head. Uvex is particularly proud of these frames' sturdiness- and they should be. Rather than resisting bending and ultimately breaking, the Rebel frames have a remarkable amount of give (see picture), and its possible to twist the arms until they're over 100 degrees apart. Let go and they bounce right back into shape. This probably isn't something you'd want to do regularly, but it shows that the Uvex's are anything but fragile.

As a company known for protective eyewear used in pretty nasty environments, we have no doubts about the Uvex lenses' ability to keep out the odd tree branch or flying stone. While the Rebel's lenses don't have the striking clarity of more expenses glasses', they are perfectly clear and the lack of a lower frame makes for a very wide field of vision. The gray lenses block quite a bit of light and as such are great for bright, treeless rides. In the woods, though, a higher-contrast (and maybe slightly lighter) rose or brown lens would have been nice. As a result, I found myself wearing these on the road bike more than anywhere else. Here in the desert, the orange lenses were too light, but would be great for riding through a gray British winter, as they have very high contrast in flatter Northern light. The glasses' normal-length arms can interfere with Giro helmet retention systems, but so can pretty much every other pair we've tried. Unsurprisingly, Uvex's helmets pose no such problems.

The fact that the lenses aren't attached to the Rebel's frames along their top edge is a mixed blessing. For riders whose glasses are constantly fogging, the added ventilation is fantastic and they'll be some of the most fog-resistant glasses out there. The flip side of this is that a bit of wind tended to sneak by on my face and I my typically watery eyes were even more so than usual. Also, in a road tuck, I sometimes had a distracting line of bright light between the frames and lens at the top of my field of view. I have a feeling that both of these issues will be head-specific and certainly aren't deal breakers. Nobody else who's tried the Rebels has mentioned the issue.

For absent-minded or clumsy riders who've put off buying decent riding glasses for fear of sitting on or otherwise breaking them, the Rebels are ideal. The don't scream "bike dork" when worn casually and look particularly good on narrower faces and the price is very reasonable. Trying them on at a local dealer would be ideal, but they are also available in the US directly from Uvex's website. I've handed them off to our resident off-road triathlete, so look for a run/ride review in a few months.



1 comment:

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