Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | July 2, 2011

Gear Check, Sunglasses: These Aren’t Your Creepy Uncle’s Transitions Glasses

I have issues with sunglasses. No, I’m not opposed to them on principle; in fact, I think sunglasses are a crucial piece of equipment for outdoor activities. The problem is that I wear prescription glasses, so that makes things a little complicated. On gray days I wear my regular glasses, on bright days I wear my sunglasses. Most days, unfortunately, I’m constantly switching between the two. Particularly when biking, it can be a pain. I don’t like having to drag along the extra pair, and I’m always afraid they’ll fall out of my back pocket when I’m riding. Clearly, I needed a better solution.

Fortunately, I’ve been doing some product testing for Higher Gear bike shop, and they were kind enough to let me road test some sunglasses. I stopped by their Wilmette, IL, location a few weeks ago and took a look at what they had.

Higher Gear carries Tifosi sunglasses in various styles, including several that come with interchangeable lenses. I had a pair of glasses with interchangeable lenses once. I never swapped out the lenses – not one single time. I, you see, am too lazy for interchangeable lenses. Fortunately Tifosi also has other models that feature what they call “Fototec” technology: they darken in bright conditions. Yes, that’s right, like “transitions” lenses, those 90s throwbacks. I can still picture their advertisements in my mind: an aging lounge-lizard-esque man trying to look young and hip in a worn Members Only jacket and smoky glasses. Um, no thanks.

Then I looked at the Tifosis more closely and slipped on a pair. They looked nothing like the glasses from the 90’s commercials. Dare I say it? They looked pretty cool. No swapping out lenses, no carrying multiple pairs of glasses. The perfect solution.

Higher Gear had several different styles of Tifosis in stock. I selected the Paves, lightweight and comfortable frames that featured an adjustable nose piece for a custom fit. They were comfortable at the temples and had a rubber coating designed to keep them in place even under sweaty conditions. What’s more, they were at a great price point, right around $70, not bad for a pair of biking glasses. And they passed the most important criteria test: they looked good on me.

The Paves featured lenses with Fototec technology, but they came in several different lens colors. Which ones to choose? I tried on a few pairs in the shop and narrowed it down to two choices, the red lenses and the yellow lenses. The red offered fast darkening on bright days. The yellow promised more contrast to see changing road conditions, especially in low-light. I’d have to check out both pairs on the road before I could decide which ones to take the plunge with, so I brought them home and had them ready for my next ride.

I have to say, I took to the red ones immediately. They offered great glare reduction and when I wore them I felt a little bit like Bono, who frequently wears red lenses. Granted, he’s not a cyclist, but still, if red is good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

The yellow ones? They languished on my kitchen counter. I kept reminding myself that they were great for low light conditions: at dusk, on rainy days, in the predawn hours. Well, here’s a newsflash: I don’t ride at dusk or on rainy days or in the predawn hours. If it’s that dark out, this fair-weather athlete is staying home.

And so, after much deliberation, I decided to go with the red ones. Alas, according to the Tifosi website, the Paves can’t accept prescription lenses. After all that. Fortunately, Tifosi has other similar styles that can be made prescription. Phew, because once you go to self-darkening lenses, man, you don’t go back. And I know Bono would want me to stick with the red.


  1. So glad to see your blog, hope all is well. I think we still have a members only jacket in our closet 🙂

  2. Great review! I have Rudy Project sunglasses w/ interchangeable lenses and an Rx insert. What I like: the flexibility to change the non-Rx sunglass part for different colors and types of lenses. The ability to update the Rx insert without having to buy a new frame. The comfort and good looks, on and off the bike. What I don’t: The Rx insert is fiddly to get in place. The initial investment was high. The case is bulky.

    • Thanks Nancy. You know, I hadn’t thought about the issue of updating prescription lenses. My prescription has been pretty steady for years, but as I get older I think that may change! The ease of updated the lenses is certainly something to think about. I will check out the Rudy Project glasses before I take the plunge. Thanks!

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