These days there are a lot of options available for those that prefer to don’t eyewear when riding their bike and Ryders is a name that is typically synonymous with decent quality eyewear for a good price. But the Canadian brand is also capable of packing quite a bit of technology into their glasses and that’s precisely what they’ve done with the Fyre lens line. The Roam glasses with Fyre lenses feature a number of new technologies in an effort to enhance a rider’s vision on the trails.
Ryders Roam Details
• Adjustable frame (arms/temple tips, nose piece)
• Wear with or without lower frame piece
• 3 lens tint options
• Medium fit
• Weight: 32 grams (claimed)
• MSRP: $239.99 USD / $239.99 CAD
These technologies include Ryders’ anti-fog treatment, which combined with a number of other elements really impressed in the Tallcan goggle test last year. Another technology that the Fyre lens boasts is what Ryders are calling Colour Boost, which is a similar concept to what Smith and Oakley have done with their Chromapop and Prizm lenses, essentially looking to enhance definition by somewhat manipulating the colours viewed before they reach the eye. These, together with another three technologies are what make up the Fyre lens line of Ryders range.
Ryders new Fyre range of lenses include a number of claimed benefits all rolled into one. They include treatments that cover, anti-fog, UV protection, contrast enhancement, water repellency (in glasses? Yep), impact and scratch resistant lenses, and they’re photochromatic. Ryders have a list of names they use for these attributes, but we’ll instead focus on how they work in the real world. In short, though, the Roam glasses include all of the latest tech, rolled into one package.
The glasses come available in three lens options, with a light grey, yellow, and pink, covering a range of riding conditions that one could expect to encounter on the trail. Tested here are the light grey and the yellow. Each of these lenses features the photochromatic properties that Ryders use, which Ryders say are a little different to some. Rather than the lens simply growing darker in well-lit situations and lighter in darker environments, the lens is claimed to go either way while retaining the colour properties of the lens.
“With its fast-acting, wide-range photochromic technology, the Varia lens responds very quickly and reliably, no matter what the temperature. In addition, it actually changes the colour of the lenses throughout their range instead of simply getting lighter or darker. This allows them to shift from a tint that has advantages in the dark, to a different, more suitable tone when conditions are bright.”
For Ryders, it’s important that the Fyre lens retains the benefits of the chosen tint when changing for the given lighting situation. The grey lens tested is said to be optimal for low to bright conditions, offering a neutral colour shift and containing the lowest contrast enhancement of the series. The yellow lens tested maintains the same use with regards to lighting (low to bright conditions), but is said to enhance contrast, with a visibly more noticeable colour shift.
Like with many pairs of riding glasses available today, the Ryders Roam include a range of customizations available to help provide a better fit to a wide range of people. The arms/tips are easily shaped to fit how you please and the nose piece is also easily adjusted. The tip of the arms and the nose pieces are also made with a Hydrophilic [anti-slip] material, to aid in better keeping them in place when the going gets rough.
Further to the above, the frame piece across the bottom of the lens can be completely removed, for that clear-as-possible field of view. Even though it’s able to be removed, it’s worth noting the position to begin with, with the frame cleverly placed under the eyes, taking into account that the eyes tend to look through the upper portion of the glasses when positioned on a bike.
Three Questions with Ryders Mike Quinn
PB Ryders have traditionally been known for providing solid functioning eyewear at competitive prices. The Roam Fyre glasses appear to show a departure from this, why is that?
Good question. Looking at the price alone it would seem that the Roam is a departure, but when you look at the features of the lens alone—never mind the frame with all of its adjustable bits and removable lower rim—it’s still offering excellent value for money.
Competitors with similar glasses range from around $160 to $230+ and they’re just using a polycarbonate lens with a colour boosting technology. The Fyre lens has the colour boosting technology but it has a pile of features that similar priced lenses don’t:
• Fyre is made of NXT, so it has far better optics and all of the impact protection of the competition.
• It has Varia photochromic, which is the highest-range, fastest-acting photochromic available, allowing it to constantly adapt to light conditions.
• It has our military grade anti-fog—the best fog-resistant coating available. It offers 3x the fog-resistance of the next best coating on the sports eyewear market. The competition don’t use a fog-resistant coating.
• It has the colour boosting that I mentioned plus all of the best scratch-resistant and hydrophobic coatings available.
Though Ryders has a higher price-point in some of our glasses, the competitors have left off the most expensive and, in our opinion, the most valuable features. All have left off the military grade anti-fog, and some have used inferior lens materials and/or haven’t included any photochromic technology. These are very important features to leave out.
PB The colour shift of the lenses is milder than some of the competitors. What is the reason for the mellower shift?
The colour boosting increases with the activation of the lens so in its lightest state it’s boosting at a fraction of what it can do in its darkest state. This is the nature of the technology—it requires light absorption/filtering to work.
PB There’s no plain clear lens available, yet your team’s proximity to the North Shore must mean you ride in our dark forests. Is there a clear lens option in the works? If not, what is the rationale for this?
We have clear anti-fog in other frames, but the Roam is only available in the three Fyre lenses. We wanted to launch the Fyre lens technology in frames that were exclusive to those lenses for easier identification. The idea was for it to be a complete package—the best frame with the very best lens. We don’t have a plan at this time to offer the Roam in any other lens. Performance-wise, both the grey and the yellow Fyre lenses are excellent in the dark because they remain quite clear and the colour-boosting—however mild in its light state—helps to boost contrast. The yellow offers quite a bit more contrast than the grey so it’s the best option in low light, though both are great. I ride with the Roam in the dense forests of the Shore and Squamish, in the Chilcotin alpine, on the roads and even for night riding. I’ve been spoiled so I don’t like riding with anything else…
Though some brands claim that their clear lenses allow 100% of the light through, this is obviously not true or the lenses wouldn’t have the ability to reflect light. In other words, they would be 100% invisible to the naked eye—obviously impossible.
In reality, a clear lens blocks anywhere from about 8% to 15% of the light. In its light state, the Fyre lens is only 8% to 15% darker than a clear lens, but a clear lens doesn’t enhance contrast and is made of Polycarbonate so it doesn’t have the crisp optics of the NXT lens—a difference that is surprisingly noticeable to the naked eye.
Roam Glasses Performance
Mixing between the two lenses, the grey is definitely quite neutral when looking at contrast and colour shift, where the yellow lens is very obvious. However, I was pleasantly surprised when putting on the yellow lens that it wasn’t so drastic that it made it hard on the eyes, which others I’ve tried have (I own a pair of the Oakley Evzero Prizms, but can’t wear them with the Prizm lens for this exact reason). The shift was obvious, but the colouring was more reasonable and took little time to adjust to—in fact, I would say it took virtually no time, with it being comfortable from the start.
On the trail, the grey lens tended to be my go-to when riding while the sun was high in the sky. With the woods around here (Squamish/Whistler/Vancouver) being dense and dark I found this to be the best time to wear them. They do a fantastic job of adjusting for the light, allowing plenty through when under the canopy, but quickly changing to cut down on the amount of glare when out in the open. Quick sections of trail that darted in and out of the woods resulted in a little too quick of a change for the lens to catch, but it wasn’t a big deal in reality.
The yellow lens worked better when the light was a little darker or flatter, providing more definition, but not necessarily being brighter. Bear in mind, these are pitched as working best in the same lighting conditions as the grey lens (low to bright conditions), but I found that they could still perform in slightly darker conditions thanks to the more pronounced colour shift provided by the lens. That extra contrast provided by the shift being the reason for this. It’s not as clear as a… clear lens, but it’s an improvement over the grey in lower lit scenarios.
I started out with the Roam in their stock form—with the framing across the bottom of the lens—but coming from a pair of Smith PivLock V2 quickly found the frame irritating and disrupting my field of view. Once removed, which was really quite easy to do—though I did need to give more effort than I felt comfortable doing—the glasses were similar in relation to coverage as the Smith. They did a great job of keeping branches and debris from the trail out of my eyes, and for anyone that has issues with watering eyes while riding, rest assured these have you covered there too.
The one negative that I have for the otherwise excellent pair of riding glasses is the price. Ryders are typically known for their great value eyewear and what they include for that price, but at $239.99, the Roam Fyre lens line is far from cheap. Yes, they’re packed with a load of technology—literally everything that you could want in a pair of glasses, but you’ll have to decide whether that tech is important enough to stomach the cost. There is also no real light or clear lens, which would be very appealing to those living in a similar area as The Shore/Squamish/Whistler, with it getting incredibly dark in these woods.
The good news is that after a summer of use, they’re still functioning sensationally and the scratch resistant lens has helped them make it through a riding season with little to show for it, where others I’ve owned were marked up in a similar timeline. The anti-fog treatment is still working, with the glasses not fogging up on me yet, the definition still clear, and the photochromatic properties still functioning.
The one thing that has stopped working as well as it did when they were new is the water repellency, which showed its weakness in a recent wet ride, forcing me to remove the glasses and actually wipe them down. Initially, this was a non-issue and the water literally sheeted off the lens, but now I am forced to remove them altogether as the rain no longer bounces from the lens, instead, big blobs of water sit squarely in my field of view.
Ryders have again produced a piece of performance eyewear that there is little competition for in terms of all-out functionality. Literally, stick them on and ride, and forget they’re even there. No fogging, great, clear vision, and for the most part long lasting. The price is a high one, no doubt, but they are packed with technology that works on the trail and if they last double the length of time that similar competitors do, then they show their value and so far they seem to be going that route. If you’re a rider that prefers to cover their eyes when riding and is looking at similar technologies, the Ryders Roam with the Fyre lens has to be considered.— AJ Barlas