As with all gear that protects vital parts of our body, we might not realize how crucial it is until it’s not there protecting us. Dirt, rocks, debris, branches, and UV rays are your sensitive eyeballs’ worst enemy, but there are drawbacks that turn most people off from rocking a pair of shades on the bike: uncomfortable frames that slip down, lenses that fog up every time you stop for a breather, or dark lenses that don’t transition well for those rides that extend as the sun goes down. With their headquarters in North Vancouver, Ryders Eyewear has the ability to develop, test, and punish eyewear in some of the most brutal conditions. With their latest offering in the form of the Seventh model, Ryders looks to eliminate all gripes listed above by offering a pair of sunglasses chock full of technology and features that will hopefully make more riders convert to shades for their rides.
Ryders Seventh Features
- AntiFOG photochromic lenses (VLT 25%-75%)
- Polycarbonate frame
- UV400 protection
- Hydrophobic and oleophobic coating
- Impact and scratch resistant
- Adjustable nose and temple pads
- Weight: 30g
- MSRP: $129.99
Over the years we have amassed a large collection of sunglasses from some of the biggest eyewear manufactures. So, when pulling the Seventh shades out of the box, we immediately noticed some interesting features that we haven’t seen on a lot of sunglasses. The first thing that is noticed is the flexible nose pad and temple tips, which allow you to customize the shape/size to fit a wider range of faces and/or allow the sunglasses to sit a bit further away from your face for increased airflow and clearance, if needed. The flexible portions are also coated in a hydrophilic layer which is designed to help the sunglasses keep a secure grip even when your body starts to get greasy on those hot summer days. While not completely a ‘frameless’ design, the single top-piece gives a bit more casual look while still giving an unobstructed view where it counts. The polycarbonate frames have a solid and durable feel, free of the ‘creaking and cracking’ sound you would experience when you try to bend cheaper frames. And, with hinges that feel solid and firm under pressure, the Seventh shades have all the trimmings of a solid set of sunglasses, but the truth is in the proverbial trail pudding.
On The Trail
The first order of business was dialing in the fit by utilizing the flexible nose pads and temple tips. After a few quick trial and error shapes, we were able to quickly and easily dial in the perfect contour, creating a comfortable resting position without noticing any pressure points or discomfort. With some flex in the frame itself, there’s no doubt that these would fit comfortably even on those with the largest of heads. We especially liked the fact that the sunglasses can sit a bit further away from your face, which not only helps with airflow, but also help if you have longer eyelashes that can sometimes leave streaks on the back of the lenses. Before being exposed to the sun, the photochromic lenses are at their highest level of light transmission of 75% VLT and have just a slight tint which makes them a good low light lens at one end of the spectrum.
*If you’re not familiar with how photochromic lens technology works, Ryders states: “When exposed to UV light, the molecules change shape, absorbing light particles and making the lens darker. When there is less UV light, the opposite reaction takes place and the lens tint becomes lighter.”
In the sun, we found that the sunglasses need about 30-40 seconds of direct sunlight (depending on clouds) to notice the transformation to its darkest tint, which has a VLT of 25%. On the trail, the Seventh sunglasses seemed to disappear and we forgot that we were wearing them, all thanks to the customizable fit and form. With no bottom frame and medium size lenses, vision was completely unobstructed. One of the most important features we were anxious to test was the antiFog and hydrophilic coating. On more than a handful of occasions, while catching our breath at the top of climbs, we found ourselves being egged on to keep moving by other riders whose lenses were fogging up…all while the Seventh shades stayed crystal clear. Even on muggy and damp rides where we’d typically see overheating and fogged lenses when climbing, the antiFOG technology really shined and we only ran into a few instances of slight fogging on the top portion of the lens which sat closer to our face. Thankfully, we never experienced a complete fog up that would hinder vision.
As far as the hydrophobic coating on the front of the lens, we ran into a few situations where we rode in mist and light rain and noticed that the water did bead up quite easily on the lens, but did not roll off as easily as we hoped, unless we were moving at a good speed. A quick wipe of the lens with a microfiber cloth would clear the water droplets pretty easily without any streaking. The photochromic lens gave us the ability to keep the shades on during rides that extend through the golden hour and beyond, which is especially beneficial for those that ride with contacts and dread any bit of airborne dust or dirt. And, when things got rough, the hydrophilic coating on the rubber nosepiece/temples help keep the glasses secure and there were only a few times where we had to readjust the position.
Things That Could Be Improved
Although the photochromatic lenses offer a wide range of light transmission for variable light conditions, the biggest drawback of this technology is the time it takes for the lens to adapt to rapid changes in brightness. On trails that are quickly in and out of the shadows, we found ourselves either on one end of the spectrum with a lens that was too dark or too light as the photochromic lens was trying to ‘catch up’ to changing light. And, when in direct sunlight for longer periods of time, we were wishing the lens got just a slight bit darker tint.
With the $130 price tag, we would like to see the antiFOG clear lens included. Also, swapping out lenses was not an easy task and we felt like we might actually break the frame as we bent it to allow the lens to pop out. While Ryders does sell spare lenses on their site for select frames, we saw no option to purchase any of the Seventh’s lenses should we want the clear antiFOG or any of the other performance lenses made for these frames. With one bright sunlight lens, we could keep one pair of shades in our gear bag and be ready for all lighting conditions. One key feature we also miss is a Polarized lens, but Ryders does offer this lens option for the Seventh model (but without the photochromic lens).
Long Term Durability
The Seventh frames have been through all conditions of riding and have held up great so far. The nosepiece and temples have retained their flexible yet firm feeling even after multiple bends/tweaks. And, after being tossed around in gear bags and crammed into helmets and shoes post-ride without the comfort of the microfiber bag, there have been only a few minuscule scratches to the lenses and all hinges still function as smoothly as day one. Ryders does mention that, on average, photochromic lenses will perform best for about 2 years and then the transitional activity will diminish so keep that in mind with lens choice on this model.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Although it seems like the search for the holy grail of sunglasses still continues, the Ryders Seventh ticks off a lot of the key features that we like to see in eyewear: antiFOG technology that works, comfort, and great fit across a wide range of face shapes makes the Seventh sunglasses one to consider the next time you’re searching for a new pair of shades that can keep you protected for a wide range of lighting conditions.
For more information, visit www.ryderseyewear.com