Gear Guy

The RB3     Photo: courtesy, Rudy Project

Q:

Which sunglass lens makes for the best sun-to-shade transition while mountain biking?

What type of sunglass lens makes the transition from sun to shade the easiest for riding singletrack through the forest? Lynn La Grande, OR

A:Honestly? None of them. And I know exactly what you want, as I do a fair piece of mountain biking around Port Townsend, WA, and we’re often riding in and out of sunshine. That’s even more of an issue in sunny La Grande. If you’re making pretty quick transitions from sun to shadow and back, the photochromic glasses out there just can’t manage the switch fast enough to do you any good.

And that can be dangerous. Several years back a guy in our group was wearing tinted lenses while biking with us on Gold Creek, a trail in the Olympic National Forest. One especially exhilarating stretch of trail side-hills a very steep wooded mountainside. You’re also descending, so a moment’s inattention or distraction can be dangerous. Anyway, he got a little bit blinded going from sun to shade, off the trail, yadda yadda yadda, broken collarbone and concussion. Ouch.

For that reason I usually stick with clear lenses for mixed conditions. Those, or yellow lenses, which add some contrast in the shade.

One possible option: Rudy Project’s RB3 glasses ($175). The flip up in a single motion, so you can easily get yourself more light. Lenses in different colors also can be used. Probably about as good as it gets for tough riding/lighting conditions.

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