Zeal Optics' Maestro nails it with its new ZB-13 sepia polarized polycarbonate lenses. The amber tint amps up depth perception, intensifies contrast, sharpens edges, and performs masterfully in so many light conditions that you'd think they were photochromic (the kind that adjust to brightness). But the lenses don't changethey're just incredibly versatile, as is the Maestro in general. Which means whatever type of performance shade you want, you should start the hunt right here.
Zeal Optics Maestro $130 www.zealoptics.com
1. When a bikie friend of mine put on the Maestro, he started making porn noises: "Yeah, baby! Yessss!" And the ecstasy-inspiring visuals have a performance upside: With the copper tint's enhanced depth and clarity, you can go faster and harder, in and out of glare and shadows.
2. The Maestro is bombproof where most sunglasses are highly vulnerable to breakage: at the hinge points. The co-molded nylon and silicon temples segue into steel on both sides of the metal hinges, which are spring-loaded to cradle the head as securely as a fitted helmet.
3. The big lenses follow the curvature of the eye and reach back for good peripheral coverage. Protection from wind and sunlight is near absolute and totally secure because of the head-holding temples and hydrophilic silicon at the nose and ears. The sweatier you get, the stickier the stuff becomes.
4. It's no surprise that Moab-based Zeal makes great mountain-biking shades, but the Maestro is excellent for all pursuits, even snow sports. Thanks to the polarized lenses, which blunt even the most headache-inducing midday light, you'll crash and burn long before your eyes tire out.
5. Wear them anywhere without looking like a weeniefashion-forward sculpting of the matte nylon frames dresses things up, so this model is as street-worthy as sporty. But the style is more than just for show: The sleek frame shape still keeps out rogue photons and wind.