Many of us are happy to spend £100 on a pair of stylish branded sunglasses, which basically just reduce glare, while looking trendy.
But many keen cyclists, including me, would normally find the idea of spending that amount on cycling sunglasses (or 'eyewear' as I should call it) hard to justify. My last pair of Bloc sunglasses cost about £20...
And yet cycling eyewear has to do so much more than mere sunglasses. It needs to not only protect us from the sun, but also shield our eyes from mud, branches, bugs and whatever the road throws at us. It needs to be be strong, it needs to be light, it needs to work in the full sun and also in near dark.
I've never been drawn to the glasses worn by pro cyclists from the likes of Oakley. They're not only pricey - some are over £200! - but the styling is not to my taste. 'Snazzy', my mum would have called it...
But I think I've found a solution, it's a new range of sports eyewear called Hastings, made by award-winning British company Sunwise.
The Science Bit
The glasses promise a great deal: they're Photochromic (light reactive) meaning they should work in bright sunlight as well as shade; they're frameless and panoramic, meaning that they offer an uninterrupted view; they're tough and they're anti-fogging.
They're also use UK-designed, hand-crafted Class 1 optical quality lenses which offer complete protection from UVA and UVB radiation which can injure the eyes.
Sunwise are an innovative and award-winning Oxford-based company who have become a global sports sports eyewear success since they were established in 1996.
Their Hastings glasses are not actually cycling-specific, but they seem to do almost anything you could possibly ask of cycling glasses.
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I've now tested the glasses in a range of conditions over a number of rides and I have to say I'm seriously impressed.
Fit and feel
The glasses look and feel well made and they fit beautifully. The comfortable nose pad and light weight mean that you hardly feel you're wearing eyewear, while the frameless panoramic lens gives an almost uninterrupted view.
Hastings boast 'Chromafusion' lenses, which are light reactive. Sunwise claim that they react to sunlight 'within seconds'. However, while using them I've never been aware of any lag, meaning that they appear to adapt, almost instantly, from full sun to deep shade.
The glasses also have a platinum coating which protects against glare. The lenses block UVA and UVB rays too. As well as preventing eye strain this, alongside the optical quality of the lenses, also - from my experience - appears to aid vision in almost all light conditions, meaning that you can see obstructions such as drain covers and potholes more easily, adding to safety.
The biggest advantage, to my eyes, is that the glasses work in all light conditions, meaning that you only need one pair of cycling glasses. Much of my cycling is done on weekday evenings, when the contrast between low sun and deep shade is at it's worst. I've struggled with standard sunglasses for years, particularly when I've had to remove my glasses in darker lanes and found myself with mud or midges in my eyes!
One option is switchable lenses, which I've found are fiddly, ugly and prone to get damaged. But these glasses are a far simpler solution and have worked 100% effectively and without compromise in all conditions I've thrown at them.
Another issue experienced by anyone cycling on a hot day, or while panting uphill, is fogging of the lenses. In fact I've frequently taken off my glasses while climbing hills in the past because I, literally, couldn't see where I was going.
The Sunwise Hastings glasses boast a 'unique anti-fog property'. I don't understand the science, but all I know is that they don't fog up, which is a huge bonus and a testament to their design and manufacture.
I have to be honest, these glasses are not going to appeal to traditionalists or the shy and retiring - the panoramic lens, combined with the 'petrol' effect look, is striking.
They've certainly divided opinion among people I've shown the glasses too. However, having worn these glasses for a few weeks now, I have to come down strongly in their favour. I think they look great and tough luck if anyone disagrees.
The Sunwise Hastings retail for £94.99 which, having extensively tested them, I would say is good value given the technology involved and considering how expensive alternatives from competitors such as Oakley can be.
Overall I give the Sunwise Hastings cycling glasses 9/10.