Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Hitting a technical descent on a late afternoon ride this fall, I prepared myself for those moments when it’s difficult to tell if the dark object up ahead is a treacherous rock or simply a shadow from tree branches. But this ride was different. I was surprised by the clarity of the trail and the relief provided by a pair of Julbo Aero sunglasses that I had accidentally grabbed instead of my normal sunglasses that day.
Julbo’s 3D fit nosepiece adjusts in all directions to help provide a comfortable and secure fit. This helps keep the glasses glued to your face without squeezing or leaving weird red marks up and down your nose. Flexible inserts in the earpieces conform to fit a range of head sizes, while the Air Link Temple system absorbs shock using elastomer inserts at the ends of the earpieces. This keeps the glasses from bouncing around even when you’re riding over bumpy washboard.
We tested Julbo’s photochromic (Cat 1 to 3) Zebra Light lenses, which adapt to changing light levels like when you’re riding in and out shadows on the trail. The transition is so quick and so smooth that I didn’t notice they were changing; I just noticed I could actually see the trail. The brown lens tint also helps accentuate relief on the trail, which contributes to this crisp and clear vision.
The Zebra Light lenses are on the lighter side of the photochromic spectrum and are best suited for low-light riding conditions such as late afternoons, shaded trails, or cloudy skies. For sunny days, a darker photochromic lens option (Cat 2 to 4) called the Zebra lens is available.
The size of the lens also adds impressive visibility with a panoramic-style wide field of vision. The half-frame design makes it easy to see out the sides of the lenses so you can spot cars coming up behind you with just a quick glance over your shoulder. The lenses are also long at 4.4 centimeters, and they protect your eyes from flying rocks and debris that’s been kicked up from the road or trail.
Anti-fog properties and a ventilation system keep the glasses from fogging up when climbing on hot and humid days. There’s a small slit separating the top of the lens and the frame that directs airflow across the inside of the lenses and prevents moisture from building up. This ventilation system kicked into action when I hit the road for a slow, sustained climb. The glasses remained crystal clear the whole way up the climb, even when I was sweating from the effort.
The Aero glasses aren’t the most fashion-forward eyewear choice. They don’t easily transition from trail to post-ride bar time like more style-minded performance glasses. But the semi-frame design and sporty look is simple and straightforward, and it works with just about every face size and shape. These glasses are great for on-bike protection and clear vision, but remember to pack your casual shades for post-ride festivities.
Despite looking like performance sunglasses, Julbo’s Aero mountain bike sunglasses are one of my surprise finds of the year. They immediately impressed with clear optics and a secure, lightweight fit.