Spotlight: Smith Optics Shift Mag sunglass review

If you’ve been searching near and far for cycling sunglasses with less of a curve, your wish has been granted.

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Almost without fail, cycling sunglasses feature a highly curved shape intended to wrap around your face to provide more protection from glare, wind, and debris. The only problem is that not everyone’s head is shaped that way. If you’ve got a flatter face and have been looking for high-end cycling sunglasses with no luck, Smith Optics has an excellent option for you in the Shift Mag.

The Shift Mag’s curvature is sort of a hybrid between a more traditional cycling model like the Oakley Radar EV and something more casual like some of the POC sunglasses favored by EF-Education First rider Alex Howes. They’re not unlike the Oakley Sutro in that sense, although the Smiths are even flatter than those. Add in the two-position adjustable nosepiece, and riders who have struggled to keep more radically curved sunglasses from riding on their cheeks might finally find some relief here.

Smith hasn’t skimped on the features with the Shift Mag, either.

Optical performance is outstanding as usual, with no noticeable distortion and superb clarity, along with the excellent contrast I’ve come to expect from Smith’s ChromaPop lens tin technology (which isn’t dramatically different from Oakleys Prizm concept). Despite the flatter profile, coverage is still generous thanks to the 99 mm width and 57 mm lens height, particularly at the top courtesy of the tabbed lens shape. 

If and when it comes time to switch to a different tint, the latest evolution of Smith’s Mag quick-change system is the company’s best yet. All that’s required is the flip of two unobtrusive — yet secure — switches at the temple hinges and a light tug. And because the upper section of the frame is integrated with the lens, you don’t have to worry about wiping off grimy fingerprints after the fact. I was a little concerned about how well the magnets would hold up, but so far, so good.

“The magnets are the same we use in all our Mag lenses, including snow goggles, so corrosion shouldn’t be an issue,” said Kate Gaier, who handles PR in the United States for Smith Optics. “With that said, there is a lifetime warranty on all Smith products, so if there was an instance of them corroding, we’d repair the frame you have and/or swap [them] out for a brand new pair.”

Clear lenses are included regardless of what tint you choose (and photochromic are offered), along with a semi-rigid case and microfiber storage bag.

Riders with narrower heads might find the Shift Mag’s hold to be a bit on the light side, though, and the relatively straight temples don’t help either (although in fairness to Smith, these are admittedly described as offering a “medium fit”). Still, the rubber nosepiece at least grips pretty well, so it was only on rougher mountain bike rides on my trail bike where I had much issue with slipping.

I wouldn’t say these are any more prone to fogging than other full-framed cycling-oriented sunglasses I’ve used, either, but the lens seems to be particularly tough. Three months in, and they still look as good as new. 

Price: US$259 / AU$359 / £189 / €229 

Weight: 29 g

More information:

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