We’ve all been there. A bright sunny day, you’re out for a ride. To keep the glare down (and perhaps to try to look cool) you opt for suitable (i.e. impact resistant) shades or fit a dark visor to your lid.
A nice long ride to the coast and a pleasant day, which you don’t want to end. So you head off to a hostelry late afternoon, maybe meet up with a few friends for something to eat, and an hour turns into three.
Before you know it, you’ve still got a couple of hours riding to do, and the glorious sunset is giving way to the all-encompassing cloak of dusk.
Unless your name is Jake or Ellwood you will either sensibly get your clear visor or goggles out of your topbox/tour pack/pannier/rucksack; or perhaps like so many before you, you like to travel light, so you have neither luggage, baggage or clear eye protection.
Which means you’re faced with either trying to see through tinted perspex or trying to dodge flies, moths and assorted road debris with your streaming naked eyes.
It’s not ideal is it?
This is why I was intrigued to see an ad for Fat Skeleton UK’s range of photochromic (or Reactalite) eyewear, which is aimed at cruiser riders, but also works well with full face lids.
I usually wear an open face Davida Jet crash helmet, and I’ve been wearing a pair of their 74 WRS glasses with the supplied kit of interchangeable smoke, yellow and clear lenses.
But in these modern times of demanding convenience, changing the lenses at the roadside without getting finger marks all over them or losing something is a bit of a faff, and while I like to think I don’t have a particularly big hooter, the Jet helmet makes these glasses dig into the bridge of my nose after a while, which means that I have to ease them forward a little, allowing small flies and other insects to use the area behind the lenses as a mobile terrarium, which is also a pain.
And like so many others I struggle when those oh-so-common incredibly bright LED headlights make toast of my retinas, I sometimes wear a pair of yellow night driving glasses, which improve vision in low light situations immeasurably.
So when I realised that Fat Skeleton supply riding glasses that are both yellow and photochromic I decided that I would like to give them a try, opting for the ‘Wyoming’ model as they appear to have a slightly lower profile than some of the others, which might be more comfortable while wearing the Davida Jet. They are advertised as being a ‘wide fit’ – which must mean I have a fat head.
In case you don’t know, photochromic means that these (in this case) shatterproof polycarbonate lenses (with anti-fog coating) change colour according to the amount of UV rays they encounter.
Unfortunately my reasoning that this is simply down to ‘magic’ is unlikely to be deemed an acceptable description of how they work by the extremely erudite and worldly wise readership of The Rider’s Digest, so this is an explanation I’ve lifted directly from a quick Google:
‘When photochromic lenses are exposed to UV light, trillions of photochromic molecules in the lens begin to change structure. These molecules constantly and smoothly recalibrate so the optimal amount of light reaches your eyes whether you’re in bright sunlight, under cloud cover or indoors.’
If you look carefully at the image to the left, you may see the effects of partially covering one of the lenses, however the change happens quickly (handy in tunnels) so by the time I’d messed about with my camera it was already starting to fade.
My first impressions of the Fat Skeleton Wyoming riding glasses were good; the padded lenses fit snugly around the eye, preventing aphid ingress and draughts, and the field of vision is excellent.
The arms are solidly made and reasonably comfortable, finished as they are in matt black to reduce glare. The glasses arrive in a soft microfibre pouch, but you do have the option of a zipped hard case for a few dollars more.
What I really like is the fact that these shades provide a comfortable level of light and vision whatever the time of day, weather conditions or badly adjusted LED headlights throw at you, so even if you find yourself miles away from your destination at dusk, riding through the night or making a very early start, you only need one pair of glasses.
For comparison, I used them both with my Davida (comfortable when wearing but a sore hooter the next day – this is because the Jet sits reasonably low on my forehead. Paul Burdass from Fat Skeleton noted that some Davida lids and the Bell 500 can cause problems with eyewear) and also with my AGV Skyline full face lid, which does actually have an integral ‘aircraft style’ tinted visor, but nice to know that you can still ride with the visor up if it gets a bit stuffy.
The difference with the two types of lid is that Davida is a pretty tight fit (but also very quiet and aerodynamic), so I always prefer to put the glasses on first, which is great except if you take them off when you’re still wearing it, as to put them on again you need to try to force them down between your temples and the lining, which can be a little painful. Depending on how fat your head is.
Different story with the AGV; you don’t have any choice but to put the Wyomings on whilst wearing the lid, which is still a little challenging but not too bad. They are quite good at low speeds with the visor up – in town for example, allowing a cooling breeze in, but unlike the Davida, I’ve found the AGV Skyline to be incredibly noisy, especially with the visor up once you get above 30 mph.
But more importantly, there were no issues with the bridge of my nose while wearing the AGV, so while I love my Davida Jet it doesn’t seem to be particularly compatible with the Wyoming glasses, depending on the shape of your head and face. It would be interesting to try them with a different open face lid (if any manufacturers are reading this, get in touch!)
So there you have it, a pair of riding glasses that you can wear any time, day or night. At time of writing the list price was £49.99 plus an extra fiver for a hard case, plus delivery. They are also available with prescription lenses, contact www.fat-skeleton.co.uk for options, styles and prices.