I hadn’t paid much attention to Rudy Project Defenders when I first received them in the mail. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fighter pilot look of the eye protection, and they seem like a quality pair of sunglasses, but other than that I wasn’t expecting much from them.
Then one afternoon, as they were sitting inside my helmet on the counter in front of a window as I got ready for a ride, I put them on and noticed something. Some parts of the lens were tinted and some were not. It resembled the pattern of the rays of the sun passing through the blinds projected on the glasses.
Well, this is new, I thought.
I threw them in my face and cycled out of my house and the entire lens quickly adjusted to full hue in the afternoon light.
- Interchangeable bumper
- Adjustable nose
- Adjustable temple
- Ventilated lens
- Compatible with prescriptions
- Available in two different glass colors or photochromic glass
- Available in 11 different colors
- Weight: 100g
- MSRP: $ 185 – $ 235. Available on Amazon.com.
These aggressive styled wide-lens glasses have grown in popularity in recent years. Appearance can be divisive, but when it comes to functionality, I’m a fan.
Larger lenses share some qualities with goggles, but you don’t have to be 100% enduro to wear them. Firstly, they do a better job than the smaller individual lenses in protecting your eyeballs from stones or dust. They are also less obtrusive to your field of vision in most cases than a pair of glasses with individual lenses. I find this to be an important quality when going down a trail that is about to merge with another. Sweeping the other trail is a task that needs to be done quickly so your eyes can get back to the trail in front of you, and a larger lens with the mount out of sight makes it easier. The Defenders aren’t the best glasses I’ve worn on this, but they’re still pretty good.
The slits in the front section of the frame do a great job of ventilation. The Defenders don’t cling to my face so I still have a decent wind over my eyes which helps dry out the sweat, but the vents are an added bonus and they can be found along the temples as well.
The nose piece is easily adjustable, conforming to a variety of faces. Or, if you just want the goggles to be higher or lower, they can be adjusted to sit where the rider wants. The temples are flexible and easy to bend where they are preferred and the frame is flexible for added durability.
The magic with the Defenders is its ImpactX photochromic lens, which switches from low light to sunlight in seconds. Photochromic lenses are activated by ultraviolet radiation from the sun rather than any kind of bright light. So in the photo above to the right when I wore them in a snowstorm they only tinted very little even though it was very clear as the clouds had reduced the UV rays coming from from the sun.
Now the technology is not perfect. These do not adjust to a transparent tint quickly at all. They take a while, so if you’re looking for a lens that can adapt to trails that come in and out of the shadows on the fly, this isn’t them. But I’m not sure the technology still exists. Defenders are best described as an all-day pair of goggles that will adjust to the amount of daylight as the sun moves in and out of clouds or the mountain. They’ll also work as protection if you get caught in the dark on a ride, although there is a bit of tint at their lightest.
ImpactX lenses are also guaranteed to be unbreakable for life and are foldable like a yogi, while maintaining impact protection.
The caveat with these glasses is of course the price. With Defenders’ lineup hovering around the $ 200 mark, they’re pretty darn expensive, but obviously not a pair of gas station sunglasses. Buyers can find countless options for less money, but the Defenders are among the best performing cycling sunglasses I’ve tried.
The Rudy Project Defenders are some of the best performing cycling sunglasses I have ever worn. They offer a wide field of vision and excellent ventilation, while ensuring riders that their eyes are protected from debris or direct sunlight.
âï¸ Find Rudy Project Defender glasses online at Amazon.com.
Thanks to Rudy Project for providing the Defender goggles for testing and review.