By Brandon Bilyeu
Cost: $75 - $100 depending on lens choice (3-lens pack or photochromic)
How Obtained: Review sample from company
Availability: retail, online
RBR Sponsor: No
Tested: 40+ hours
Claimed Weight: 34 grams
Material: Colored Grilamid Plastic Frames, Polycarbonate lenses
When we recently tested the available MIPS helmets for the road market, we were intrigued to see that Belgian helmet maker Lazer offered an array of what we considered fairly reasonably priced cycling and leisure sunglasses as well. We decided to put a pair to the test.
The Lazer Solid State SS1 sunglasses come with a zippered hard case, a storage/cleaning bag, a brief instruction pamphlet (lens swap and care information) and three different lenses. The three included lenses were a grey smoke lens (17% light transmission), a yellow lens (70% light transmission) and a clear lens (98% light transmission).
If you opt for the photochromic lens version of the SS1's -- which adjusts light transmission automatically to changing light conditions -- there will only be the one lens in the package. There are two photochromic lens variants: clear photochromic (25-75% light transmission) and melanin photochromic (12-31% light transmission, 140 SPF sun protection).
The model I tested was the Gloss White version with white frame, black temples and blue mirror coating on the main lens. (Note that the Solid State SS1’s come in a variety of frame-color, lens-color combinations, and that Lazer offers a number of other models in different shapes and for different head sizes – all but one in the under-$100 range.)
All lenses are made of shatterproof polycarbonate and provide 100% UVA/B protection. I was a bit disappointed to find that there is no protected storage option in the hard case for the extra lenses. Other multi-lens glasses I have owned came with cases featuring dedicated storage for the extra lenses to protect them from the other lenses and glasses, something I'd like to see added to the SS1 hard case.
The frame is a solid, somewhat hefty grilamid plastic that is neither featherweight nor heavy. The bottomless frame style means a seamless transition when looking down, and a prescription lens adapter is available for those who need vision correction. The prescription adapter (photo) replaces the nose piece and sits behind the lens. The adapter must be taken to your local optician to have custom lenses manufactured.
The lenses are one solid piece of thick polycarbonate that fit into a groove in the top of the glasses frame and lock into place with tabs at each end of the lens. To remove a lens you simply grab the frame and lens at one end and pull apart. The frame is very flexible to allow easy swaps and also has great “memory” so it goes right back to its proper shape, holding the lens in place securely. Grabbing the lens with your fingers leaves smudges and the possibility of scratches, so I always try to use the storage bag to grab the lens. Installing a lens is just the reverse and can be done without touching the lens surface.
The nose piece (see photo, behind clear lens) is a bit difficult to swap due to its small metal construction, but after a few tries you get the hang of it. Squeezing the nose piece together allows you to pop it out of a retention notch in the lens. A small drawback of the metal construction of the nose piece is that the metal can easily scratch the lenses, so you have to take extra care when reinstalling the nose piece when swapping lenses.
The last two inches of the SS1's frames are adjustable to customize temple fit. Bend the temples by hand to change the shape and width of contact. The nose piece can also be adjusted, but the metal construction makes it a difficult task and I found that very little nose adjustment was needed anyway. Both the nose and temple contact points are rubber coated to provide a good grip.
The one-piece lens design provides a huge field of view. My peripheral vision runs out before the lenses do, and I see the front edge of my helmet before the top of the frame comes into view. A common problem for me is lenses that don't extend far enough above the nose, which places the top of the frame right in my line of sight. This was not an issue with the SS1's. The minimalist nose piece leaves a clear view in the center of the lens as well.
The clarity of the lenses was great over the entire viewing area, and wind-blocking was excellent.
The grey smoke lenses are great in bright sunlight, and the mirror coating does an admirable job at cutting glare, though not as well as polarized lenses. Glare that was visible picked up the blue color of the lens coating, which at first was surprising and distracting, but I quickly got used to it. The yellow and clear lenses retain the same clarity for low light and dark conditions.
The flexible frames do a good job of conforming to different head widths but for larger faces will put too much force on the temples. Lazer markets the SS1's as suitable for small- to medium-sized faces, and my experience agrees with that. The adjustable temples allowed me to customize the fit and reduce temple pressure to the point where the SS1's all but “disappeared.” I barely even noticed I was wearing them.
Vents in the upper, outer corners of the lenses provide air flow to prevent fogging and work very well. I spent several long days in the wet and cold with no fogging issues, even on extended climbs at slow speeds. Of course, as soon as I stopped the fog appeared instantly, but was gone just as quickly when I started moving again.
Durability has been great. So far the lenses are still scratch-free even after cleaning with cotton towels instead of the provided microfiber lens bag. There is no sign of the frames losing any rigidity from repeated lens swaps, and the arm pivots remain solid.
There are countless options for cycling eyewear ranging from cheap to ridiculously expensive. The Laser Solid State SS1's are a great combination of features important to cyclists at a reasonable price point. The large, professional styling might not suit everyone's tastes, but the performance is excellent.
The photochromic option is great for those who don't want to deal with multiple lenses. Overall the SS1's are a well-designed and spec'd set of specs that are worth considering for your next pair of eyewear.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys road, track and 'cross racing. He's also a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade.
Congratulations to suburban Washington, D.C., Premium Member Steve Richardson, winner of our latest prize package from 3T: a great combo prize of its ARX II Pro Stem and the new 3T Eye (pictured), the rugged miniature display that puts real-time data from smartphone training apps and ANT+™ power/ heart-rate cadence devices on handlebars, in the rider’s line of sight. (The winner can choose the appropriate stem size, of course.)
Any new or renewing Premium Members between May 1 (when we gave away our last great prize) and June 30 were eligible for the drawing. We’ll announce our next terrific Premium Prize in next week's RBR Newsletter.
The Tour de France starts Saturday, and each team has mapped out its strategy for the race. The teams with podium contenders build their strategies around supporting these contenders. The teams going for stage wins have different strategies. And no matter their specific goals, each night every team discusses the strategy for the next day based on the race situation, particulars of the stage, etc.
Of course, there are riders like the former pro Jens Voigt who decides in the middle of a stage to ignore the planned strategy and take a solo flyer (if it won’t hurt the team) – that’s what makes bike racing exciting!
The strategy for each individual rider, whether it’s a podium contender or a domestique, is to conserve matches. Each rider starts the day with a proverbial book of matches. A racer burns a match whenever he has to make an extra hard effort pulling into the wind or pacing up a climb, joining a break or chasing down a break, contesting an intermediate sprint or catching up after a mechanical.
A rider has a finite number of matches, and when he’s burned them all, he’s done racing for the day and is just pedaling to finish. A racer tries to burn just a few in the first third of a race and dole out a few more in the second third so he’ll have plenty for the final, decisive third of the race.
Coach John Hughes’new eArticle, Your Best Season Ever, Part 2: Peaking for and Riding Your Event, shows how you can develop and test a personal strategy for your Key event. He uses five hypothetical events as examples:
• Climb Whiner’s hill in 15:30. Whiner’s ascends 525 feet in two miles (160m in 3.2 km), a 5% grade.
• Finish the Hills and Valleys Century in 7:15 (or 200K in 9:00).
• Ride your first 100K on a personally defined route.
• Finish the Race of Truth 10-mile (15 km) club time trial in 27:30 (averaging 21.8 mph / 35.1 km/h).
• Finish with the Big Dogs’ “A” group on the 50-mile (100 km) Saturday ride rather than getting dropped.
Last week, this week and next, we’ll share strategies excerpted from Coach Hughes’ new eArticle. This week we share the strategies for hanging with the Big Dogs on a ride on which you often get dropped.
If your key event is to finish with the Big Dogs’ “A” group on the 50-mile (100 km) Saturday ride rather than getting dropped, then your strategy is all about conserving matches. How to conserve your personal matches depends on how the Big Dogs ride, the course and your personal strengths (and weaknesses).
Here are Coach Hughes’ recommendations for developing your personal strategy.
Success depends on a tested strategy. At the start of your Peaking phase you did a careful Event Analysis. Based on this analysis you developed Specific Training Objectives for the phase. As you train during this phase you also need to develop and test your strategy for your Key event. The strategic considerations depend on the type of event:
Club hammerfests and organized races often start out very fast. There is nothing to be gained in those first few minutes, but you can waste a lot of energy! The strategy for race-like events is conserving energy. If you do the “A” ride perfectly you’d be the first back to the car, ready to take your significant other dancing and then your club mates would straggle in and collapse on the lawn.
As part of your Event Analysis you’ve ridden the full route alone that the Big Dogs take on their “A” rides and you’ve ridden part of the ride with them to gauge their speeds and intensities. You know where you’ll need to go hard and burn a few of those matches.
For a 50-mile hammerfest, much of the ride will be at a brisk conversational pace, Zone 3; however, there will be sustained riding in Zone 4, shorter sections in Zone 5 and maybe even some very hard Zone 6 riding. Riding in Zone 5 (and 6), you are definitely burning matches! Depending on how long a Zone 4 section is, you may also burn a match or two. (This eArticle uses the same training zones and intensities as in Part 1, which are in the Appendix: Gauging Exertion.)
You can use smart tactics to help conserve matches. If a few riders surge, are they just showing off or is it a serious move? Who are the stronger riders you can sit in with? What will happen if you refuse to take a pull? One of Coach Hughes’ clients just won the state championship road race by refusing to pull in the closing kilometers to save his legs for the sprint! (Remember, this isn’t the same as riding with your buddies or doing a no-drop club ride; in those cases, you’d be expected to do your share of the work. In a race-like ride, there is no such expectation; you may hear some grumbling, but so what?)
If you are light and a good climber, can you push the pace on the hills, enough to cause other riders to burn matches, but without burning one of yours? If you’re a heavier rider, can you move toward the front of the group as you reach a climb and then drift back through the group as you climb, trying not to burn a match? If you’re a stronger rider, your time may come when the route turns into the wind—can you surge without burning a match and make the less powerful riders toward the end of the group burn matches to stay in contact?
Plan how to ration your matches in your club ride based on your partial ride(s) with the Big Dogs and your scouting of the course. Where will you have to burn matches in the first half and when can you try to conserve them? How many matches can you burn early in second half and still have a few matches for the end game?
Last week we shared Coach Hughes’ strategies for time trials, and next week we’ll excerpt his strategies for endurance events.
An effective strategy is one of nine ingredients to a Peak performance. Your Best Season Ever, Part 2: Peaking for and Riding Your Event, teaches you how to:
1 Analyze your event to figure out what’s required for success
2 Develop specific training objectives based on that analysis
3 Create and test a personal strategy for your particular event
4 Train for peak fitness for your individual event
5 Learn what you should eat, and when, leading up to and during the event
6 Select the optimum equipment, including how to get the most bang for your buck
7 Learn mental focus so that 100% of your energy goes into your performance
8 Taper so that you are fresh and on form on the starting line
9 Control how you ride your event for best performance
In his eArticle Your Best Season Ever, Part 1, Coach Hughes walks you through how to create your own specific, personalized training plan and then get the most out of your training.
Part 2 takes what you’ve learned in the first article and builds on it to help you achieve your ultimate goal(s) for the season.
Coach John Hughes’ new 37-page eArticle Your Best Season Ever, Part 2: Peaking for and Riding Your Event is available today for only $4.99 ($4.24 for Premium Members after their 15% discount).
In case your own statute of limitations on viewing or reading anything about Lance Armstrong has expired, you’re in luck. A “based on a true story” look into the systematic “Program” of doping, cheating, lying, bullying and so forth is set for a September release (in Europe) as a motion picture. No U.S. release has yet been set.
The movie, titled “The Program,” has a handful of actors whose names (Dustin Hoffman) you may or may not recognize, but whose faces you probably would (Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd) and is helmed by noted director Stephen Frears.
It looks like a chance to see played out many of the scenes (or types of scenes) we’ve heard and read about over the years, along with what appears to be some pretty thrilling cycling footage.
If you’re in the mood for something much more inspiring, and touching, you might want to check out this video on Taylor and Davis Phinney.
Ostensibly, it’s about Taylor’s ongoing comeback from the horrific crash he suffered at the U.S. road championships last year – and how painting and other diversions help him cope.
But it’s also about his loving, respectful relationship with his dad, Davis, and touches on his heroic solo ride in the Tirreno Adriatico a couple years ago in which he used his dad’s Parkinson’s disease as inspiration.
In sum, it’s a rare look behind the curtain of a former and current pro whose own lives are much like our own – overcoming personal, health and other hurdles while leaning on those we love for support and inspiration. What’s not to like about that?!
P.S. Thanks to Canadian Premium Member and RBR contributor Claude Leger for tipping us to both videos.
--- John Marsh
I started the process last week of previewing the new RBR website by taking a look at the home page and easier, flatter navigation.
I’ll pick up today with a more detailed look at how inside pages have been improved, as well as how the Newsletter itself has been updated and made easier to use and navigate.
Say, you're reading this Coach Fred piece on training to climb short hills. Afterward, you'd like to see what else we have on the topic of "Climbing." Because we've "tagged" all articles by topical content (this one also contains the tags "Beginner Cyclist," "Intermediate Cyclist," "Coaching," and "Cycling Past 40" -- in addition to "Climbing" -- all you have to do is click the "Climbing" tag to view the headlines of all the other articles on the site so-tagged.
It makes it so much easier to "run down the line" of topical articles and read everything you'd like related to your specific topic of interest.
On the new RBR Newsletter page, you'll be able to quickly read the first paragraph or two to see what's in each article before clicking the headline or "Read Full Story" link to the entire article.
Each article will contain tags, as explained above, in addition to quick links to either read the next article in that issue, or to go back to the main Newsletter page to find a different article.
In sum, the layout and functionality of the Newsletter has been greatly improved, and like the site overall, the layout is "airer," the fonts bigger, and the articles are easier to read, easier to share, print, etc.
More to come!
--- John Marsh