Cost: $75 – $100 depending on lens choice (3-lens pack or photochromic)
Venerable Belgian Helmet Maker Offers Array of Sunglasses
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.
In the Box
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.
Lens Swaps and Fit Adjustment: Easy
The lenses are one solid piece of thick polycarbonate that fit into a groove in the topof 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 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.
Lots of Features at a Great Price Point
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. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.