Price: $189 MSRP
High Quality and Thoughtful Details Equal Top Pick
My only past experience with Smith eyewear is a pair of goggles I purchased a few years back for winter fat tire biking. The same high quality and thoughtful detail that went into the goggles is readily apparent in the PivLock™ Arena sunglasses. They are frameless, which keeps them lightweight and provides a wide field of vision ideal for road cycling. For me, the continuous field of vision, ChromaPop lens, and quick lens swap make these glasses a top pick.
Fit and Function
The sunglasses are designed to fit a medium face. Even having a narrow face, I had no issue with slipping or general fit.
Initially, I did have issues with my helmet pressing on the top of the frame, causing bruising on the bridge of my nose. I knew that the nose piece was adjustable, though, and after finally figuring out how to tweak it, the glasses fit fine, with no interference with the helmet, and no excessive pressure on my nose.
The nose piece actually widens by pushing each side outward with your thumbs (should click one or two times; each side moves independently from the other). Pushing the nose piece to the flattest position helps alleviate pressure and also allows the sunglasses to sit lower on your face.
It seems that the nose piece should be a little more intuitive to adjust, but once I got it, the fit was spot-on.
I really liked the large wraparound-style lens. The one-piece lens kept wind, sun and debris out of my eyes. Especially as a rider who wears contact lenses, this full-coverage protection from all the elements is a big benefit. As a slight negative, however, I did find that the absence of venting caused more sweating around the face. If I’d change one thing on this style, it would be to incorporate vents for additional airflow.
The light weight of these sunglasses was also a major plus. With the fit dialed in, they’re so light you might even forget you’re wearing them. That may be the highest compliment for any cycling accessory.
ChromaPop™ Enhances Clarity and Natural Color
Smith’s proprietary ChromaPop lens technology is designed to provide enhanced clarity and natural color, revealing more detail. It filters two specific wavelengths of light that cause color confusion. The result is said to be a lens that delivers greater definition, more natural color and clarity – all of which translates to more detail. I give it high marks for the visual clarity, yet I have used lenses that delivered more definition.
The ChromaPop lens performed well when going from bright sun to shade or dappled sunlight. It enabled me to pick out the potholes and road debris just fine.
The lens has a hydroleophobic water- and oil-proof coating that is designed to repel moisture, grease and grime. I found condensation and sweat would bead up and disperse with minimal streaking and water spots. I did have some perspiration residue at the bottom of my lens at the end of a hot ride, but was below the field of vision.
Swapping Lenses Made Easy
Call me lazy, but I try to avoid hassling with changing lenses. To me, it is easier to have multiple pairs of sunglasses and just grab the pair most suited to current conditions. Despite my laziness, I have to say that the PivLock™ technology makes changing lenses quick and simple. Just rotate the temple piece up, remove the nosepiece, and swap lenses. It really is quick and easy.
I tested the Matte Black Reactor, which came with a ChromaPop Sun Green Mirror (pictured above) and a ChromaPop Contrast Rose Flash lens. The optics for both lenses were very good. There was no distortion, as you might find with a cheaper lens. Also, with the frameless design, even in the drops your field of vision isn’t obstructed.
The rose-colored lens is designed for low light conditions. I tested it on both overcast days and rides that ended around twilight. I found that it provided good clarity and definition in these lower light conditions.
These sunglasses come with a carrying case (see photo) that fits both the sunglasses and two extra lenses. You also receive a cloth bag for storage that doubles as a lens cleaning rag.
It’s nice to have a full-featured storage case for the specs and all accessories, but I felt the case size was a bit of overkill. If you’re carrying these sunglasses to an event, the case takes up a lotof room in your car’s glove box, or in your pack or luggage.
Another plus is that the PivLock Arena sunglasses offer a host of colors to pick from. So if you’re someone like me who likes to try to match up my colors while riding, you for sure can be stylin’ in these specs.
Smith’s PivLock Arena’s light weight, wraparound lens and adjustability combine to provide great fit and performance. As a contact lenses wearer, I appreciated the coverage and never had an issue with debris or wind affecting my eyes.
The PivLock feature makes it simple and quick to change lenses, allowing you to find the perfect lens for the riding conditions you face.
The price tag puts these sunglasses on the higher end of the spectrum, but the quality optics and performance make them a worthy choice.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.