By Brandon Bilyeu
- Customizable frame and lens combos
- Lens clarity is excellent
- 100% UV protection
- Comes with 4x nose pieces for adjustable fit
- Lifetime guarantee on frame
- Recycled frame option, certified carbon neutral
- Price increases quickly with options
- Only comes with one lens
Vulcans start at $170 and Airas start at $185. Additional frame and lens options will increase the price.
How obtained: review sample from SunGod
Available: retail, online
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 20+ hours
SunGod is a British based direct-to-consumer company operating since 2013 that focuses on eyewear including cycling sunglasses, ski goggles, and lifestyle sunglasses. SunGod’s mission (besides selling you sunnies) is being good to the environment. Their company and products are carbon neutral through offsetting, they plan to be Net 0 by 2030 (Net 0 applies to all greenhouse gases), and are members of 1% for the Planet.
All packaging is made from recycled and recyclable paper materials and there is even a frame option made of 100% recycled plastic. The microfiber pouches are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. To keep the glasses out of the dumpster each frame is covered by a Lifetime Guarantee (does not apply to lenses). If your frame ever breaks SunGod will repair it free of charge.
So Many Options . . .
SunGod offers three styles of glasses in their cycling appropriate Pace series: Vulcans, Velans, and Airas. I tested out the Vulcans and Airas, but the Velans are just a smaller version of the Vulcans. Each style has a range of options for frames and lenses so you can build exactly what you want. Between both pairs tested I was able to check out every frame option and two different lenses. I’ll break down the review by style and component to highlight the options.
Frames – Vulcans
The Vulcans are available in three frame configurations: Top Frame, Full Frame, and a package that includes both Top and Full Frame. Swapping lenses is common in cycling eyewear, but configurable frames not so much. With the Vulcans, if you buy the extra parts, you can change your lenses and frame configuration as needed for conditions and style preference.
Even with multiple parts fitting together rather than a single piece frame the build is very solid. Switching lens/frame takes quite a bit of force as the fit is very tight. The first time I swapped parts I thought I was going to break something, but it finally came apart without disaster. The tight fit means the assembled glasses feel very rigid and durable with no rattling or risk of falling apart mid-ride.
The frame material is impact resistant plastic that can handle some flex without issue. The arms attach to the frame with a “Pop Lock” connection that doesn’t use a screw. I appreciate this feature as hinge screws tend to loosen and fall out over time. The arms hold your head with rubber grips that reach behind the ears. The force the arms put on your head depends greatly on the frame selection. Less frame means lighter force, more frame means greater force.
Frame color is also an option and you can choose a different color for each of the following parts: Top Frame, Bottom Frame, SunGod logo, and Ear Socks. There are a lot of color options so you can build something conservative, flashy, or to match your bike / team kit. One option is a 100% recycled plastic frame only available in a matte black color. I tested both the recycled and standard frame and both perform fine with no noticeable difference between the recycled and virgin plastic.
Frames – Airas
Most of the frame specifications are the same between the Vulcans and the Airas, so only the differences are noted here. The Airas are also available in three frame configurations: Zero Frame, Base (bottom) Frame, and a package that includes both Zero Frame and Base Frame.
If glasses pinching your temples too hard gives you a headache, then I can recommend the Airas Zero Frame option. Without a frame connecting the two arms there is lots of flex in the lens and this results in low force at the temples. The grippy ear socks and nose piece do a perfect job of keeping the glasses in place even with low force at the temples.
Personally, I like cycling glasses without a bottom frame for better peripheral vision, especially when looking behind for cars. A bottom frame creates a blind spot right in your field of vision when turning your head to look back. A rearview mirror eliminates this problem.
Both the Vulcans and the Airas have a range of lenses available in different colors (see image below), visual light transmission, and two photochromatic versions. Transmission goes from 89% (clear lens) to 11% transmission (Fire and Silver Blue lenses). The two photochromatic versions have transmission ranges of 34-79% (low light conditions) and 16-43% (bright conditions).
I tested two lenses and found the optical clarity and scratch resistance of both to be excellent. The lenses also have a hydroleophobic coating that does an impressive job of helping sweat roll off the lens without leaving a blurry mess behind. There are no obvious features for airflow to prevent fogging, but they stayed perfectly clear as long as I was moving. UV protection is a must for sunglasses and these lenses provide 100% coverage.
The 14% transmission Green lens was great for full sun days. The Blue Photochromatic lens with 34-79% transmission was great for cloudy days, but too dark for night riding and too much transmission when the sun is out. So, the transition was not drastic enough to be very noticeable such that I think the non-photochromatic Blue lens at 44% would be my pick to hit the sweet spot and save a bit of money.
The lenses are designed with modern styling, which is to say they are quite big, but nowhere near some of the massive lenses available from other brands. This means the glasses are a good size for most faces, but the slightly smaller Velans might be a good option for those with smaller faces, see measurements in the image below. The bulk of the lens height is located above the nose for good coverage when bent over aggressively on the bike.
Many high-end sunglasses have adjustable width nose pads to accommodate different nose sizes. SunGod takes a different approach and supplies four nose pads with each pair of glasses. Each pad has the same width, but different length. This allows you to customize how far the lens sits from your face. A close fit is typically best, with just a small gap all around to allow for airflow. Each pad has a hole that easily slides onto a post with a flat edge keeping the orientation correct. And as mentioned previously, the hold is very good on the nose.
As sunglasses the SunGods are great. Fit, coverage, protection, clarity, and durability are excellent. SunGod’s sustainable business practices and the Lifetime Guarantee make this a feel-good purchase. For the price it would be nice to get more than one lens included, but the cost is in line with other high-end brands. What you are really paying for is the ability to customize everything and the number of options is pretty impressive.
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.