Tio Gomez must have noticed that my trade show giveaway sunglasses had replaced my worn out and definitely no longer in style big “O” brand cycling shades. Almost out of the blue, a package appeared in my mailbox from Tifosi Optics. I’m not usually a fan of bright or showy items as a part of my everyday attire. Opening the Tifosi hard case revealed the bright Crystal Orange frame with light blue accents and Clarion Blue reflective lenses. This would be my first entry into the world of giant sunglasses, and they actually managed to save my face- more on that later.
The performance eyewear market seems to be dominated by a few big brands that put even bigger price tags on products. My exhaustive research revealed sunglasses from the big brands coming in well over $200 for a pair of sunglasses, a case, and if you get lucky- maybe an extra lens. Tifosi has a different approach. The Sledge is one of their higher tier models, and it comes with three different lenses and a case for $79.95 USD. One set of replacement lenses from the “other” brands can cost almost that much! Maybe they are really that much better, but my eyes aren’t good enough to see any difference in the lens quality.
Sizing can be tough to figure out on sunglasses. Tifosi advertises these as fitting large/ extra large. I have a mediumish head, and found the fit to be pretty dang comfortable. Adjustable temples are listed as a feature, but it took me weeks to figure it out. What they did was mold some wire into the Grilamid TR-90 ear pieces, hidden under the hydrophilic rubber ear pads. This allows for an impressive range of adjustment in fine tuning the shape to perfectly conform to whatever face they land on. At 38 grams, these are decently lightweight, I never noticed them bouncing around or shifting.
With such a large lens placed so close to my sweaty face, I expected some serious fogging to take place. Even on the most humid of days, the glasses would only partially fog if I stopped for a while. As soon as movement resumed, the fog was totally gone. Swapping out the vented lenses is a tense process. It works exactly as the instructions show, pressing on the lens in certain spots in the right order while gently flexing the frame will release the lens, and they snap back in a similar fashion. After a handful of lens changes, I noticed that the blue paint on the frame was starting to scratch off. If these cost $200, I would be pretty upset. After the lenses are swapped, they are very secure within the frame, so the only complaint I have is with the quick wearing accent paint.
The 3 included lenses for these glasses cover a huge range of conditions. Showy Clarion Blue reflective lenses are great at taming down a bright afternoon sun. A hint of peachy pink takes over the landscape, and makes spending a day out in the bright sun much more enjoyable due to the dark tint and glare reducing coating. All Conditions Red might be the best trail riding lens I have used so far. It has just enough tint to keep the bright sun at bay, but not enough to need to take them off before riding home from watching the sunset. High contrast really made the greens pop, and I refuse to watch a sunset without these on my face from now on! Once it gets dark outside, the clear lens comes into play. Generally a clear lens is unremarkable, but I really enjoyed a little extra peripheral vision from the wrap around design. Letting in just that tiny bit of extra light made a difference in low light. I haven’t been excited about clear lenses until these came along, and I do a lot of night riding.
While on the subject of being able to see things, I should elaborate a little more on how these glasses saved my face. While I was bikepacking this summer, I was taking a trail that had a motor vehicle access gate, with a side path for human access. I didn’t see a ⅜” taught rusty steel cable anchoring the gate, roughly at a “just below the nose” level. As the momentum of my body and 70lb bike pushed my face through the cheese cutter of doom (heh), the cable smushed my nose upwards until it hit the front of the Tifosi face shield. If it wasn’t for the polycarbonate lens and tough frame, my eyes would’ve been the next target. Cleaning up revealed a bloody face, broken nose, and no further damage other than a sore neck. The glasses lost a bit more of the blue paint, but the lens was completely fine! Not a single scratch or scuff is visible! Should replacement lenses be needed, they run from $14.95 to $24.95. A full set of replacement nose and ear pads is under $10. You can do your own price check on medical bills related to losing your eyes if you think they are comparable.
Tifosi has created a fantastic riding accessory with the introduction of the Sledge line of glasses. An approachable price point and bold styling make an impression. Durable lenses and strong but light frames should hold up for a very long time. Had the finish of the accent coloring been more durable, I would give these a full 5/5 gnomeskulls for value, quality, and durability. As sunglasses are very aesthetic oriented, I have to take one skull off for the premature wear on the blue accents. Tifosi does offer a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.
Also available for the same $79.95 price point is a crystal red frame with a Clarion Yellow lens replacing the blue. For $10 less there are matte black (my favorite) and matte white frames which use a dark smoke lens in lieu of the Clarion lenses. Tifosioptics.com