For all of you out there who’ve been thinking “man, I wish the same people who made my grandma’s bike saddle would make sunglasses,” Serfas Optics has arrived. Eyeware from the famous Tawainese manufacturer brings a variety of styles to a pricepoint (MSRP $50) somewhat less obscene than bigger name brands. But how does the product compare?
Style: 3. Why else does anyone really wear sunglasses? The model I picked, the Hunters, was decently stylish. At anything other than close inspection, they looked like an expensive bit of performance eyeware. Of course, once you tell people Serfas makes them, they laugh at you, but the style is undistinctive enough that few people ask. Good range of frame/lens colors to coordinate with your outfit. So 3, right dead in the middle of the road.
Performance: 4. Not bad. In fact, quite good. The glasses, which have the standard rubber pads on the nose and ear pieces, stay put extremely well. I never had trouble with sliding down even while riding a rigid MTB fixed-gear through a rock garden in 90% humidity. Yeah, they collect sweat and occasionally fog, but no worse than any other sunglasses out there. Plus, they’re very lightweight and don’t make the tops of your ears ache. Lens changing was tricky to figure out, but simple after the first time.
Lenses: 3. The Hunters (and I believe all the other interchangable Serfas shades) come with 4 polycarbonate lenses – gray, red, yellow and clear. Red is a darn good multi-condition lens for anything from bright and sunny to moderately overcast. The grey lens would be decent for sunny days if it didn’t diffuse direct sunlight in the AM and evening all throughout your field of vision, making it seem like you’re riding in fog. Clear is for rain (duh) and performs adequately, while yellow is a good twilight lens, but it made me nauseous* in any sort of direct sunshine. Moving distortion is minimal, but a single bright source of light, such as a headlight or reflective piece of metal shows up as a double-image. Good scratch resistance.
Durability: 2. My frames broke at the nose piece after about two weeks of wear. I was quite cautious about changing lenses, so the break could have happened in my crash at GMSR, but even then, I don’t feel like there was enough impact that they should have broken. Still, they remain functional and it’s not all that noticable, so I’m less ticked off about it. Traditional weak spots such as the hinges are still like new after a month of serious usage. Rubber on nose and earpieces seems not to be rotting, which is a plus.
Price: 4. When compared with the $125 tag on a new pair or Smiths or Oakleys, these look pretty good. And they’re certainly a step up from what you’d find on the $12 rack at the department store, or even at Nashbar or Performance. But other mid-range brands, like Tifosi might offer a little more bling (if not performance) for your buck, without the “comfort seat” connotations of the Serfas name.
Final Thoughts: I’ve gotta say, first off, that I hate all eyewear. If it weren’t for the immense discomfort of picking gnats from the previous night’s ride out from under my eyelids each morning, I wouldn’t wear glasses at all. That having been said, these shades are all right. They annoy me no more while riding than eyewear costing twice as much. You, however, if you’re the sort that generally likes glasses, might have higher standards. So if you’re a slave to brand names, or a performance opitics coinisseur, these may not be for you. But if you’re a working sap looking for a passable pair of shades that won’t make you look like a total Joey, these’ll do fine.
*You’re gonna tell me this should be “nauseated,” not “nauseous,” right? Well, tough. I like the way “nauseous” sounds, so suck it up and deal.