April 1, 2009
Most bike races take place in the summer months, with the hot sun beating down on you. Not all of them though – and the long road and mountain bike race seasons mean that the races at both ends of the season are likely to be dull, wet or near-dark by the time the race is over. Currently clear lenses transmit 93% of visible light, which therefore gives them a tint of 7%. If you’re doing a night ride (or night criterium) – that’s 7% of the dim available light that’s not getting to your eye.
The problem with a truly clear lens is that it also allows harmful UV light to pass through, so there always has to be some element of filtering. Throw in some rain too, and the droplets clinging to the lens can end up magnifying the points of light from streetlights. It was while trying to improve the hydrophilic properties of their lenses that Giro discovered their new lens technology, that they’ve dubbed ‘MattShield’.
By making the surface of the lens completely matt, rather than polished, they found that water droplets formed much smaller ‘droplet units’ which evaporated almost immediately, without having to achieve a critical-mass size big enough to roll down with gravity. That’s not the fun part though – the new Mattshield lenses are so non-reflective that instead of reflecting light as a reflection, the lightwaves pass through without hinderance – up to 98% transmission. The Mattshield clear surface also jogs the wavelength of the light enough that harmful UV is dissipated.
We were allowed a quick play on one of their new lenses and we have to say that the results are stunning. Even Chipps greasy fingerprints didn’t seem to leave a mark. Mattshield is currently only an option on the Havik frame, and you’re going to have to wait until all the pro-riders have had theirs, such is the demand in the peloton for the early season Classics.