Earlier this summer, Hannah travelled over to the Jura Mountains in France to participate in her very first multi-day enduro stage race; the Jura Enduro By Julbo. Prior to lining up on the start line, she dropped into the mountain HQ for French sports eyewear company, and headline sponsor of the race, Julbo.
Now, I will admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about Julbo prior to testing these bins. Julbo’s glasses aren’t particularly common in Australia where I’m from, though to be fair, alongside the huge glasses brands in the world like Adidas, Bolle and Oakley, Julbo is by comparison a much, much smaller brand. However, with the likes of Jérôme Clementz and Mason Bond rocking the Enduro World Series scene adorned with Julbo glasses, there are surely more mountain bikers taking notice of this outdoors-oriented brand.
Rather than me attempting to tell the Julbo story, it’s well worth your time to read Hannah’s excellent factory tour article that details some of the brand’s history, as well as the R&D process that the engineers undertake to produce prototypes and production glasses. If you’ve ever wondered how a pair of riding glasses are made, then do yourself a favour and check it out.
But back to the test. The glasses that Julbo sent in for us to review are the Dirt 2.0 glasses, and they’re stocked with Julbo’s Zebra Light photochromatic lenses (loads of other lens tints and frame colours are also available). Oh, and if you’re not a fan of the design, the Dirt 2.0 is one of over 50 different styles of glasses that Julbo offers in its lineup, which contains options for cycling, mountaineering, watersports, and snowsports. Julbo also makes casual glasses too, but those products are secondary to the brand’s sports-focussed glasses.
As the name suggests, the Dirt 2.0 is the second generation of this frame design, with the new frame being slightly curvier and more streamlined that its predecessor.With its large coverage and fully enclosed frame, the Dirt 2.0 glasses are ideally suited to trail riding. There’s a hefty wrap-around curve to the frame and lenses, and while you won’t find adjustable nosepieces or bendy arms, all the contact points are lined with a rubbery material that’s designed to keep its hold even when you’re all hot ‘n’ sweaty.
In terms of fit, the Dirt 2.0 glasses are really comfortable. They have a light feel on the head, and the flexible arms don’t cause any unnecessary pressure points around the side of the head. Because of the heavy curvature and the large profile lenses, the Dirt 2.0 glasses envelope your face with a close-fitting design that helps to minimise gaps between your skin and the frame. This is excellent for protecting your eyeballs from flying debris and pollen, with less chance for mud and such to be flicked up into your eyes.
The lenses themselves are rather fancy light-adjusting photochromatic lenses, which respond to altering light conditions to change the tint. Julbo make a few different photochromatic lenses, with these Zebra Light lenses being the most clear of the lot. However, they still offer a massive range of adjustment – at their most clear they offer a 75% light transmission rate, and at their darkest they’ll let just 17% of the available sunlight through. In Julbo terms, that means they offer CAT 1-3 protection. In real terms, it means you won’t need a darker lens than this for riding in anywhere but the Saharan Desert. For British mountain biking, the Zebra Light is the lens option to go for.
Made by Essilor from a rather fancy material called NXT, the lens blanks are delivered to Julbo’s French factory, where they’re cut and ground down to the finished product, before being inserted into Julbo’s own manufactured frames. As such, the glasses are entirely made in Europe.
The NXT lenses offer several benefits according to Essilor. For a start, the photochromatic material is part of the lens, and not a coating. This means the effectiveness of the lens transition doesn’t change over time, and is much more durable overall. The transmission rate is also quite fast (16-20 seconds according to 3rd party testing), and it’s also a reason why Julbo can achieve that enormous 17-75% light transmission range.
Another benefit is strength. Given that the same NXT material is also utilised for the windscreens of Apache helicopters, I’d hazard a guess that they should be a pretty effective barrier against fast-moving rocks and tree branches.
Optical clarity is another purported benefit of the NXT lens material, and I can attest to just how clear vision is with the Julbo Dirt 2.0 glasses. There is so little optical distortion, that combined with their light feel, it really doesn’t take long before you forget you’re wearing them at all. The range of coverage with the lenses is also very good, with the lens increasing in profile from the centre to the outside of the frame. It does give the glasses a sort of ‘raised eyebrow’ appearance that I’m not a big fan of, but functionally they’re great.
Otherwise there’s not a lot else to report on from the Dirt 2.0 glasses, which is a good thing. Like other photochromatic lenses, the Dirt 2.0 Zebra Light isn’t quite fast enough to respond for rapid light changes when charging through trails littered with patches of shade. If you’re racing in those sorts of conditions, consider a standard lens, and let your eyeballs do the light adjusting.
The Dirt 2.0 glasses are an excellent choice for mountain bikers wanting a large-profile set of glasses that offer a snug and close fit. They have a quality feel, with smooth and wobble-free hinges, and the lenses have incredible optical clarity. The photochromatic Zebra Light lenses will cover a huge range of riding conditions too, so there’s less need to keep multiple pairs for different days of the week.
|Product:||Dirt 2.0 Zebra Light Glasses|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for|