Of all the sunglasses I’ve been riding with this year (including those from Julbo, Adidas, Tifosi, and Ryders) this was the pair that I was the least familiar with. They first turned up on my desk after they’d arrived in the Fresh Goods Friday pile back at the start of Spring, having been sent in for us to test by the online eyewear retailer, Shade Station. With few preconceptions, I’ve been riding and generally mishandling these glasses ever since.
Turns out Dragon Alliance (also known as just Dragon), is an eyewear company that’s been around since 1993. The brand is much better known in the realms of surfing and snowboarding, where it offers casual shades for lazing by the water, and goggles for moto and snowboarding. But while the cycling glasses market isn’t something that Dragon has invested heavily into in the past, with the EnduroX that was introduced a little over a year ago, that looks set to change.
Upon first inspection, they certainly look like they’d fit the bill. Using a sporty half rim design, the EnduroX glasses feature a curved wrap-around design with vented lenses. They feature slender, slightly curved arms that are coated in grippy rubber, and there’s an adjustable nosepiece that also uses the same rubber material. Our test glasses have a gloss black finish for the tough and flexible TR90 framework, though other frame colours are available. The lenses are interchangeable, and options include Clear, Grey, Copper, and a mirror-finish colour called Ion.
The lenses on our test glasses are the ‘Terra Yellow/Grey Transition’ lens option. In the ambient light of the office, the lenses appear to be a light yellow tint, designed to enhance colour contrast and brighten up drab trail conditions. But the lenses aren’t just a simple yellow tint (hint: the clue is in the name…). They’re actually photochromic lenses, which means they change there tint depending on how bright the conditions are. Put the glasses into the shade, and they go light yellow. Put them into direct line in the sun, and they darken to a grey/black tint. Clever!
We’ve tested heaps of photochromic lenses before in the past, and I’ve become a fan of the ‘one lens does most’ approach. However, most transition lenses will typically lighten in tint to more of a clear finish, and not yellow like these.
In use, I really dug the yellow tint of Dragon’s EnduroX glasses. For riding in overcast conditions (i.e: 11.5 months of the year in Yorkshire), the yellow tint helps to brighten up the trail, and it gives good colour contrast too. As the skies lighten and sunshine threatens, the lenses steadily transition to a darker grey tint, which provides good protection even on bluebird days. Dragon doesn’t publish specific figures for the light transmission rates on its Transition lenses (we’ll update the review if we get hold of that information), but real world experience suggests the range is quite substantial. Short of riding at night or on white sandy beaches in full summer sun, the Terra Yellow/Grey Transition lens will cover pretty much everything you’d encounter.
As for fit, the EnduroX is also a really comfy pair of shades. The rubber grippers keep them steady on the noggin, and there’s enough flex through the arms that they hold on without pinching. The arms are quite long though, and I’ve found the tips do flare out slightly, so on close-fitting helmets such as the Bell Super and Giro Chronicle, the arms of the EnduroX glasses can cause interference the inside shell of the helmet. Shorter arms with some bend-ability would help to minimise the chance of this happening.
Despite the vents on the upper part of the lens, I found the EnduroX glasses would still fog up on cold mornings, with my heavy breathing and steamy sweat creating moisture build-up on the inside face of each lens. To be fair, most glasses fog up pretty quickly in these circumstances, so best to whip the glasses off before tackling a heady climb. What did impress me with these however, was just how durable the lenses are.
Despite them having mud and dirty spray wiped off them on a weekly basis, the lenses on the EnduroX glasses have come clean and clear after a quick squirt with the water bottle, and a polish with the included stowage sock. They’ve been dropped onto the ground plenty of times during pauses on photoshoots, and have been flung across the pub table during post-ride rehydration. And even with my many counts of carelessness, the lenses only have a few very faint scratches to be seen, which even then is unnoticeable when riding.
A surprising pair of glasses that offer a comfortable wrap-around design with excellent clarity. The yellow transition lenses offer great colour contrast, and the ability to darken automatically as conditions brighten. They’re also very durable for the inevitable scrapes, shunts and drops that a mountain biker will subject them to.
While not as expensive as Oakley or Adidas glasses, the Dragon EnduroX do sit at the premium end of the glasses market. Though while the brand might not have the same cache as the aforementioned labels, I reckon the performance here is on par with some of the best out there.
|Product:||EnduroX Jet Transition|
|From:||Shade Station, shadestation.co.uk|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 6 months|