What are the best goggles for mountain biking? We brought together five pairs from 100%, Dragon Alliance, Julbo POC, Scott, and put them in the hands of our goggle aficionado and all-round jumpy rider, Rob Mitchell, to see which ones we’d recommend for UK mountain bikers. Over to Rob for the full review!
As a maker of sunglasses, goggles and helmets for all types of outdoor adventures, Julbo is a brand we’ve got to know well over the last few years.
Julbo makes a wide range of goggles, with the majority aimed at the snow market. However, the Bang NXT goggles on test here are specifically designed for mountain biking.
Spec Talk for the Julbo Bang NXT Goggles
Green is the talk of the day, with a nice split colour way, using two shades of green on the strap and frame, and black throughout. A matte finish on the frame gives a stealth vibe to these high ticket goggles from the French vision wizards.
The shape of the frame isn’t drastic, or statement. Instead it boasts neat lines and a small overall size. In comparison to the rest of the goggles on test, these are the smallest by far. The frame itself is pretty clever too. Julbo call it the anatomic frame, which uses cuts throughout the frame to increase flexibility of the goggles. Sounds cool.
Onto more technical features, the Bang NXT goggles use a Julbo Reactiv Zebra Light photochromic lens which goes from CAT1 (practically clear) to CAT3 (standard dark sunglasses) to adapt to the ever-changing light conditions we may encounter on the trails. This lens has a VLT (Visible Light Transmission) between 17-75%. A clear lens is typically around 90%, so this lens is very near fully clear. The lens inner surface has additional anti-fog coating, to make sure vision doesn’t become impaired on the trails.
Julbo has a new lens for this year, which goes from clear to CAT3, which is pretty much ‘like black magic’ according to the team. This is only available in the sunglasses range at the moment, with the hope of it passing down to the goggle range at some point in the near future.
The NXT goggles also use a two-layer foam for ultimate comfort as well as shock absorption through your face. A silicone strap keeps these goggles in position. There is no spare lens with the Julbos, which for the generous £120 asking price is a bit of a down point for me, but you do get a lovely black microfibre bag.
Weight for the Bang NXTs is 118g.
On The Trail
First thing I noticed with these goggles was the size difference compared with the other goggles on test. With an open face helmet, the smaller frame size is very welcome, and they sat seamlessly with both the 661 Evo AM helmet, and the Giro Chronicle I’ve been running.
The Photochromic lens has performed intelligently throughout the test period, adapting to the changing light conditions on a wide range of trails. In the woods, that 75% VLT lens lets plenty of light through and even though this frame isn’t the biggest on test, the range of vision is really rather good.
With the frames on these being smaller than the others on test, the gap between the top of the nose piece and the top of the frame is obviously smaller as well. Because of this, the nosepiece does creep into your field of view quite a lot. Peripheral vision however is very impressive. Cuts in the frame help the goggles to fit to the shape of your head really well, and in doing so make vision out of the side of the goggle wide and clear, which is impressive for a goggle with the size of frame that we have here. In sunnier conditions, the way the lens adapts on the go so quickly means you’ll never be left waiting for the lens to change.
The NXTs have been impressive in the ventilation department too. No major fogging issues, even when sat with the goggles still on your face. On colder days, you’re more likely to see steam build up on the inside of the lens, but I’ve been impressed with how these goggles have performed.
To give the goggles a good testing, I came up with the idea of the ‘20minute road climb goggle test’ test. As the name suggests, here I sit spinning up the side of the Calder Valley, wearing goggles on my face, to see how they perform at low speed, whilst panting and sweating. First note is the heat these goggles hold when on your face. Because the foam fits so well, it’s a warm place to be.
Other than the heat though, the NXTs performed extremely well, not fogging up at all while I was moving, even if it was at a snail’s pace. Once at the top of the hill, I had to take them off to let them (and my face) air quickly, before heading into the descent.
Comfort & Compatability
Because of the smaller frame on these goggles, compatibility with helmets is excellent. I’ve run these goggles on both a Giro Chronicle, and a 661 Evo AM helmet, and there have been no issues with fit, shape, or compatibility with either.
Comfort wise, the foam used on the NXT goggles is incredibly comfortable. Although it is only a two-layer foam, because the goggles are so much smaller than the rest of the competition, they sit really well on the face. They don’t sit too far down on your cheeks, meaning they follow the contours of your face, rather than fighting against them.
On the trails, the lens on the Julbo NXTs is exceptional. It offers incredible clarity in all weather conditions, and the adaptive technology works so well for changing light conditions. The compact size means these goggles work really well with open face trail helmets, and they really are comfortable on long rides.
For me though, the price is just too much for a pair of every-day riding goggles, especially when you don’t get a secondary lens. If you’ve got big plans that require goggles, you’re prepared to spend a decent wedge of cash and you’re solely looking for lens performance, these are the ones to get. If however, you want a more robust goggle, with more options in terms of colours and sizes, and with the option to swap lenses, then you might be wanting to look elsewhere. I can’t however deny just how good this lens is.
|From:||Lyon Outdoor, lyon.co.uk|
|Tested:||by Rob Mitchell for 3 months|