Salice 026 RW Glasses
The Salice 026 Glasses are sports glasses with interchangeable lenses. They’re not cycling specific and photochromatic (self-adjusting) lenses aren’t compatible with this design. On the flip side, they still lend themselves very well to most genres of cycling, are very well-made, offer excellent coverage and protection from sun, wind, rain, dust and other airborne debris.
Pros: Excellent protection, good quality materials & construction, other lenses available separately.
Cons: No photochromic option, clear lens as standard a missed opportunity.
The stock Salice 026 RW Glasses come with amber and smoke lenses and their own zippered, protective carbon effect carry case. Lenses are made from polycarbonate. The amber is designed for low light, while the smoke Cat3 lens is for bright, sunny conditions.
A clear, aftermarket model extends their horizons for £22.99. Other coloured and mirror finishes are available at the same price
As I said in my opening paragraph, there isn’t a photochromic (light adjusting) option. I am told this is because such technology is incompatible with the design's curve. This curved surface area is designed to balance and reflect light, minimising potential distortion, while encouraging sufficient airflow to prevent fogging.
The O26 also comes in two variants - regular and small. Regular measures 152.7mm(wide)x60mm(high) the small (026S) 145.5mmx53.3 for a more precise fit. The frames are made from moulded Grilamid TR90, a popular choice given their blend of low weight, strength and impact resistance. Anti-slip megol rubber is designed to keep them in situ, unaffected by rain, sweat and rougher terrain. I wasn’t surprised to learn also used in the nosepiece, given the material’s grippy, sweat resistant properties.
Ours were the standard version and were an excellent fit for my face. No issues with eyelashes brushing the lenses, or similar niggles. The frames’ rubberised ends were less refined than some but save for the first wearing, this didn’t compromise comfort and, along with the nosepiece, everything has stayed put, even off road, in the rain.
Continuing this narrative, the frames tend to caress and temples and ears, meaning I could wear them for several hours, only being conscious of their benefits. The material has a decent amount of give, which makes for easy lens swaps. I had to lose the fear of breaking them.
The lenses’ broad coverage is excellent, preventing wind, debris and other irritants. Though not overly sensitive, it was an improvement over my default riding glasses on this front. That said; I have experienced some intermittent misting during the test period-even without a neck/face warmer (which can be catalysts, during the winter). It didn’t linger long, or impair vision but was palpable, nonetheless.
Optical Quality 3.5/5
By and large, the lenses do exactly what they promise in the blurb. I’m often out at dawn, so generally defaulted to the amber. These have been great for enhancing vision and regulating light, so eyes needn’t work so hard in low light and potential hazards, including holes and wild animals were more readily spotted. A theme that continued when entering underpasses, beneath bridges, heavily wooded sections etc.
Though the test period has been well, unseasonably hot, there have been some very showery outings, too. The lenses have been reasonably effective at dismissing water droplets, before they could compromise vision, although periodic cleansing of the lenses is always good practice.
Products such as Salclear TT-X further improve water shedding prowess and I periodically apply this to other glasses, some costing considerably more than the Salice. The smoke lens has been similarly effective in very bright conditions, deflecting glare, with no loss of optical accuracy and theoretically blocking 99% of UVA/B rays.
However, as they’re not photochromic, they’re not so good in very changeable contexts. Not an issue, should it suddenly turn hazy, or overcast, but long sections of shaded trails, backroads and toward dusk their limitations become obvious. I’ve pulled over and switched to the amber lens at this point, or parked them in my helmet slot, if I was weary and relatively close to base. Lens swaps are straightforward, by the roadside (although easier in mitts, rather than full finger gloves, a potential consideration, during winter) and lens shape is still compatible and unobtrusive, stowed away in jersey pockets.
Ours have received direct hits from rogue stones, branches and similar projectiles with no obvious calling cards. I've accidentally sat on the glasses, again, they’ve sprung back quite nicely. That aside, periodic use of lens cleaners and clothes is good practice.
The carry case, though too bulky for the bike (unless you’re prepared to pop them in a pannier, bar bag, such as the Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag or large capacity post pack, such as the Axiom Ocean Wave City Plus is sensibly padded and will protect against drop/similar damage.
£89.95 is arguably mid-point. You can pay a lot more, but you can also pay a good bit less. 30 South Trail RX are a triple lens design that have a photochromic grey option and lenses are “ballistic grade” shatterproof. The frames are also made from Grilamid TR90. At £65, they’re a good bit cheaper than the Salice but there’s no orange/yellow lens option for dull days. Madison Code Breaker Three Lens Pack are cheaper still, at £55. They have a choice of lens colours and feature Grilamid TR90 frames and a carry case.
At the other end of the spectrum, Smith Mag are a full coverage design that come with smoke and clear lenses as standard. MAG refers to magnets that couple frame and lenses. This system is very effective and makes for rapid lens switches. Optical quality is top drawer, there’s an aftermarket photochromic lens option too. However, even allowing for this and a lifetime warrantee, no less than I’d expect from a penny shy of £190.
SunGod Velans FF Sunglasses are full frame design with an eye-watering 4,000 combinations of lens, frame, icon and ear socks. Then of course, there’s a choice of 4 nose pieces and the option of converting between full and half frame. However, they are £140.
Overall, the Salice 026 are a well-made and competent pair of glasses that offer excellent protection and coverage. However, I was disappointed by the lack of photochromic option, and I would’ve liked a clear option as part of the package. (Even if this added a few quid to the asking price). Similarly, while they are good value in terms of quality and performance, there are cheaper models offering more features for less money.
Verdict: 3.5/5 Solid glasses with decent performance but some triple lens models may prove better value.
PUBLISHED AUGUST 2022
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