I've used Optic Nerve shades for a while, along with Ryders and a few other brands, but the Optics are the one to get. For the listed price -- 59$US -- the Banshee shades cannot be beat. Optic Nerve generally is very good quality for the price. With established brands being priced a third to half of what they used to a market has grown for budget and midlevel sports shades. Brands like Ryders, Native, and Optic Nerve have moved to fill the gap, with shades around 100$US or less, give or take. I find the quality on the Optic Nerves is a cut above the Ryders, at least some Ryders models, just to use one example, but then the Optics are well made by any standard. Without comparing them, just on it's own, the Optics are stand out. They would stand out even amongst shades costing 150$. Really.
Features: If you ride where there is a lot of tree cover, be it on or offroad, you'll appreciate the orange and yellow lenses they offer which allow enough tint to cut sun but don't make it too dark to see hazards in the shade or shadows of overhanging branches. Likewise, if you commute year round -- the lighter tints allow use on rainy or cloudy days without being too dark for safety. I wouldn't constantly change lenses; not being used to interchanging lenses on sunglasses, it felt as if I might break them -- probably better to find a pair you like and leave em in, but if the need arises you can switch, which is nice. Or if one pair of lenses is damaged in some way, there are enough options to render the shades still usable in most conditions.
The clear and yellow lenses are both good for low light; the orange and grey for sun and even the grey isn't dark enough you can't wear it on a long ride under somewhat cloudy skies or under tree cover. Heck, at the price of these babies, you could get two pair, put in lenses of your choice -- one yellow or clear, one darker -- for different conditions. Fit: The nose pieces are attached to the frame, and do not stick out. This makes the design more streamlined and itís one less thing to break, snag on a pocket, or get bent. Itís also more comfortable. Open design: the lenses are only attached at the top, which means there is no frame on the side to mess up your side vision. Visibility is therefore excellent. The glasses do not fog up much, and cover my eyes from wind, rain, and bugs without being too big and making me sweat, as some oversized ďsportsĒ shades are want to do if they cover yer forehead or donít fit right with a helmet.
Durability:The review format asks you to choose a description. "Casual adventurer" being the only thing that comes close, I put that. But to be more accurate, here's what I do do, and what these shades have done: I commute by bike almost every day, long road rides on Sunday average between 40 and 70 miles. I typically do between 100 and 200 miles a week, though usually closer to 150 than 200. This summer I did a 100 mile ride one Sunday and the next week a very hilly 80 mile Sunday ride -- commuting to work all the while. A week or two later, another hundred miler. I was hit by a car on the way home from work last year. I had to have shoulder surgery, but I rode with my arm in a sling.
I have never had Optic Nerves break. One durabiliy issue and only one -- the rubber earpieces on one of my two Banshees came off in my ars. However, since the earpieces on this model of shades fits aroudn the outside of a harder plastic core, the lack of the rubber pieces is no big deal. It has bloody hot out too. I could've put em back on, I left em off. Easier to get the glasses on and off now, but they still won't come off by accident because of how the earpieces are shaped it's got a slight inward curve. So despite this one issue, I own 2 pair of these, one with the yellow lenses installed the other with darker ones. I have other shades, some of which I really like, but the affordable cost and features of these make them my everyday favorite but like these. In all of this there were the usual things to gripe about -- flat tires, sore feet, my damn pants won't fit me again, but my shades didn't merit a single complaint. Both pairs of Optic Nerve glasses I have -- the Banshee and the older pair, with full frames around large lenses, are quality gear. I've had welts on my face from overhanging tree branches saying hello -- but never worried about damaging my eyes, or my shades.
As said, I've been commuting to work at least mostly by bike year round and these shades are the type of thing I wish they had years ago. My guides with gear are, does it work in varying conditions, will it last, and how much will it cost. And sometimes, does it look cool. The Optic Nerves fit all these requirements. I've used all sorts of shades -- but these are my fav so far. Like the old muffler commercial, you won't pay a lot, but you'll get a lot.
Optic nerve review 7-4-09
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