Shortly after I started racing mountain bikes six years ago, my wise father put his hand on my shoulder and said “protect your eyes, they’re the only ones you will get”. You only need to think of a few dangers out there like head-height branches around blind corners, dust in mass start races, and (dare I say their name) magpies to acknowledge it is a good idea to put something in between one of your more valuable senses and the outside world. So I did what any young lad crazed about mountain biking with a casual job and no bills would do. I bought myself a $300 pair of sport sunglasses to take to the trails. It was also my father who said: “you’ll sit on them one day”. Considering my empty wallet, shiny new glasses and this posterior paranoia, I took great care of them for three years until… I sat on them. Buying yourself a god pair of sport sunglasses is incredibly less doom and gloom than I am making it out to be though. In my opinion, they are one of the best performance upgrades you can buy for cycling.
The most important sense you have for interpreting the trail are your eyes. When you are flying along trails and scanning for the next trail feature you have to prepare for, the very last thing you want to do is close them. I want to make sure I get the right gear so I can scan the trail 100% of the time. When I inevitably sat on my last pair of glasses, I honoured their memory with a pair of the best glasses on the market today – the 100% S3’s.
My 3 previous glasses had been Oakley’s. The first having a persimmon lens, the second a photochromic that changes depending on the light exposure, and the PRIZM lens more recently. I was immediately attracted to the S3’s as I have a sweet spot for the Coral lens colour with a sweet-spot 52% light transmission. The lens is also integrated with 100%’s HiPER lens coating that makes for a “contrast-defined” image which I have only great feedback about on the world cup circuit. These are obviously the all-cycling-discipline star Mathieu Van Der Poel’s eyewear of choice for a reason and I was soon to reap the benefits too. If this wasn’t enough for me, the S3’s lens has a HYDROILO hydrophobic anti-fog coating to expel the water, dirt, and oil effortlessly to not cloud your view in any weather condition. To keep this full package on your brow, the S3’s are complete with ear socks and a nose bridge so grippy, when you track a finger along it, you could swear you left your skin there.
From my past pairs of glasses I was impressed with the convenience of a photochromic lens – changing its light transmission depending on the light exposure when you are riding. It was like having two lenses in one without having to swap them. Oakley’s PRIZM lens then showed me how a high-contrast lens can better help you interpret features on the trail at speed. But, it was the persimmon lens on my first pair I longed for. I was most excited to take the S3’s to the trail as I feel they have an integration of all these features. The Coral lens with HiPER technology caught me by surprise. On your warm up roll to the trail, you would notice anything is working yet in suburbia. But once you get to the trailhead and drop in, you start to notice there is a wizard at play. The 52% light transmission is just perfect. You get plenty of vision either side of light or dark environments. On my maiden voyage I pushed these specs into the canopied valleys of Gap Creek without a hindrance on being able to spot pedal strikes or roots. The HiPER tech does an effortless job of helping outline colours and textures different to that of the trail, so you can spot those troublemakers. Then transition up the ridgeline fireroad above the trees I found no need to squint and could take in a sunset you swear was a painting – 100% Claude Monet.
The S3’s tick all my boxes as my best pair yet when you take these glasses back to their primary purpose of protection. The S3 shape makes for a consistent shield across your face with a high brow bridge. It actually has 30% more coverage than my previous Oakley Radar Path EV’s. This was a point of consideration for me personally with a pronounced brow. Previous glasses have sat on my brows and once they get sweaty just overflow onto the inside of the lens, fogging the rest of my ride. The 100%’s sit comfortably off my brow with enough protection from above and plenty of draft for anti-fog purposes. More real estate above the nose bridge is also critical for a cycling position where you are leaning your head forward into the bike, staring out under your brow. The S3 frame just cannot be caught in view in an upright saddle position or folded attacking compact position – a problem I have had with previous frames. The S3’s just look damn cool if all that tech isn’t enough for you, too.
I’ll never ride without my 100% S3’s. It is one of my most important pieces of gear to not only improve my safety on the trail but to enhance the way I can interpret it. When carving trails at speed it’s incredibly important that I can keep my eyes scanning for trail features and dangers ahead. There are plenty of options for eyewear out there, but if you can spend the extra dollar toward a top-shelf pair like the S3’s it will only take one ride to justify the premium. Ironically, you will forget you are even wearing them, though. They are too comfortable and sit lightly on their 3 touch points. I’d argue that is what the best bike gear should feel like, though. Their tech should be leveraged to maximise your performance and fit like a ghost, so you can give 100% to the trail.
By Kaiden Carter – Pushys sponsored athlete
Categories: Product Recommendation