Julbo RUSH REACTIV: Cycling Glasses that Change with the Light

When I was a young kid on the playground I always thought that glasses that changed color in the sun were kind of lame. Were they sunglasses? Glasses? Now, thanks to the Julbo RUSH REACTIV Photochromic glasses, I realize just how wrong I was.

For me, having a pair of glasses while I ride is about safety. Sure, it’s nice to not have to squint to see through harsh sunlight, but more importantly I like being protected from the bugs, dirt, rocks and any other kind of debris that can come up at my face from the road surface. I spent one week commuting without glasses before I realized the grime I was wiping out of my eyes was the least of my concern. Since then I’ve been hit with rocks, junebugs, and stinging bees.

But sometimes, the tint of sunglasses makes riding even more dangerous. Whether you’re riding in a city where you can go from bright boulevards to the shadows of tall buildings, commuting from work as the sun sets, or you’re like me and riding near your house taking bright streets and shaded dirt paths, having glasses that can adapt to the changing light conditions is a godsend. There’s nothing worse than having to take off your sunglasses to see in diminishing light, only to feel exposed.

That’s why I love that the Julbo Rush Reactiv Photochromic can go all the way to clear. If you’re riding in low-light situations, at night, or just have them sitting on your desk inside, they look almost like safety glasses. But if you go out for a ride or escape from a shaded part of a ride to a sunny stretch, the glasses begin to transition and darken. The lens has a visible light transmission rate that ranges from 12 perct to 87 percent. In layman’s terms, they can span from clear to extremely effective in bright sun. If you have brighter conditions you can also get lenses that are reflective, and adapt to light without ever going completely clear.

They work incredibly well and have saved me from having to carry two pairs of glasses, or going unprotected. They cover a large area of your face but are designed to fit without interfering with your cycling helmets. The lens also has built-in vent holes and an internal anti-fog coating to make sure you’ll be able to see even if you’re panting, or wearing a mask.

I do wish the lens would adapt more quickly; they are not the best for quick changes between shaded and unshaded. You would have trouble getting the full effect going through a tunnel then popping out into bright light. But they work effectively, even if it sometimes takes a touch longer than I’d like. That’s a compromise I am willing to make.

When I don’t know what the day or ride will bring, these are the sunnies I reach for. Whether dark storm clouds roll in, I get stuck late working, or decide to take the shady path home, I am always protected, and squint free.

$230; julbo.com