Performance Shades on a Budget

In a sea of options, it’s tough to find that favorite pair of shades or glasses that fit your face and your sport. Industry buzzwords and proprietary technologies make the waters even muddier still.

For the last few months, I’ve been testing several pair of Ryders glasses. Making solid, performing eyewear at a reasonable price is the company’s bread and butter. We all love a good deal, but how would the shades stack up against my favorite glasses from heavy hitters like Oakley and Smith? Are we all better off coughing up the $150 to $200 or more for a good pair of performance specks?


Full Coverage: Ryders’ Caliber glasses

Over the test, I tried several pair that just did not fit my face until finally landing on the company’s Caliber model. At $59 the glasses come with three sets of interchangeable lenses (gray, orange and clear) and a hard storage case. They are an obvious bargain.

Injection-molded, shatter-proof polycarbonate lenses are a reliable industry standard at this price point. Company literature states “If astronauts trust this material to keep their heads from exploding while on a 17,000 mph space walk, you’ll have nothing to worry about on your adventures, no matter how fast you’re going.”

The Caliber’s thermoplastic frame is tough and flexible. At 31 grams, they are not the lightest race shades but honestly your face won’t notice. (One of my favorite race shades, the Smith Pivock V90 MAX, weigh 25 grams.)

On cycling outings, the Caliber shades were comfortable and kept my eyes safe. The large, full-coverage and rimless lenses allow a wide field of vision and a tight seal against my face. Not seeing the edge of the lens in my periphery is my favorite part. Fit was good, with no odd pressure points or sharp edges to deal with. For running, the Ryders held snug with no bouncing. And bushwhacking through the woods, the clear lenses became safety glasses, keeping branches from poking my eyes.


Night Ryder: Caliber with clear lenses

Overall, the Caliber glasses have worked just as I would want them to. They are very affordable and would be easily replaced if I was to lose or destroy them. You don’t get polarized lenses at this price, and I won’t be giving away my high-dollar shades anytime soon to trade out for Ryders, but for what they are shades like the Caliber are a nice option.

Without hesitation, I would recommend the Calibers for anyone looking for an affordable shade or just a pair you don’t have to worry about trashing during that next muddy training day. Available in a variety of frame and lens combinations from $39 to $89. Depending on face size and structure, other models might be a better fit, so be sure to try several on before heading outside, eyes shaded now with an affordable view.

T.C. Worley is a contributing editor based in Minneapolis, Minn.

Posted by Tim - 01/24/2012 02:42 PM

I can’t get polarized at this price? My $9.99 shades from Target are polarized. Why should I expect less at $39 to $89?

Posted by Rick - 01/25/2012 04:03 PM

I with you Tim—if they aren’t polarized what am I paying for—a piece of colored plastic?

Posted by Ryders Eyewear - 01/26/2012 12:30 PM

Good questions Tim and Rick. Polarized technology can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. We use an injection process that ensures they’re optically correct, decreasing eye fatigue and increasing comfort. As with all of our lenses, RYDERS Polarized lenses provide protection against 100% UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light to 400nm. They are also shatterproof.
We offer the Caliber in a number of technologies, and many of our other styles with the Polarized treatment. Hope this answers your questions!

Posted by T.C. Worley - 01/30/2012 11:20 AM

Let’s not forget that the shades come with 3 lenses for entirely different uses, so you can eliminate the need to buy multiple pairs. And scratch a lens – it’s replaceable. There’s plenty of value here. On the bike, there are plenty of times I’d prefer not to have polarization too. Ever ridden road on a summer day with polarization? The pavement does this weird shifty-thing.

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