The boss at my first bike shop gig a long time ago wanted tire levers on every surface in the mechanics’ bay so that he never had to go hunting for a set to perform our most common repair. It didn’t stick — I’m always looking for levers still. Instead, I seem to stockpile other items, including sunglasses. My philosophy: If you have a few pairs, even when one or two of them are temporarily M.I.A. you can still keep moving.
It’s brands like Ryders Eyewear that let me do so. The Vancouver-based company, which is perhaps most known in the cycling and running communities, sells performance sunglasses on the cheap — at least relative to big companies like Oakley.
For more than a month, I’ve been wearing The Throttle, one of Ryders’ most popular frame designs, which fit my big face well. I wore the company’s “Essential” model, the least expensive Throttle build at about $45. It has hydrophilic, anti-slip rubber in the nose and ear pieces. The tips and nose pads are also adjustable for fit. The lenses remove easily to clean or switch out.
Another pair, the company’s mid-level $70 Throttle is a photochromic and polarized — Ryders calls this “Photo-Polar” — sunglass that gives the visual advantages of a polarized lens along with photochromic lenses. They change tint to get more clear under low-light conditions and then meld to a darker shade in direct sunlight.
At the top end, the lens on the $90 version of the Throttle includes a “polarized treatment” and cost about half the price of models from companies like Smith or Kaenon.
Optically, Ryders are pretty good. They lack a wee bit of the crispness of models that are twice as expensive, but it’s negligible for me. Similarly, the finish of the frames are a step below their more expensive peers. But sunglasses for cycling aren’t going to win any beauty or style contests. So the big question is, when you’re going for function how much should you kick down for fashion?
If your answer is “not much” or if you just want a good pair of econo shades for your outdoor endeavors, then check out Ryders. To tweak Schaefer’s slogan, they’re the shades to buy when you’re buying more than one pair. Because if you break, lose them or scratch ‘em, it’s not a huge financial hit.
—Stephen Krcmar wears shades most days of the year in sunny, Mammoth Lakes, Calif.