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Gear Review: Ryder Eyewear
By Rob Manning

More Than Just a Catchy Name

Huge endorphin rush.

You figure outside of say, being downloaded into the Matrix, there are few individuals as dependent upon sunglasses as cyclists. It makes sense too. Eye protection is crucial but for most mountain biking disciplines (we said most so no hate mail downhill and freeriders), goggles are overkill. There are few gear-bag items of functionality and protection as simplistic and effective as a good pair of shades.

We here at MBT know this reality all too well and while we’re often presented with the opportunity to test sunglasses from just about every brand on the face (exception: Ray Ban as Tom Cruise already cornered the promotion department there in Top Gun), it’s rare that a model should really get us pumped…until now.

Enter Ryders Eyewear, a relative newcomer to the scene who, like the name suggests, have riders in mind as they pen up their sunglasses designs (as opposed to many companies who simply develop models based on style alone- function is strictly an afterthought).

Ryders offers up a complete line of shapes of styles that compliment just about every face. We were presented with the opportunity to experience some of the arctic-like trails of Western NY behind two completely different models, the Stealth and the Endorphin.

We’ll begin by telling you a bit about the Endorphin. Of the two models in question, this one represents more of an all-purpose design that functions great on the bike but still looks completely natural if worn around town. Standout features include well-placed rubber strips along the arms to keep the glasses comfortably in position (even when your hair is a slippery salt-lick) and some of the most comfortable rubber nose-pads we’ve yet to experience in a pair of sunnies.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the Endorphin is the frame itself, as not only did the polymer blend hold up remarkably to our abuse (we are renowned for being hard on sunglasses), but also the material, while colored, is transparent enough to allow for surprising peripheral vision. Our normal beef with full-framed glasses like these is that they tend to limit peripheral vision, a trait that becomes more serious as speeds start to increase. Ryders have managed to solve that dilemma by molding a material that allows just enough light to pass through to do-away with the tunnel vision effect. Small details like these really add up to a stellar product.

Finally the replaceable lenses offer up 100% UV protection (that’s UVA and UVB rays to you non-solar types). Retail price is a meager $39.99

Incognito behind the Stealth.

Next up we spent some time dodging patches of ice behind the lenses of the Stealth. Where the Endorphin looks like an all-around pair of glasses that just so happens to perform above expectations on a bike, the Stealth is a premier cycling model that not only looks the part, but delivers as well.

Frame material on the Stealth is limited to the upper quarter of the units while the lenses themselves not only encompass a majority of the model but are also cut to protection perfection. With a generous sweep and several angle-cuts, the Stealth lives up to its namesake by offering unrivaled “slice” through oncoming air. Even the arms are molded to reflect aerodynamic channeling. Like the Endorphin, the trademark rubber grips strips are included on the flexible arms to keep the sunglasses in position regardless of sweat-level or severity of the terrain. However, because the arms become notably smaller as they progress back to the rider’s ears, the Stealth feels even more natural under a helmet.

We complimented the Endorphin for its comfortable nose pads but the Stealth takes the concept a step further with a fully adjustable nose pad section made of the same soft yet hardy rubber. We found that by simply squeezing the unit or prying it gently apart resulted in a custom fit. Finally, and like with the Endorphin; the Stealth features replaceable lenses that offer 100% UVA & UVB protection. The Stealth retails for $44.95.

In conclusion we’re quite pleased to report that the new kid on the block should have many long-time sunglass-industry staples giving pause. The quality, fit, finish, and attention to detail with the Ryders products are easily on par with brand offerings costing double and sometimes triple the asking price. Best of all, they provide a strange sense of uniformity as designated cycling accessories as opposed to sunglasses designed simply to look cool on the beach.

About our only squawk is that you may have a bit of difficulty locating a pair. Ours garnished enough attention on the trailhead to warrant several of our riding buddies to look into a pair of their own only to discover that the official website (listed below) doesn’t sell the units directly. While the list of dealers is ever growing (distributed by Boogaboos Eyewear Co.), there were some sunglasses shops in our area that didn’t carry them yet. We sincerely hope that Ryders Eyewear will continue to get their fine products into more retail chains/ cycling shops across the country. Bike shop owners take note!

For more information, head over to Ryders Eyewear

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