Good cycling eyewear pays off, but good eyewear also tends to come with a price-tag. Like many brands, Scicon are following the trends with those massive ‘cover half the face’ sunnies with their new Aeroshade and Aerowing models, but in this review we are focussed on the Aerotech’s which are more a regular sized and functional style of cycling eyewear. But far from being boring, the Aerotechs have an ace up their sleeve with detachable fenders on the bottom of the lenses that add enough bling to make you look Pro.
The Aerotech’s currently feature with ProCycling Teams NTT, Israel and UAE. But beyond colours and sponsorship deals, sporting eyewear has to have a certain standard in quality because the pro-riders don’t want to be skimping on lens clarity. At AUD $299.99 retail (down from $399.99) you can expect to get top notch quality lenses at this price, even when you are not signed up with a UCI WorldTeam this season, and I think this is what the Aerotechs give you. Let’s take a look.
For orientation with the Scicon performance eyewear includes the Aeroshade and Aerowing which are newer ‘big lens’ style glasses whereas the Aerocomfort (two lenses) and the Aerotech (single wrap-around lens), which is in review now for Bicycles Network Australia, are compact but with the right lens colour combination and features can be just as loud.
Presented in a carbon fiber optic hard-case, the Aerotechs mean business. The box appears to be actual carbon fiber and is pretty sturdy, but empty it weighs a hefty 215 grams which made me uncertain.
The Aerotechs are similar to the Aerocomfort model and appear to differ only in that it has the single wraparound lense while the Aerocomforts have two separate lenses.
There are an assortment of bits, an obligatory microfiber pouch, another microfiber spare parts pouch, a mini screw driver, anti-fog spray but also different sized nose pads and some replaceable plastic clips. The ‘sprint rubber lens fender kit’ are pre-fitted and thankfully are removable. The Aerotechs were fitted with the yellow fenders and to change your bling you could swap to the black versions which are still distinct but with a little less “look at me!”
The frames come in a four colours and I had frozen matt is a clear icy translucent frame. Other frame colour options are black, white and clear gloss and there are predefined lens / fender colour combinations.
I initially thought the yellow clips along the arms were a gimmick, along with the screw-in Scicon logo. While the clips can be colour matched (black or yellow), removing clips influences the flexibility of the temples (arms). If you have ever had sunglasses that were too tight or loose, these clips are the Scicon solution to providing some side-ways adjustment.
I tested this and removed all of the clips and while the temples were more flexible, I didn’t notice a big difference wearing the glasses. I am sure this can ber useful for some people as we have different head shapes, though if you have a large head, I suggest looking at glasses like the Aerocomfort with the separate left / right lenses and having the optician bend the glasses for a comfortable fit.
The earpieces (temple tip) have a black rubber coated metal piece that can also be moved in and out and in my case made a bigger difference to comfort.
The screw-in logos on the temples don’t really appear to have an actual function. I decided to remove the screws and discovered that the Scicon logo piece is made of metal which is classy… the sunnies simply look better when these are left on.
I find that swapping nose pads on sports glasses is almost always stressful. How forgiving will the frame be when you are levering the original nose pads off? Exactly what technique is needed? Is something going to break?
With the Aerotechs my perceived ‘stress factor’ was fairly high as there are three nose pad options to choose from. The pre-fitted (co-joined) nose pads were not a good match so I swapped over to the smallest pads and didn’t enjoy the process. I considering tested the medium nose pads some time later just for comparison, but as I started and then remembered how stressful the process was, I decided to leave it.
Although I called it a Pandora’s Box… it is not really, there were just a lot of things included and not very scary… if you discount fitting the nose pieces. I expect most bike riders will look through the bits, get the glasses setup the way that suits them and that will be it… the other stuff stays in the spare parts pouch.
One of the features I didn’t test was the optical adapter (accessory) that replaces the lens with an insert to holds prescription lenses. It looks pretty nifty and is a nice option for riders who want sports glasses with a prescription lens.
The production quality of these glasses is excellent, attention to detail has been lent to every aspect. In comparison, cheap sunglasses have obvious seams or visible production markings and the overall construction can feel like an afterthought. The Aerotechs do all they can to live up to the pricetag.
One lens to rule them all
On BNA we have covered a lot of eyewear and lens options and I will prefer cycling with amber tinted lenses or clear, yellow or orange tinted lenses for low light and off-road riding.
Mirrors and colours may look good, but greens, reds and blues are generally poorly suited for most riding conditions as they don’t provide the right colour contrasts or enhancements for the roads, paths and trails. To learn more about topic, check-out this youtube video on lens colours for cycling.
As a slightly risky choice, I ask for the clear looking ‘Silver Mirror’ photochromic lens to test. The Silver Mirror is not really a mirror and more of a highly polished surface so you can easilu see my eyes when I am wearing these. It was a risky choice because I wasn’t sure if it would deliver enough shade in bright sun. But it turned out to be an excellent choice because the photochromic tinting worked exactly as it should to block glare and the rest of those nasty UV-A and UV-B rays.
The single-piece photochromic lens (SCN-XT) provides crystal clear quality without the haze or fog of cheap glasses. There is no reflection of your eyeballs, again this is common flaw of inferior lenses. And while there is some slight magnification (when comparing viewing with the naked eye), there is no distortion or warping.
The result, no eyestrain because of the precise optical clarity which means my eyes don’t fatigue by having to adjust and compensate.
Swapping lenses is fairly easy although with the Silver Mirror lens I was genuinely able to wear these at night time but also in bright conditions.
The Fit and Action
Sunnies and helmets have to match. For my Lazer brand helmet, the Scicons Aerotechs were simply not a good combination. For some unexplainable reason, paired with the Lazer helmet, these glasses would continually slip forward while riding. However I also used the new KASK Mojito helmet which was a natural fit for the Scicons. The KASK helmet is a bit bigger in volume and appeared to have a better matching form at the front.
I will admit, if I only had one helmet and had just paid $299 for glasses that didn’t fit with my helmet, I wouldn’t be too happy. I can only suggest testing in advance when possible.
With the compatible helmet, I could get a better feel for the glasses. The Scicon nose-pad options and adjustability of the arms (temples) meant I had a good fit. The bridge almost touching my forehead however ventilation holes in the bridge meant that fogging was never an issue.
The optical clarity of the lenses while cycling was crystal clear and I could see every tiny details as those bugs bounce off the lenses. Although the lenses don’t significantly to enhance contrasts or colours like tinted Oakly Prism lenses – as clear lenses that tinted to provide ample shade in bright sun, I was more than happy.
The wind protection and anti-fog properties were very good, there is plenty of space for airflow but enough of a wrap-around that oncoming wind doesn’t sneak through and become an irritation.
But I was not entirely happy. The yellow (or black) fenders are meant to add protection in the unlikely event of a crash, even though lenses are described as unbreakable. I feel these fenders are more of an aesthetic feature and in my peripheral vision I found them distracting. The simple solution, remove the fenders.
The supplied black fenders are, in my view, better than the yellow ones but are still something I can see when I peer out into the world. With the fenders removed, there are four mounting holes and vents in the bottom of lenses – but you don’t notice them when wearing and they look stylish.
I personal found that after removing the fenders it was a big improvement that also looks good. And because this is intended…. that the glasses can be used and are fully function with these, it is a plus point for Scicon so that I could be entirely happy after all.
The Aerotechs do a lot to let these glasses be fitted and adapted to their owners who will come in all different (head) sizes and shapes with their own personal preferences.
The photochromic lens is an excellent allrounder and together with the accessories, everything has been done to try to please… even down to small details where the supplied soft-bag for the glasses has a small sleeve if you have a second lens.
Although I can probably get away with some cheap cycling gear, this doesn’t apply to eyewear and for comfort and clarity good sunglasses like the Scicon Aerotechs are simply worth it, especially with the current $299.99 retail price.
The Scicon Aerotechs are available from asgthestore.com.au for $299.99 (currently marked down from $399.99) with the SCN-XT photochromic lens or for $245.99 with the SCN-PP lenses.