The NRC X1RR Blackshadow glasses certainly look the business with their gold details and lenses, and thankfully they deliver top drawer performance and comfort too.
Really good sunglasses are a must for any cyclist, and while you can go down the cheap and cheerful supermarket specials or safety-glass routes to protect your eyes, you aren't going to get the kind of clarity and perfect field of vision that you get here.
The X1RR is the 'Race Ready' version of NRC's X1, with the biggest change being the removal of the frame piece that sat at the top middle of the lens, and the gold colour coated brown lens.
Removing the top frame clip has left the lens with a slight cutout at the top of the nose. NRC says this has increased ventilation and reduces fogging up. Now, I haven't tried the standard X1 to know if there is an improvement here, but what I will say is that the RRs didn't get steamed up once, even in the rain.
The reason behind the gold over brown lens colouring instead of the usual grey base colour is, according to NRC, because: 'Several research shows that colours related to higher wavelength vibrations, such as red, improve both blood flow and muscular strength. The confluence of a specific concentration of red inside the brown lens makes this model perfect for speed competitions and for top six hours performance.'
And does it? No idea. I certainly couldn't detect any benefits from wearing them for long or short rides whatsoever. But what I can say is that the lens colour is great, giving a boost to low light conditions like a yellow lens that you'd use in the rain but without being overwhelmed when the sun is at its brightest.
The lens is made by Zeiss and it has done a very good job as I couldn't find a single flaw in them. There is no loss of sharpness, wherever you move your eyes, and thanks to having no actual frame your field of vision is completely unobstructed, allowing you to see everything that is happening in front and to the side of you.
Fit is another tick in the box, with the arms offering plenty enough grip without applying too much pressure to the sides of your head, plus those rubber NRC logos can be removed to aid ventilation. The nosepiece is adjustable too.
The only real issue I have with the Blackshadows is that they sit very close to your face, so any sweat that runs down your forehead and doesn't drip away can run straight down inside the lens. It doesn't happen often, as your head is usually tilted when on the bike, but if it does it can affect your vision.
For the £109.99 asking price you get a lifetime warranty and a pair of glasses that weigh 32g on our scales, which is about the norm for a pair of performance glasses.
Price-wise they stack up well against some other favourites of mine, such as the Rudy Project Fotonyk, and while we've tested a lot around the £75 to £100 mark that are good, the almost flawless performance of the X1RRs means they still offer decent value for money.
Stunning optics and comfort mean the X1RR shades can back up their bling
road.cc test report
Make and model: NRC X1RR Blackshadow glasses
Size tested: 152mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
NRC says: "INSPIRED AND LEADED BY OUR CONSTANT DESIRE FOR INNOVATION AND PROGRESS WE HAVE CREATED THE MODEL X1RR, ONCE AGAIN OUR RESEARCH DEVELOPED IN A NEW LENS CUT.
ZEISS ONCE PIECE LENS, THANKS TO THE SHARP CUTS ON THE TOP SIDE, ACHIEVE AN INNOVATIVE SHAPE GIVING THE IDEA OF A BROKEN LINE, WHICH HASN'T GOT AN ARTISTIC VALUE ONLY.
THE AIM OF THIS NEW SHAPE IS TO INCREASE VENTILATION WHEN PRACTICING AND THEREFORE REDUCE SUNGLASSES FOGGING UP.
LENS COLOURING IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT INNOVATION: AS YOU MIGHT KNOW LENSES ARE GENERALLY MADE ON A GREY BASE COLOUR, WHEREAS WE HAVE INTRODUCED A GOLD EXPERIENCE MIRRORING ON A BROWN BASE.
SEVERAL RESEARCH SHOWED THAT COLOURS RELATED TO HIGHER WAVELENGTH VIBRATIONS, SUCH AS RED, IMPROVE BOTH BLOOD FLOW AND MUSCULAR STRENGTH. THE CONFLUENCE OF A SPECIFIC CONCENTRATION OF RED INSIDE THE BROWN BASE LENS MAKE THIS MODEL PERFECT FOR SPEED COMPETITIONS AND FOR TOP SIX HOURS PERFORMANCES.
(THEREFORE THE NAME RACE READY)"
I'm a big fan of the X1RR glasses, mostly thanks to those excellent lenses.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
MATT GOLD & MATT BLACK FRAME
BLACK & WHITE DETAILS
BROWN LENS TREATED WITH GOLD EXPERIENCE FULL MIRROR
FRAME MATERIAL - NYLON [TR90]
MEGOL® (NOSE PAD, TIPS, LOGO)
LENS MATERIAL - POLYCARBONATE
CURVATURE: BASE 7
SIZE: 152 mm
PANTOSCOPIC ANGLE: 10°
BRIDGE: 16 mm
LENS DIAMETER: 140 mm
TEMPLE: 125 mm
UV (280-380 nm) 0,00%
UVB (280-315 nm) PASS
UVA (315-380 nm) PASS
SPECTRAL (475-600nm) PASS
SOLAR BLUE LIGHT (380-500 nm) 7,81%
FILTER CATEGORY 3
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent cycling glasses thanks to clear lines of sight.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The lens colour.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They sit almost too close to the face.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The colour and clarity of the lens give a near-perfect view of the world regardless of light conditions, and the only niggle is the way sweat can easily run inside. Aside from that they are top notch.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.