Northwave Volata sunglasses nestle rather nicely between budget and mid range. More importantly, they're extremely comfortable for long periods, offering excellent protection from sun, wind, mud, and harmful UV rays, not to mention dusty streets.
Things felt distinctly formulaic upon peeling back the Cordura nylon crescent pouch's zipper and uncovering 'concert-hall' rows of shapely interchangeable lenses, frames and the obligatory carry sack cum polish cloth. Ah but there's a wealth of technology here considered cutting edge just a few seasons' back.
Recognising that some folk like to co-ordinate their riding attire down to the last detail, Northwave produce unisex frames in a range of fetching colours. These are made from highly sophisticated polyester, while contrasting detailing is an interesting rubberised/silicone thermoplastic known commercially as Megol, found widely in hospital footwear on account of its grippy age/sweat/UV repelling properties. Lenses are 2mm thick polycarbonate, traditionally associated with riot shields but increasingly common in helmets and other, more peaceful applications on account of its durability.
No such boast about them resisting projectiles fired at 96.4mph, though Northwave were quick to point out their clever profiles, which conspire with a hydrophobic (water repelling) solvent and scratch resistant coating to maintain an uncompromised view of conditions at all times. Conforming to EN1836 and ANSI Z80 standards, Northwave assure us these offer excellent protection from the usual suspects UV rays, insects etc but more interesting is their off-centre lens. These work on the apparently simple logic that aligning these perfectly with the eye overcomes wearer tiredness.
Having sustained serious crush injuries to my dominant hand's index digit a couple of months back, I found swapping between the optics frustratingly fiddly, though this goes for all two piece systems at the moment. Said minor niggle forgotten, I've been delighted by their fit, shape and clarity-straight from the box.
Seasonal shift has largely necessitated clear/amber defaults, the latter has amazed with its mood lifting prowess and pin sharp perspective. Alternating between these and two others at opposite ends of the price spectrum over varying distances (10, 20 and 50 miles) ruled out simple psychological trickery too. Heavy rainfall and murky starts haven't remotely taxed the coatings, rolling off pretty much seamlessly while fogging and similarly irksome traits have been conspicuous by their absence.
Nicely made mid range glasses with better than average optics.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Volata Sunglasses
Size tested: n/a
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?
"Northwave glasses have lenses with an off-center base: the axis of the focal centre is aligned with the focal centre of the eye so your eyes don't get tired and the curvature, which provides essential protection from sunlight and insects, won't cause any image distortion.
Perfect visibility even when it's raining or the lenses are wet. The lenses are treated to make them perfectly smooth so any drops of water simply slide off, leaving the surface dry and free from water prisms." Bold claims but the science seems pretty effective in the real world.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* LENS:In Polycarbonate, Off-center, water repellent
* DETAILS: In Megol
First-rate optical features, excellent impact resistance and extraordinary lightness: polycarbonate lenses also have a low refraction index and are solvent and scratch resistant.
Water Repellent Lens
Fitted me very nicely.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Northwave Volata are a nicely fitting and extremely comfortable set of interchangeable glasses for pretty much all conditions. Optics are razor-sharp, especially by mid range standards and eyes have felt noticeably fresher after two-three hours.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, design and most of all, those clever lenses.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lenses were tricky to exchange, though my badly injured index finger (dominant hand)is the main culprit here.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 39 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)