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BZ Optics' PHO Bi-focal Photochromic HD Lens glasses are a great combination of ready readers and protective cycling sunnies that can be used from dull days to bright sunshine. They're light, comfortable and offer excellent clarity, and though the bi-focal bit at the bottom takes a little getting used to, it works really well. No more having to tuck a spare lens and reading glasses into a bag or pocket.
Mike reviewed a previous version of the PHOs back in 2016 and was impressed, not just with their bi-focal assistance but also reckoning they were 'a pretty good pair of goggles in their own right.' I'm inclined to agree.
The difference here is the high definition copper-coloured lenses, with the latest PHOs moving slightly up the light-filtering categories. Those 2016 photochromic glasses transitioned from Category 0 (clear) to Category 2 (for bright sunlight), whereas these HD versions cover Category 1 (pre-dawn or low light) to Category 3 'as the sun intensifies and the UV increases'.
It's a useful range that they cover well – they're great on dull days and cut down glare on really bright days. They're the same lenses as used in the non-bi-focal Tour glasses that Stu tested recently, and just as he noted, the change is subtle – you really don't notice it happening.
Nevertheless, it makes for a pair of glasses you can wear all day without worrying about changing light levels. And unlike the full-frame Tours, the PHOs don't interfere with your field of vision at all.
As with the previous PHO Bi-focals, they're available in three magnifications: +1.5, +2 or +2.5. My reading glasses prescription is gradually moving from +2 towards +2.5, and the +2s on test are ideal for reading my Garmin on the move, as it sits on my stem slightly further away from me than I might hold a book. I can still read the screen without a prescription lens, but the numbers are a little fuzzy – the PHOs sharpen it all up very nicely.
When I first put them on I wondered whether the bi-focal bit would interfere with my vision, but on the bike it's hardly noticeable. The only thing I've had to think about, which takes a bit of practice, is not moving my head down to look at my Garmin, just my eyes.
They also help enormously if you need to read or write a text on a phone, check out a cafe menu, or try to work out where a route is on a map...
These glasses aren't confined to use on the bike, either – I've taken to wearing them when driving, walking, shopping... no longer will you see that mad woman in Homebase in Frome with reading glasses on her nose and sunglasses balanced on top of her head.
On the bike, they don't steam up at all – a first for any cycling glasses I've worn, I think. I tried hard to get them to – breathing upwards heavily, while stopped and while riding – but nothing doing.
On the other hand, they don't fit so tightly (on me) that they completely block wind; they do mostly, but not completely. The lenses sit close to but not right against my cheeks, despite the adjustable nosepiece. I guess if you have fatter cheeks or a smaller nose, they might.
Kevin from BZ Optics tells me one of the main reasons for the adjustable nosepiece is that six out of every 10 Australian males (and about seven out of 10 Kiwis) have broken noses, and generally where they break is right where sunglasses sit on the nose bridge. So the adjustability caters for them as well as smaller/thinner noses at the other end of the scale (mostly).
The nosepiece and ends of the arms are non-slip, and the glasses sit in place comfortably. At 26g they're hardly noticeable.
The TR90 frame is flexible – the non-slip sections of the arms particularly so – so should survive being sat on, and frames are available in Matt Black, Pink, White, and Yellow as well as the Graphite on test.
You can also change the lenses; you just push the little release clip at the back of each lens with your thumb. Spare lenses are available from £14.99 for non-corrected ones to £55 for corrected photochromics – so if your prescription changes, at least within +1 to +2.5, you can keep up.
Stu reckoned the non-corrected Tours were above average value at £94.99, so even though these are a tenner more, considering they come with bi-focal lenses and you don't get the issue of the frames obscuring your view, I'd say they're as good.
That said, you can spend less – Tifosi offers a photochromic and bi-focal version of its Veloce glasses for £74.99, with a clear lens and a Grilamid TR-90 frame.
There are other options out there, too. AGU makes some bi-focals for £55, though they're not photochromic, and dhb has photochromics for £65 to which you could apply stick-on lenses to convert them to bi-focals for around £20...
But to my mind, £105 for good quality glasses that enable you to see where you're going, and read your computer and phone, all while keeping your eyes protected from insects/crud and the sun, is a price worth paying.
Very good cycling glasses that are also reading glasses, and useful whatever the weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BZ Optics PHO Bi-focal Photochromic HD Lens
Size tested: +2 focus
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?
BZ Optics says, 'The bi focal magnification which is moulded discretely into the rear of the lens is available in +1.50, +2.00 and +2.50 powers.
'This hi definition copper coloured lens will change from Cat1 pre dawn or low light to dark Cat3 as the sun intensifies and the UV increases.
'The TR90 super lightweight hybrid frame has dual moulded non slip flexible temples ideal for wearing under open or full face helmets. The adjustable non slip nose piece ensures optimum fit and comfort for all face shapes.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Lightweight flexible frame with dual moulded non slip temples.
Adjustable non slip nose piece for comfort and fit making them ideal for a wide range of face shapes and sizes.
Small clips which make changing lenses effortless.
While the glasses were originally developed for cycling they are ideal for many other applications and sports.
So far, so good. The flexible frame suggests they'll withstand some mishaps...
Same weight as the Alba Optics Delta Lei VZUM sunglasses.
They sit comfortably on the face and ears, their lightness helping to make them unnoticeable after a while.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They serve their purpose really well – as cycling sunnies for most daylight conditions, and enabling me to read my Garmin and phone.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Being able to read my Garmin and phone, without having to carry reading glasses.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really, though I wouldn't mind if the lenses went even darker for the brightest days.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can spend a lot more – and a lot less – on non-corrected, non-photochromic glasses. Off-the-shelf photochromic bi-focals aren't as readily available, but Tifosi's Veloce with photochromic bi-focal lenses is £74.99. Or you can buy stick-on lenses for around £20 from Amazon and convert your own...
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 overall score
I think they're great! They're very good cycling glasses, with great clarity, no fogging and a light, flexible frame, but with the added bonuses of a bi-focal bit so you can read stuff and photochromic lenses so they're useful whatever the weather. They're a little bit pricier than the possibly-also-good Tifosis, but I haven't worn those, and I still reckon these are an 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
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: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.