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review

SunGod Airas BF with Iris Photochromic lens

8
£195.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Excellent clarity from a photochromic lens that adapts quickly for a variety of daytime conditions
Customisation options
Great optical clarity
Wonderful fit
Excellent adaptable lens for sunny to overcast conditions
Expensive
Don't fully protect from gusts
Weight: 
33g
Contact: 

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The SunGod Airas BF Sunglasses with Iris Photochromic lens are impressive, offering excellent clarity from a large lens and plenty of customisation to suit your style. Although it's a high price for the photochromic spec, it doesn't feel quite so painful if you bear in mind you're essentially getting two lenses in one, as it quickly adjusts to the light conditions as you're riding along. The Iris lens doesn't have the largest range – it isn't suitable for a pitch black commute – but it works really well for road rides with bright sunshine that flip to overcast conditions.

Hollis recently tested the Zero frame versions of the Airas with the 8K0 Gold lens that's best suited to cloudy and sunny days. I have the Airas on test again to check out SunGod's 8KO Iris Photochromic lens for riding in changing light conditions. This is a lens you can also get on SunGod's Vulcans and Velans models.

> Buy these online here

I'm also testing the BF 'bottom frame' version of the Airas, which is designed to provide 'unobstructed peripheral vision and ultimate protection', according to SunGod. The frame only extends along the bottom rim of the sunnies, and admittedly this does sneak into my vision, but not to the extent it bothered me.

Having the bottom frame helps protect the lens when putting down the glasses on a table pre-, mid- or post-ride. Also, I've been on a ride with someone who suffered from a nasty cheek gash from a crash when wearing frameless sunnies, so it's nice to have some protection here, just in case.

Photochromic lens

The Airas are sold with only one lens, but the photochromic option is essentially a two-in-one purchase because it's designed to quickly adjust to the light conditions.

Opting for this lens ups the price from £155 to £195 for the BF Airas. If you're happy going frameless (ZF) then you can get the photochromic lens for £170.

Although the price is noticeably higher for the photochromic option, it saves you a lot of time; you don't have to dither, deciding on the day which is best, or spend time switching lenses.

2021 SunGod AIRAS BF with Iris Photochromic lens - lens.jpg

SunGod offers two 8KO Iris photochromic lens options, the Smoke tint I opted for, or HV Blue. The Smoke has a VLT (Visible Light Transmission) of 16% to 43% for sunnier outings, while the HV version has a 34% to 79% VLT, which is better suited to darker riding conditions.

SunGod says the lenses have triple-layer scratch protection, full-frame impact resistance, as well as a hydrophobic coating. So far it's been holding up well, and I have no concerns regarding the durability of this model.

The lens specced on the Airas is massive, providing a largely unobstructed viewing experience, and the smoke photochromic lens helps you deal with the conditions on a typical day's ride with changeable conditions. Its VLT range isn't the largest – you can't use these glasses for everything, it's not a lens for a ride that starts and ends at night – but the conditions it does cater for covers a lot of use cases. It's clear enough for overcast conditions and it can definitely go dark enough for bright sunshine, and dealing with everything in between.

With a photochromic lens you can't expect it to darken the split second bright sunshine hits the lens. So, like all other photochromic options, it doesn't help as much as you may like when riding along a road with shadows here and there thanks to overhanging trees. Other than in those harsh scenarios, I found the lens shifted quickly to the light conditions, so much so that I was happily unaware it was changing tint. The lens provided the desired viewing experience, not too dark or light, during daytime rides.

Customisation

The SunGod Airas are offered in seven off-the-shelf lens and frame combinations, but you can also customise these fully yourself for the same price – the frame, earsocks and icons can all be picked to suit your individual style.

2021 SunGod AIRAS BF with Iris Photochromic lens - arm.jpg

I found the matte mint frame was a lighter, more vibrant shade than the 3D render depicted on the website – not that I minded, it's still a wonderful colour.

Security

Four different sized nose-pads are included so you can choose the shape that best suits you, and these are easily interchangeable. Swapping in the second smallest size I was able to achieve a happy balance between comfort and security. That said, similarly to Hollis, I found these glasses do sit further away from my face than other models I've tested, including Rudy Project's Deltabeats which are also offered with an excellent photochromic lens. With the Airas design I found it does result in some wind finding its way into my eyes, which is not so pleasant on a fast descent.

2021 SunGod AIRAS BF with Iris Photochromic lens - inside.jpg

The nose-pads, as well as the earsocks, are made from SunGod's Grip-Lock hydrophilic rubber which locks the sunnies in place regardless of how sweaty I get climbing up the unavoidable steep climbs from my new home in South Wales, or how much rain is pouring, also quite common in Wales.

2021 SunGod AIRAS BF with Iris Photochromic lens - side.jpg

This is combined with slightly curved slender arms which gently wrap around and help the glasses stay in place. Overall, the glasses fitted wonderfully. The arms provide a secure hold across the rougher stuff without applying pressure to your head; they were comfy after several hours of mixed terrain riding.

Value

Priced at £195, these are quite expensive for a frame with a photochromic lens, although not too dissimilar from other premium options. Oakley's Radar EV Path sunnies with the Clear to Black Iridium Photochromic Lenses are £197, for example. And the £170 ZF option is a similar price to Alba Optics' Stratos Ghost VZUM AF-Lens (£173.46).

You can of course get hold of glasses with photochromic lenses for less. Julbo's £155 Fury Reactiv sunnies have excellent clarity and a lens that reacts quickly, and dhb's Vector sunnies are even cheaper at £90 (though not currently available) – the frame at the top is amazingly unobstructive and it has a photochromic range that's impressive, especially for the price.

> Buyer’s Guide: 10 of the best cycling sunglasses

SunGod's sunnies also come with a lifetime guarantee. 'If they break (or you break them) we will repair your Airas free of charge,' it says on the website, which could certainly go a long way in justifying the high cost to yourself.

Conclusion

Overall, the Airas are very good sunnies that you can tailor to suit your style, and you also have a choice between four nose-pieces that work well with the slender curved arms to provide a comfy, secure, personalised fit. The shades may sit further away from your face than is preferable, though, meaning a little less wind defence protection than other models.

The photochromic lens itself impressed, though. It's quick to adjust and provides ideal lighting for daytime rides that include bright sunshine and overcast conditions.

Verdict

Excellent clarity from a photochromic lens that adapts quickly for a variety of daytime conditions

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road.cc test report

Make and model: SunGod Airas BF with Iris Photochromic lens

Size tested: One size

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?

SunGod says:

"Bottom Frame - Unobstructed peripheral vision and ultimate protection.

Introduction our new 8KO lenses, the most advanced lens technology on the planet. Precisely constructed from 2mm nylon, 8K0 lenses are optically superior and lighter than industry-standard polycarbonate. Available in 8 refined lens tints plus two Iris photochromic lenses, for maximum optical clarity whatever the conditions. 8K0 lenses are clearly better.

Our new 8K0 Iris photochromic lens adjusts to fast-changing light conditions, for no lapse in vision and ultimate focus on the road."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

SunGod lists:

Secure hinges - Pop-Lock screwless

Impact resistance - certified full-frame

Nosepads - 4 sizes for optimum fit

Guarantee - lifetime

Lens tech - 8K0 nylon

Lens protection - hydroleophobic

Scratch resistance - tripe-layer protection

UV protection - 100%

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
7/10

The glasses sit further away from the face than other models.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Thanks to the photochromic lens they performed brilliantly in daytime rides with both bright sunshine and overcast conditions. However, the wind protection was slightly lacking.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The excellent photochromic lens, on sunnies you can fully customise.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price, and that they sit slightly further away on my face than I prefer.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Similar price to Oakley's Radar EV Path sunnies with the Clear to Black Iridium Photochromic Lenses, which are £197, but Julbo's Fury Reactiv shades (£155) and dhb's Vectors (£90) both have good photochromic lenses for much less.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if on sale.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

These are a brilliant option if you want to invest in one set of sunnies that'll cover the conditions on daytime rides, with bright sunshine at times and bleak cloud cover the rest. However, with the Airas you may find yourself wanting more wind protection, and the price is a lot to stomach, even if you are getting excellent lens clarity paired with plenty of frame customisation.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 24  Height: 177cm  Weight: 62kg

I usually ride: Road bike  My best bike is:

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: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track

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