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The SunGod Velans FF sunglasses combine sophisticated precision optics with impressive build quality and an easily customisable fit. They offer excellent defence against wind, glare and indeed, projectiles. However, while I was bowled over by their performance, they're not photochromatic and their aesthetic won't please everyone.
The Valens are part of this British company's new bike-specific Pace Series, which comprises two designs: the Velans and the higher-spec Vulcans. The Velans feature SunGod's 8KO lenses made from 2mm co-nylon – as opposed to the usual polycarbonate – and treated with a triple layer scratch-resistant finish.
The lenses also employ a hydroleophobic element to repel water and oil – rain, sweat and fingerprints – and come in eight tints. Ours are blue mirror smoke, which are contrast-enhancing.
The 'adventure proof' flexible frames have a lifetime warranty and employ 'Pop-Lock' screwless hinges, while the earsocks and nose pad are SunGod's 'Grip-Lock' hydrophilic rubber.
The Velans offer significant opportunity for customisation with 4,000 combinations of lens, frame, icon and ear socks. There's also the option to convert between half and full frame, and no fewer than four nose pad sizes.
The stock version graced me perfectly straight from the box, and I can cruise along all day without having to nudge or adjust them. Optical quality and detail perception are top notch too, and despite the lack of photochromatic lenses (for that you need SunGod's Iris lenses) they react to brightness changes in a consistent and progressive way.
While photochromatic lenses react quicker to, say, riding from sunlight into a dark underpass or vice versa, it's still less than 10 seconds before these are tamed and I never found my eyes struggling even after a day's riding. The curved lens certainly helps in this respect, minimising distortion when making over the shoulder checks.
Low light performance is good, though glasses such as the Shimano S-Phyre blow the Velans into the weeds, and are genuinely viable when it's 5am and the sun is nowhere to be seen.
Coverage wise, the SunGods literally (as in figuratively) filled my face and while looking a little too technical for some tastes, protection from wind, dust, insects and indeed other airborne projectiles is excellent. The odd stray stone has scored a direct hit, with no sign of impact damage.
While they sit close, there's enough airflow rammed through the bridge and frames to prevent annoying fogging. The coatings also keep pace with persistent, heavy rain without recourse to manually wiping them.
At £140 for the full frame version, the Velans sit alongside the likes of the Roka SR-1X (£140), the Smith Trackstand Glasses (£139) and the superb Shimano S-Phyre R, which are my defaults and a tenner cheaper at £129.99
SunGod's lifetime warranty and custom options boost the value, of course, though the latter can be had for less: the £85.16 Ekoi Perso Evo-9 Glasses offer lots of scope for customisation and excellent optics.
The Sun God Velans are very good with a secure, tunable fit and excellent optics. The bold styling and customisable elements also mark them out, though they're best suited to bright conditions – and more expensive than some that cope well with all levels of light.
Very competent glasses with impressive custom options
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road.cc test report
Make and model: SunGod Velans FF 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?
Sun God says: "SunGod Velans use a refined toric lens to offer optical precision helping riders to spot every detail on the road ahead."
"Available separately as a conversion kit, riders can purchase an additional bottom section to the frame in order to switch looks and functionality between rides, whilst using the same lens."
My feelings: Very capable shades with a bewildering array of options, but photochromatic models are better in dull conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
SunGod says these "...use cutting-edge 8KO™ technology to offer optimal clarity, strength and weight savings. Improving on the 4KO™ polycarbonate lenses found in the brand's previous PaceBreakers glasses and in almost all larger brands, the new 8KO™ lenses are built from a nylon-based material featuring an in-mould construction and coated with a triple-layer scratch-resistant finish to help reduce chips and scratches that typically come with everyday use. Hydrophobic and oleophobic treatments are also used to repel moisture, fingerprints and sweat, giving riders a clearer view of the road – particularly in rain and challenging light conditions."
Very well made.
Very clear in most settings and react well to subtle changes in bright light.
Materials and construction are solid, while the lenses have taken direct hits from small stones without any trace. Plentiful spares availability also boosts confidence.
34g. Lighter than their design might suggest and unobtrusive all day long.
Pricier than some photochromatic designs.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent clarity and seem to reduce visual tiredness on long rides, and grip seems unaffected by sweat. Performance is particularly good in intense sunlight, where they react quickly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The clarity, protection and customisability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Overtly technical styling and white frames are acquired tastes.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're in good company: the Roka SR-1X glasses come in at £140, Smith Trackstand Glasses are £139, and the Shimano S-Phyre R are £129.99. Then again, the Ekoi Perso Evo-9 also offer lots of scope for customisation and excellent optics for just £85.16.
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
These are very capable glasses which perform to a high standard and offer custom options. Photochromatic models have a distinct edge in low light, but these have a slight edge in extremely harsh sunlight, so they have a niche. They're well made and a solid eight.
About the tester
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)