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Tested: Smith and Briko Shades

A great pair of shades should do everything from fit and finish to optics and style. And Smith’s Pivlock V90 Max and Briko Endure Pro Duos pull it all off.

Both sets of shades feature multiple lens options, two different nose pieces to refine fit, fantastic optics, and weigh next to nothing. Styling is very different between the two — the Smiths opt for a rimless look, while Briko sticks to an Oakley M-Frame-like style — and that may be the deciding factor in choosing one or the other.

Briko Endure Pro Duo

The Thrama 4000 lens tint tapers away from the eyes and does an excellent job cutting out harsh light. Photo: Caley Fretz
The Thrama 4000 lens tint tapers away from the eyes and does an excellent job cutting out harsh light. Photo: Caley Fretz

The test for eyewear, for me, is whether I forget I’m wearing them for hours on end. Given the proximity to my face and eyes, any bothersome quirk in terms of fit, weight, or lenses is an immediate deal breaker. Thankfully, Endure Pro Duos are light, just 26 grams, and sit nicely on my face. They don’t require mid-ride adjustment; I just put them on and they disappear.

Partly responsible for the great fit are the two included sets of nose pieces, allowing one to customize how far away from the face the glasses sit, and where on the nose they are most comfortable, regardless of nose and face size. For my own plus-sized schnoz, I went with the smaller of the two sizes, allowing me to keep the lenses far enough from my face to prevent sweat buildup or fogging, but close enough to maintain good eye protection. The nose pieces are nice grippy rubber, keeping the glasses in place effectively. And they snap easily but solidly onto the frame.

Eye protection is aided by a fully wrapping lens which curves from temple to temple. The Pro Duos come with two such lenses, one dark enough for the brightest days, and another lighter for nastier weather. Snapping the lenses in and out of their anchor point above the nose is relatively easy, but does require some bending of the frame itself, which can be a bit unnerving.

The dark Thrama Active 4000 lens is mirrored, reflecting more light and enhancing visibility, on top of just looking cool. The light Thrama 80 lens is designed for 80 percent light transmittance, making it perfect for dark days or evenings, but not quite bright enough for a night-time mountain bike ride or twilight crit. Optics on both are stellar, and the finishes have thus far proven to be scratch resistant. However, the mirrored finish makes small imperfections more visible, making oily fingerprints and other grime stand out more than usual.

Briko Endure Pro Duo

MSRP: $119
The Scoop: Light, full-wrap eyewear with a Euro look

Pros: Interchangeable nosepieces and lenses, lightweight, sun-stopping Thrama 4000 lens

Cons: Changing lenses a bit awkward, light lens not clear enough for riding after dark

Smith PivLock V90 Max

Smith's PivLock V90 MAX has a slightly larger lens than the regular V90. Photo: Caley Fretz
Smith's PivLock V90 MAX has a slightly larger lens than the regular V90. Photo: Caley Fretz

Like the Brikos, Smith PivLock V90’s get a thumbs up for fit. They also come with a great lens selection — dark, medium, and clear — and use an innovative and incredibly easy lens-swapping system. The lenses themselves wrap well around the face and are relatively tall, providing good sun protection. The frameless design fits somewhat close to my face, but also seems to allow in more wind, dust, and other nasties. Styling is quite a bit more casual than the Brikos, making them equally at home on or off the bike.

The PivLock system for swapping lenses is one of the easiest we’ve ever used. The glasses’ arms attach directly to the frameless lens, pivoting and then locking into place. Fit an egg-shaped knob on the arms into an identically shaped hole in the corner of the lens, twist down, and mounting is complete. No bending of the lens or arms, no pushing lenses straight into a frame (covering them in fingerprints), and, above all, zero risk of popping a lens out accidentally. Two options of grippy nose pieces snap into the frame easily, allowing a full lens swap in about 20 seconds.

The lenses wrap well around the sides of the head, but, despite the fact that they sit relatively close to my face, don’t provide super tight coverage top and bottom. The frameless design, which does not include an upper rim or sweat gutter, seems to make them prone to sweat dripping down the lens as well. Switching to the other nose piece put the lenses further from my face, mitigating the sweat problem but exacerbating coverage issues.

The lenses are tall, keeping anything big from making it to the eyes, but the gaps let in dust and rain (not that we’ve had any rain in Colorado lately. I had to ride through a sprinkler to find out) more than I like. This is perhaps the price paid for more casual, and far more attractive, styling.

Fit is still excellent, once the correct nose piece is chosen. The “Megol” rubber arm tips and nose piece hold the PivLock V90’s on the face perfectly. Field of vision is fantastic, with no frame to get in the way and large, shield-like lenses that end out of my field of vision. The PivLock V90 MAX has a slightly larger lens than the normal V90.

They’re super light, too; Smith claims they’re lightest rimless interchangeable in the world. We weighed them at 25 grams on the VeloNews scale, light enough to forget about. The PivLock V90’s are perfect for anyone looking for a slightly more casual look, while maintaining some serious performance chops.

Smith PivLock V90 Max

MSRP: $139

The Scoop: Stylish, high performance eyewear with one of the best lens-swapping systems around

Pros: Light weight, stylish, frameless, multiple nose-pieces to dial in fit

Cons: Coverage in nasty conditions is not perfect

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