Perhaps the easiest way to sell anything in the cycling world is to first slap it on Peter Sagan. Something as flashy as the Speedcraft Air sunglasses almost necessitates such an introduction. They’re certainly stylish and cool. The question is, do they work?
That should be answered in two ways: First, the Speedcraft Air should be analyzed as sunglasses for riding; second, they must be assessed based on the AC Systems nasal dilator — this is essentially a magnetic system that pulls your nostrils apart in order to increase air intake. Supposedly this offers an aerobic benefit by increasing oxygen delivery.
These are not 100%’s best sunglasses on either count.
The glasses themselves offer a massive amount of coverage. That’s a good thing, and it’s consistent with 100%’s designs in general. The Hiper lenses offer plenty of contrast for varying light conditions. Once again, that’s consistent with all of the company’s offerings, and we have no complaints there. These lenses are excellent.
Apart from the coverage, the other thing you’ll notice isn’t the nose piece — as we suspected would be the case — it’s the top of the frame, which presses into the forehead. A rubber bumper is mounted there to keep things comfortable, but it’s curious that the frame should contact the forehead at all. After a while it’s easy to forget about it, except it directs sweat downward, right into your eyes. Otherwise, the frames are comfortable, especially over the ears.
So as regular ol’ riding glasses, the Speedcraft Air fall somewhere mid-pack: They’re decently comfortable and offer plenty of coverage. They also have a great lens. But they press on your forehead, which leads to those sweat problems.
Of course, the AC Systems nose dilator sets these glasses apart. It’s here that 100% hopes to make the biggest splash. The problem is, science doesn’t appear to be on its side — more on that in a moment.
The system’s structure and function work well, with a few caveats. The dial above the nose adjusts the nosepiece arms in and out, offering custom dilation. But if you have a small nose, it’s possible the arms will extend too far down your nostrils. Those arms don’t adjust up and down either.
Magnets are built into the ends of those arms. You’ll need to apply adhesive magnets onto each of your nostrils as well. (Be sure to use the included alcohol swabs to thoroughly clean your nose, and then let it dry. Once you adhere the magnets, 100% recommends letting them sit on your nose for five minutes before you put the glasses on to ensure maximum adherence.) 100% includes a magnetic tool to help you place the adhesive magnets without touching them. Once the magnets are in place on your nose, slide the glasses on and you’ll instantly feel your nostrils pull apart.
It’s a cool feeling. And it has the side effect of ensuring your glasses stay firmly in place throughout the ride. While it was hard to determine whether more oxygen was delivered through the nose, our nostrils definitely felt more open. The benefit, as far as we could tell on our test rides, was far less mucus build-up, and, in turn, far fewer snot-rockets.
In that sense, you could argue that the dilator was useful in helping reduce blockages that would otherwise inhibit oxygen flow. Of course, our tester’s experience is only one data point and does not constitute a scientific study; the dilator may not produce the same result in other riders.
Since we couldn’t really notice any increase in airflow or obvious performance differences in our rides, we turned to peer-reviewed articles on the subject. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any peer-reviewed studies* that supported the idea that nasal dilators led to performance increases.
Applying the adhesive magnets to your nostrils can also present some problems. Most notably, you’ll need to get the positioning right on the first shot. If you don’t, you’ll need to re-apply a new magnet. We tried re-positioning the same magnet, and it separated from our nostril about halfway through the ride.
Perhaps most problematic is the fact that you’ll need to invest in both alcohol pads for cleaning your nose, and refills of the adhesive magnets. That only adds to the already-high initial cost of these sunglasses.
Based on the lack of scientific evidence, we’re skeptical the dilators offer any real benefit. And while 100% has added many of the other elements that have made its glasses so popular — most notably the excellent Hiper lens and massive coverage — there are just too many shortcomings to make the Speedcraft Air worth choosing over something sleeker, smaller, and less complicated like the 100% S2 sunglasses (which we love).