When I stopped briefly at the Nikevision stall at the Comrades Marathon expo, I had no other ambition other than to look at a different coloured pair of Nike Racer’s
I bought a pair at the NY Marathon expo back in 2010 and in my humble opinion; they’re one of the coolest pair of casual shades around. I say casual because I wear them casually, rather than for my sporting pursuits. For those I only had a pair of Adidas glasses of which I am fairly fond and didn’t see any real need to look elsewhere. The one issue with them however is that when I’m sweating a lot I find it a mission to take them off my face to wipe the sweat away before putting them back on. This ‘issue’ prompted me to ask Steven Baxter from JustEyewear (the Nike Vision agents in South Africa) a fatal question which led to my overwhelming interest in the Nike Show X2.
The question was: “Do any of your Nike eyewear have the ‘sweatband’ type upper rim that I’ve seen in other sunglasses”. Steven answered in the negative, but then proceeded to explain to me, as most good salesman with confidence in their brand do, the other features that made them so good.
Nike’s Max Transitions Lens Technology would simply adjust to any light condition and enhance the view
The quite radical (my immediate thought) claim, was that Nike’s Max Transitions Lens Technology would simply adjust to any light condition and enhance the view of everything around you. Lens’ that adapt to the light conditions are nothing particularly new. I had a pair of reading glasses when I was at high school that had just enough of a dark tint to allow me to nod off at the back of the class for a few carefully chosen minutes from time to time. They also earned me a lot grief from schoolmates due to the bloody ugly styling of the frame. They didn’t work particularly well though, and I’d never tried anything that would require the changes in conditions that I planned on going through.
Ultrabloke was a brand new creation at the time of the expo and after chatting to Steven, his ‘claim’ as to the workings of the eyewear made them sound like exactly the type of product I wanted to road-test for myself. Seeing is believing after all.
So I took his details and contacted him after the Expo and a few weeks later, my brand Show X2 pair arrived just in time for my trip to Knysna for the Oyster Festival and my participation in the Big 5 event. The Big 5 comprises 5 events and is a complete mixture of Mountain Bike, Road Cycle, Trail Run, Xterra and Road Run – all in 8 short days. What better way to test a product than across all those different events.
The first thing that struck me when they arrived was that they were a good-looking stylish pair of glasses (see image right). There are a lot of sports glasses out there in the market that often look garish, porno and pretty fugly (a technical term I like to use for things that are very ugly). Not these ones. I suppose it all comes down to opinion in the end – but in my humble one – these are sleek well-styled frames. A good sign is that I don’t feel the need to take them off after an event in preference for a casual pair, as I have done with other glasses in the past. These babies can stay on my face.
There are 10 different ‘versions’ of the Show X2 – which you can have a look at here http://www.nikevision.com/products/pdp/EV0620/#EV0620_405. Mine are the EVO672 in Matte Black with the Max Transitions Outdoor lenses – again see image above right. My other first observation was that the lenses were very yellow. I used to own a pair of yellow-lensed Bolle glasses a long time ago that were called enhancers. The yellow tint was designed to enhance your vision on days with poor lighting conditions and they worked a treat. I embarrassingly used to wear them at night to raves many years back and they were great for driving home in the morning and for the grey dreary UK sky when I spent a number of years there. The one thing you did not want to be doing was wearing those glasses in bright sunlight. Bright sunlight is not something you want to enhance for the eyes. So I was definitely a little concerned as to how these would operate in bright sunlight.
Was immediately struck by the comfort of the fit….And after those first observations, I tried them on and was immediately struck by the comfort of the fit. There is a kind of serrated rubber nosepiece (I would imagine to add extra grip) that swivels on a horizontal plane on the frame to allow a comfortable fit for someone with a squiff schnozz like mine.
The arms have very thin raised rubber strips on them to provide a better grip where they meet the head, behind the ears. I’m not sure what sport I was trying to emulate the movement of, but moving my face vigorously from side to side like a crazed gibbon monkey made no difference as to how the glasses sat on my face and they just felt very light and comfortable.
So initial testing had yielded very positive results and it was now time to test them in action.
About to leave – pitch black – glasses in operation. NOVELTY.
First up of the week’s Big 5 events was the 80km MTB ride. I woke up on Saturday morning in Plett with it still dark outside. I usually have to put my glasses into my helmet or leave them in the case or somewhere safe where they won’t get scratched. Given the yellow-tinted lenses I thought I might as well wear them and what a novelty it was to just put them on my face and continue getting ready with the rest of my gear. Yes you understood that correctly – they can be worn comfortably in the dark. I wore them on the drive through to Knysna too and when unpacking my gear on the other side, started looking for them in earnest forgetting they were on my face.
The big test for me was going to come when the sun shone on my face. In terms of the excellent job they did in the dim light, I was doubtful as to how they’d handle the sun. The first hill on the ride was a brutal 2km climb up past the Simola golf estate. My derailleur obviously hadn’t enjoyed the travel the day before and after fixing a dislodged chain I was looking at the ground and pedalling hard to make up ground. When I looked up while rounding the first corner, I couldn’t have looked more directly into the rising sun had I tried. My gut instinct was to immediately look away, but then I thought “that was odd” in terms of how I’d been able to, and looked back. Much to my amazement and without looking notably darker, the lenses just ‘diffused’ the brightness and allowed you to look at the sun without any issue. It was really impressive.
At the start. Looking good and ready to roll. Lenses look visibly darker.
Back down the hill and into the forest, the ‘enhancing’ aspects of the lenses were once again evident in the forest shade. And for the rest of the 70 odd kilometres in the day, the Nike Show X2 just did their job as the marketing blurb suggests – ‘responding to changes in light’ and allowing athletes to get on and do their thing.
On the track. Look Mum – the lenses are darker again.
The only minor criticism I could lodge against them during that first outing was that they did start to fog up quite a bit about half way through the cycle – round about the time when the heat of the day seemed to change considerably. Now the slight disappointment stems from the fact that the marketing information on the eyewear does state that they offer reduced fogging. I was hoping therefore, perhaps somewhat unrealistically, that any fogging would be really non-existent as I always find fogging an issue with sports eyewear. I don’t think it was any more than I’ve experienced before. Whether it was any less, I can’t really say.
I would however add that I think big changes in temperature are particularly difficult to deal with and a change from about 8 degrees at start to closer to 20 degrees a few hours later means it’s going to be tough. At the stage the fogging occurred, I still had a bluff around my neck and the 3 layers of clothing I had on (cycle shirt, gillet and cycling jacket) were all wet from the heat at that stage so the difference between my body temperature and the outside temperature – the factor I believe to cause the fogging – was high.
And finished. My post-race war face. Tougher than expected.
I’m not certain any eyewear can really deal with that issue adequately. I’ve worn quite a few different pairs of eyewear over the last few years and all seem to have struggled. I have seen some sports models that appear to have some ‘air vent’ type holes in the lenses themselves, which would probably (I’ve formed my own assumption here and not actually checked it out) let air come in between the lenses and athletes eyes, thereby evening the temperature out, which would in turn reduce fogging. They could however just be a gimmick and not help that much. It’s something I’d definitely like to test in future.
The rest of the week the shades performed with aplomb, handling the varying light and conditions that were thrown at them. They are very comfortable on the face even while wearing a helmet on the cycling events and were so comfortable as to be barely noticeable on the runs.
Start of Salomon Trail Run. Note the different hue of the lenses again.
I had the same fogging issue on the Salomon Featherbed Trail Run. Again conditions were pretty gnarly with really cold weather and an extremely hot body after about a 3km climb up from the heads. It was hampering visibility at the worst stage which required me to wear them on top of my head for a little while, but when I got them back on a few minutes later – problem solved and it was great having them on when the cloud cleared and the sun eventually popped out while crossing the rail bridge back into Knysna.
The Knysna Xterra was a particularly wet and muddy affair. It had rained pretty solidly for the preceding 24 hours and stopped that morning just in time to leave an overcast sky and a muddy forest. Watching the mud-covered Lite competitors coming in while we waited, I overheard a guy saying he wasn’t going to bother with eyewear because once globules of mud collected on the lenses the visibility disappeared and they were pretty much rendered useless. And so I debated long and hard whether taking them was the right thing and eventually went with the ‘yes it was as worth it’ option. Finishing the bike ride, I wasn’t so sure. I’m sure the lenses are probably much more rugged than I give them credit for, but didn’t want to rub dried mud across the lens and when you’re gunning it it’s difficult to stop and rinse them with water.
Farg that was muddy. Needed windscreen wipers.
I rather unwittingly forgot the glasses at home for the final event of the week – the Knysna Forest half marathon – in which I managed a very gratifying PB of 1hr36mins. But my mind had been made up by that time anyway.
The Nike Show X2 sunglasses are a great pair of sporting eyewear. They are good-looking and comfortable and most importantly and impressively, the lenses adapt to changing light conditions, giving the athlete a clearer and brighter view of the terrain ahead.
- In their Max Transitions lenses Nike really have a great bit of tech that functions excellently in varying light conditions from pitch dark all the way through to bright light. As well as handling the light, they really do enhance the picture.
- They are comfortable and sit well on the face and can’t be easily dislodged.
- They look good.
- I did experience some fogging on the lenses for a short period of time on 2 of the 4 days. These were days on which there was an extreme variation between the outside temperature and that of my body (covered in many layers to alleviate the cold). I have not to date worn any eyewear that have completely dealt with this issue and whether the Nike’s handled it better or not, I am not sure. It would definitely not stop me from buying the Nike’s as they performed well in all other facets – see below.
I got to test the Nike Show X2 out 2 weeks later again on the 2 day Kalahari Challenge Mountain Bike Race in Botswana and they really performed a treat through the hot rugged terrain. There were absolutely no issues with fogging over the 2 stages (100km and 80km), leading me again to the conclusion that it’s most likely that large variations between body and outside temperature that will probably cause fogging with any eyewear. I reckon I’m going to have to take that theory to the Mythbusters drawing board with some other eyewear in similar conditions.
With MegaOke and Robin trailing me. KalChall – Botswana
Great sunny conditions and Show X2 worked a treat.