Tifosi Pave Eyewear
What is the job of a watch? To tell time? To say something about you? We ask because fashion often trumps purpose. A $10 digital watch often tells time more consistently than a $1000 analogue. Whether or not this constitutes “better” is up for debate. Sunglasses, rather protective sport eyewear, are a bike-riding component where fashion routinely overshadows purpose.
The job of sport eyewear is to protect the eyes. To us, this means first keeping out airborne debris. Second is comfort, defined as sitting on the face without annoyance, providing a distortion-free field of vision, and having a geometry that minimizes the chances of fogging. Eyewear should also protect from ultraviolet rays. In terms of light, we want lenses that shade our eyes from the sun when it is bright out, increase contrast in overcast or low-light conditions, and ideally brighten up rainy days.
We won't hide the fact that we love aesthetically-pleasing stuff. We test-drove a pair of Oakley Radars last year and loved them. But there is something to be said for glasses that are a third to a quarter of the price.
We were looking forward to a thorough wearing of Tifosi Pavé glasses. It brings us back to our roots when we carefully examined every single cycling purchase for value. Like figuring out how many times one could patch a tube before it ceased being cost-effective. Besides, sunglasses don't make you faster.
Tifosi stresses simplicity and value. We like that it comes with three lenses, smoke, clear, and red, a soft cloth case and a hard case. We like that extra lenses are already included. The other side of this equation is that the premium sunglasses don't only come at a premium price, but we usually buy two spare lenses and a travel case on top of the buy-in price. And that makes the premium price go stratospheric.
The red lens is one we typically purchase after buying glasses; it is a nice high-contrast shade, great for overcast days and is still decent in sunlight. Clear lenses have a place, and we've occasionally purchased these as well, though we've more recently started acquiring yellow lenses, as they brighten up rainy days and work fine at night. Clear works in all conditions, great for those days when you start or finish in the dark.
According to Tifosi, the smoke lens has “Glare Guard” which reduces glare. It also allows through 17% of visible light. The All-Condition Red lens allows in 27%. The clear 98%. Tifosi also promises that these lenses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
The fit was solid. Once on, they stayed in place. The nose and earpieces don't feel particularly soft, but they are comfortable and unobtrusive. The arms are curved to avoid helmet straps and the frame flexes a little to squeeze the glasses onto the skull. The glasses also fit well into our helmet vents, hardly a necessary feature, but nice all the same.
We rode in the Pavés for months, in all sorts of conditions. We changed lenses repeatedly. We liked. They functioned well. They protected our eyes and the lenses all worked well in conditions they were designed. They were comfortable on all-day rides.
We had two issues with these glasses. The first related to manufacture. The second to body geometry meeting up with frame geometry. One was that the frame didn't seem to sit flat on our face. By that, we mean that one lens seemed higher than the other. While we could have ears or eyes of different heights, or both, we did set the glasses down on a flat surface and saw that one arm was off the ground when the other was touching.
We asked Tifosi about this. They said that with the Grilamid (plastic) frame material, we could just twist it into shape. We did. It seemed to hold for a while, but each time we took them out, the problem was still there. They said we could return them to Tifosi if we couldn't live with it and they'd send us another pair.
The second issue we had was with the way the frame sat on our face. Tifosi says the Pavé's should fit small-to-large faces. We're gathering that means most. We've had too-large specs seal our eyes and create a rainforest between the glasses and our heads. We've had too-small glasses allow so much wind and dust underneath the lens that we might as well not have been wearing anything. The Pavé was in between. The frame, when atop our nose, met up with our brow -- we're related to cavemen -- sealing the frame and increasing the likelihood that fogging could develop. It did start to fog occasionally on climbs and when riding in the rain. While we like not having a frame at the bottom edge, we would have liked a bit more coverage; this probably has to do with the relationship of our nose to our cheekbones.
We learned that with the Pavé, the arms cannot be bent, but there's light steel encased inside the plastic on the nosepiece. The piece can be squished together, spread apart, bent toward the skull, away from the skull, or any direction that the user sees fit. By adjusting the nose, we can get it so the Pavé isn't quite sealing against our brow. We haven't had them fog since.
We also learned a funny thing about lenses. For all the talk about glasses blocking UVA and UVB rays, most manufacturers have a very simple solution. Polycarbonate lenses. The polycarbonate blocks the rays. So whether it's these or a premium sunglass, the polycarbonate is working the same.
Lens scratching is a problem for many users. We didn't scratch these lenses, but have sratched others. Despite the low price, Tifosi makes it easy to replace scratched lenses. Send them back with $10 and they'll send you a new pair, provided they have them in stock.
Since fashion is personal, and we haven't come to a conclusion about how we feel with the Pavé aesthetics, we saved these thoughts for last. So much for hoping for an insight. While the design is appropriately sporty, it's one of the more conservative Tifosi designs. The Ventoux and Slip are definitely more distinctive and uniquely Tifosi.
Overall, we were impressed with Tifosi glasses. They do their job well. As gear goes, they're a tremendous bargain. As with the $10 watch, if you like looking at these glasses, you'll be happy with the function and wear them happily for years. And you'll be able to snigger at those who have dropped top dollar on specs that function largely the same.