Rudy Project has partnered with Team Bahrain-Merida in 2017 to create a limited edition ‘gold velvet’ collection of helmets and sunglasses. Founded in 1985 in Treviso, Rudy Project adds to the distinctly Italian feel of a Bahrain-Merida team roster that boasts Italian superstars such as Vincenzo Nibali and Niccolo Bonifazio.
The team edition ‘gold velvet’ Rudy Project Racemaster helmets and Tralyx sunglasses were debuted at this year’s Santos Tour Down Under, the first event on the WorldTour calendar and therefore one of the first opportunities for sponsors to showcase their latest and greatest equipment. I was lucky enough to attend this year’s TDU and noticed the pearlescent gold highlights of Team Bahrain-Merida’s equipment shining brightly in the Adelaide sun. (Incidentally, the colour is an exact match for the black and gold of our newest VeloClub club kit.)
Not long after the TDU a package arrived at CT HQ from Rudy Project containing a team edition helmet and pair of sunglasses for review. Needless to say, I was pretty keen to get kitted out in the VeloClub black and gold and take these for a spin.
Rudy Project’s motto, “technically cool”, could be viewed as a not-so-subtle dig at other, more fashion-focused brands. Favoured by optometrists for their prescription-friendly designs, Rudy seems comfortable letting function rather than form do most of the talking. The company’s sunglasses (and more recently helmets) have been omnipresent in the pro peloton since the early ’90s and since their inception they have forged a reputation of quality and technological innovation.
With technology as a key focus, Rudy is often unfairly overlooked in discussions about the wild and wacky sunglasses designs of the ’90s.
In recent years Rudy Project has been decidedly more conservative with its styling in comparison to rival brands. But the ‘gold velvet’ collection is sure to grab the attention of those looking for a bold yet classy alternative to other, more mainstream options.
The Racemaster helmet features all the safety features you would expect from a WorldTour-worthy product, with MIPS and Hexocrush technology employed to protect the rider’s head. Hexocrush, a Rudy Project proprietary feature, was developed to be extremely lightweight. By combining two different foam densities in a hexagonal pattern Rudy is able to improve shock absorption by dissipating impact forces laterally and radially. Put simply, in the event of a crash, Hexocrush is designed to reduce the G-force pressures on the user’s head.
The Racemaster offers a customisable fit using the RSR 9 retention system and Divider Pro side buckles. Continuing on with the safety theme, the side buckles are fitted with reflective strips to improve rider visibility.
One of the first things I test when trying out a new helmet is whether my sunglasses can fit snuggly in the front and/or back vents. Rudy claims to have solved this common compatibility issue with the aptly named “Garage Eyewear Dock”. The “Garage Eyewear Dock” consists of two vents at the rear of the helmet that have been spaced evenly apart to ensure your precious shades don’t fall out when you decide to remove them on a climb or when you can’t see through the Roubaix mud.
This concept isn’t new to any cyclist who has worn modern sunglasses with rubber ear-socks, but it appears marketing departments have recently decided to give the concept a name and include it in their features list. The system works: the pair of Rudy Project Tralyx sunglasses fitted perfectly in their allotted space and never threatened to rattle loose.
For the record, Swedish helmet manufacturer POC has also coined the term “Eye Garage” as a marketable feature for its lids.
Which brings us to the limited edition Tralyx sunglasses. There are three key criteria I look for in a set of cycling eyewear: fit, optics and looks (horribly vain, I know).
Starting with fit, I found the Tralyx to have a slightly looser grip on my temples when compared to the pair of Oakley Radar EVs I am accustomed to. The best way to explain this is that I’m constantly aware of the pair of Oakleys, such is their grip on my face. But the Rudy Project Tralyx have a weightless quality to them that can give you the impression you’re not wearing glasses at all.
My initial concern was slippage or, god forbid, full sunglasses ejection, however, I’m pleased to report that I never felt as though I had to adjust the grip of the glasses once.
New to the Tralyx is Rudy’s “Adaptive Tips” system, designed to ensure comfort thanks to its inner bendable steel core. This means the wearer can customise the fit to suit their needs.
The quality of the optics is a little harder to gauge. When they’re good you don’t really notice them, but when they’re bad, they can seriously affect the enjoyment of your ride.
There are a few design problems I feel need to be addressed with cycling sunglasses. Firstly: how do you optimise optics in bad conditions (i.e. driving rain, low light, dust etc). The Mount Beauty side of Tawonga Gap — a hill in the north-east Victoria, Australia — can be a hairy descent even in good conditions. Earlier this year I descended that particular stretch of road in heavy rain wearing these sunglasses and had no trouble avoiding the often-difficult-to-spot dark and wet patches, and picking out the apex.
Finally: ‘looks’. Let me preface this by saying that this criterion is completely subjective and is largely dependant on the user’s face shape and fashion sensibility. There are a few features that make the Tralyx a distinctive pair of sunglasses. There is the flared venting that forms part of the frame and is intended to enhance air circulation while ensuring maximum aerodynamic efficiency. The arms are sculpted in a similarly aerodynamic-looking manner.
The frame itself is painted in the same pearlescent gold as the Racemaster helmet, which is then offset by a pair of black ear socks and an iridescent orange lens piece.
Gold is a colour usually reserved for champions, but unlike the famous world championship bands, there are no rules about wearing gold on your local bunch ride. The Racemaster helmet and Tralyx glasses are a championship-level paring that have a considerable amount of tech behind their tasteful coat of ‘gold velvet’ paint.
I doubt Vincenzo Nibali’s domestiques will have difficulty finding their leader in the bunch and the same goes for you and your cycling buddies.
About the author
Louis Raymond joined CyclingTips in November 2016 as Community and Digital Manager, having previously spent time working in Holden’s Corporate Affairs department and as a contributor for Triathlon & Multi Sport Magazine.