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Lazer is perhaps best known for its helmets, however the company also has an impressive range of sunglasses. Indeed, there are 10 models in Lazer’s current range of performance eyewear and in this review, Australian tech editor Matt Wikstrom takes a look at three of them: Solid State SS1, Magneto M1, and Eddy.
Lazer’s company history goes all the way back to 1919 when Roger Lacroix started making leather hats and gloves for motorcyclists in Belgium. He had an interest in rider safety and that lead him to create a hardened leather hat in 1930 followed by an aluminium helmet in 1948.
By this stage, Lacroix had dubbed his company Cross and it would go on to steadily develop a variety of motorcycle helmets using a range of materials over the next 20 years. Then, in 1980, Cross changed its name to Lazer and started to expand into other sports. Lazer’s first hardshell bicycle helmet appeared in 1987 followed later by a softshell helmet in 1992.
Another 20 years would pass before Lazer decided to turn its attention to eyewear for cyclists, unveiling its first collection for 2012. There were five models on offer at the time and the range has steadily grown to the point where there are now 10 performance-oriented designs, four for leisure (or off-bike) use and two for kids.
Lenses and frame materials
All of Lazer’s glasses feature polycarbonate lenses that are impact-resistant and shatterproof. They undergo a hydrophobic treatment so that dirt, water and sweat are less likely to adhere and offer 100% protection against UV rays. In addition, a hard coating is used on the outer surface to improve scratch-resistance while the inner surface has an anti-reflective coating to reduce the effects of glare and bright light.
There are four general classes of lenses that Lazer uses for its performance eyewear:
Standard: offered in a brown or grey smoke tint with or without a mirror coating in various colours (blue, gold, silver, rainbow). Both tints are well suited to full sunshine however the brown tint promises additional contrast.
Premium: this Carl Zeiss tinted lens is an option for a few models in Lazer’s range (Magneto M3, Eddy, Radon, Krypton 1, Walter) that promises extra clarity over the standard tinted lenses.
Photochromic: sunlight activates the lens to reduce light transmission. Lazer’s clear photochromic lenses offer 25-75% transmission compared to 12-31% for its melanin photochromic lens.
Additional: a pair of high transmission lenses (clear and yellow) is included in a set of three lenses for some models. The clear lens is suited for riding in the rain or at night while the yellow lens is designed for overcast and low light conditions.
It’s important to note that lens choice strictly dictates the colour of the frame for every model in Lazer’s performance range. Thus, buyers hoping for a particular lens may have to compromise on the colour of the frame however it is possible to buy replacement lenses for some models.
As for the frames, Grilamid is used throughout the collection because of its low weight and impact-, UV-, and chemical-resistance. The temples of most performance models are adjustable and have rubber tips for extra grip. The rubber-coated nosepieces are also adjustable, too.
All of Lazer’s eyewear is supplied with a one-year warranty against defects and breakages, however it does not cover scratches to the lens. For more information visit Lazer.
Three samples were provided for this review — Solid State SS1, Magneto M1, and Eddy — all from Lazer’s performance eyewear range. The trio provided a good overview of what Lazer has to offer in terms of styling and fit while providing an opportunity to assess the performance of a few of the brand’s different lenses.
Solid State SS1
The Solid State SS1 was amongst Lazer’s initial range of eyewear and it has continued in the catalogue ever since. This half-frame model has a reasonably generous shield lens that offers a wide field of view with a vent above each eye to prevent fogging.
According to Lazer, the Solid State should suit riders with a small-medium face. The rubber-tipped temples and nosepiece are adjustable — it’s just a matter bending each part to suit — and the lens can be replaced.
The Solid State has the shortest arms of all of the models reviewed here, and as such, it was an easy set of glasses to wear with a helmet. In this regard, my Kask Mojito is a hard taskmaster, since its occipital adjustment system sits close to my ears and will interfere with the arms of many sunglasses. On this occasion, the arms of the Solid State were not a problem and I didn’t have to fuss with the frames or the helmet.
The Solid State provided a tight fit, clinching my head above my ears, leaving me to wonder if they might have been a little small. That extra pressure didn’t turn out to be a problem, though, and I was able to wear the Solid State for three hours or more virtually unaware of the frames.
The matte black sample provided for this review included Lazer’s standard grey smoke tinted lens with a chrome-mirrored surface along with the additional yellow and clear lenses. It’s a versatile combination of lenses that will will suit a wide range of conditions. Swapping out the lenses was a simple matter, though I wouldn’t attempt it on the bike.
The tinted lens worked well in bright conditions and I couldn’t detect any distortion throughout my field of view. Colours were dulled a little but the contrast was pretty good without any distracting hues. The yellow and clear lenses performed as expected, though I’ve always found yellow tints off-putting.
Compared with my ageing Oakley Radars fitted with a smoke grey lens, the Solid State was a ready rival, matching Oakley in every regard except for brand prestige and styling. That the Solid State can be had for a lower price with a pair of extra lenses for different light conditions is one point of distinction; yet another is how comfortable and fuss-free the short arms are when wearing them with a helmet.
Pricing for the Solid State SS1 starts at AUD$119/€70/US$70 for a three-lens pack (reviewed) and a choice of a matte black, gloss white, flash yellow or gloss silver frame. Alternatively, the Solid State can be had with a photochromic lens and gloss black or flash orange frames for AUD$139/€85/US$85. In every instance, a hard case and a lens cleaning cloth/carrybag is included in the price.
The Magneto M1 is another model that has populated Lazer’s eyewear catalogue for a long time, trailing behind the Solid State by just a few months. The model takes its name from the magnets that are used to secure the frames to the straps of any helmet. As the result, the Magneto M1 functions more like a visor for the helmet rather than a set of sunglasses.
A generous frameless lens serves the Magneto M1. Buyers have a choice of a standard tinted lens (brown or grey) packaged with the additional yellow and clear lenses, or, a photochromic lens (clear or melanin). In both instances, the Magneto M1 comes in a choice of two sizes, small-medium or medium-large (reviewed), with mounting hardware and a pair of standard arms.
The first component of the mounting hardware are the so-called Magclips that attach the straps of any helmet. A metal disc is contained within each clip so that the short magnetic arms of the Magneto M1 can attach to the straps. Adjusting the position of the Magneto M1 is then simply a matter of sliding the Magclips up or down the helmet straps.
The other component of the mounting hardware is Lazer’s Magdoc that adhere to the helmet shell for storing the glasses when not in use, however they won’t suit all helmets. The Magdoc supplied with the Magneto M1 is specifically designed for Lazer’s Z1 helmet while a second version is available for aftermarket purchase to suit Blade and Magma helmets.
Wearing the Magneto M1 was a truly unique experience. The absence of arms made a huge difference to my comfort to the point where I lost any real awareness that I was wearing sunglasses. In this regard, the frameless lens and generous field of view helped a lot because I was able to enjoy a tinted view of the world without any of the visual clutter associated with frames.
On bright sunny days, the Magneto M1 was flawless. The brown tinted lens dulled the rays and added a little contrast without distorting my view. Once set, I didn’t have to fiddle with the Magneto M1 (other than to wipe sweat from the lens) or contend with any discomfort around my temples or nose.
The absence of conventional arms proved to be problem, though. The Magdoc did not suit my Kask Mojito so I had no way to stow the glasses when they weren’t needed (or wanted). I also had no way to wear them without a helmet when taking a break during a ride. While the former issue could be addressed by gluing some metal washers to my Mojito or perhaps opting for clear photochromic lenses, I’d have to get into the habit of packing the Magneto’s spare arms for the latter.
So while the Magneto M1 does a magnificent job of solving one problem, it creates two new ones. For some shoppers, this will be a deal-breaker and I have to agree, especially given that the Magneto M1 is quite expensive. However, I can also see that it could also be a great performer under the right conditions, such as racing on a bright sunny day.
Pricing for the Magneto M1 starts at AUD$169/€100/US$100 for a three lens pack with gloss white, gloss silver chrome, crystal smoke, or flash yellow arms. The Magneto M1 with a photochromic lens will cost AUD$199/€110/US$120 with a choice of flash orange, crystal clear, or matte black arms. In every instance, the Magneto M1 is supplied with a hard carry case and lens cleaning cloth/carrybag.
In many respects, the Eddy is a more generous version of the Solid State. With the same kind of half-frame design with adjustable temples, the Eddy offers a larger replaceable lens with additional anti-fogging vents and a bigger fit than the Solid State. The arms of the frame are also considerably longer.
The Eddy makes use of the same range of lenses as the Solid State but adds an extra option in the form of Zeiss’s premium lens. Unfortunately I didn’t get to assess this option but the sample sent for review was arguably more interesting because it featured Lazer’s clear photochromic lens.
While the Solid State and Magneto M1 were definite hits for how well they suited a helmet, the Eddy was a miss. The arms were simply too long and too thick, so they ended up trapped under my Mojito to create a profound pressure point on each side of my head. As a result, I was ready to abandon them within an hour of riding.
The clear photochromic lens performed well. The tint was very subtle, deepening within 30 seconds of exposure to direct sunlight, while it took around 90 seconds to lighten when it was out of the sun. I found it was the perfect choice when riding through forested areas and pools of shade. The lens also worked quite well for bright conditions, though it’s worth noting that I have a distinct preference for light tints in general.
The only time I was disappointed with the photochromic lens was early mornings and late afternoons when the sun was low in the sky. Riding towards the sun was difficult and I found myself wishing for a deeper tint. In this regard, Lazer’s melanin photochromic lens (that offers less transmission) might have been a better choice, however this lens is not offered for the Eddy.
The weight of the Eddy (32g) was almost identical to that of the Solid State (33g) and Magneto M1 (31g), yet its mass seemed more noticeable, even when I was wearing them without a helmet. The larger nosepiece was also a lot more obvious, making for a set of sunglasses that were overall more intrusive than the other models reviewed here.
Pricing for the Eddy starts at AUD$159/€95/US$95 for a standard tinted lens and a pair of additional lenses with gloss white, gloss silver chrome, or gloss flash yellow frames. Alternatively, the Eddy can be had with Zeiss lens and the additional lenses with a matte black frame for AUD$179/€110/US$110 or clear photochromic lenses matte titanium or matte flash green frames for AUD$179/€110/US$110. In every instance, the Eddy is supplied with a hard carry case and lens cleaning cloth/carrybag.
Summary and final thoughts
Lazer has done a good job with each of the models reviewed here. The quality of each one is very high with lenses that are free of any noticeable distortions. Perhaps the most impressive aspect is the range of lens types on offer for each model, however buyers do not have the freedom to choose the colour of the frames that come with each option.
The Magneto M1 was the most impressive performer of the three models reviewed here. The magnetic system is unrivalled for the amount of comfort it has to offer, but it has its weaknesses, which is why the Solid State SS1 is a good alternative. Its short arms provide almost the same level of comfort without creating any problems when it comes to stowing or wearing the glasses without a helmet.
Thrifty shoppers mightn’t find much appeal in Lazer’s sunglasses, but compared to premium brands such as Oakley, they are arguably more affordable. However, sunglasses are a little unusual in that style and utility clash more strongly than other products, so small distinctions in one or the other can have a profound impact on the appeal of any given brand or model.
My strongest advice is to remember to take along your helmet when trying on any set of sunglasses.