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by Matt Wikstrom
October 25, 2017
Photography by Matt Wikstrom
SunGod is a British eyewear brand that was founded four years ago, thanks to two successful crowdfunding campaigns. Part of the new brand’s early appeal was related to its enthusiasm for customisation – a feature that continues to define every product in its range.
There are four models of sunglasses and one set of goggles in SunGod’s current online catalogue. Buyers are able to assemble each model from a selection of lens tints, frame colours, and finishing touches. An online product builder allows buyers to experiment with the various combinations before placing an order, while a lens viewer provides an indication of how each tint will affect the colours of a landscape.
The PaceBreakers is the most recent addition to SunGod’s range of sunglasses and the first for sports like running and cycling. These sunglasses feature an interchangeable shield lens (138mm x 49mm) and an impact-resistant frame with a replaceable nosepiece and ear socks. The PaceBreakers are available in one size only, however two nosepieces (small and large) are supplied to help with adjusting the fit of the PaceBreakers.
The lens is made from polycarbonate and engineered to provide a high level of clarity along with 100% UV-protection (to 400nm). The outer surface is coated with three protective layers to improve scratch-resistance while the inner surface has an anti-reflective coating to reduce the effects of glare and stray light.
There is a choice of 12 different tints for the PaceBreakers: one clear (89% light transmission), one high-vis (44% transmission), five standard tints (pink, smoke, green, blue, fire; 11-16% transmission), and five polarised tints (pink, smoke, green, blue, fire; 11-16% transmission).
As for the frames, there is a choice of six colours (matte white, matte blue, matte grey, matte black, carbon, and frosted clear) plus eight colours for the ear socks (white, blue, royal blue, green, grey, pink, red, black). Buyers also get to choose from eight colours (white, blue, royal blue, green, silver, pink, red, black) for the logo that is applied to the each arm of the frame.
One other feature of the PaceBreakers that is worth mentioning is SunGod’s lifetime guarantee against defects and any accidental breakages. Owners need only return the glasses to SunGod and the company will repair or replace them, free of charge. This doesn’t cover lens scratches, but nevertheless, it’s an attractive offer that promises to extend the life of the PaceBreakers.
All of these features add to the price, but compared to premium brands like Oakley and Rudy Project, PaceBreakers are a pretty good buy: AUD$110/US$90/£60 with standard lenses and AUD$155/US$125/£85 with polarised lenses. The price for additional/replacement lenses — AUD$35-100/US$30-80/£20-55 — is also reasonable.
SunGod is able to charge less for its products thanks to its customer-direct sales strategy. All sales are strictly online though, which means buyers won’t get a chance to try on a set of PaceBreakers before they commit to a purchase. And since every set of PaceBreakers is custom-built, there is no option to return them for a full refund.
I couldn’t help but notice that the PaceBreakers appeared to take many of its design cues from Oakley’s Radars. Side-by-side, the PaceBreakers are taller (~10mm) , otherwise the dimensions and styling are quite similar. Both also shared the same strategy for securing the lens, so for those that have owned a set of Radars, the PaceBreakers will seem very familiar.
Those similarities extended to the quality of fit. The long arms of the PaceBreakers interfered with my helmet (Kask Mojito) in exactly the same way as my Radars, but were slender enough to go undetected for reasonably long periods on the bike. Every so often, though, I would have to release/re-adjust one or both arms to alleviate a build-up of pressure behind my ears.
The set of PaceBreakers provided for this review featured polarised grey lenses, a tint that I’ve long-preferred, and it was perfect for sunny conditions, dulling the light without ruining the colours or sacrificing contrast. The large shield lens provided a generous field of view with a level of clarity that was on par with Oakley’s lenses.
A second lens, Hi-vis blue, was supplied for this review. In essence, it is a variation on the yellow lenses designed for overcast and low light conditions. I’ve always been put off by these lenses because of the yellow haze they create, but in this instance, it wasn’t a problem. The Hi-vis blue lens managed to brighten my field of view while achieving a more natural balance of colours, so I was able to enjoy this lens without any distractions.
Swapping out the lens was a little fussy. The nosepiece must first be pinched to release the lens before it can be levered out of the rest of the frame. As such, it’s something best done at home rather than on the bike. Also, it’s impossible to change the lens without handling the lens, so it will require a wipe down before it can be used.
Overall, the PaceBreakers proved to be a good set of sunglasses that were quite comfortable to wear with a helmet. The size of the lens and frames makes for a generous fit that should suit anybody that falls into the medium-large category. In practical terms, the PaceBreakers easily rivalled the performance of Oakley’s Radars while providing much of the same styling.
That they are cheaper than the Radar and come with a lifetime guarantee against breakage is one important distinction. The other is the range of options on offer and the level of personalisation that can be achieved. I see enormous value in the latter but I have to wonder if it’s enough to overcome the only drawback with the SunBreakers –namely, that buyers won’t get the chance to try them on before they have to buy them.
For more information on PaceBreakers, visit SunGod.