POC introduces new aerodynamic… sunglasses?

If you’re all about the marginal gains, POC’s new Propel sunglasses are for you.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

Swedish helmet and accessory brand POC continues to build out its catalog of avant garde sunglasses, and its new Propel model is one of its most unusual yet – which, for POC, is saying a lot. As has become standard fare for POC, the Propel is big and bold, but it’s also, uh, aero.

Wait, what?

Yep, you read correctly. POC says the new Propel will actually make you faster. Supposedly, the key to the Propel’s drag-reducing performance is its extra-wide frame and close-fitting shield-type lens, which work together to divert air around the rider’s ears. It also has a fairly extreme lens curvature to fit particularly close to your face.

“This precise management of airflow brings aerodynamic gains as air is guided over the shoulders – instead of allowing a rider’s ears to cause turbulence – which creates a smoother airflow and enhances a rider’s aerodynamic profile,” says POC’s marketing spiel.

See how the edge of the frame effectively extend the ends of the lens? POC says this shape behaves like a fairing that helps to divert oncoming air around a rider’s ears.

Now, if you’re wondering exactly how much more aero the Propel is, well, let’s just say the math might be a little fuzzy. It’d be more accurate to say that the Propel is the most aerodynamic sunglass in POC’s range (since those were the only ones tested), and the tests were also only conducted with a POC Ventral helmet, not anything else. Moreover, these results are solely the result of computer simulations, not actual wind tunnel testing. 

Nevertheless, although POC is being a little vague about the actual gains, aero weenies might still find the data to be encouraging.

“CFD (computational fluid dynamics) is more precise and allows many more iterations with better comparability,” said POC’s head of global PR and communication, Damian Phillips. “It’s impossible to say that everyone will have the same saving as every rider has a different position, power output, etc., but even then we are seeing watt savings typically in the low single figures when riding at 40 km/h. That might not sound like much, but when we think about the surface area we are playing with, the result is very positive.”

POC only tested the Propel on a computer, not in a wind tunnel. So are they as aero as POC claims they are? That’s hard to say. Photo: POC.

Regardless of whether the aero claims hold true (and if they still hold true compared to other similarly shaped sunglasses and other helmet models), there’s still some interesting stuff going on with the Propel. 

Instead of using straight earpieces that essentially clamp the rider’s head in between, POC has gone old-school with hooked temples that hook behind the ears. Since there’s a wide range of ear-to-face distances, those temples are adjustable for length and have a little bit of non-slip rubber on the end for some extra security. The hooked design may very well provide a better fit, but perhaps more importantly, it should also almost completely eliminate the possibility of interference with various helmet retention systems.

As you’d expect, the enormous interchangeable lens and widely-set half-frame design provides an immense field of view, too. At least for me, the sides of the frame aren’t visible at all when I put the Propel on, and upward vision is nearly unobstructed since there’s no frame up there. Two nosepiece thicknesses are provided to help further tweak the fit, but even so, the extreme curvature means that people with even remotely flat faces or minimally pronounced nasal bridges will likely have a hard time with these.

They’re big.

And finally, if the Propel really does divert air around the ears as POC says, I can’t help but wonder if these things might also cut down a bit on wind noise (which is a big pet peeve of mine).

POC is offering the Propel in six different lens-and-frame color combinations, each with a spare clear lens included. Eight lens tints are offered in total. 

Retail price is US$250 / AU$360 / £230 / €250, and POC says the Propel should be available for purchase “soon”. 

More information can be found at www.pocsports.com.

Editors' Picks