by Kirby Beck, PCI #002T/EMSCI #017T
Coon Rapids (MN) Police Department (retired)
I still remember the day some 25 or more years ago when one of the senior patrol officers sat down next to me to write a report. He reached into his pocket, took out a pair of reading glasses and put them on. It was the first time I’d ever seen him wear any glasses other than sunglasses. I looked at him for a moment and finally asked, “When did you start needing glasses?” He looked at me calmly and replied, “Just wait, your day will come.”
Sadly, but predictably, he was right. I guess I was fortunate, because I didn’t need reading glasses until I was nearly 50. But once I started using “cheaters”, I could never turn back. While my distance vision seems as good as ever, the natural and inevitable change, called presbyopia, occurred. It happens because the eye’s lenses harden and simply do not focus like they used to. I eventually reached a point where my arms were too short and the print was just too darn small!
Recently I’ve been having a difficult time reading all of the numbers on my bike computer, a Garmin model that was a gift from my wife. The display has several small windows that are nearly impossible for me to read unless I stop, move into adequate light, and position everything “just right.” Wearing sunglasses makes it worse due to the reduced light. I typically have to remove my sunglasses to read the display. It’s annoying.
This all changed when I tried some sample eyewear that Mitch Trujillo had brought with him to the 2015 IPMBA Conference in Chandler, Arizona. He introduced me to Dual Eyewear, a Boulder, Colo.,-based company. They looked like stylish and functional cycling-style eye protection; however, they held a little secret. They were actually bifocals.
Unlike some other products I’ve reviewed for IPMBA News, these glasses weren’t free, and the company did not solicit a review. I actually bought a pair and decided to write a review after I wore them biking a few times. My purchase was made more wallet-friendly because Dual Eyewear participates in the IPMBA Product Purchase Program. That took 40% off the retail price.
I selected a pair of their most popular and smart SL2 Pros with extended wrap-around fit. The frames are primarily black with a small silver accent on the temple. The adjustable, non-slip rubber nosepiece and temple ends are red. From the front, and while wearing a helmet, the frames appear essentially black. There is nothing about them that should conflict with most uniform standards. In fact, they look quite conservative for activity-specific eyewear.
According to the specs, the durable frames are made of Grilamid TR-90, a nylon featuring high resistance against chemical and UV damage, and extremely high bending strength. In other words, it is hard to break these frames. The lenses are made of polycarbonate, which they claim is scratch-resistant and shatterproof. That, fortunately, I’ve yet to test. Over the years I’ve used some of the biggest name eye protection product, and frankly, none are scratch-resistant enough to my way of thinking. I have had to replace the scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses on nearly all of my top brand eyewear at one time or other.
The SL2 Pro is offered in two lens colors: gray and brown. Because the lenses are interchangeable, additional lenses (each with the spot diopters, or bifocal) are available in both amber and clear. The spot diopter is available in +1.5, +2.0 and +2.5, depending on the magnification factor you require. I ordered brown lenses with +1.5 diopters and an additional pair of clear lenses for night and overcast riding conditions. An optional hard case was included free with the purchase of extra lenses. That was a pretty good “bonus.” The hard case zips, has little foam pockets for the accessory lenses, and includes a small storage bag which doubles as a cleaning cloth.
The glasses are said to weigh about 30 grams, or one ounce, and are very light and comfortable. The comfort is enhanced by the inclusion of an adjustable nosepiece and temples, something typically found on much more expensive eyewear. An adjustable nosepiece helps move the lenses closer to or farther from your face, and adjust to narrow or wide noses.
You don’t appreciate the value of that adjustability until you’ve tried it. The adjustable temples help mold them to the side and back of the head to hold them securely in place. I have not found the need to readjust my glasses on my face very much while riding. They pretty much stay in place. I attribute that to the personalized fit these glasses allow.
Some of you may be questioning the ventilation properties of the SL2 Pros. I had ridden my road bike fairly hard for over an hour and worked up a sweat. I stopped for a semaphore signal and noticed that they were fogging up a bit as I stood still, waiting in the cool 62º air. They cleared almost immediately when I started moving again. The “specially ventilated” glasses I tested for a competitor would do the same thing in that situation.
Switching out the lens is very easy on the SL2 Pro. I found the clarity and bifocal effectiveness of the clear lenses to be good. Those who like to wear eye protection on duty, regardless of assignment, might find these “tactical reading glasses” suitable. If I try to see the bifocal line while looking forward, I can. However, my brain has quickly adjusted to it, making it a non-issue.
Dual Eyewear offers several different styles of cycling-style eyewear besides the SL2 and SL2 Pro. Another cycling-specific style they offer is the FL1 with shatterproof and scratch-resistant nylon lenses. DE claims they offer more scratch resistance as well as higher definition and clarity than their polycarbonate lenses. They look like awesome riding glasses, although the lenses are not interchangeable and only gray lenses are offered. They simply offer a choice of bifocal magnification factor and frame color, white or black.
Now for the all-important question: would I recommend them? Heck yes, I would, especially if you need reading glasses to see your smartphone and bike computer, and to read a driver’s license or VIN number. These glasses work as advertised. They may be a one-of-a-kind product, especially at this price.
For the $58.00 (IPMBA PPP price) I paid for the glasses, and extra clear lenses, they are darn well worth it. The biggest thing I have found that separates these from my higher-priced, big name brand glasses seems to be the warranty. The big guys will replace scratched lenses or other parts for free or a modest price. Dual Eyewear says it will replace glasses for workmanship problems only. I wouldn’t hesitate to return them for the $10 service fee and see just what they will replace or repair, should the need ever arise. But with accessory lenses available for less than $20, it just doesn’t seem like a reason not to try them.
Check them out at www.dualeyewear.com, or find them in the IPMBA Product Purchase Program. While you may not need them now, just wait. Your day will come.
Kirby Beck retired after 28 years with Coon Rapids Police Department. He has 14 years of police bike patrol experience. He has taught bicycle safety and traffic cycling to children and adults for more than 25 years. As a training consultant, he co-taught the Bicycle Safety and Accommodation Course for the National Highway Institute, sponsored by NHTSA and FHWA. A founding member and past President of IPMBA, he was co-creator of the IPMBA Police Cyclist Course and Instructor Course. He contributed to both the Complete Guide to Police Cycling and the Complete Guide to Public Safety Cycling. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2015 IPMBA. This review appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of IPMBA News.