The Tifosi Alliant Light Night Fototec sunglasses are well vented and well made, with photochromic lenses that make them suitable for a very broad range of conditions. The long, curved arms mean they don't sit comfortably with every helmet, but as long as they work with yours, these are a solid choice for all-day riding.
- Pros: Photochromic lens, good construction, adjustable
- Cons: Long arms interfere with some helmets
I really like photochromic sunglasses. A good pair can make riding a pleasure – never again do you have to stash your shades mid-ride because the sun has gone in, or fish them out of a pocket because it has reappeared. My ideal scenario is to be able to slip on a pair of transparent lenses before dawn, leave them in place throughout the day with them automatically darkening and lightening as the conditions change, and finally have them go transparent again as I ride into the night. The Tifosi Alliant Light Night Fototec glasses proved to be up to this role pretty well.
The glasses have solid frames and a curved, face-hugging wraparound lens that mostly fills the field of vision. Peripheral vision at the sides is completely covered. The lenses have vents top and bottom and I found these to be very effective. Even on cold days, these glasses never misted up when I was moving. I occasionally got a little mist when I stopped at junctions after hard efforts on really cold days, but that cleared the instant I started to move again.
A nice feature is that the nosepiece and the ends of the arms are all very adjustable, so it's quite easy to get these fitting you in a more-or-less customised way by bending them by hand into the right shape. I found that, in my case, splaying the nosepiece a little made a huge difference to the fit, allowing the glasses to get really close to my face, where they felt a lot more stable and comfortable.
With the glasses fitting like this, they never felt in the slightest danger of slipping off thanks to the effective rubber grippers on all the contact points.
Out on the road, the optics are clear and undistorted. They are optically quite neutral so pretty much do nothing to the scene other than make it darker – they don't alter the contrast or emphasise certain colours.
The big feature here, of course, is the photochromic lenses. These work really quite well. When the sun is in, they go almost entirely transparent, such that you genuinely can ride after dark with these if you want to – a useful feature when the sun goes down but the insects remain out. In better conditions, they handled whatever sunshine I encountered this autumn without trouble. Admittedly, I didn't have an opportunity to test them with blazing midsummer sun, but unless you're unusually sensitive, these go dark enough that they should cover you in all conditions.
One thing to note is that, like most photochromic glasses, these lenses are responding to levels of ultraviolet light. This can have a couple of unintended consequences if you're not expecting them. First, they don't work when you're behind glass – so these won't offer much protection when you're in a car. Second, there are occasional overcast days when it is relatively dark but still high in UV, and on these days the lenses can darken more than you'd perhaps like them to. I only experienced this once or twice when testing, and it really wasn't a big issue. Only once did I stash the glasses because they got a bit darker than I'd have liked.
No photochromic lens can respond instantly to changing conditions, but these seem as fast as others I've used. I never became aware of any lag, and they seem to handle rapidly changing conditions – such as riding through patches of trees – pretty well.
The only real niggle I have with the glasses concerns their arms, which are quite long and curved downwards. I've got quite a big head, but even so the arms extend at least a couple of centimetres past the point where they rest on my ears. Generally, this wasn't a problem, but it did mean that they wouldn't sit well with some helmets. I tried them with three helmets that I currently have around the house. They were entirely fine with a Livall helmet I was testing, but they occasionally got nudged by my Ekoï helmet, and really didn't get on all that well with my main helmet, which is a Kask Infinity. Here, the long arms ran foul of the plastic cage that grips the head and this often led to the glasses being pushed forward off my nose. So if you wear a helmet that wraps close behind your ears, just be aware that you might have a similar issue.
If you're sold on photochromic lenses, there are more expensive options out there, which do get you a bump in quality (I've owned two pairs of Oakley EVZero Path shades (£140) which were amazing until I lost them both during races). However, there are not so many cheaper options. Ekoï used to make some really well-priced models, but apparently no longer offers Cat 0-3 lenses (that is, ranging from transparent to fully dark). dhb's PhotoChromatic Half Frame glasses are £35, but darken from tinted not clear.
Given the quality – and that they're currently available considerably below RRP – it's not hard to recommend the Tifosis for all-day riding.
Very good shades that let you ride whatever the conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tifosi Alliant Fototec Light Night Lens Sunglasses
Size tested: Fits L-XL faces
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
In Tifosi's words: "Sleek angles and premium materials define Alliant as a performance sunglass for cyclists, runners, and endurance athletes. Vented lenses improve airflow while the adjustable ear and nose pads of hydrophilic rubber increase grip as you sweat ensuring a perfect, stable fit."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- adjustable ear pieces
- adjustable nose piece
- anti-glare lenses
- hydrophilic rubber
- optically decentred
- UV protection
- vented lenses
They seem pretty sturdy and don't show any signs of distress when twisted or squeezed. I wouldn't feel worried putting these in a pocket.
The photochromic lens works well across a range of conditions and the venting is pretty good. The main performance issue is that they don't sit well with all helmets.
My pair are holding up well after a lot of rides and don't show any real signs of wear.
They're not noticeably heavy on the face, but they're also not the lightest sunglasses I've worn.
Mostly they sit nice and unobtrusively, and can be adjusted to fit quite effectively.
These sit pretty much in the middle of what's out there. There are cheaper photochromic sunglasses and far more expensive ones. The price seems more or less right given how these compare to those other models.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The sunglasses were usable in a broad range of conditions from bright sunshine to rain, and from dawn to dusk. They are flexible and might be the only set of eyewear you'd need.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The photochromic lenses, which adapted quickly and unobtrusively.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They didn't sit well with some helmets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are cheaper options (dhb's £35 PhotoChromatic Half Frames) and more expensive options (Oakley EVZero Paths, £140, and Julbo's £135 Aerospeed Photochromic glasses); these Tifosis sit in the middle of these both in price and quality. The price is about what I'd expect it to be given the quality.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are pretty solid glasses with useful photochromic lenses that make them work in a range of conditions. The only real niggle is that their arms mean they don't suit every head and helmet.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Synapse My best bike is: Whyte Wessex One
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, audax and long-distance riding
A research psychologist by day, Ian spends quite a lot of time on bikes, particularly commuting between Bristol and Bath or doing audax rides. For years he was an ultradistance runner, but this came to an end when he realised getting back onto a bicycle offered the chance to race over much more preposterous distances. In recent years he has ridden in the Transcontinental Race, the TransWales and the North Cape 4000. He has even finished first in some of these.