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These Ekoi E-Lens Evo glasses use an electronic lens to adapt to the surrounding light conditions, and they do that in the fastest time I've ever witnessed. If you aren't concentrating you won't even notice – it's not just a gimmick. It does make them very pricey, though, so you'll need to decide whether those fractions of a second are worth the outlay.
For more options, check out our guide to the best cycling sunglasses.
Even without the electronic wizardry of the lens, the Ekoi is still a high-performance pair of sunglasses with a secure fit, helped by fully adjustable arms that you can tweak to wrap around the shape of your head, and a grippy nose bridge that stops them moving when things get sweaty.
There is no adjustment of the nose bridge, like you get on some glasses, but I didn't find an issue with that. I rarely have to tweak glasses to fit, but if you do, it's worth bearing in mind. You also get two sets of arms, one short pair, one long, to help achieve the right fit.
I found the E-Lens Evos very comfortable to wear, and most of the time I didn't even notice that I had them on once I'd been riding a bit.
It was only when I glanced over my shoulder and could see just a small section of frame that I was reminded of them. It's not enough to obscure your vision, though – my view was never hampered at all.
You also get great clarity from the lens. The lens is Revo Red on the outer side, with the inner being Revo Blue, and together they bring a slightly bluish hue to the outside world, but not enough to distort the colours overall.
Being polarised means the lens blocks reflected light, so you always get a crystal clear view in front of you.
The lens itself is created by Optrel and is called Shadetronic. It works by liquid crystals within the lens reacting to the changing electrical voltage generated by the lens's solar cells. The brighter the outside conditions, the darker the lens goes, and vice-versa.
Because the glasses are charged by the sun there is nothing to plug in and everything is waterproof, so no worries if you get caught out in the rain.
The response time to the shade change is the fastest I've ever known from any photochromic glasses I've worn. Ekoi says it happens 'in less than a 10th of a second', and you literally cannot notice these lighten or darken unless you really focus on them as you move from full sun to shade and back again.
The lens darkens more at the top which is a real bonus as it minimises glare from the sun high up in the sky without affecting brightness levels when you are looking down at the road. The light range goes from category 2 to category 3, from 20% to 80% ABS (the amount of light absorbed by the lens).
I found them fine to use on cloudy days right up to bright sun.
I've been testing these since early summer, and we had one of the highest levels of grass pollen I've known for a few years. But with no gaps in the lens and plenty of wraparound to keep airflow at bay, I didn't suffer with itchy eyes at all.
As for the build quality, there is nothing to complain about here – these are very well put together glasses.
The frame is made from Grilamid, which is a thermoplastic used by the majority of manufacturers, while the lens is made from polycarbonate.
The white frame option on test looks to be resistant to stain from sweat, road spray and rain, and there are some cool little details like the arms being held in place by small screws rather than just being clipped into the frame.
The price fluctuates with the exchange rate, and is currently £362.07 (at one point it was £297.37) – this technology doesn't come cheap. These are some of the most expensive glasses we've reviewed, beaten only by the £543 Bollé Lightshifters that were fitted with prescription lenses, and the £699 Everysight Raptor 'smart' glasses, which had GPS and a camera built in.
Even the Engo Eyewear Engo 2s, which connect to your phone and come with a heads-up display, are cheaper at around £280.
If you're happy with a fractionally slower change then photochromic options can be had for a lot less, like the Rudy Project Deltabeats at around £130 that Anna tested last year, or the Magicshine Windbreakers that Suvi reviewed earlier this year, at just £49.99. They won't react as fast as the Ekois, but that's a big saving in cash.
For me personally, I'm not sure I could justify the cost over some photochromic glasses I've worn, but if you want a pair of sunnies that have the fastest reaction times, you will enjoy using the Ekois. They are expensive, but the performance is very impressive, as is the overall build quality, and they fit really well too.
Quicker to change than standard photochromic glasses, but you pay extra for that speed
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ekoi E-Lens Evo electronic glasses
Size tested: One size
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?
Ekoi says: "EKOI is proud to offer you the latest model of glasses, mounted with the best LCD lens in the world.
Developed by our R&D team and the professional riders from the Lotto Soudal, Cofidis and Euskaltel Euskadi teams, the Ekoï E-LENS EVO by SHADETRONIC® electronic glasses are the best electronic automatic darkening sunglasses in the world !
The glasses are always ready to use : powered by solar energy, there have no batteries to charge or replace.
The continuous and fully automated tint adjustment adapts to light conditions by darkening or brightening the lens, which changes from light (cat. 2) to dark (cat. 3) and from dark to light instantly !
They are particularly recommended when lighting conditions are changing."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-The world's fastest electronic LCD lens
- Darkens or brightens depending on the brightness in less than a 10th of a second (blink of an eye)
- Your vision adapts in real time to the brightness
- 100% anti-UV protection (UVA and UVB)
- Lens made in Switzerland
- Solar powered, no batteries or batteries to charge or replace, ready to use right out of the case
- Ultra light: 37g.
- Ultra light, flexible and durable Grilamid frame with Ekoï logos and customizable inserts.
- GRIP arm sleeves and nose bridge for optimized support and comfort.
- Comes with two pairs of adjustable sleeves, short and long, to fit all faces.
- Model not compatible with optical insert.
- Category 2-3 lens in unbreakable active matrix polycarbonate
- Anti-scratch coating
- Polarized : Blocks reflected light for glare-free vision and high contrast
- Clear visualization of all electronic screens : meters, smartphones ...
- Operating temperatures: -20 ° C to + 50 ° C
- 100% waterproof (IP68 certification)
- Designed and made in Switzerland
- 2 years warranty
- Ultra light frame in GRILAMID
- Temple sleeves and GRIP nose bridge for optimized support and comfort
- Comes with two pairs of adjustable sleeves, short and long, to fit all faces
- Made in Italy.
CE (NF EN ISO 12312-1:2013 + ISO 12312-1 2013) regulation complies with laws of European Union countries
- Road, Triathlon, Gravel, MTB.
- GRILAMID frame
- Polycarbonate lens
- CE approved.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They are great for when your ride keeps transitioning between bright sunshine and shaded areas.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Instant reaction to light changes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No nose adjustment to get the perfect fit.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are much pricier than photochromic glasses, and even cost more than some glasses with electronic heads-up displays.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? For me, I'm not sure I could justify the extra cost over photochromic glasses.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The speed at which these adapt to the light is very impressive, and the quality and fit are very good too. The technology comes at a huge cost, though, which keeps them at 7 for 'good' overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!