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review

Smith Shift MAG sunglasses

8
£189.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Excellent specification and performance, but you're certainly paying for it
Very comfortable
Refined feel
Superb optical quality
Very technical look may not be to everyone's taste
Expensive
Weight: 
29g

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The Smith Shift MAG sunglasses are a two-lens model with a more subtly curved profile than traditional wraparound models, which may be a better fit for people with flatter face profiles. Optical quality and overall performance are top notch, but that's no less than I'd expect from this end of the market.

These are unisex, with a less pronounced wrap than normal – it's designed to offer decent coverage and protection while being less extreme than traditional cycling eyewear. The frames are polyamide, and they feel feathery light but reassuringly resilient.

The nosepiece and temple ends are made from 'Megol', which is a plastic designed to increase grip when exposed to rain and sweat. It works really well – rain or sweat just seems to enhance their grip.

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The nosepiece is adjustable to bring the glasses closer or further away, and the temple ends of the frame are also designed to sneak effortlessly into helmet channels – I found them easy to stow securely up on my lid when not needed. Interestingly, the arms are user-customisable for shape; heat them to 90° and you can gently bend them by hand.

2021 Smith Shift MAG sunglasses - side.jpg

The 'MAG' part refers to the system of magnets connecting frame and lens, and it's super secure. It's simple, too – I have honed lens swaps to 30 seconds at the side of the road. Some have suggested corrosion might be an issue with magnets, but Smith uses the same tech in its snow goggles – and offers a lifetime warranty on these glasses – so it seems unlikely to be an issue in reality.

2021 Smith Shift MAG sunglasses - hinge.jpg

There are two Smith Logos at the hinges. Pop these open and you can prise the lens away to switch betwee the ChromaPop and the clear lenses provided. Both offer 100% protection from UV A, B and C, and are made from polycarbonate. They measure 99x 57mm.

2021 Smith Shift MAG sunglasses - extra lenses.jpg

Smith says ChromaPop gives 'natural colour-enhanced visual clarity and greater definition of objects.' It's broadly equivalent to Oakley's Prizm technology, which is designed to enhance colour and contrast. You also get a hard storage case for home and a microfibre bag cum lens cloth for when you're riding.

2021 Smith Shift MAG sunglasses - case.jpg

There's a separate photochromatic clear lens option that automatically darkens to grey in strong light.

Performance

These have a distinctly technical feel and look quite large by contemporary standards, although this is largely down to the full frames.

2021 Smith Shift MAG sunglasses - front.jpg

Being able to set the glasses further away means fogging is rarely if ever a problem, while you still enjoy good protection at the sides.

> 31 of the best cycling sunglasses – protect your eyes from sun, crud and flying bugs

The ChromaPop lens optics are top-notch, allowing just the right amount of light through to leave potential hazards, such as ruts and potholes, obvious at a decent speed. Clarity and sensitivity tail off a little when the sunlight is eclipsed by cloud, and I've had to switch to the clear when skies have turned slate grey and rainy, but then these are sunglasses, so...

2021 Smith Shift MAG sunglasses - inside.jpg

The arms and nosepiece hold everything nicely in situ, and prove comfortable even after several hours. No issues along lumpy, bumpy green lanes either. Small rogue stones thrown up by vehicles have scored direct hits, but left seemingly no damage to the lenses and more importantly, my eyes.

They also shed rain and drizzle convincingly, although in keeping with others I've tested, a light coating of Salclear TT-X is a big help.

Value

Specification and performance are high, but then so is the price. There are others costing more. For instance, the NRC X3.Earth glasses are £194, offer excellent clarity but are supplied with a single lens (although others can be purchased separately). They also do an aftermarket clip for adding prescription lenses, which may tip the balance for some.

The MAAP x 100% Glendale glasses are a pound more at £195, offer a lot of coverage and come with a clear lens as standard, while the Rudy Project Cutline Glasses are a little cheaper at £173.52 but feature a single lens designed for sunnier days – something that may prove problematic in overcast, or changeable lighting. Other lenses (including clear) are available from £34, but this pushes them past the £200 mark.

At the other extreme, you can buy perfectly serviceable three lens models – such as Madison Code Breaker Three Lens Pack for a very affordable £55. Predictably, there is some trade off in terms of performance and the specification isn't comparable, but they're still very good.

Summary

I've been impressed by the Smith Shift MAG sunglasses, and there's no doubting their refinement. However, there's no getting away from the price either – and the style is likely to be quite divisive.

Verdict

Excellent specification and performance, but you're certainly paying for it

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Smith Shift MAG sunglasses

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?

Smith says: "Pushing athletic endeavors into overdrive, the new Smith Shift MAG offers cyclists and runners every performance advantage possible when it comes to speed. The new 5-base shield unisex sunglass features a slight wrap fit for complete coverage and includes Smith's notable ChromaPop and MAG technologies."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Smith lists:

ChromaPop lenses enhance contrast and natural color to make the details pop

Smith MAG lets you change lenses quickly

Medium fit, large coverage

5-base lens curvature for slight wrap fit

Megol temples provide non-slip grip so glasses stay put

Two-click position adjustable fit Megol nose pads

Included

Extra clear lens

Performance hard case

Microfiber bag

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well made using high-quality materials.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Very impressive – comfortable frames and nosepiece, plus crystal-clear optics.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Withstood carelessness and direct hits from stones and projectiles with no consequences.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10

Feathery, but feel very solid.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
10/10

The option of shaping the arms for a bespoke fit without specialist equipment is a definite plus.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

I've been impressed by the standard of comfort and optical quality.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Excellent all-round performance, adjustability, and high-quality materials.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I missed a polarised lens as standard.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Generally yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

These are very refined glasses with excellent performance. The strong look and high price may narrow their appeal somewhat, but they work very well.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

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