Like their larger PHO siblings that I reviewed last year, these BZ Optics LJM HD Bi-focal Photochromic glasses are a great combination of ready readers and protective cycling sunnies that can be used from dull days to bright sunshine. They're light, comfortable and offer excellent clarity, and though the bi-focal bit at the bottom of the lens takes a little getting used to, it works really well. No more having to tuck a spare lens and reading glasses into a bag or pocket.
If you've read my previous review then I apologise in advance, as this is going to be rather repetitive, because these LJM sunnies are essentially the same; the main difference being that they're narrower to suit smaller heads. I really liked the PHOs, but the LJMs are an immediately and obviously better fit on me.
Even though the frame is 9mm narrower than the PHOs, and the nosepad is adjustable, I can't get the lenses to sit right on my cheeks – not that I'd want them to, particularly. A little wind gets through, but not to the extent that it's a problem, and it probably helps keep them clear; they hardly steam up at all – a little more than the PHOs, presumably because of the slightly tighter fit – but only really when off the bike and wearing a cap. They clear quickly as soon as you start moving again.
Their light-filtering categories are the same, covering Category 1 (pre-dawn or low light) to Category 3 'as the sun intensifies and the UV increases', and just like the PHOs they're great on dull days and cut down glare on really bright days.
The change is subtle – you really don't notice it happening – but it makes for glasses you can wear all day without worrying about changing light levels. It's not the quickest change – I counted about 10 seconds after entering the dimly lit tunnels on my commute before I was happy they were clear enough that I could see as well with the glasses on as without, but I wasn’t in any danger of not being able to see at all..
As with the PHOs, they're available in three magnifications: +1.5, +2 or +2.5. The +2s on test are ideal for reading my Garmin on the move – I can still read it without a prescription lens, but the numbers are a little fuzzy. The LJMs sharpen it all up very nicely.
When I first started using the PHOs I wondered whether the bi-focal bit would interfere with my vision, but I'm an old hand now with these LJMs and on the bike it's hardly noticeable. I've also got used to not moving my head down to look at my Garmin, just my eyes.
As you'd expect of any bi-focals, they help enormously if you need to read or write a text on a phone, check out a cafe menu, or try to work out where a route is on a map.
If you don't need any magnification, 'non-powered' LJMs are available in 'standard' photochromic lenses (Clear/Cat 0 to Cat 3/Dark Grey) for £89.99 (with an HD photochromic version coming soon), and two mirrored lenses (blue and orange) for £59.99.
There are some slight differences from the PHOs aside from the frame size: the PHOs' arms change from plastic to rubber halfway along, whereas on the LJMs it's more of a dual design for the whole length (BZ Optics calls it a TR90 hybrid frame). They slide on easily and stay in place comfortably.
And whereas you could replace the lenses on the PHOs, that's not the case with the LJMs, which is a bit of a shame – especially if your prescription is still changing and you think you might need a different magnification in time.
> 10 of the best cycling sunglasses – protect your eyes from sun, crud and flying bugs
With a smaller frame, they're 2g lighter than the PHOs on the road.cc Scales of Truth – woohoo! – and just as unnoticeable.
The PHO frames were available in a few colours, but the LJMs come in just two, gloss black or this pink and white on test.
Value and conclusion
Looking at the same comparisons as I did last year, the non-corrected Tours that Stu tested were £94.99 but have now gone up to £99.99; at £20 more, the LJMs aren't quite as good value, though I'd still say they're worth it for the bi-focal lenses – and you don't get the issue of the frames obscuring your view.
Tifosi's photochromic and bi-focal version of its Veloce glasses is £79.99, and AGU makes bi-focals for £55, though they're not photochromic and have full frames. Alternatively, dhb has photochromics for £65 (at rrp) to which you could apply stick-on lenses to convert them to bi-focals for around £27.
Last year I reckoned £105 for good quality glasses that let you read your computer and phone more clearly, all while keeping your eyes protected from insects/crud and the sun, was a price worth paying. The LJMs are now £119.99 (as are the PHOs), and I still think they're worth it.
Very good cycling glasses for narrower faces, plus they work as reading glasses and are useful whatever the weather
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Make and model: BZ Optics LJM HD Photochromic Bifocal Glasses +2.00
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?
BZ Optics' distributor Ison says: "The LJM is a narrower frames pair of glasses to suit those with smaller faces. With a lightweight TR90 flexible hybrid frame, the LJM glasses are 9mm narrower than the PHO model at the hinges.
There are two frame colours available: a gloss black with grey trim or a white gloss with pink trim.
The HD (Hi Definition) lenses transition from Copper Cat1 in low light to Brown Cat3 in bright sunshine and are available in magnifications of +1.50, +2.00 or +2.50."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ison lists these key features:
Lightweight flexible frame with dual moulded non-slip nosepiece and temples.
Adjustable non-slip nose piece for comfort and fit making them ideal for a wide range of face shapes and sizes.
All glasses come with a cleaning cloth and hard case.
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
2g lighter than the PHOs!
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
They sit very comfortably on the face and ears, their lightness helping to make them unnoticeable after a while.
Rate the product for value:
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They serve their purpose really well – as cycling sunnies for most daylight conditions, and enabling me to read my Garmin and phone.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
As with the PHOs, being able to read my Garmin and phone, without having to carry reading glasses, but a better fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really, though I wouldn't mind if the lenses went even darker for the brightest days. Also, I liked that the PHOs have replaceable lenses, and that's not the case here.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're more expensive than Tifosi's photochromic and bi-focal version of its Veloce glasses at £79.99. AGU makes some bi-focals for £55, though they're not photochromic and have full frames. dhb has photochromics for £65 (at rrp) to which you could apply stick-on lenses to convert them to bi-focals for around £27...
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
As with the PHOs, I think these are great, but these are a better fit. They're very good cycling glasses with great clarity, very little fogging and a light, flexible frame, with the added bonus of a bi-focal bit so you can read stuff – and photochromic lenses too, so they're useful whatever the weather.
Age: 56 Height: 169cm Weight: size 10-12
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
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: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
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