Not just groupsets, we test Shimano's Technium MTB sunglasses!
Words: Mike Blewitt Images: Tim Bardsley-Smith
Sunglasses are a big part of Australia's sun safety campaign, slip, slop, slap and wrap. Even though it was a late addition, it shows that at a government health level sunglasses are recognised as a good thing for the health of our eyes. Put that into a mountain biking context where you not only have the sun to deal with, but dust, dirt, sticks, mud, poo-based mud in farm fields, bugs and who knows what... and covering up your eyes with something shatterproof and with good lens clarity is less about style and more about common sense.
Shimano released a mountain bike specific set of eyewear earlier this year, called the Technium. They have a broad, single lens that is in vogue, and a lightweight frame that comes in yellow, black, red or olive. The frame has anti-slip material on the end of the arms and the nose piece, to help stay on when getting sweaty, rowdy or both. The frame weighs just 26g and although it sounds silly to fuss about the weight of sunglasses – they are the sort of item that you just want to forget is there. And that's why the lens is one piece too. With how they sit, I found there was no point where the frame inhibited my vision. Rocking some fashion glasses does look cool but often the downside is actually being able to see everything you need to at high speed in dappled light and terrain that's a mix of rocks, roots, wash outs and more.
Two lenses are supplied, one of them is clear to suit those of us riding before or after work – or in dense forest. The main lens has been designed for better clarity on the trail. It darkens glare and sunlight but helps with definition in low light too. In general, it does make everything look a lot better.
On the trail
All the specs sound good, and the Shimano Technium played well with a variety of helmets, as the arms aren't so long that they interfere with a retention system, and not so wide that they interfere with helmet straps. I did notice that the arms are fixed for angle though – some brands have adjustability at the temple to get the frame sitting just right. I had no problem with where they sat, but if you need more adjustability you might need to look at a pricier set of eyewear.
Riding trails in dappled light, dark forest and open scrub there is very little to not like about the Shimano Technium sunglasses. Thanks to some ports on the edges of the lenses, fogging isn't too bad. I actually found them really good in the tail end of summer here in Queensland, where heat and humidity are to be expected. Down in Tasmania it was a little different in cold weather when climbing, as the amount of heat put out compared to the cold temperatures on the lens meant fogging was more of an issue – I was also probably going too slow uphill for any ventilation to be effective.
If there is one thing I didn't like about the Shimano Technium sunglasses, it's the lack of a stronger lens. They are listed as trail eyewear and they are great for that. But on really bright days I did wish I had something that was a little darker, and I suspect anyone that lives somewhere with minimal tree cover might find the same. A lot of this is to do with eye sensitivity as well – and mine are pretty sensitive after riding and racing with lenses that were too pale for about 10 years. But with 4 colours to choose from, and a lens the truly does work in a wide variety of conditions, I think Shimano have nailed it with a good value set of performance eyewear.
– Comfortable and stable
– Awesome lens for most trails
– Four colours to choose from
– No fine adjustability for wonky heads
– No super dark lens available