The current trend in cycling sunglasses is oversized… as in BIG. Indeed, many of the new offerings look more like ski goggles. This may work for the likes of Peter Sagan and Mathieu van der Poel (they are total badasses and can get away with wearing anything they want), but it’s not necessarily flattering on everyone.
When you’re a total badass, oversized sunglasses are badass
My PEZ compatriot Ed Hood and I don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to socks, but I’m in agreement with him when it comes to sunglasses: “be careful of sizing, if you have a small head and wear huge shades you could stray into ‘Dame Edna’ or ‘Fearless Fly’ territory.”
You be the judge … too big?
So I was thrilled when one of my best friends (not a cyclist) gave me a pair of the new Tifosi Aethon sunglasses for a birthday present. Molte grazie! They have enough real estate to provide sun and wind protection (they are 135 mm wide and 48 mm tall) without being HUGE.
The Aethon come in several different frame colors/lens combinations:
- Matt Black with smoke, AC (all conditions) red, and clear lenses
- White/Black with Clarion red (mirrored), AC red, and clear lenses
- Crystal Smoke/White with Fototec lenses (changing tint that adjust to light conditions)
And the pair that my friend got for me: Crystal Blue with Clarion blue, AC red, and clear lenses. If none of those tickle your fancy, you can also build a pair to suit your personal taste through the Tifosi Custom Lab.
Premium tech but not a premium price
Tifosi may not be as known to PEZ readers since they’re not as big a name as Oakley or 100% (read our review of the 100% Hypercraft glasses here), but the Aethon ticks all the boxes in terms of tech, including:
- Grilamid TR-90 frame
- Adjustable nose and ear pieces (121 mm long) — both hydrophilic rubber that limit slippage and increase comfort
- Scratch resistant and shatterproof polycarbonate lenses with glare guard to reduce eye strain
- Optically decentered lenses to eliminate distortion inherent in curved wraparound lenses
But one area where Tifosi is different from a lot of the other more well known competition: price. Premium sunglasses from other manufacturers can cost several hundred dollars. But the Tifosi Aethon retails for $79.95! And for that relatively paltry sum, here’s what you get:
- A pair of Aethon sunglasses
- Three lenses (in my case, Clarion blue, AC red, and clear lenses) unless you get the version with the Fototec lens
- Microfiber bag
- Hardshell case (with separate compartments for two spare lenses)
- Lifetime warranty (I’ve actually had experience with Tifosi’s warranty when my Clarion blue lens in my Podium XCs just split while out on a ride. Tifosi replaced them and just asked me to send the broken lens back to them so they could try to figure out what happened with them.)
Everything fits neatly into the hardshell case
At first glance, the Aethon look like sunglasses with a frame. In reality, they are frameless (essentially the same basic design as my Tifosi Podium XC sunglasses — 126 mm wide x 43 mm tall, so slightly smaller — that I’ve ridden regularly for the last several years). What that means is that the lens is a single piece. The ear pieces attach on either side of the lens.
With just the ear pieces attached to the lens (you can see the vent holes at the top of the lens)
The nose piece (adjustable) is integrated with what Tifosi calls a strike guard that is supposed to provide some extra protection in the event of a mishap. If you want, you could wear the Aethon in this configuration. Just for grins and giggles, I pulled the nose piece off my Podium XCs and it fit the lens. So, in theory, you could wear the Aethon without the strike guard as full frameless sunglasses.
With the strike guard/nose piece but without the brow bar
The last piece of the puzzle is the brow bar that fits to the top of the lens. Combined with the strike guard, it gives the impression of a full frame around the lens.
Full Monty with the brow guard
Tifosi provides instructions (in several different languages) for removing and re-installing all the piece parts. I was already familiar with how to remove/re-install their ear pieces because they’re essentially the same as my Podium XCs. But I had to read the instructions for the brow bar and strike guard. Doing so isn’t difficult, but it’s worth noting that the first time removing the brow bar and strike guard took a little effort. Enough effort that it took me a while because I was worried about breaking something. Subsequent removal and re-installation, however, was a much smoother operation.
Probably not truly featherweight, but still respectably light
Style and fit
Style is obviously a very personal choice. That said, I love the look of the Aethon. With the translucent blue ear pieces, brow bar, and strike guard, it’s a whole lot of blue. But the red-ish ear pads and Tifosi logo on the temple provide a touch of color contrast. Part of me wonders how the Clarion red lens would look as contrast to the blue and sort of matching with the ear pads.
According to Tifosi, the Aethon is for medium, large, and extra large faces. I’m of Filipino ethnic heritage and Tifosi make some of their sunglasses in specific Asian fit. Despite being Asian and the Aethon not being Asian fit, it fit me just fine (without having to make any adjustments to the ear pieces or nose piece).
The nose and ear pieces are adjustable
One thing I’ve come to appreciate with the Aethon is the brow bar, which is padded. It seems to make a difference keeping the sunglasses positioned properly — in particular, keeping the lens at an appropriate distance from your eyes. Also, the brow bar helps to keep sweat out of your eyes — bonus!
The brow bar is padded and the nose piece is built into the strike guard
The brow bar snaps into the vents at the top of the lens but doesn’t completely cover them
A lens for every occasion
Some manufacturers charge extra for extra lenses, but with the Tifosi Aethon you get three: Clarion blue, AC red, and clear. That’s probably all most of us need for the vast majority of riding conditions. If you ride in changing light (day-to-night or vice-versa), you might want their Fototec lens (I have one for my Podium XC for late afternoon/early evening rides when the days are shorter) so you don’t have to deal with changing lenses.
Clarion blue with a smoke tint for bright, sunny days is optically clear and cuts down on glare
AC red for cloudy days “brightens” things up and provides high contrast
Clear for the lowest of low light conditions
Bang for the buck
If you’re on a budget but still want high quality cycling sunglasses, you’d be hard pressed to find anything of the same quality and in the same price range as Tifosi’s offerings. The Aethon is just one example. And if you insist on going OVERSIZE to emulate Peter Sagan and Mathieu van der Poel, then check out the Tifosi Sledge.
I subsequently bought the Clarion red lens and think it looks dead sexy with the blue ear pieces, strike guard, and brow bar
• See the Tifosi website here
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