Maui Jim Banyan Sunglasses
Sunglasses are a very important piece of kit that you need to make sure does the job it's been born to do. Put it this way, a poor set of shades won't protect you from the glare of the Sun which in the Winter is brighter and rebounds off any wet patch like a neon 80s disco! It's not just ray protection you have to worry about, but the protection from the grit that gets flicked up from your bike andfrom other road users. We once came very close to be stung in the eye by a bee as we flew downhill but luckily we was wearing a pair of sunglasses and it's stinger went straight in between my eyebrows! This mishap has since stuck in my mind and I am mindful of eye protection. A well prepared cyclist will have either 2 types of sunglasses for different light and weather or at least have the luxury of changing the lenses. The vanity aspect is that a pair of shades rolls well with the typical outfit of a cyclist, I look odd without a pair on!
The sunglasses market for the cycling world can be clearly to seen to be dominated by brands such as Oakley and Polaris. Oakley have long had a strong association with a certain legendary British sprinter but there's millions (yeah, I counted! Have you been to Richmond Park on a weekend?!) of cyclists in the world who all need the right type of shades to not just protect and to serve, but to also enhance the ride experience.
Maui Jim is an Hawaiian brand who's ethos is combining the wonderful nature of the home island whilst safeguarding against UBA and UVB rays. All their sunglasses are polarized and with a wide range of shades on offer, they cater for most from the action hero wannabe to the shy blue collar office worker who secretly moonlights as Maverick from Top Gun at weekends!
The price range for their shades are definitely not in the Boots range so the quality factor is one we are intrigued to test to the max. We've decided to give their Banyans a go, a sports style shade according to Maui Jim. It doesn't have the usual fill in the legs so it's not a complete wrap around shade but there's nothing wrong with the fit. The Banyans are more of your subtle design compared to the more arty Hawaiian designs but I doubt many will want to look like Timmy Mallet as they are climbing up Box Hill! Boxed in a slightly retro style case, the little drawstring bag it also comes with appeals to the feminine side in us. The glasses themselves feel solid but only the small logo in the right lens tells you who the designer is. The Banyans also come in a 'tortoise' finish but would love to see a wider range of customisation on this range. It could be because we ride an all out red Specialized but a stealth red on the legs we feel would give these glasses an edgey look.
We like a confession on here and here's another one, we have never owned a pair of premium glasses before. Even going on holiday, we make a beeline for the looky looky guys on the beach to grab a cheap pair of shades just to muck around in whilst soaking up some rays. Most we have spent on a pair of cycling sunglasses is probably around the £30 mark mainly through a sale or a bargain found somewhere. So we can really say we started from the bottom and now we're here.
Maui Jim is a premium brand of sunglasses, their rivals in this market would be Oakley. We did have a choice of shades to review and opted for these all out black pair. We was a bit concerned with the visual scope with the fully tinted lens if the weather suddenly turns overcast but the clearness with these shades is outstanding. And it's all down to the polarized technology used in the lens.
First ride with the Maui Jims was a particularly bright Winters day, the sun was extremely strong in terms of brightness but these glasses really kept the glow to a minimum which meant there was rarely any glare reflected off the road. Our riding partner on this ride was Chris who noticed they wasn't your typical sports glasses with the traditional wrap around legs you often find on regular sports glasses. This wrap around feature is obviously to make them more stable when riding but we didn't feel this was a problem with the Banyons.
We regularly commute and the mornings are now lighter so we put them to the test on our ride to work. Roads are completely different to our weekend rides as the heavier traffic often leaves more grit and with more traffic, there is often the more risk of hazards to look out for. Being fully aware of your surroundings can not be underestimated. We do not ride with headphones and regularly check over our shoulder for traffic, we try to be ahead of the game before the game plays us. So having glasses which give you optimum vision is as important as everything else. There has been times in the past where we have worn the wrong lens for the wrong time of day and your vision is totally compromised. Brake lights and the distance you need to brake or manoeuvre is hard to judge. With the Maui Jims, the polarized lens combatted this and they only steamed up a few times which was no biggy.
Looks wise, the all black design goes well with most outfits and coloured helmets. Black really goes with anything but we would love to see some scope for the legs to be customised. A dark red would definitely be up our street (have we mentioned we ride an all out red Specialized Tarmac?!). With these Banyons, they are definitely dual wear. They wouldn't be out of place accompanying you on a summer drink down the river. Can you say that about other glasses? We are not a fan of those POCs which literally has one lens covering half your place making you look like a stormtrooper! You couldn't wear those on the beach could you?! You'd be more worried about fighting the Resistance and looking for the Last Jedi!
For our first pair of premium sunglasses, we had our reservations. We often question the value of items. There's some apparel in the cycling and fitness market which come with ridiculous price tags. In the sunglasses market, its competitive. We have been very impressed with the polarized technology, the clearness is actually a warm welcome to our regular glasses which appeared smudged in comparison. Throw in that these sunglasses have a dual purpose and would suit everyday life, the price tag starts to become justified. We definitely would like to see some customisation with their range, something like the Ribble Bike Builder would be great, a way to change colour of the legs or a cycling design on them, can you imagine the Flemish colours on the legs?! That would be very cool and very spring classic!