(The Gear Loop) - Road cycling clothing and accessories have come a long way since the days of "all-black everything", with many manufacturers now embroiled in a race to go as loud and as attention-seeking as possible.
It’s great, as no two roadies typically look the same anymore and SunGod’s highly customisable Airas are the perfect way of putting a piece of your personality into some high-performance eyewear.
Available in a Zero Frame option (ZF), or with the ability to clip on an additional Bottom Frame (BF), these modular specs allow the user to select from a number of frame colours, choose a suitably loud lens, match or contrast the SunGod logos and even customise the "ear socks" - or the little rubber bits that sit behind the ears.
Messing about on the website’s configurator is a surefire way of losing an hour or so, but it’s as fun as the shades themselves and makes these eye-protectors feel like a truly bespoke offering. Better still, SunGod’s 8KO lens is fantastic - a good thing seeing as it makes up 80 per cent of the overall package.
There’s no denying these SunGod shades are cool and the fact you can personalise them will only appeal to style-conscious riders even more. Nothing draws more envious glances at the local cafe than some bespoke cycling accessories.
The 8KO lens is also fantastically clear and performs well in a variety of lighting and weather conditions, while the overall design is comfortable, light and easy to settle on a good fit for the majority of faces.
We’ve got a slight issue with the modularity of the units though, as it’s fiddly and all too easy to misplace nose pads, parts of the frame and, in our case, the rubber "ear sock" that we dropped somewhere in the New Forest. Wouldn’t it be simpler to buy a pair of cool shades where everything is bolted together?
That would obviously spoil the personalised natured of the Airas, with users able to update the design and look further down the road, but it would remove the risk of misplacing parts.
Finally, they are expensive and the plastic used throughout feels cheap. SunGod deliberately uses 100 per cent recycled plastic for the frames, which is great for the planet but doesn’t exactly scream "premium" - something you might want when parting with £175 for the full Airas experience.
The SunGod Airas are only available to buy through the SunGod website.
- The 8KO lenses offer incredible clarity
- Loads of personalisation options
- Comfortable fit
- They are large
- Price quickly adds up
- Easy to lose removable elements
Fit & feel
Every pair of Airas come classily boxed with four different nose pads, all of varying sizes, which allows the owner to get a decent fit no matter the size of his or her face.
That said, the lenses are large and will cover the majority of most faces. If you’ve got a fairly small head, the lens will end up looking a bit like a motorcycle visor, but that’s no bad thing when it comes to deflecting debris and keeping the sun’s harmful UV rays at bay. Although tan lines are going to be interesting.
To improve the fit further, SunGod throws in some "ear socks", which are fashioned from the company’s Grip-Lock hydrophilic rubber and hold on to the side of the head nicely. Apparently, the more you sweat, the more these "ear socks" lock into place.
The Airas sit on the face nicely and don’t move around at all, while those arms do a great job of gently gripping the side of the head without applying any pressure that can lead to pinch points and headaches over longer rides.
Spend even more money and you can deck the shades out with an additional Bottom Frame, which adds another visual element but reduces the nice, airy feel of the Zero Frame option. We found that although we specified it, we often took it off for comfort and improved visibility.
Performance on the bike
We’ve worn the SunGod Airas on many rides now, ranging from sunny road routes to heavily overcast woodland jaunts on the mountain bike, and the standout features for us are the lightweight, comfortable fit and that excellent lens.
SunGod says its 8KO lens features "the most advanced lens technology on the planet", and although we probably wouldn’t be quite as bold, we can say it is very good.
It’s also available eight different tints and two Iris photochromic versions, so buyers can select the perfect lens and hue for the type of riding and environments they most regularly find themselves in.
Overall, the lenses do a great job of cutting out harsh rays and generally clarifying the scene, even when there isn’t much light being produced. Trees in the woods look sharper, while road glare from a low winter sun is almost banished completely.
Those 2mm nylon lenses also feature a triple-layer, scratch-resistant coating to keep annoying marks at bay, but the sheer size of it means that marks over time are highly likely and it’s easy to get smudgy finger prints on them, so keep a soft cloth at hand.
However, our main bugbear was with the modularity of the frames, as it proved quite fiddly to remove and install the Bottom Frame and the fact there are some many removable parts only increases the likelihood of things getting lost.
Case in point is the missing "ear sock" on the left arm we are now faced with. It likely came off when we stashed the shades on top of our bike helmet, probably snagging on one of the ventilation vents and tumbling into a verge. Annoying to say the least.
It is possible to log onto the site and easily order replacement lenses and conversion kits for Bottom Frames, but not so easy to replace an "ear sock" or nose pad - something that’s going to require an email to SunGod customer services, we think. Sigh.
The SunGod Airas aren’t for shrinking violets, simply because they are big, bold and impossible to miss when out on a ride. Even when specified in the tamest colour combinations, they stand out from the crowd. The fit and feel on the face is excellent, while the ability to quickly swap the ultra-clear lenses is a plus. Although, they are pricey for a lot of plastic.