With a reputation for creating quality eyewear at an affordable price, Ryders Eyewear is taking a risk with their new higher-priced and feature-packed FYRE lens system. BikeRoar took their Roam out on the road and the trails to see if they, with FYRE, deliver on Ryder's big ask and bet.
At $219 to $239 USD, Ryders FYRE riding glasses are a step well above any glasses they’ve produced in the past and puts them in direct competition with performance eyewear heavyweights like Oakley, with their Prizm system, and Smith, with ChromaPop. Dedicated to cycling almost exclusively, Ryders partnered with lens manufacturer Essilor to bring what may be the most feature packed lenses of the cycling market.
FYRE rests on 5 key inclusions: NXT Lens, Varia, antiFOG, COLOUR BOOST, and MLV MIRROR, which makes for more than enough buzzwords, acronyms, and marketing terms for one day, yet for the sake of appreciation and clarity, let's review these tech features:
1. NXT Lens: The Trivex NXT lens is said to have been in development for over 12 years and boasts of being originally engineered for use in military fighter jet canopies and helicopter windshields. The lenses are tough, yet lightweight, and offer extremely good optical clarity, which reduces the image distortion one can find in some glasses.
2. Varia: Varia is a proprietary photochromic system where the lenses react quickly to the intensity of light, adjusting not only lightness/darkness, but also color/tint. With Varia, lenses shift tint and tone to best suit light conditions.
3. antiFOG: Ryders' antiFOG works exceptionally well keeping your glasses relatively fog free in almost any and all riding conditions.
4. COLOUR BOOST: This is a key feature in the new sunglass platforms of all the major companies. Whether you call it BOOST, Prizm, ChromaPop, Happy Lens, etc., sunglasses are now able to filter the light spectrum in a way that boosts the color and contrast for specific light conditions. This tuning and emphasis yields a more vibrant environment and allows you to do important things better, like differentiate the brown dirt trail from the green grass surroundings in varied light conditions.
5. MLV MIRROR: Multi-Layer Varia mirror coating allows the lens to reflect additional light away from your face without affecting the photochromic abilities of the Varia lens.
Ryders offers FYRE lenses in 3 tints that transition from bright light to low light transmission, as measure by VLT % (visible light transmission percentage): light grey to dark grey (77% - 17%), yellow to brown (77% - 18%), and pink to purple (47% - 19%). Lens color is about more than fashion choice, as each has a particular strength: grey maintains truest colors, yellow/brown offers more vibrancy and contrast, and pink/purple is for brigther light conditions.
Check out the Comparison
BikeRoar tested the Roam frame with yellow/brown lenses.
Roam is a purpose-built riding glass and this is reflected in its adjustable rubberized arms and nose piece and overall sporty style. With a removable bottom frame, Roam goes from inverted to rimless with a firm pull of the frame. The point of the inverted or rimless design is to give a better field of vision, since most cyclists lean forward and look up through the top of their glasses. Going inverted or rimless also aids in ventilation of the glasses. Why not just go rimless? The bottom frame gives the glasses strength and rigidity for rougher riding, and it's also meant to reduce the chance of facial lacerations in the off-chance you do crash on your face while smashing the trails.
Josh: The sporty nature of these glasses will limit your use of them especially with the inverted frame attached. The inverted design may look a little goofy on the rack in the store but the design does do its job well on the trails. Wearing these to the grocery store may make people think you want to race carts down the aisles.
Anthony: I like Roam with and without the bottom frame, but I do like rimless a little more. For weight-weenie roadies, pulling the bottom frame saves you 4 whole grams, taking the Roam from 31 to 27 grams, and makes you look sleeker and faster. Besides cut protection, putting the bottom frame on also gives what I feel is a more aggressive, yet totally road-worthy look. Since the frame bar is easy to put on and off, you could add or remove it to match your mood before every ride. As to casual wear, Roam with the under-bar is probably too bold a look, but without I think they work, though on me I feel like a cheap Bono, which is my shortcoming, not the glasses'. I do wish Roam had more colorways - black/grey, white/black, and black/red are all that are on offer for now.
J: Roam are referenced as being a medium fit; for my big head an XL version would have suited better. The adjustable nose piece and temples give Roam the ability to adapt their fit to be comfortable on almost anyone’s face. The NXT lens did a surprisingly good job limiting the distortion around the edges of the lenses, giving fairly clear peripheral vision no matter what position my head was in. The inverted design meant there was no frame impeding my field of vision when I got into aggressive riding positions. These two key features allow for the glasses to be positioned in the most comfortable position on your face without fear of limiting your vision. I was quite comfortable in the Roam despite them looking a touch too small for my face.
A: I have an 'average' head, so glasses fit is usually pretty good for me, and the Roam were a good fit. I appreciate the adjustable nose and earpieces. The adjustable nose piece lets me pinch the pads a bit closer to position the glasses a bit higher on my face, and the adjustable earpieces are super for getting the glasses to maneuver around helmet straps and still get over my ears and grip my head. The Roam feel good and light on my face, bottom frame bar or not.
J: With the Roam being feature and tech laden, I’ll try my best to sum up the performance of the most noticeable features as efficiently as possible. The frame design works quite well as mentioned in the previous paragraph. The inverted design helps keep your glasses fog free as well as giving you an improved field of vision. The colour boost technology is more subtle than almost all of Ryders' competitors, which does enhance the contrast on the trails, but not as much as some of the other colour boost lenses on the market. This isn’t a bad thing, however, as some of the competing eyewear are hard to use in some conditions.
The VARIA photochromic tech works seamlessly, so much so that it’s hard to notice when the lenses change while riding. Despite climbing into direct sunlight and descending into the shadowy trees, I never noticed the changing lens. This means I could concentrate fully on my ride and didn’t, for a second, feel like my glasses were too dark or too light for my ride. The yellow/brown lens was the perfect choice for me in the Okanagan and I suspect it will be the lens of choice for most people everywhere.
As with previous Ryders antiFOG glasses, the moisture management capabilities of the lenses are quite amazing; never once did the glasses fog no matter how much heat I built up on the climb.
A: Clarity is fantastic and I love the colour boost. I have many glasses without these features, so it's easy to notice the improved sharpness out on the road. Photochromic shift is fast, but harder to appreciate unless you're riding in and out of shade or as the sun rises and sets. The VLT range allows these to easily be daytime or nighttime glasses.
Rimless or inverted, the expanse of view is sweet, especially for cycling; going rimless is almost like going from a regular movie theater to IMAX.
Antifog works fantastically; it gets the same well-due props as we gave it in our earlier review of Ryders Seventh with antiFog.
We huddled up and came to this joint conclusion:
Ryders Roam with FYRE lenses are a step above what we’ve seen from Ryders in the past and the price reflects that. The glasses may have the most comprehensive list of features specifically for riding on the market, but you do pay for it, which is something most aren’t used to coming from Ryders.
The fit and function of Roam FYRE cannot be argued with. The VARIA lens works astonishingly well, as does the subtle COLOUR BOOST attribute. The NXT lenses were optically correct with only very minor distortion at the very edges of the lens, which is normal for most glasses. We used the glasses for a multitude of rides in various conditions and no matter how hard we tried, we could not get the lenses to fog significantly. Even when Josh stopped and set them on his head (a cardinal sin for antifog), the glasses clouded only slightly and would clear up as soon as any fresh air moved across them.
The inverted design of the Roams may look goofy in your hand, but the design pays off while in use. The lack of a top frame means you never see the top of your glasses while riding head down in climbing position. The best part is if you really don’t like the inverted design, just take the lower frame off and wear them rimless.
The performance of the feature-laden Roam is truly spectacular, however, the price may make some people leave them on the rack. $239 is a reasonably hefty price, and with Ryders being known as a value brand, they may struggle to capture the higher-end market these serve. Competitors like Oakley are producing similarly featured products prominently planted on the faces of many of the world’s best athletes, but Ryders has always been a for-riders, by-riders type of company and we are always impressed at how hard they work and focus to serve cyclists.
In true Ryders style, they have produced yet another set of incredibly versatile glasses meant to help you make the most out of your ride. The Vancouver-based outfit knows what works in their environment and they’ve built upon that with the addition of FYRE to their line-up. Just don’t expect all this performance to come at a low price; Roam with FYRE can still be considered a "value," but all those features build to a price that may be a harder buy.