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100% Speedcraft Air sunglasses review

25 Sep 2018
Verdict:

Helped along by a certain Peter Sagan, cycling newcomer 100% is taking the fight to Oakley

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£299
For 
• The Nasal dilator really does make a noticeable difference to nasal breathing • Superb clarity of vision
Against 
• Nose bridge could benefit from some padding • Would be better if magnets had some positional adjustment.

Many have tried and failed to knock Oakley off its perch as the preeminent eyewear brand of the pro peloton, and whilst its not quite there yet, new kid on the block (in cycling at least) 100% has undoubtedly made a significant dent in Oakley’s dominance, helped in no small part by a certain Mr Sagan.

The 100% Speedcraft Air glasses are more than just a cool pair of shades, bringing more to the table than just optical clarity and colourful UV protection for your eyes.

Increasing the airflow potential of the nasal passage, and subsequently improving oxygen intake, has long been considered as an effective way to improve performance – remember when practically every athlete wore those stick on strips like plasters on their noses?

Buy the 100% Speedcraft Air sunglasses from BikeInn here

The Speedcraft Air takes this ideology to the next level, incorporating nasal dilator from AC Systems that uses magnetic force to hold open the nasal passage.

The nose magnets could be viewed as a gimmick, but they’re actually surprisingly effective.

The technology comes from 100%’s motocross goggles. Wearing goggles can sometimes compress the nasal passage, and hence reduce breathing efficiency, so 100% developed this system to keep the airway open and increase rider performance for MX racers.

Sticking point

Applying the two small adhesive ‘dots’ to the outside of my nose, was initially a little bit fiddly, even with the supplied applicator. Having a mirror, or help from a friend definitely helps, but it does get easier with practice.

With the dots in place, there was an instant attachment with the magnets inside the nose bridge as I put on the Speedcraft Air, which felt like a really solid connection and more than I was expecting. But in a good way.

I could immediately feel the benefit. Breathing in deeply through the nose was significantly easier and felt a good deal less restricted, compared to normal.

The width, or distance that the magnets are apart, is adjustable using a small dial at the top of the lens. Quite simply the further apart the magnets the stronger the pulling effect on the nostrils.

Having such simple adjustment makes it really convenient to fit to different nose widths, but also allows for easy on the fly adjustments to find the ideal balance between the power of its effect and comfort.

I wore the Speedcraft Air throughout the Castelli 24 hour crit race in Feltre, Italy, and whilst it was hard to quantify any benefits they might have brought to my physical performance, it definitely felt much better to have my airways more open than not.

I would argue any benefit, no matter how small, (even if it’s merely psychological), is better than none at all, and besides there are no obvious downsides to wearing them, so why not?

As an aside to any potential breathing enhancement, it’s always handy if eyewear fulfils its primary role – maintaining clear vision - and in this regard, the Speedcraft Air were also exemplary.

The quality of the Hiper mirror lens is excellent and offered superb clarity even in dimming light. The peripheral vision is excellent too and perfect for bunch racing to grab a quick glance out of the corner of your eye at the rider coming around you or under your arm at who’s sitting on your wheel.

The Castelli 24 hour race was run off in mostly sweltering temperatures and there were times when sweat was literally cascading down the lenses, and the coated exterior of the lens (called Hydoilo) dealt with this admirably and there was no fogging up or reduction in vision despite some pretty heated moments.

What’s more, the fit remained firm despite my heavy sweating, and the adhesive nose dots also held up, eventually still needing a reasonably sharp pull to remove them by hand after the event.

Room for improvement

If I were to criticise the design of the Speedcraft Air it would be the lack of any fine-tuning of the magnet position. Whilst undoubtedly still effective for me as they were, I feel the function could have been even better if the magnets were positioned a touch higher as on my face they were aligned right at the very base of my nostril.

I would also have preferred some padding where the underside of the bridge contacts the top of the nose. This was not noticeable on a short ride but with prolonged use, this became a little uncomfortable at times.

Another point worth noting is that whilst big lenses are on trend right now, be aware that this can also cause some interference with some helmet designs, so try them with your chosen lid before committing to buy as it can be annoying if the helmet constantly comes into contact with the top of the frames.

You may also wish to test how well the Speedcraft Airs dock into your helmet vents, should you ever wish to remove them for any reason on a ride.

Buy the 100% Speedcraft Air sunglasses from BikeInn here

The Speedcraft Air come supplied with 20 AIR system nasal dots – enough for 10 uses - which I must say feels a bit stingy given the £300 investment, and a refill pack (containing another 20) costs a further £15. Come on 100%....stump up a few more, please.

It’s a really innovative product that delivers a decent result. The issues are minor, and I would say expect plenty more good things to come out of the 100% stable.

Image credit: Taylor Tulip-Close, George Marshall and Patrick Lundin 

Video credit: Taylor Tulip-Close

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