At £200 it’s a very expensive option, but one worth having?
We’ve tested the Speedcraft before and revelled in the breadth of its coverage, the quality of its lens and the luxury of its fit. You can now get it with this photochromic lens option, which reacts to light and changes the amount passing through it. At £200 it’s a very expensive option, but one worth having?
The lens needs some more explaining first. 100% says it has a filter category of 1-3, and will let just 16 per cent of light through if it’s very bright, and up to 77 per cent if conditions are gloomy. There’s also a repellent coating to the lens that 100% calls Hydroilo and is designed to shed water, dirt, oil and condensation. It’s interchangeable with other lenses, and included in the box is a totally clear option.
I’ve been wary of tinted lenses in the past, simply because most UK riding of late has been conducted in murky conditions. The sun has not been a problem. The Speedcraft has not proved too dark though, letting enough light through even under heavy tree cover and in the most dismal weather. At the other end of the scale, the lens was equally adept in the African summer sun for the Specialized Turbo Levo SL launch, cutting out glare without spoiling definition.
Of course, that’s all useless if the lens takes too long to adapt to changing light conditions, but the 100% Speedcraft photochromic lens is no slouch. Within 10 seconds it has a noticeable tint, and in under a minute the process is complete. The shade is a blue, grey steely tint that’s excellent on the trails.
The other way is slower; it takes around 90 seconds to clear completely from fully tinted, which is of course much more time than it takes you to dive into the woods from a sunlight meadow. That said, I never felt blind in this situation, perhaps because the tint is always light enough even in its darkened mode.
I’ve dropped the Speedcraft a bunch of times – admittedly less than normal due to the price tag – and they’re still blemish-free. This is because the frame is proud of the lens, which offers it a fair amount of protection.
For £200 you could easily buy some high-end glasses with a number of lenses for any condition, and have money left over for goggles too – 100% makes them all, in fact. But you probably can’t take all those lenses with you, or change them over whenever the conditions change, or the trail cuts into the trees. Rain or sun, I wear these, and it’s another thing not to have to think about. This makes the 100% Speedcraft Photochromic invaluable to me.