Review: AMO IroncatcherBy Scot Jarchow | Published Nov 11, 2016
Recently we at Crossbikereview.com received a new pair of sunglasses from one of the newer sunglasses companies, Advanced Multisport Optics (AMO) Sunglasses out of Hong Kong. They sent us their top of the line cycling sunglasses the Ironcatcher which features either one of two lens packages, a 100% poly-carbonate lens or their premium NXT lenses, both lenses are vented to improved air circulation, and the lenses are interchangeable. The Ironcatcher’s use of a flexible thermoplastic TPR nose piece and Hytrel flexible temple arm with Grilamid TR-90 frame make for a comfortable fit. As with most sunglasses the Ironcatcher’s are 100% UV A & B protection, unlike most sunglasses the Ironcatcher comes with hydrophobic coating to repel water and mud.
After taking a few rides to dial in the TPR nose piece to my ski slopped angled nose, and adjusting the flexible Hytrel temple arms to prevent the arm from digging into my ears, I soon began to notice the outstanding optics of the lenses. The Ironcatcher’s that AMO sent us came with Premium NXT Photochromic Revo Red & Black Lenses. The first thing I noticed about the optics was that the lenses quickly transition from direct sunlight to shade. AMO calls it “self-tint-adjusting technology”. The photochromic lens are infused with a microscopic bit of silver halide crystal, which automatically increases or decreases visible light transmission based on the response of UV light. At first I noticed this aspect of Ironcatcher’s just riding on the tree lined streets in my neighborhood. I fully recognized and appreciated the self-tinting when I recently raced one of local twilight cyclocross race where the race starts just about 50 minutes before sundown, and it was great to be able to deal with glare of looking nearly directly into the setting sun one moment and then 30 seconds later looking into ever darkening evening skies to the east. Still it took some time to fully realized just how good the optics were and it was kind of scary how I figured it out, but it ended with a wow that is cool moment. Heading home on a two and half hour ride, on a seemingly cloudless hot summer afternoon, I noticed rare summer atmospheric inversion layer, that was made visual by thin band of smoke from a distant forest fire to northeast of Portland. With the Ironcatcher’s Revo Black/Red lenses that faint layer of the smoke was very visible; however, when I removed the sunglasses, the layer of smoke was nearly invisible, I certainly would not have recognized it without the sunglasses… When I got home, I threw on a few pairs of darker of sunglasses and the smoke was a little more visible than with a naked eye, but not even remotely close to the visibility of Ironcatcher’s! It was almost like wearing rose colored glasses, but these are not rose colored glasses…
One of the best reasons to consider the AMO Ironcatcher sunglasses is that AMO sport sunglasses use 100% poly-carbonate lens or the PPG industries patented Trivex NXT lenses made from compressed urethane based monomer. The Trivex lenses use the same chemical makeup as the windshields on US Apache helicopters, so you know they are tough. The Trivex NXT lenses are actually more impact resistant than regular poly-carbonate and have crisper optics that cyclocross riders will appreciate. They both comply with ANSI87.1 safety standards, which essentially mean the following is much less likely to happen. Over 25 years ago, I was finishing up interval workout, when I was railing a hard right turn at 30 mph, and split second later my front wheel slid out on a small patch of oil, that sent me sliding across on the tarmac, on my right shoulder, hip and knee. However the first point of impacts was a glancing blow to my right cheek and a forceful ripping of my right elbow. That glancing blow to my cheek splintered my no name sunglass lenses into four pieces, with the sharpest piece ripping a two inch long gash in my cheek. Since that time I have paid close attention to brands that use poly-carbonate lenses since they are stronger and more impact resistance; since making that decision, I have broken some sunglass frames, but I have never had another set of lenses break or splinter from a crash!
We Didn't Like
I have to admit I might be a little on the picky side, so there are few things that could be a little bit better on the AMO Ironcatcher’s… The first thing that I noticed upon opening up the packaging for the first time was that I noticed that the Premium NXT Photochromic Revo Red/ Black lenses contained about a dozen micro-scratches in them. The scratches were smaller then the needle tip of a small needle, so they were not noticeable when I was wearing them, but they certainly existed and could not be buffed out. It kind of makes you wonder about AMO’s quality control.
My second disappoint was with one of the features that I really looked forward to testing all summer, that was the hydrophobic coating on the Ironcatcher’s. After watching the video “The Official Ultra-Ever Dry Video” on the lens coating page, and enduring summer rainstorm in the name of product testing, I have to honestly I too say that I am a little disappointed with hydrophobic coating. In my experience I have to say the lenses did not live up to that video. In the video the hydrophobic coating incredibly impressive; the coating was totally repelling water, oil and most important to cyclocross racers, MUD. Although I was disappointed with Ironcatcher’s hydrophobic coating, it wasn’t a total failure, in that first summer rain storm the lenses did form beads, but the beads really did not roll off the lenses effectively, despite possibly being helped by some really bumpy farm roads that was knocking water and debris off my cyclocross frame. As a matter of fact, that storm eventually fizzled out and it then took 30 minutes for every bead to run off the sunglasses or evaporate. After water evaporated minor streaks were visible on the lenses, but they were not as noticeable as most sport sunglasses that I have worn.
The Final Say
Overall I give the AMO Ironcatcher’s with Revo Red/Black lenses four cowbells, they are lightweight, that offer a semi-custom fit with a moldable nose piece and flexible arm tips and fantastic optics from the NXT lenses. The Ironcatcher’s weren’t perfect; our test lenses did have a significant number of tiny scratches, and I thought the hydrophobic coating would have worked better. At pricing of AMO Ironcatcher’s is similar to the leaders in the sunglasses, and I feel the quality is comparable, so it you’re looking for a good pair of sports sunglasses and you’re not concern about brand names you should consider giving AMO a try.
Advanced Multisport Optics is based in Hong Kong and likely the base place to find or order is through their web site. The web site does contain lot information, for making an informed decision.
Note: I loved the optics on the NXT Photochromic Revo Red & Black Lenses, although I did have a few rides at high noon on cloudless summer days where my greenish-blue eyes could have used a slightly darker lenses. That would be something to think about if your eyes are sensitive to light