Review: Shimano S50XBy Scot Jarchow | Published Nov 22, 2014
A thought crosses my mind before I first opened the Shimano S50X glass case, it is 2014 the Ryder Hesjedal’s, David Miller’s and Phil Gaimon’s of the peloton, have all been wearing funky ass Elton John/Barry Gibbs glasses all year; honestly I hope these are not like those! Personally I have never seen Shimano eyewear, so when I opened the Shimano box, I discovered a fairly unique pair of riding eyewear. The Shimano S50X is 131 mm wide frames, with the lateral half of the lens having 1mm to 4mm gap between edge of the lens and the edge of frame. This model comes in four colors combinations: matte black, matte white, matte metallic blue, mat black with neon yellow earsocks for 2014, as well as with three lens options, smoke silver mirror, brown silver mirror and clear.
The Shimano S50X’s frame have very moldable plastic on the temple, arms and nose pad, so it is very easy to get the frames to fit just about anyone’s face. While playing with the frames, I noticed I was able to flex the arms outward by 7mm and the bridge on the temple by 4mm, 2.5 mm on nose pad, and a moment later I was able to mold them to my broad face and huge honker of a nose with no problem at all. Shimano uses a CNC molding to ensure precision, symmetry and quality, so you know the right side frames will not end up 1.5mm higher than the left! Shimano uses Grilamid TR90™ plastic in the frames ensuring their frames are strong, can take a sudden impact, and are very, very, very resistant to fatigue, ensuring your glasses will last as long as you have them. Overall I found the frames were really comfortable out on the road training, at parks doing drills and trials doing intervals.
Our S50X came with two pairs of lenses, smoke silver mirror lenses and clear lenses. The smoke silver mirror allows 13% light transmission; which reduces glare while preserving natural hues, they are designed to reduce eye strain over many hours of riding. Additionally the lenses are fully UV-400 protected, meaning they block all light rays wavelength up to 400 nanometers, so it blocks nearly 100% UVA and UVB light. Additionally the lenses come with anti-scratch and anti-fog coating. With Portland’s typical fall weather of moist air and high dew points; it’s perfect weather for eyewear to fog up while waiting for the traffic lights to turn green, but S50x simply did not fog up! It was quite impressive! Like most modern cycling sunglasses they use multiple lenses and the S50X’s literally take about 10 seconds to make a lenses change. Finally the S50X are designed to be used with prescription lenses as well.
We Didn't Like
I am a little bit torn with S50X when it comes to training in hot weather, with all of open space between the frames and the lenses, I would think you get plenty airflow, but I did not always find that to be true. During the second half of the summer Portland, we had a lot of hot & windy weather, and it always seemed like I was riding in the late afternoon, when it was 90 degrees and hot thermal northeast winds blew over west hills at 10 to 20 mph. When I was enduring those ever present head winds, I often felt the development sweat forming on my upper cheekbones; which was never an issue with my normal riding glasses. Additionally when those winds became cross winds, I felt my eyes dry out just a bit. I did not experience these issues in temperatures below 85°.
Note, if you are wearing a helmet that fits a wide melon size range, you might have some issues with height of S50X arms. I noticed when I paired the S50X with previously tested Mavic Plasma helmet, the arms applied pressure between the Pinna and my scalp. It wasn’t annoying pressure, but it is noticeable.
The Final Say
If Shimano were interested in increasing the value of their eyewear to cyclocross riders, they might consider expanding their lenses to add yellow or pink lenses for S50X. It seems that are times when we train and race in limited lights environments, like light snowfall or riding in a twilight shower with the final light of day shining through, where neither a smoky or clear lenses are the best option. Given that it come with fantastic case, it would be great if Shimano also included a fantastic little lenses case, so spare lenses could easily be stored in a jersey pocket. A few times I rode to Forest Park in the late afternoon, were I used the smoked lenses on the open roads getting there, and then switched to the clear lenses when I got to the tree laden park. I stored the spare lenses in the spare plastic sleeve, but they could easily have damaged by cell phone, spare air cartridge cylinders, and spare pump on the jarring trails.
Overall like I mentioned earlier I prefer the styling of Shimano eyewear over some of the other 2014 eyewear that I have seen on the market this year. I found the frames quite comfortable to wear, as well as liking the shape of lenses and the clarity of both the smoked silver mirror and clear lenses. The frames are very flexible and moldable so they will fit most facial shapes. Additionally the S50X come with a great case! With good looking frames, a good a set of lenses that can be changed at a moment’s notices, and a nice glass case, it is competitively priced at $99.99.
Final note if you think of Shimano sells just industry leading cycling components and fishing reels you should check out Shimano’s Lifestyle Gear to see their line of fantastic clothing, shoes, eyewear ( really like S70R-L model) and travel bags.