Most people don’t think too much about the sunglasses they wear when riding motorcycle. They cover my eyes? Check. They look good? Check. Then I’m good to go. Uh, no.
What about impact protection? Inside of a full-face helmet it isn’t very important, but if you ride with an open-face lid, you’ll want to pay attention. Those of us who have taken a June bug to the face can attest to how much they hurt. Now, consider a pebble to the eye. Yeah, I wince at the thought, too. Also, you need to consider whether your sunglasses offer any way to minimize dust or dirt making its way into your eyes. Once, an abrasive piece of something hard made its way up into my full-face helmet and into my eye, scratching my cornea and prompting me to ride to an emergency room. When I got there, I was in so much pain that they immediately numbed my eye – before taping it closed and making me wait for 45 minutes for the doctor. After all, they had car crashes and gunshot wounds to attend to. Anyway, the moral of the story is you want to keep stuff out of your eyes!
Liberty Sport has developed a line of sunglasses called the Rider Collection, which offers four styles based around the needs of motorcyclists. For this review, I selected the Pursuit Sunglasses. Like all of the Rider Collection, the Pursuit is ANSI Z87.1 Certified, which means both the lenses and frames have been tested and rated to meet a certain level of high-velocity and high-mass impact protection. How hard? The test for basic impact drops a 1-inch steel ball on the lens from a height of 50 inches, while the high-velocity test shoots a ¼-inch steel ball at the lens at 150 ft/s. If any lens part touches the eye, the glasses fail. With uncertified sunglasses, you have no idea what will happen when something hits them.
I chose the Pursuits for two reasons. First, I liked the styling and thought they would fit on my face type. Second, they offered removable eyecups so that I wouldn’t look like a polar explorer when I wasn’t riding. Now, many sunglasses for motorcyclists offer removable eyecups. Some work better than others, but the biggest drawback to them is the challenge of storing the eyecups when not on the frames. Liberty Sport gets around this by affixing the eyecups with its Switch magnetic attachments, as used for the lenses in the glasses in the link above. With no prongs or other do-dads to get caught or bent in your pockets, the Pursuit’s eyecups can be removed in seconds. Liberty includes a handy, cloth eyecup holder for pocket storage.
A feature that I neither knew nor cared about when I ordered the Pursuits has become one of my favorite parts of these glasses when off a motorcycle. The adjustable strap keeps the Pursuits snugly in place on my head while I run – no matter how sweaty I get. Many glasses tend to slide down my nose once I get hot. This is also helped by the flexible rubber nose pads that adjust to the lumps on the bridge of my schnoz. Also, Liberty has straddled the fine line between having the earpieces tight enough to retain the glasses in typical use without being so tight as to become painful over time.
Pursuit sunglasses come with a choice of two lens styles: Clear and Sunset Driver. The Sunset Driver lenses have an orange hard coat mirror facing the world over Rose Amber lens material. The Sunset Driver lens meets the ANSI Z80.3, delivering UV400 protection. In other words, the Sunset Driver lens filters out 100% of the harmful UV radiation up to 400nm The Sunset Driver can also be replicated in your optical prescription.
In daily use, the lenses offer a distortion-free level of sunlight attenuation that makes a full day in the saddle much more enjoyable. Although the specifications don’t mention an anti-reflective coating on the interior of the lens, to my eye it has one. The shape of the frame cups the lenses close to my eyes, helping to minimize wind behind the lenses. While they don’t seal as well as goggles, the Pursuit sunglasses, particularly with the eyecups in place, offer more protection from dust than fashion sunglasses. To keep the lenses from fogging in humid or cold weather, the outer edges of the lenses feature eight ventilation holes, much like ski goggles.
After a couple months of regular use – both riding motorcycles and in my daily life – the only criticism I have of the Liberty Sport Pursuit sunglasses is that the silver logo on the temple arms has started to wear off. However, the mirrored lenses have resisted scratches. The semi-rigid case helps in this regard. Included with the case are the Switch eyecups, eyecup pouch, the strap, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. These sunglasses work so well that I’m considering getting them fitted with prescription lenses so that I can see the instruments when I ride.
Pursuit sunglasses are retail for $185.90 and can be bought directly from Liberty Sport. If you have a big head, Pursuit XL sunglasses match Pursuit feature-for-feature, including price, in a larger size. A handy dealer locator is available on the website.