True innovations are few and far between these days but Lazer have managed just that with their new Magneto Eyewear System. We don't expect it to revolutionize the cycling glasses market but its unique characteristics will surely find a few fans.
Instead of traditional earstems that grip the sides of your head, the Lazer Magneto glasses use curiously truncated temples with embedded magnets that attach to rubber-coated steel add-ons on the matching Lazer Helium helmet – currently the only compatible model. This means there's no pressure on the sides of your noggin whatsoever, and the setup gives a 'barely there' feeling similar to that experienced with ultralight eyewear like Specialized's old Arc.
Somewhat surprisingly, the system works – and pretty well, too. The generously sized helmet strap pads lend plenty of height and tilt adjustment for the interchangeable lenses and with two pairs of embedded magnets in the glasses, there's a healthy amount of fore-aft adjustment as well.
Optical quality is impressive too, with no noticeable distortion and ample coverage to protect from wind and road spray – although without vents, the lenses are occasionally prone to fogging. As an added bonus, there's no interference with the helmet's retention system.
Lazer will include three lenses for standard tints and eventually, also standard temples for use with non-Lazer helmets. Pricing is reasonable, at US$100 for standard and $120 for photochromics. That all being said, the system isn't perfect and the concept won't suit everyone.
We loved the Magnetos for road riding but since the temples aren't rigidly affixed to the helmet straps, they tend to migrate on rough ground so we wouldn't recommend them for cyclo-cross or mountain biking. The lack of earstems means you can't tuck the glasses into your helmet vents when you take them off, and they don’t fold either, though Lazer tell us a solution is in the works.
"We're developing an aftermarket clip that will attach to the Helium helmet so that the glasses can be stored on the helmet when not in use," said Lazer Sport's Chris Smith. "We hope to have this clip available by spring. Similar to the storage clips, we'll be coming out with aftermarket clips so that Magneto can be used with helmets that aren't originally equipped for Magneto compatibility. Not sure on when these clips will be available – probably late 2012."
The concept is also reliant on users keeping their helmet straps reasonably taut so don't bother if you prefer them flapping in the breeze, Vino-style. There's no provision for different width heads, either, so if you have a particularly narrow noggin the magnets and steel pads probably won't match up very well. Finally, while the Magnetos provide that ultralight feeling, they're not actually all that light. Actual weight for our test set is 33g – 5g heavier than Oakley Jawbones.