Uvex’s latest, range-topping glasses take the light-sensitive lens into a new arena. Instead of using a standard photochromic lens, Uvex has partnered with AlphaMicron in order to use its e-Tint, which electro-chromatically alters the level of tint.
In automatic mode, the Variotronics work exactly as you’d expect top quality, light-sensitive glasses to, which you may think negates the extra expense. However, where they come into their own is in instantly changeable light conditions, such as when riding from bright sunshine into a tunnel, or into a heavily wooden section.
If you’ve experienced riding from bright sunshine into a tunnel on an alpine descent, or vice versa, then that moment of blindness as both glasses and eyes struggle to adjust can be scary. With the Variotronics, you simply push a button on the left-hand arm and the tint is instantly switched, enabling you to keep 100 percent visibility of the road ahead.
The Variotronics feature a lithium-ion battery, which is charged by the supplied mini-USB cable, and Uvex claims a run time of up to 50 hours, which we could get close to when using the glasses in manual (on/off) mode. In auto mode this time was reduced to a more modest 25 hours, which is still impressive, and charging only takes two hours.
The Variotronics weigh 42g, which makes them a mite heavier than most of their rivals, but they don’t feel weighty when worn. The carbon-finished arms are stiffly sprung so they hold well to your head, the temple tips are wire-cored so you can shape them to fit even more securely, and an adjustable nose bridge enables further fine-tuning.
The ‘full-frame’ design is perhaps aimed more at off-road riders, but although they’re thick we found them fairly unobtrusive, and Uvex also offers a half-frame version, the Variotronic S, for fans of a more minimal frame.
Overall, the Variotronics combine a top-notch set of glasses with technology that works very, very well. Whether you’re prepared to shell out for Uvex’s unique lens tint control really depends on how often you ride in very variable light conditions.