When I tested Rudy Project’s standard model of the Defender sunglasses I was impressed by the performance, lightweight Grilamid frame and tough ImpactX photochromic (reacts to light) lens. If this isn’t enough for you, though, Rudy has launched a new, premium Graphene model.
Instead of the Grilamid frame, you get an even lighter and much tougher injection-moulded graphene version.
Graphene is refined graphite, like you find in a pencil. The raw, mined graphite is put into an expansion ‘system’ and is then hit with a plasma with a heat range of up to 10,000ºF – about the same temperature as the surface of the sun. When graphene is moulded it boasts huge levels of strength for very little weight, which means it makes pretty impressive frames.
So what does the extra cost over the standard Defender model get you? Well, if you’re only interested in weight then the 1.1g reduction down to 32.3g isn’t going to impress. That, however, isn’t the key improvement. Even with less weight, the Graphene frame feels substantially stiffer, with a noticeable improvement in sprung tension.
These arms grab your temples with plenty of bite and the rubberised hooked tips stay put incredibly well. I’ve used the glasses on the road as well as some very rocky gravel terrain, and they have held absolutely firm.
The finish is different too. Each frame comes straight from the moulding process with little or no finishing, colouring or painting required. The slate-grey marbled effect is unique to each and every frame.
The finish is really tough too – despite dropping them when riding in gritty, wet conditions, they still look box fresh. The same goes for Rudy’s premium ImpactX photochromic lenses.
If, like me, you’re prone to generally mistreating your glasses then ImpactX is a good choice. The lens can be bent almost in half and it won’t break or stress; it’s highly resilient to scratching too. In my opinion, these are the toughest and best lenses around, and Rudy backs them with a lifetime guarantee.
The photochromic tint that changes with the light conditions is quick to react, so the glasses work well in changeable conditions, making them suitable for year-round use.
The vents across the brow of the lens and at the base keep them free from fogging even when working hard.
The Graphene Defenders are a superb set of shades and some of the best sunglasses for cycling we’ve tested; pricey, yes, but they come with a seriously tough frame and one of the very best lenses around.