Oversized sunglasses have made a strong resurgence in both cycling and outdoor eyewear. Smith describes the Flywheel sunglasses as ushering a new era of eyewear with an avant-garde style. Whether or not you agree with that grand statement, the Flywheel sunglasses definitely bring a unique twist to the current trend toward large retro-styled sunglasses. The large lens extends above the upper frame giving the sunglasses a distinct semi-frameless appearance. Along with a premium retail price, the Flywheels feature Smith’s ChromaPop color enhancing technology lenses for excellent optics. However, unlike other models in Smith’s lineup, the Flywheels have non-replaceable lenses. Are the Smith Flywheel sunglasses just another oversized sunglasses in the already crowded market or do they stand out? Let’s find out.
The Smith Flywheel Sunglasses combine an oversized retro lens design with modern touches and their ChromaPop color-`enhancing technology.
|Measured weight (in g)||36|
|Likes|| + Retro-modern styling|
+ Crystal clear optics and wide Field of View
+ Comfortable two-position nose pads
|Dislikes||– Non-replaceable lens|
– Hardcase not included
– Bright nosepiece can be distracting
|Where to Buy (US)||Smith Optics|
Smith packages the Flywheel sunglasses in a simple cardboard box with crisp sunset graphics printed on it. Inside the box you’ll find a protective Smith branded bag and a Smith sticker. One thing to note is the lack of a hard case or clear lens is unusual at this price point.
DESIGN & USABILITY
The Flywheels are currently offered in four frame/lens combinations: Matte Black / ChromaPop Black, Matte Crystal / ChromaPop Platinum, Black / ChromaPop Contrast Rose Flash and finally Matte Deep Ink / ChromaPop Blue Mirror. We chose the Matte Deep Ink / ChromaPop Blue Mirror variation as the multicolored frame really stands out and the ChromaPop Blue Mirror has a nice blue tint and mirrored finish. The sunglasses are constructed from TR90 plastic and weigh in at 36 grams which isn’t the lightest on the market but feel comfortable yet durable.
While retro oversized sunglasses have become increasingly popular, Smith has designed the Flywheel sunglasses with some unique design elements. The most obvious of which is the upper ‘shield’ where the lens extends in front of the top frame portion. While this is likely more of a fashion statement, the extra coverage can also reduce glare. You’ll also notice the semi-frameless design of the Flywheel means the lens has no frame along the bottom of the lens with only a minimal nose piece that is easy to remove for cleaning. Unfortunately, with the Flywheel sunglasses, Smith does not offer removable lenses unlike other sunglasses in their lineup as these lenses appear to be held in place by a screw on each side. This is perhaps one of the main drawbacks of the Flywheel sunglasses, particularly for cycling use. You can’t simply swap out the lens for a clear or low-light option and would instead need a second pair of sunglasses.
Whether you’re a fan of oversized sunglasses or not, they do offer an impressive Field of View. The large lenses mean you rarely see the actual sunglass frames during normal use as they extend far down and to the sides. With the Flywheel, Smith offers a variety of ChromaPop lens options which is a lens technology that claims to improve color definition and clarity. Unlike other manufacturers, Smith’s website doesn’t offer an easy way to compare different lenses or provide detail about the light transmission or filter categories for each of the lens variations. However, we did find that under their ‘tech’ page they group the different tints based on their ideal environment.
On that page, the ChromaPop Blue Mirror tint is grouped under “ocean” use but we found that it worked well while cycling through dark forests and sunny descents. In our opinion, the blue tint does give things a bit of a gloomy appearance on overcast days though.We found that the lens worked well under mixed lighting conditions while still filtering out harsh sunlight. We also didn’t notice any side reflections, which is something that can be particularly distracting while cycling. The hydro-oleophobic coating also meant we didn’t experience fogging issues even while doing slow climbs.
Smith describes the Flywheel sunglasses as medium fit with medium coverage. Compared to other sunglasses from Oakley or Tifosi, the Flywheels felt equally comfortable and secure on our face. We were impressed with the two-position adjustable nose piece which allows you to move the nose piece between a narrow and wide position. This allows you to position the sunglasses closer or further away from your face, and also accommodate wider and narrow noses on the fly without needing to swap out the nose piece. The auto-lock hinges and grippy texture on the temples also means the sunglasses stay securely in place without being too snug.
Overall, we found the retro-modern oversized Smith Flywheel sunglasses to have excellent optics. The frameless bottom and hidden top frame connector give the sunglasses a unique look in an otherwise crowded marketplace. Whether you like the styling or not, the large lenses provide an excellent Field of View that’s perfect for outdoor use. The retro design and Matte Deep Ink/ChromaPop Blue version we have actually pairs very well with the Smith Trace cycling helmet. The ChromaPop blue lenses we tested had no distortion or reflections, and worked well in direct sunlight and cloudy conditions. The lack of a hard case or removable lens option is a little disappointing. Nevertheless, we definitely enjoy riding with the Flywheel sunglasses and their unique styling and functionality.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Smith Optics. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.