The premium cycling sunglasses space has become a hotly contested battlefield of late with every major player attempting to outdo each other with bolder, wilder and bigger designs in a bid to manufacture the best cycling sunglasses.
British-based cycling sartorial giant, Rapha has today unveiled the Pro Team Frameless sunglasses, which ends the Pro Team Flyweight model's four-year reign on the top step of the brand's cycling sunglasses range. Boasting a lightweight frameless design as well as new lens technology, the Pro Team Frameless look to change things up by taking minimalism to a whole new level.
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Design and aesthetics
As expected, the Pro Team Frameless shades are beautifully executed and designed. Minimalist in appearance, they represent a subtle evolution over their predecessor thanks to the addition of sculptural surfacing on the nose piece and arm stems which help inject the overall design with depth and contrast. The lens itself also adopts a three-dimensional approach with chamfered frame edges which Rapha claims also doubles up as a durability measure. In terms of colours, the Pro Team Frameless is available in the choice of four different lenses to suit a variety of light conditions: white frame (pink-blue lens) as pictured here, dark navy frame (purple-green lens), black frame (black mirror lens) and pink frame (black mirror lens).
At 28g (actual) they're the lightest option in our best cycling sunglasses buyer's guide but are not without fault. Frameless sunglasses are a risky proposition by nature and can be ruined should you drop them or be involved in a crash - care should be taken even when packing them away after a ride.
The sunglasses are manufactured in Italy from an injection-moulded Grilamid - a lightweight polyamide that is both strong and flexible. Megol bioplastic arm grippers help ensure a secure and non-restricting fit together with a removable nose piece which is available in two sizes.
The lens is, unfortunately, non-replaceable so care should be taken when cleaning and wiping it down after every ride. It is probably worth avoiding rides where grit, dirt and contaminated water can sully the lens. That said, the Pro Team Full Frame versions have interchangeable lenses and come with a spare should you require to swap it out to match prevailing conditions.
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The Pro Team Frameless sunglasses arrived just a few days ago so riding time has been relegated to a handful of rides - a recovery trundle and an interval session - but the one thing that has stood out is the comfortable fit. The glasses also play nicely with most helmet brands so there are no incompatibility issues.
A problem that plagues many brands is the issue of lens fogging but there's not much of that on offer here - if anything, the minimal misting is more a result of residual forehead sweat. The secret comes from the lens technology - something Rapha calls ROSE, an acronym that stands for Rider Optimised Surface Enhancement. In layperson's terms, this technology claims to minimise fogging and scratching and repels water thanks to a military-grade, hydrophobic lens treatment.
Another impressive attribute is the unobstructed and commanding field of view, thanks largely to the frameless design and oversized lens.
We're only a few days into our test but the Rapha Pro Team Frameless sunglasses are proving to be very impressive, particularly in terms of the way they fit and the clarity provided by the lens. At $150 / £110 / AU$195 a pair, they're also impressively priced but care will need to be taken in order to keep the lens in tip-top condition - it's not a replaceable part. While we're yet to sample them back-to-back in various light and weather conditions against its rivals, we can't make an objective verdict just yet but things look promising. Do they have what it takes to outrank some of the perennial favourites in our cycling sunglasses buyer's guide? Be sure to check back in a few weeks for the full review to find out.
Tech spec: Rapha Pro Team Frameless sunglasses
RRP: $150 / £110 / AU$195
Weight: 28g (actual)
Lens technology: ROSE technology, hydrophobic
Frame type: Frameless
Lens options: 4
Frame colours: 4
UV protection: Yes