Just when you think every possible sports glasses design had been done, Red Bull Spect has come up with another option with its Flow 'suspended lens' glasses. While that presents some small issues and doesn't work quite as well on the face as in theory, they're still excellent lightweight optics with standout ventilation. Read on to see how they compete with the best cycling sunglasses.
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At first glance, the Flow sunglasses look like pretty normal big-lens wraparounds, with high-quality optics in a range of tints. Look a bit closer, though, and you'll realise that the TR90 frame is two left and right halves that 'float' completely independently of the lens, apart from in the top outside corners where they clip fix into place.
Mouldable nose pads control the positioning on your face, while very thin, mouldable, rubber-sleeved arms give adjustable skull grip. The all-important Red Bull logo sits on the triangular section just behind the hinge, and they're available in five different mirror-lens and frame-colour combinations (you also get a 'free' clear lens), as well as a black frame with light-sensitive photochromic lens for £170.
The lower 'mandibles' of the frame sit 1-2mm away from the lens, and the twist and rattle, when they're in your hand, is all a bit worrying at first. Sit them on your face and the lenses settle more onto the lower frame, too, reducing the gap slightly. It's also slightly awkward to adjust the nosepiece on the flexible frame to tune 'ride height'. Snapping the spare lens in and out without getting greasy finger marks all over it needs a bit of practice as well.
The independent mobility of the two frame-halves works very well to even out any slight irregularities in your face, though, and the fit was instantly comfortable. Because they can mould and move independently, stability is also excellent, so even when we were all over the place on a gravel bike on a technical descent, there was no intrusive noise, movement or impact from the lens. We had no nose-pad marks on our snout, either, even after a seven-hour, rough off-road stint, which shows that the 'suspension' is definitely doing something useful. Despite extensive coverage, the open upper edge and frame gaps mean ventilation is excellent, too, with no fogging on steep, slow hot climbs, even in moist weather.
The lenses have proved to be impressively tough and scratch-resistant too, which chimes with our previous Red Bull Spect experience. Optical quality is very good as well, with no obvious distortion, and they shake off mud and rain splashes easily. When you don't want them on, the straight, narrow arms are also really easy to slide into helmet vents.
The floating frame of Red Bull Spect's Flow glasses feel weird in the hand and mean adjustment is slightly more awkward than conventional full/fixed-frame specs. The reduced contact pressure and 'automatic' face-moulding mobility are very real advantages in terms of comfort and stability, though. Ventilation is outstanding, too, so the excellent optics can perform at their best, however steamy things get. They're a reasonable price for top-performance, premium-brand specs, too.
Tech spec: Red Bull Spect Flow glasses
- Options: Blue with blue mirror, red mirror or blue/green mirror, black with purple mirror, burgundy with pink mirror
- Option featured: Black with purple mirror
- Weight: 27g
- Price: £134.95 / €149.95 / $N/A