Friday, June 27, 2008

Review: Giro Havik

Giro, well known for their cycling helmets, have made great inroads into the sports sunglasses market with their first four styles, which were released last year. The glasses were designed with riders in mind, and all fit nicely with helmets, or so I’ve read.

The model I tested is called Havik, and it is certainly the sportiest of the four model set Giro has available right now. Giro got lucky (is it luck?) last year as almost immediately after the release of their sunglasses, Alberto Contador won the Tour De France, boldly sporting his new Giro sunglasses. It seems as though they’ve been doing well since then, as lots of people are writing about them and there is a bit of a buzz.

Feeding into the buzz and worthy of special mention is their relationship with Carl Zeiss, perhaps the world’s most well respected maker of lenses for all uses. Zeiss is relatively new in sunglasses, with only a few brands (I counted only 6 on the website) having the privilege of using their premium lenses. The pair of Havik I own do have these lenses. Take a look at the pair:

My Bad Camera Photo
From Giro Website

Frames: The frames are made of a TR-90 plastic, so are really flexible. The shape is 7-base, which still manages to fit my fat head quite nicely. On the inside of the arms are rubber pads which hold them in place, even when I shake my head violently.

Features: The most outstanding feature of Havik is without a doubt the Carl Zeiss lenses. The optical quality of them is almost unsurpassed. I don’t actually know if there is anyone competing at their level right now. When you place the sunglasses on your head, you immediately notice that there is no optical distortion in your field of vision, which is common with cheaper brands. When it is really bad, you can see waves in your vision, where the polycarbonate is uneven or not smooth. No problems here.

Testing: I wore these sunglasses several different times and in different situations. Firstly, I wore them doing what they are designed for, cycling. They were very snug and secure at all times, even when sweating and concentrating on the road ahead of me. The rubber on the arms grip really well, and I never worried about them falling off. Secondly, I wore them running, and they were perfect for that as well. Havik is reasonably lightweight, so they become hardly noticeable after your eyes are used to the brown lens.

Packaging: They came with a micro-fibre bag.

Cost: Havik retails for $140 - $170. The model I have is $170.

Conclusion: For professional quality and durability, Havik are really excellent. The Zeiss lenses are excellent for optical clarity, and I’ve read that their impact resistance goes beyond American and European standards. As for negatives, the most outstanding thing was the lack of a hard case. If I’m paying $170 for sunglasses, I don’t want to break them, and this is prevented with a case. For me, this is a big negative, cause that means I still have to go out and buy one. Overall, I would recommend this pair for any cyclist looking for an upper-class professional pair of sunglasses. Optically, they are unmatched and their fitting is simply excellent. I mean, this is a cyclist’s pair of shades, no question.

Rating: 8.822


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