Review: Assos Zegho Sunglasses

Assos Zegho cycling sunglasses review

Doing my best impersonation of Assos' sunglasses ad models.

When Assos announced their $400+ Zegho sunglasses in October, the usual eye rolls and sarcasm led the comment stream.

Since then, I’ve had a chance to ride the Amplify ($429) yellow lens model for about two months and will say this without hesitation: They are hands down the best cycling sunglasses I’ve ever put on my face.

The Zeghos were designed specifically with cycling in mind, and the feature set bears that out. The Zeiss lenses are water repellant and fade from clear to color/tint as they go up to make the road directly in front of you perfectly clear while sunlight further ahead are covered (with the dark lenses, anyway). The nose piece has independently adjustable arms, perfect for the majority of us with asymmetrical faces. The arms wrap around your head and remain in place but put virtually zero pressure on your skull.

I’ve ridden the Zegho’s in the rain, on mountain bike night rides and bright sunny days. Here are the reasons I like them so much…

Assos Zegho cycling sunglasses review

While the lens is one piece, it’s curved independently for each eye, as you can see from the double bubble look above. For me, this meant no discernible distortion at any angle. Coverage is massive, which has three benefits:

  • They blocked mud and spray from shooting under the lens and getting in my eyes, something even moderately sized lenses allow.
  • They blocked all wind from hitting my eyes. Crosswinds, headwinds, speed winds. On any day that’s good. On freezing cold days, it’s magical.
  • They have (claimed) 100% UV protection, and the massive coverage means little chance of UV rays leaking around the lenses.

Assos Zegho cycling sunglasses review

Assos designed the lens fade, called TV for Tunnel Vision, to maintain visibility on the road in front of you when entering dark areas like tunnels. An unexpected benefit is when looking over your shoulder on the road to check for cars, the clear section and lack of framing means it is all but invisible. This makes it extremely clear and quick to see what’s behind you, a big safety bonus.

Assos Zegho cycling sunglasses review

On the brightest, sunniest days, I was wishing I had the dark tinted lenses. Otherwise, the yellow lenses have been excellent.

On one night mountain bike ride, it started drizzling. The rain rolled off so quickly as to be all but imperceptible, meaning I could continue to hammer. The bits of mud that starting flying up rolled or fell off quickly, too. It was pretty impressive. While riding, they lenses remained clear of fog. Once stopped, any lense is going to fog up a bit on cold days, and the Zegho’s are no exception. Once moving again, they clear in about four to seven seconds depending on temp and speed, which is as fast as any other sunglasses I’ve tested.

I’ve worn them with helmets from Giro (Aeon, ProLight), Specialized, Rudy Project and Mavic, and only with the Aeon did the arms hit it a bit funny and made it hard to keep them lined up where I wanted them.

One last note on their performance. Over three months of riding with them in all temperature ranges, I can’t remember more than two or three times when I had to readjust them mid-ride. They’re so light and fit so well, I almost forget about them, which is exactly what I want to do.

Assos Zegho cycling sunglasses review

With any luxury item, I expect a certain level of fancy packaging and story telling and Assos doesn’t disappoint. As a brand, they’re pretty good about building a story around their garments and gear. So is Rapha. I like it, it’s inspiring even if somewhat unattainable. For instance, they support some rides with a Porsche Panamera. They hand out bananas to riders and call it the Bananamera.

Assos Zegho cycling sunglasses review

The case is good. It’s leather-like and has held up to being tossed into my gear bag and stuffed in a full car. Perhaps the only niggling issues are that the inside of the case can leave small flecks of black felt fluff on the lenses and that they only come with a small cleaning wipe square, not a full microfiber bag as is common even with inexpensive sports shades.

Actual weight is 27g, spot on with their 27.5g claim.

I’m very particular about sunglasses. I’ve worn them daily since I was a kid. Do I love the styling of the Zegho’s? For cycling, I can deal with it (and get away with it). Any other time? No. These are for on the bike only, in my opinion.

Are they worth the price? Well, like anything expensive, if I had to think about whether I could really afford it, I probably can’t. But if the means are available, I’d recommend them pretty highly.

Assos has a dedicated mini-site for the Zegho’s here, which has an entire video sales presentation on them. Their main website is Assos.com.

Random anecdote: Standing trailside to pee, I looked at the landing spot and thought “Oh my, I’m dehydrated.” Then my eyes moved to the source of the stream and I thought “Phew, it’s clear, I’m well hydrated.” Then the disconnect made me pause. Mentally pause, not the flow. “Oh, yeah, these yellow lenses are clear at the bottom.” It was a little weird.

Comments

dgaddis - 01/10/12 - 10:17am

Maybe if they didn’t support rides with a Panamera they wouldn’t need to sell glasses for $400+ to keep the lights on.

They might be nice, but no way I’d ever spend that much on glasses. But if story telling justifies to price to others, more power to them.

craigsj - 01/10/12 - 10:20am

I only had to watch the video explanation of “why not polarized” to know that this product is all pretense. The real reason for “why not polarized” is that it costs money. Profits just can’t be high enough.

ajbosch - 01/10/12 - 10:34am

Saw them on the Assos site when buying bibs an disliked the immediately. Your review has justified that for me. I sweat around the eyes and NEED a little breeze around the eyes to keep them dry, if these don’t allow any wind in then they aren’t for me.

Tyler (Editor) - 01/10/12 - 10:38am

I’ve had Smith Optics also tell me (many years ago, they may have changed their stance) that polarized lenses had no place in cycling. Personally, I do like wearing polarized lenses on the road on sunny days and find that they cause less eye fatigue.

Gian - 01/10/12 - 11:15am

Those do look nice but I won’t spend that much on shades… even if they’re prescription which I should ride with (but don’t)

Polarized lenses can and will black out the screens of some cycling comps… Maybe that’s a good enough reason.

off-roadie - 01/10/12 - 11:20am

I really hoped this would end with a pee story!

Evan - 01/10/12 - 11:30am

400+ dollars for a pair of glasses is high, if not mad. However…….Tyler handed these glasses over to me for about 15 minutes on a MTB ride and I was astonished at the clarity of the lenses and the extremely generous amount of coverage plus protection these glasses provide. They felt great on my face and for those 15 minutes…I was very impressed.

ajbosch - 01/10/12 - 11:58am

I ride with Rudy Project Rydon’s with Photochromic polarized lenses and find that I have a greater “dark screen effect” when wearing the grey set of lenses which i use for midday rides. For early morning and dusk rides I use clear photochromic polarized lenses and have no dark screen problems. I use an Edge 800.

Most importantly the lenses seem to let just enough air through to prevent sweat from getting in my eyes.

h2ofuel - 01/10/12 - 12:12pm

Looks reminiscent of the big goggle-ish glasses of the Mario Cipollini generation. I’m okay with this since at the price I probably won’t have to endure it very much. I like the look of Oakley’s, BBB’s, or Rudy’s, but no doubt that they are a fine piece of optics.

craigsj - 01/10/12 - 12:41pm

“Polarized lenses can and will black out the screens of some cycling comps… Maybe that’s a good enough reason.”

For people who don’t know better, and fear missing things, maybe so. If signage was compromised, how could drivers function with polarized glasses? Are cycling competitions going out of their way to produce polarized light sources so as to ruin the benefit of a technology that has existed for decades?

I think the yellow gradient lenses used here lie to the rider more than polarized lenses do. Eyes have to adapt to varying density and color temp too. It’s just marketing.

craigsj - 01/10/12 - 12:47pm

Oh, screens on cycling computers, didn’t realize that’s what Glan was referring to. Regarding those, I agree with what ajbosch said.

Zap? - 01/10/12 - 4:57pm

I’m all for expensive sunglasses and I have quite a few pairs myself, but these look like safety glasses.

Cool tip: Safety glasses with clear lenses are great for riding at night on mountain bike trails.

Robin - 01/10/12 - 6:15pm

Polarized lenses have a place cycling. Mine do exactly what I want them to do: reduce glare and reduce incoming light by preventing transmission of light whose polarization angle is not congruent with the lens polarization angle. Simple, really.

The LCD display with polarized lenses problem? I don’t have it, and even if I did, I’d just rotate my head my head a bit to relieve that problem. Having improved contrast and better modulated light transmission is much more important to me than what the computer says. Besides, like with everything else in cycling, there are other options, like getting a computer whose LCD screen is polarized differently than one that may cause problems.

The video re: polarization is a few minutes of completely fubared polarization explanation. Never let the marketing guy explain polarization. You’ll still see that puddle.

Chris - 01/10/12 - 11:00pm

I don’t care how technically superior they are, they still look like womens glasses which is fine if you’re a woman. Even if they were free I wouldn’t wear them.

Eric - 01/12/12 - 2:55pm

Regarding polarized lenses for cycling- they can be a great experience for most people. They are not ideal for ALL people in ALL uses. Some people get a little vertigo effect due to ‘horizon bounce’ on MTB rides. Polarization for road riding is very nice as it reduces glare (eye strain/fatigue) without affecting color or darkness- the actual tint drives this. Lenses and visual experience are a very individual thing. Depending on light conditions, time of year (sun angle), individual vision, etc. the ideal tint is totally individual. The most important thing about eyewear when riding is to use some for protection. Enjoy.

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