Gear: Liberty Sport Eyewear – Helmet Friendly Optics

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Liberty Sport Eyewear Rider DE

By the time you’re ten years old, your vision is about as good as it gets. Somewhere in the next couple of decades though, it all starts going to pot. Raise your hand out there if  you wear glasses. Now, do you wear them when you ride?

Finding a pair of frames that play nice with a helmet has been a big problem for me; I’m funny about not wanting my temples to feel like they’re going to explode. But, I’m starting to miss corners. Reading street signs is getting harder and harder, and can’t tell sh** from shineonla in dappled sunlight…is that a pothole? An oil stain? Road kill? This is not good. Being able to see when you ride your motorcycle is good. Good thing Liberty Sport tracked me down.

Liberty Sport, Inc. focuses specifically on frames and sunglasses for action sports. They provided several different models for this review, and honestly, I was fully expecting to hate ‘em all. Why wouldn’t I? I’ve spent thousands of dollars looking for frames that don’t hurt my face like holy water on a vampire. The Liberty Sports looked like the usual big, bulky offenders. Surprisingly, they were not. I tried them with a variety of helmets (Icon Airframe, Bell Star, AGV K3) and completely forgot about them the minute I put my visor down. And an hour later when I got to work.

Liberty Sport Eyewear Rider DE

It’s not just about being lightweight, which the Libertys are, but they have some pretty nice features you won’t find in regular eyewear. The frames I tested had a face-hugging fit and a soft, flexible bridge and nose pads that really enhanced comfort. Some styles have removable, magnetic ‘sidecups’ to minimize peripheral glare and wind (a real problem if you suffer from dry eyes or allergies). The magnet is strong and tight, but if you’re used to grabbing your frames at the corner, you’ll have to get used to grabbing them somewhere else; more than once I did this only to have the thing pop off and get lost in my helmet.

Liberty Sport Eyewear

Motorcycle-specific styles come with an Ultimate Driver (rose-amber) tint designed for speed and motion activities which was really easy on the eyes (literally), but I also like the Ultimate Outdoor (amber) and Ultimate Polarized Neutral (gray) lenses. All lenses have UV 400 coating for maximum UVA/UVB protection and are impact-resistant per ASTM Z80.3 standards*.

[*Testing done by the American Society for Testing and Materials means these glasses will withstand an object hitting them with enough force to transmit 19 joules of energy without breaking. To put it in context, 1 joule is about how much energy is created when you a small apple dropped from a height of three feet or so hits a solid surface. Multiply by nineteen. Adjusting for mass, and based on anecdotal experience, I’d say the average size bug slamming into your face while you’re going 70mph is about 18.995 joules. Just a guess.]

Sunglasses (or a helmet’s tinted shield) improve visibility and protect your eyes from the elements. They won’t do squat for vision correction. Happily, all Liberty Sport lenses are Rx-able. Knock yourself out.

  • William Connor

    Maybe I missed it. What’s the pricing range on these? (scratch that I followed the link) I don’t need glasses but the side cup helping with allergens is worth testing. Here on the “Right” coast it’s full on allergy season and mine are apparently on full attack mode.

  • atomicalex

    Base curves? I doubt it. Pretty much every sport frame out there (these appear to be so) requires a silly base curve that won’t work with higher-diopter ‘scripts.

    My trusty old Orgreen Providers will have to do.

    • IRS4

      I just got some Liberty’s for bicycle riding, with frameless magnetic swappable lenses (clear and sun prescription). They took an extra two weeks and adjusted the lenses to work with my scrip. They both work fine outdoors (I ride home after dark most of the year) but I can not read or look sat my commuter screen with the clears, so I keep a regular pair of ‘flat’ glasses at work.

      • IRS4

        pic

        • eddi

          Those look about like my prescription. But I prefer a full frame. At least Liberty is worth considering. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 10. The changes in just the last few years are more comfortable and longer lasting. Coated lenses and silicon nose and ear pads are the best thing since Nero’s emerald monocle.

    • Miles Prower

      I’ve been wearing various prescription Rec Specs (one of the Liberty Sport brands) for two decades now — hang-gliding, bicycling, snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, motorcycling. My current Rec Specs model is the Maxx. I have -6 diopter lenses with a base curve of 6. They are the clearest glasses I own. (I also have numerous Rudy Project prescription glasses, some that were lensed by Rudy Project’s USA partner and others by the local optician. The Rec Specs are still the best vision-wise, and most comfortable underneath my numerous helmets.

  • Clint Keener

    Um no I’m not wearing walmart looking sunglasses. Ever.

    • Michael Howard

      I wear sunglasses behind a clear visor all the time and have never noticed a reflection. Damn you, now I’m going to be looking for one all the time. If I become cross-eyed I’ll know who to blame ;)

      • Clint Keener

        It gets really bad when the sun is low. Other times may not be noticeable.

    • Heather McCoy

      Rode all day with three different helmets, all of them with tinted visors…no reflection. Maybe it was those Walmart glasses of yours? Lol…just kidding, Clint.

      • Clint Keener

        I use to wear a tinted shield, then got too lazy to carry an extra clear one around all day and bought a helmet with a flip down tinted inner visor. I still would rather have only one piece of plastic in front of my eyes though.

        I do like that Diesel AGV helmet though.

        • Heather McCoy

          It’s pretty boss with the mirrored shield!
          I’m going to have to break down and get some corrective eyewear for riding (dang it). I’m too lame for contacts. At least I know these frames are durable and comfortable, but ugh…the thought of “riding glasses”…I know…

          • charlie

            Speaking of that helmet, how do you like the visibility and ventilation?

            • Heather McCoy

              Excellent visibility, good ventilation.

      • Scott Vogt

        i have had this happen but with polarized lenses. I dont know the exact science behind it but depending on the light outside its like looking thru a bloody rainbow. cool effect but pretty distracting

        • eddi

          The polarization of the lenses and visor aren’t quite lined up. If they were at 90 degrees to each other, you could not see through them. If they were parallel there would be no fringe effect.

        • ThruTheDunes

          I notice the same rainbow effect (my prescription sunglasses are polarized), but it is not very pronounced and once my point of focus is on something else, I don’t notice it.

          I did experience a weird color shift the other day, though. The way the sun was reflecting off the windshields of a string of four cars that came around a corner, it looked like they all had blue lights in their windshields. Since the lead car was the same Dodge used by LEOs, I thought it was an unmarked cruiser slowed and pulled to the edge of the road until I realized what was going on. Confusitated the poor guy following me.

  • the antagonist

    Those are some ugly-ass glasses to spend from $156-176 bucks on. I’ll stick to my Wiley-X’s. Admittedly, they’re not great looking either, but they offer similar face sealing and ANSI rated protection for 40-50% less. And they’re from a trusted manufacturer that’s been around for a while.

    But hey, competition is always good I guess.

    http://www.wileyx.com/EcommSuite/ProductListing.aspx?ActivityCode=MOTORCYCLE&SeriesCode=CLIMATE_CONTROL

    • Heather McCoy

      Just so you know, ANSI rating signifies impact protection up to 3 joules (vs 19 joules with ASTM certification). I did not know any of this a week ago.

      • the antagonist

        Thanks for the reply, Heather. 19 joules is impressive, but I’m not looking for glasses to stop a small caliber bullet, just ones that won’t shatter in a get off, sending shards into my eyes. On deployment in Iraq we wore ANSI rated goggles and I’ve seen them stop shrapnel from roadside bombs. So I’m pretty confident in their ability to handle regular road debris.

        • Heather McCoy

          Well, that trumps any dopey lab-controlled study in my book! Joules mean little to me, but experience like yours speaks volumes! THANK YOU, sure, for the comment, but mostly for your service!

  • tobykeller

    Best money I ever spent on myself (and my riding): $2k for Lasik surgery. The best clinics in Bangkok have better machines and better trained doctors than all but a few places in the US, and the cost is so much lower you can take the hit on flight+hotels and still come out ahead.

    • SneakyJimmy

      Give us a breakdown on costs. Was that $2,000 trip included? How did you locate a doctor? Recovery time?
      thanks

  • Hans

    I wear a helmet with a sun visor, much better than glasses. Especially if you live a place with a lot of dark tunnels. It is not fun to drive into a tunnel with no (working) lights with sunglasses on. Fumbling with your visir to get the sunglases out of the way is the last thing you should be doing in those dark places…

    • eddi

      Those spring-loaded levers are exactly what’s needed there.

  • Joseph Brassard

    Oakley Jawbone, vented, non-polarized, are what I wear. I believe they are ANSI rated, and having them vented means a bit more fog-protection. Easy to swap out lenses for something much more transparent on cloudy days or even night riding, if you want your visor up.

    http://www.backcountry.com/oakley-jawbone-sunglasses

    I always stay away from Polarized lenses. You start tripping the light fantastic when you have your visor down or look through your windscreen (aka, anthing that has a UV filter). Not to mention when you tilt your head, your LED display will black out. Not good times.

    • Piglet2010

      Under the right (wrong?) conditions polarized lenses can make it impossible to see wet or icy spots on the road – not a good thing.

  • James Jamerson

    Because I can’t hear a word problem without solving it:
    Weight of housefly: 12mg
    Target energy: 20 Joules
    Energy Equation: E=MV^2
    Calculated velocity required: 4084mph.

    • James Jamerson

      Or, working the other direction:
      20 Joules at 100mph requires: 20grams.
      > 200 bees
      > 1″ cube of rock
      > 1 wheel lug

      • zedro

        I’m guessing it’s a bit arbitrary to testing method, because a 1gram monster insect vs a 1gram of hard stone is going to have very different impact characteristics (energy dissipation?).

        • James Jamerson

          Definitely, probably some component of PSI or something.

        • Heather McCoy

          If you Google ASTM, you’ll find more information. They referenced a tennis ball, but that tells me less than the joules thing. Looks like Mr.Jamerson can tell us what we REALLY need to know! ;)

  • Heather McCoy

    A word on impact-protection: ANSI certification is utilized for fashion sunglasses, and infers impact resistance up to 3 joules, whereas ASTM certification is used for ‘sports’ use, and infers impact resistance up to 19 joules. Just something to keep in mind.

  • ThruTheDunes

    My hand is raised – I wear glasses when I ride. I got wire frames for both clear lenses and sunglasses for the very concern you expressed: no fat frames being squeezed between my head and my helmet. As it is, it is a tight squeeze for my wire frames (nice snug fitting helmet).

    I look at the pics in the article and their website and it seems like the frames are a bit on the thick side for fitting comfortably between my skull and my helmet (full face). Are they thinner than they look?

    • Heather McCoy

      They’re SOFTER and much lighter than they look; very flexible. I think the curved shape helps, too. Check their return policy; I really did forget I even had the things on. Been wearing a pair daily while hiking, only because they’re so much more comfortable than my ridiculously expensive Chrome Hearts!

  • Dan Sciannameo

    You can bobster ANSi z87 glasses for motorcycling for less than $50. I sent them my RX and they made bifocul (distance and reading) with transition lenses (ANSI Z87) for under $200 total.