Rudy Project Karboneye Review

by Brian Mullin on December 8, 2011

The Rudy Project KarbonEye is an incredible pair of sunglasses, and the frameless design has superb peripheral visibility and a panoramic field of view, and lenses offers excellent optical clarity. The KarbonEye is comfortable, durable and lightweight, and the lenses are made with tough and trick ImpactX material.

Rudy Project KarbonEye
The KarbonEye temple are constructed with a stainless steel core and an outer carbon fiber foils bonded together with over-injected Megol, a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which offers a soft and hypo-allergenic rubber, for maximum comfort and adhesion.

The one-piece ImpactX Photochromic lens, offers excellent wrap-around protection, light management and optical clarity, and they’ll accept a prescription stainless steel optical insert. The Ergonose 4 nose pads use an aerated version of the Megol, and are adjustable for comfort and fit. The KarbonEye comes in a nice carrying case, is available in three versions: the Carbon/Red frame with ImpactX Photochromic Red lens ($359.99), the White Carbon/Black frame with ImpactX Photochromic Clear lens ($359.99), and White Carbon/Black frame with Polar3fx Laser Grey lens ($384.99).

ImpactX
The NXT polyurethane polymer technology was born of the successful efforts to develop advanced transparent armor for U.S. Army helicopters. Commercial applications for this new polymer material led to the production of lenses and shields for sunglasses and sport eye wear. The NXT lens is manufactured by pouring resin into a low-temperature glass molds. This reduces the tension in the material and gives better optical quality and homogeneity, excellent transparency and improved long-term stability. The NXT lens meets the ANSI Z87.1 standard for industrial application impacts, meaning it must withstand a pointed 17.6 ounce projectile dropped from a height of 50 inches, and 1/4 inch steel ball traveling at 150 ft/sec. ImpactX lens technology offers the NXT semi-rigid molecular properties, including enhanced impact resistance, superb optics, and scratch-resistance, formulated exclusively for Rudy Project, by combining photochromic particles and advanced polarized technology for any type of climatic and light condition.

The photochromic lenses will darken or lighten depending on light intensity, come in several colors, each with a differing light transmission range, and include Golf Green (13-38%), Red (21-50%), Clear (18-78%), Laser Clear (16-62%), Brown (21-50%) and Grey (12-30%), and they all provide 100% UVA and UVB protection. The polarized lenses will enhance contrast and depth perception, and come in two colors, Grey and Brown, which have 12% light transmission and  100% UVA and UVB protection.  Rudy Projects backs their lenses toughness with their Replacement Lens Guarantee (RLG) policy, and if a customer ever scratches them, for whatever reason, they’ll replace the lenses for a nominal shipping & handling fee of $19.95.

Impressions
The red photochromic lens worked great in changing light, and they didn’t have any issues with moving in and out of the trees. They got dark enough in bright conditions to keep things pleasant without being blinded, while in dimmer settings, they mellowed out to a subdued hue. The red tint offered good contrast, sharpness, reduced glare and increased depth perception, which was beneficial in technical terrain, and when you rolled directly into the sun. I usually ride in places in which I am going in and out of the shade, into wooded areas, and I also ride a lot in the late afternoon, so I appreciated the self-adjusting photochromic lens. In extremely bright light and late dusk, they were outside of their comfort zone, though it was really pushing the boundaries of its light transmission range. The lens’s coating properties and how their shape bows out away from the face, meant I didn’t have any issues with fogging, even in cold, wet and humid conditions, including when I was sweating profusely on a hot day.

The lens has a high degree of clarity, and the shape and frameless design offered a superb panoramic field of view, without any edges or obstructions. The spaciousness and bendability of the lens, along with the temples flexibility and padding, and the comfortable nosepiece, worked in synergy to make the sunglasses disappear on your face. It was nice to forget that you were wearing a set of sunglasses. The fit snugly, so even when thrashing and bashing through the most extreme conditions and terrain, they stayed firmly planted. The lens was wide and decently tall, so they provided good wind blockage and sun protection, though sometimes the frameless design meant watery eyes when going Mach 1 or when dealing with high winds. Although the temples are skinny, the lens wraparound design provided decent side protection for scattered side light entry. The nosepiece and the temple tips have a good amount of adjustability, for altering the fit, and increasing the comfort. I didn’t like the end of the temple tips, as they were slightly sharp, and on occasion, I would poke myself when putting them on. The hinges are hidden, which provides additional safety during a crash, and no pinching where it closes.

I really liked the nice carrying case they came with, and it was extremely easy to place them into it, and it offered a lot of protections, which was handy when tossing it into your travel bag. They are brutally expensive, although the technology, design and especially the addition of the carbon fiber bumps up the costs. Their price point is in line to some of Oakley’s pricier models, but is still cheaper than its top of the line $1500 C SIX. Thanks to the durable NXT, the lenses have been bombproof, and I have gotten no scratches, which is pretty amazing, since I always seem to do that with any eyewear, even the ones that are supposed to be unscratchable (marketing hyperbole). I do admit that due to the price and my love of the KarbonEye, I am extra cautious with them, and treat them with additional TLC.

Measured Specs:

  • Weight: 30.1 grams/1.06 ozs
  • Lens size: 136mm x 49mm (  x inches)
  • Arm Length: 132mm (  inches)
  • Frame size: 139mm wide ( inches) x 142mm long ( inches)

 

Bottom Line
The Rudy Project KarbonEye is a superb pair of sunglasses, which is comfortable, lightweight and stays put, and the frameless design provides an incredible panoramic view. The ImpactX lens has exceptional clarity, and the photochromic capabilities work wonders in varying conditions, and I especially enjoyed the red tint, which offers excellent contrast, sharpness, reduces glare and increases depth perception. The synergy of the comfort, flexible lens and temples, and frameless and spaciousness of the design meant I forget that I was wearing them, which is a sure sign of a great pair of sunglasses (or any apparel product). The durable, scratch and impact resistant NXT material is pretty amazing, and offers outstanding safety. The trick and sharp-looking steel and carbon-fiber temples, is coated with a soft and resilient rubber, and the nosepiece and tip have great adjustability for fitting and comfort.  The Rudy Project KarbonEye is brutally expensive, but their excellent features, extreme comfort and frameless design make for an exceptional pair of sunglasses.

Strengths

  • Photochromic – red tint was excellent
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Superb Clarity
  • Anti-Fog
  • Panoramic view
  • Frameless design
  • You forget you are wearing sunglasses

Weaknesses

  • Temple tip end point is pointy
  • Brutally expensive

 MSRP: $359.99 – $384.99

 

Overall Rating: 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

 

For more information on the KarbonEye, Rudy Project’s Rx-program or other Rudy Project products, please visit their website at www.rudyprojectusa.com.

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