Over the past few years, Smith Optics has defined a style of eyewear that has come to dominate the cycling world. Big, flashy lenses with cool tints and wide coverage have become ubiquitous, and it almost feels like people who are new to the spot consider a pair of Smith’s a requisite piece of gear alongside shoes, bibs and a helmet. I’ve been wearing Smith sunglasses for years, and this summer had the chance to do a “His and Hers” review covering the Split Shift MAG (Hers) and Shift MAG (His). We’ve seen roads, gravel and singletrack whiz by out of these lenses and we’re ready to spill the beans.
Smith Split Shift MAG and Shift MAG Features:
- 1 ChromaPop™ bright light lens and 1 interchangeable clear lens
- Hydrophilic megol temple & nose pads for a secure fit
- Microfiber bag and zippered case included
- Two-position adjustable nose pads
- Hydroleophobic lens coating
- Medium fit / L-XL coverage
- Auto-lock hinges
- 5 base cylindrical lens
- High-impact Nylon TR90
- MSRP: $279 (Shift Split MAG), $289 (Shift MAG)
Options for every rider:
Smith has a big lineup of cycling sunglasses, but it can be hard to glean from the website which frames will fit which faces. Shield style lenses have many desirable qualities, but people with smaller faces can have a hard time making a good selection. I have a giant noggin and picking shield frames is pretty easy, but my fiancé’s face is thin and it’s more of a challenge.
Kelsey has been riding the Shift Split MAG frames all summer and we’ll get to her comments on them later. But, for riders with small faces, Smith has a couple of good options. For performance shield lenses like what we’re testing, the Attack MAG MTB has the smallest lens profile of Smith’s offerings. Their overall smallest performance frame, though, is the Resolve. We got our frames sight-unseen, but when investing in a nice things like this it’s great to be able to try frames on first, or order from a vendor with free returns.
Smith’s technologies are creative and address many of the common problems that cyclists have. For one, the nose and temple pads are made of their ‘Megol’ rubberized material that attracts water (from your sweat) and become ‘stickier’ when sweaty. So, in theory they stay in place and won’t slide down your nose.
Kelsey rode her Shift Split MAG’s all over the northwest this summer, from British Columbia down to Bend for a Ladies AllRide event put on there. This was her first pair of shield-style glasses, and she loved the full coverage protection and visibility. Since her Shifts are the ‘split’ style, it was easy for her to pop out the tinted and clear lenses which can be a real boon in the changing Northwest light, or for riding the particularly deep forests of BC.
The one complaint about the Shift Split MAG’s that Kelsey consistently voiced was about them sliding down her face. It’s true, the Megol nose pads and temples help the glasses stay in place, and we both found that as the ride went on the sliding actually improved… unless it was an exceptionally hot, sweaty day and then all bets were off. Perhaps too much sweat works like magnets of the same polarity between the rubber pads and your skin?
For my part, I’ve reviewed a few different Smith shield frames in the past and I loved the Shift MAG’s. This was my first pair with Smith’s MAG technology and I really liked the technology. My quibble with interchangeable lenses is that, often, you have to put a good amount of force through flimsy plastic. With the MAG technology, the magnetics do the work rather than fragile plastic tabs.
I loved the ChromaPop Rose Gold lenses. Smith’s optical quality is really at the top of the heap, and it’s one of the main reasons to choose their glasses over others. I like Rose Gold because it adds a bit of vibrancy to greens and browns, two very prominent colors up here. The result is a sort of added contrast, which can help me process terrain as it flows by quickly.
I’m rocking a Smith Forefront 2 Helmet this summer, and there are a couple of key integration features to consider here. One is the slick tracks that Smith builds into their helmets so that you can stash glasses there. I often do that on long climbs when I’m getting sweaty, and they stay pretty well. Smith also built in a special vent that they call their AirEvac channel, which works with the glasses to ventilate lenses as you work. I tend to run hot and often fog up, but for me the Smith double whammy of helmet and glasses really kept my vision clear. Kelsey doesn’t run as hot, and never had fogging issues except for an exceptionally swampy day at Bellingham’s Galbraith Mountain.
- ChromaPop delivers really top-notch optical quality
- Frames are lightweight and strong
- MAG technology works well
- Integrations with Smith helmets are a boon
- Kelsey’s narrower face still worked well with the Shift Split MAG’s, but know that other options exist
- The Megol grips definitely help, but it’s hard to keep a shield lens from slipping
- Big lenses are, inevitably, a big target for fingerprints
The Bottom Line: Smith Shift and Shift MAG Sunglasses
It’s hard not to love Smith glasses, and it’s also true that they come at a premium. What you get is really excellent optical quality, durable nylon plastic frames, a handy clear lens and trail cred. I personally love the integrations with my Smith helmet, and was relieved that the ventilation combo seems adequate to keep up with my massive heat production on climbs. For the fast-changing light conditions of forest riding or Northwest weather, Smith glasses with ChromaPop are hard to beat.