Mountain biking has some special requirements when it comes to optics. Sunglasses for the trail have to be tough while providing great clarity, field of vision, and protection from wind, dust, and flying stuff. Tall order, that is. Yoda, I am. After two months of testing, the Bolle B-Rock sunglasses hit all the marks.
Everything starts with a good lens. The B-Rock has one. Yes, one. It’s a shield design, so there isn’t a bridge between your eyes. Bolle’s B-Clear (see the pattern?) lenses kick typical polycarbonate to the curb and use a material called Trivex instead. Word on the street is that Trivex provides better optical clarity than polycarbonate. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference.
The B-Rock lens includes Bolle’s photochromatic tech, called Modulator. I’m generally not a fan of photochromics because they react too slowly to changing light. Great for slower activities where light changes based on cloud cover. Not to much for mountain biking when you move between sun and shade in seconds. That said, Modulator did not interfere with my riding. The lenses also have the usual oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings. they never work all that well for me – I forget and look down at something while riding and my sweat gets right on the lens. Subjectively, there may have been less lens gunk on the B-Rocks than on other lenses I’ve ridden with recently. I may be able to attribute that to the coating. On the other hand, maybe my conscious effort to avoid dripping sweat on my lenses is working.
Bolle also touts an anti-fog coating that they say means “no fogging on your eyewear under any circumstances.” You better believe I fogged the crap out of the B-Rocks. No coating can stop me from fogging shades. This sounds bad, right? Didn’t I say that the B-Rock had a good lens? Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations for any of these features, so when they weren’t up to snuff, I wasn’t disappointed. On the bright side of things, Bolle’s polarization is well executed! But overall, I really like riding with the Bolle B-Clear lenses in the B-Rock.
The frame is where the B-Rock shines though. They have a full, but minimal frame surrounding the lens. Bolle incorporates a brow bar across the top of the frame so that if your shades rest on your forehead, sweat gets diverted. The B-Rocks sit a bit off my face, so no problem there. Fit is extremely adjustable on these frames. The nosepiece can move to fit just about any shape nose, unlike some frames where you’re just stuck with whatever shape the manufacturer molded. You can also trim the nose pads, which are made from a tacky rubber, to find a perfect fit. Ear pieces are also adjustable, so if you have a pressure point like I do with some shades, you can bend them to fix it. The frames feature vents at the corners to allow airflow in without blasting your eyes with wind. Overall, the B-Rocks are a great shape for blasting singletrack.
I had the Bolle B-Rocks out on over 60 miles of trail riding in March. I went through an anti- data collection phase earlier in the year and stopped tracking mileage, but figure about the same for February as well. Conditions ranged from 70° and sunny to 25° with some sort of strange, half-frozen mist falling from the sky.
In all conditions, I really enjoyed riding with the B-Rock. It matched up well with helmets and fit my face well once adjusted. I couldn’t tell you if the photochromic features work, but if they did, they didn’t detract from my riding. In a broader sense, the fact that I was able to wear the B-Rocks on both sunny and cloudy days speaks to the versatility of the lenses, even if they weren’t noticeably adjusting tints. I did try to observe them darkening in the sun. Pinky swear.
Field of vision is great and I never felt the B-Rocks get in the way of my riding. They’re exceptionally comfortable and stay put over the rockiest of rock gardens. I ride a rigid bike, so that’s actually an accomplishment. And, while I was able to overpower the anti-fog on them, I can’t blame Bolle for that. I’m a fog machine. Under the right circumstances I could create ambiance at a rave.
The Bolle B-Rocks are a nice set of sunglasses for mountain biking. And maybe trail running. Probably some other outdoorsey stuff too. But please, swap them out for something else before you grab a post-ride beer.
Bolle offers the B-Rock in six different configurations. All of them have the full suite of lens coatings mentioned above. Our tester, “Matte Smoke” with the brown-base lens is the Modulator photochromic model. The other five have category 3 grey base tints with various mirrors or no mirror at all. Prices range from $180 for the basic grey lens to $199 for the Modulator. For the extra $20, you might as well. But, if you’re on a smaller-ish budget, and only because we love you, you can snag a pair with the Modulator lens from Nashbar for $130, right down there.