Tifosi, despite the Italian-sounding name, with reference to the mad roadie supporting fans at the Giro d’Italia, is in fact an American sports eyewear company established in 2003. The Rail is very much an on-trend ‘bigger is better’ approach to mountain bike sunglasses design, with huge coverage on offer. They may look a bit daft off the bike, but once paired with a cycle helmet, look great and do an admirable job of protecting your eyes.
Design and Aesthetics
The color on test is Crystal Blue which nicely describes the arms that fade from a transparent blue to matte black and back to transparent blue. Eight other color variants are available. The arms are made from Grilamid TR90 thermoplastic which feels reassuringly tough, and the end of the arms have a metal core which allows the arm tips to be shaped to your head. The metal core is encased in the transparent plastic and is hardly visible underneath the hydrophilic rubber sleeves, a material that’s designed to offer more grip the more you sweat. The same metal core and hydrophilic rubber has been used for the nose piece to offer similar adjustment –
this negates Tifosi from having to supply different nose pieces to fit different shaped noses.
This particular Rail model is supplied with three interchangeable lenses, all made from shatterproof polycarbonate, providing 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. Out of the box they are fitted with a Clarion Blue lens which has a gray tint with a blue mirrored finish intended for bright sunny conditions. The photos don’t do justice for how blue they really look – think 1990s Oakley Blue Iridium if you were around at the time! They are a category 3 light filter on the ISO 12312-1 scale and should be reserved for those bright sunny days. Within the supplied hard carry case, which has a detachable pocket for the spare lenses, you will find an All Conditions Red lens with a high-contrast medium tint. These also have a classy-looking lightly mirrored finish and are a category 2 light filter on the above ISO scale. Finally, there is a clear lens for low light conditions; category 0 on the scale. As usual a microfibre cleaning bag is supplied in the case to keep the lenses in tiptop condition.
The lenses measure 131mm from arm to arm and are 59.5mm at their deepest. The rimless design also keeps the weight down to a svelte 32g.
I’ve been quite impressed with how easy the Rail is to live with. Changing the lenses is a bit tricky to begin with, but once you’ve got the knack it’s very straightforward. The arms simply clip onto the lens with a satisfying click – it relies on the flexibility of the arm material in lieu of any complicated attachment method. The nose piece is the more difficult part to swap, but again gets easier the more times you do it.
Despite being significantly bigger than my normal riding sunglasses, I didn’t have any issues with the fit. Initially I didn’t realize the arms and nose piece could be adjusted to customize the fit, as this isn’t detailed in the supplied instructions. I only realized they could be adjusted after noticing that Tifosi lists the arms and nose piece as being adjustable on its website, the rest I had to work out for myself. It’s worth noting that the arms are quite long, and until I adjusted the tips of the arms, they interfered with helmet straps and retention systems. That said, after making the necessary tweaks, I didn’t have any further issues. I typically use a medium-sized helmet and can imagine those with a smaller head using a size small helmet may struggle with the arm length on the Rails.
The Rails really do offer huge coverage and the rimless design gives an uninterrupted field of vision. Going back to my usual rimmed sunglasses made this really noticeable. Despite the large size, the Rails didn’t sit overly close to my face, and I didn’t suffer from any fogging issues during the testing. Wind turbulence around the face was on a par with other large sized sunglasses. As with other large lens designs, the height of the lens is quite tall above the nose, and when riding chunky trails, I did find this could knock against the bottom edge of the brow of some helmets. It certainly isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s probably worth checking the fit with your helmet before committing.
Unfortunately, I’ve not had many bright sunny days to test the Clarion Blue lens. Most of my time has been spent with the All Conditions Red lens. As the name suggests these are well suited to mixed conditions, giving a reddish-orange tint to make the world seem a bit brighter. A bit of digging on the Tifosi website states a 39 percent light transmission value for the All Conditions Red lens, which tallies well with the 36 percent light transmission on my go-to Oakley Prism Trail for mixed conditions. The Tifosi lens isn't quite up there with the Prism lens with regards to contrast and definition, but it does a good job considering the price difference. All the lenses provide clear and distortion free visibility.
There really isn’t much to fault with the Tifosi Rail if they suit your head shape and brand of helmet, and from my experience they would be better suited to those with a medium to large sized head. They provide huge coverage and haven’t suffered with any fogging issues during testing. My only minor gripe would be that the Crystal Blue arms look great with the Clarian Blue and Clear lenses, but don’t match so well with my preferred All Conditions Red lens with its reddish tint, and in the UK at least, the All Conditions Red lens will be seeing a lot more use than the Clarion Blue lens.
Tech specs: Tifosi Rail Sunglasses
- Price: $80.00 / £89.99
- Weight: 32g
- Sizes: N/A
- Colors: Various arm and lens options available