Whenever we talk with a company regarding a new product test, the first question on our minds is what makes this product different when compared with others on the market? While we tend to receive a variety of responses, they all tend to boil down to a few main categories: technology, features, and price. Out of the three, we tend to get a bit nervous when price is given as the differentiator. Experience has shown us that often (but not always as is seen with the Flo 60s) a reduced price means reduced features, which can lead to a subpar product. So when we spoke to XX2i and heard that price was their differentiator for the France1 Pro Racing Kit, we inevitably got nervous. But here’s the thing, the France1 Pro Racing kit is so much more than its price would lead you to believe.
The France1 Pro Racing Kit
When price is provided as a product’s differentiator that is where we have to start. For $89.99 ($53.99 for our readers!) you get the following – France1 frames (plastic), three sets of lenses (laser blue, orange, and clear), two additional sets of nose pads and temple tips, a microfiber case for the glasses, two microfiber cases for the additional lenses, a screw driver to replace the nose pads, and a hard protector case. For comparison, Oakley offers the Fast Jackets with a frame, two sets of lenses, one microfiber bag and a hard protector case for $220.
While style is always a personal choice, we have to say the France1’s just look good. We had a number of people ask us about the frames (usually when we had the blue lenses in), and they were all pleasantly surprised when we shared the price.
Racing the France1s
When we received the France1s our first step was to throw them on (with the blue lenses) and just run some errands around town. We thought if the frames could stand up to everyday wear then we were pretty safe to take them out for a first ride. Right away we noticed the clarity of the lenses and how much light was being filtered. No, they did not block the same amount of light as a set of Oakley Black Iridium lenses, but they weren’t too far off. The frames were snug on our head, and we weren’t able to easily shake them off.
Once we got past our initial test period with them, we started using the frames actively on the bike. In fact, for the entirety of the Giro Air Attack test, when we weren’t using the shield we were using the France1 kit. And at no point did they disappoint. Our editors found that they felt comparatively light against a pair of Oakley M-Frames, even though their actual weight (26g) was the same (Fast Jackets come in a bit heavier at 30g).
We also spent time wearing the clear lenses for early morning rides and at night. During the Air Attack tests, we would start our rides with the France1s (clear lenses) and swap to the shield when the sun came up. Again we found the XX2i lenses to be remarkably clear.
Unfortunately, while the kit comes with three sets of lenses, swapping them out is the biggest shortcoming of the kit. When we received the kit, there were no instructions for removing the lenses. We reached out to XX2i and received the following – “To pull a lens out of the France1 frame, grip it near the nose and pull down. This should release it and it will pull right out. To put the lens back in, insert the edge of the lens nearest to the hinge first, slide the lens up into the nose area, pushing with your thumbs until you feel it ‘click’ into place. It may take a bit of force to snap the lens back up into the frame.” Following the instructions we were able to get the lenses in and out, which we did on a number of occasions as we cycled through the lenses. But it always made us a bit uncomfortable to do it due to the force required to remove and replace them.
We probably should have prefaced this article with the following: we here at AeroGeeks are self-confessed sunglasses snobs. We never buy glasses on a whim. We’ve been known to spend hours researching and trying on new frames and lenses until we get the perfect combination. To date, we have spent most of our time in Oakleys. We’ve found the fit and lenses to be superb. This being the case, Mike (who did the majority of testing with the France1s) spent the past month choosing to wear the France1s as his daily pair of glasses instead of his usual Fast Jackets or Straight Jackets. The France1s were simply that good.
No, the lenses did not dissipate light as well as the Oakley lenses. And yes, the effort required to remove the lenses from the France1s is not even in the same league as the quick lens removal you’d experience with Fast Jackets. But for 41% of the retail price (25% for our readers) you get way more than 41% of the product. To us, that is the greatest benefit of the France1 kit. You get a legit set of glasses at a tremendous price. For those that are looking for a good, affordable set of frames for your early morning and late night rides, the Pro Racing kit is the way to go—with the added benefit of additional lenses if need be.
Oh, and lest we forget – the AeroGeek readers price. A number of times we have mentioned how our readers are able to get an even better deal on the France1 kit. Enter “AeroGeeks” as your coupon code at XX2i.com and get 40% off on your order.