When signing up for WTC races, Mike always pauses on one of the questions; somewhere between asking your name and if you’d like to purchase an additional food ticket, the form asks if you wear contact lenses. Now for those lucky few with perfect 20-20 vision (Tracy, we’re looking at you!) you skim right past this question without a second thought. But for those of us who aren’t so lucky, a nagging worry is always lurking in the back of our minds—what happens if we lose a lens in the water or on the bike? Some of us stash a set of lenses in transition. Others have a pair of glasses set aside (though usually these are everyday frames meant to serve as a last resort—not something you’d purposely choose to wear out on the bike). While others figure they can go sans lenses altogether. But do you really want to be doing 30mph down a descent with impaired vision?
This is where a company like SportRx can meet a very important need. For the past 18 years, SportRx has been making lenses for both nearsighted and farsighted athletes alike. And over the past few months we have spent quite a bit of time talking to Rob Tavakoli of SportRx. The overriding message you get from Rob is their belief that athletes are willing to compromise nothing when it comes to speed. However, what athletes too often forget is that speed doesn’t matter if you can’t see (and if you’re lacking the perfect frames for the event). Your frames may keep the wind out of your eyes when on the pursuits, but when deep in the aero position are you looking through the lenses or over the top of the frame? If it is the latter, SportRx is there to help.
But before we get into the product (SportRx sent us not one or two, but three sets of lenses for us to experience – all custom made to our specifications and prescription) we wanted to share a bit about SportRx. Like us here in AG, SportRx strives to ensure that every athlete has the right equipment to perform to the utmost limit of their abilities. This is a company that goes beyond the desire to make a dollar on a sale.
Starting in 1996 with wrap around prescription glasses, SportRx has been an innovator in the industry. They were the first to offer wrap-around Rx lenses for sale via the Internet. While their roots started with two-wheeled motor sports, they have since graduated to meeting the visual needs of almost all sports, as well as military, scuba, and construction. However, cycling is their number one market.
The company has an athletes- \ sports-first mentality. For proof, check out what you find outside the shop – a fully stocked SAG stop with water bottles, food, and drink. This is how industry leading companies do it right, cater to athletes’ needs and the sales will follow.
The Buying Process
SportRx has a great website with a buying guide, multiple options, and live online help – https://www.sportrx.com. But here’s the thing, don’t bother visiting it. Just give them a call at 1-888-831-5817. You see, they are going to treat you as a person and not just a credit card number. First up is their expert ability to understand the needs of both your activities and your eyes. Not sure of your exact eye issues? They have opticians on staff ready to help.
When we first spoke with Rob, we were looking for a set of prescription lenses for our Oakley Fast Jackets. These had been Mike’s go-to lenses for the past few years, and he wanted a set for the mornings he didn’t feel like putting his contact lenses in. While talking things through with Rob, he asked one of those obvious questions that he probably shouldn’t have needed to. When deep in aero, are you looking through the lenses or over the frames? Shame on us, we were looking over the frames every time.
Rob recommended we try a set of Oakley Racing Jackets because by using the additional nose piece included with the lenses, we could get the lenses high enough so we could always look through the lenses—not over the frame. Plus, if we didn’t like them, we could return them no questions asked. This is a good time to mention that SportRx has a full exchange policy for one year (including their custom-made gear).
In the end, we ended up with a custom set of Racing Jackets. Green frames with blue lenses (AeroGeeks colors of course). Rob also made us a set of clear lenses for the Racing Jackets and a set of black lenses for the Fast Jackets (because we do still wear them while we’re out and about as well).
After waiting a few weeks to get everything made (this is all custom, nothing off the shelf), we took them out of the box and….they didn’t work. Curved lenses, like those found in the Racing Jackets, can easily distort your prescription. To compensate for this, SportRx makes small modifications to your original prescription. For most people, this creates the optimum lens. But for Mike, this actually distorted his vision and made the lenses (all 3 sets) completely unusable. Remember that exchange policy we mentioned above? Turns out that even we needed to take advantage of it. One quick call to SportRx and our lenses were in a box back to them, and a new set was being crafted. SportRx ended up with a very satisfied customer, which was worth the set of returned lenses. This may be why 30-50% of their business comes from referrals and repeat customers.
With new lenses in hand, we started to take a closer look at them. One of the things you’ll notice immediately is the thickness of these lenses. In the photos below you can see that both the Racing Jacket and Fast Jacket lenses are noticeably thicker. You won’t notice this at all while looking through the lenses. However, with the Fast Jackets, Mike did find that if the frames slipped down his nose at all that they touched his face just a bit earlier than they had before without the SportRx lenses.
The lenses also have some very crisp colors to them. The blue lenses feature an especially vibrant blue that you can’t help but notice. And the black lenses for the Fast Jackets have the same deep shine you get from a stock pair of Oakley Iridium lenses.
The Racing Jackets
Rob was right, the Racing Jackets were the frames Mike had needed. No matter how deep he gets into the aero position, these frames always have his eyes covered. With the new set of lenses, the glasses are useable in any conditions. We actually now have four sets of lenses for the Racing Jackets. The two included with the frames from Oakley and the two sets from SportRx. Giving us lenses for almost any condition, both with and without our contact lenses.
The Racing Jackets are known for quick lens swaps. Just flip up the nose hinges and you’re ready to go. And with four sets of lenses, you can imagine we do this often (and you would be right). The process is incredibly easy and you can have your new set of lenses on in less than 60 seconds if need be. You will probably spend more time cleaning the lenses after you smudged the edges than you do getting the lenses into the frames.
Since this is an AeroGeeks long term review, you know there has to be a next steps section. When it comes to sunglasses we’re always going to determine how well the lenses hold up to the typical wear and tear (“abuse” is probably a better term here) that a triathlete is going to throw at them. Multiple sweat sessions with quick cleanings is the norm. We hope to never drop them, but of course accidents happen. We’re also a fan of Oakley’s hydrophobic solution, which we plan to use with these as well.