BANANA INDUSTRIES BANOPTICS CHAMELEON GLASSES REVIEW
SOLID GLASSES WITHOUT A BANANAS PRICE TAG
Review by Robert Johnston
Back in 2013 two guys named Tom and Fabio linked up in Sheffield, in the Midlands of the UK, to challenge how clothing was being made. And so, Banana Industries was born. They agreed that the durability and functionality of the items on sale at the time wasn’t up to scratch and have aimed to change this with their ever-growing range of apparel and accessories to support a fashion-conscious, active lifestyle. As keen riders themselves, they always planned to move into the riding kit market, and they’ve recently added a set of riding glasses to their growing ride wear range. The Eurowolf put a set of their Banoptics Chameleon mountain bike glasses to the test over a month of harsh Autumn conditions to see how they stack up.
The Banoptics (Banana Optics) Chameleon glasses by Banana Industries are designed to offer the adaptability of a Chameleon to the conditions out in the wild. Developed and manufactured in the same factory as many other brands on the market, Banana Industries sought to offer the same performance without the lofty price tags. This led to the Chameleon glasses retailing for £80 with three lenses and two lower frame options, giving buyers all the options, they are likely to need without the expense of extra lenses.
The main frame of the Chameleon glasses is made from a durable and flexible plastic, running along the upper portion of the lens only to create a half-frame as standard, with a separate nose piece. The legs on this upper portion are rubberized around the ear to add comfort and security. The Chameleons can then be made into a full-frame style by fitting the included lower frame portion with its own in-built nosepiece, giving customers the option to tailor the glasses to their preferred looks and performance. With both nosepiece setups you get a rubberized coating and an adjustable fit to get them sitting solid and comfortably.
The Chameleons come with three different lenses to suit varying light conditions: a Clear CAT 1 lens for cloudy days and thicker trees; a HD REVO Red Mirror CAT 2 lens for mixed conditions; and a HD Smoke CAT 3 lens for the rare sunny UK days. All of these lenses have UV400 protection and are treated with hydrophobic, fog and scratch resistant coatings to resist the elements and wear and tear. The HD lenses feature tech that reduces glare, increasing the quality of the light coming through. The lenses are 6.5C cylindrical in shape, giving a slight wrap around the head to offer increased protection over flatter shaped glasses, but without looking too “sporty”. The Chameleons come supplied with a hard carry case to fit the glasses, with dividers to safely store the spare lenses. If the worst happens and you manage to break your glasses, Banana Industries offer a 40% off crash replacement scheme to get you back rolling.
First impressions are formed the second the postman delivers a parcel to my door, so it’s always good to see the use of fully recyclable packaging for an item sent for testing, with not a single slither of plastic ending up in my bin. Good start. Unzipping the hard case containing the glasses for the first time, the same positive notions continued, with that HD Revo Sunset lens “popping” under my kitchen lights. After a quick test-fit and minor adjustment of the nosepiece to tailor the position, it was time to hit the trails.
I’ve had some issues with glasses fouling on helmets in the past, leading to either crushed ears or noise as the legs rattle off the surrounding helmet foam. Between the three helmets I had on test there were no issues with compatibility on any of them. The way the legs taper down as they approach the ear ensures they’re slim enough to go without issues in most setups, but of course there’s always the possibility that certain head/helmet combinations won’t play ball. The adjustable nose piece is simple to tweak, ensuring you can get a comfortable setup, and the grippy rubber combined with the ergonomic shape means the Chameleons stay in place very well. I was unable to get the lower portion of the lens to sit quite as close to my cheeks as I’d like, which did allow some mud to get up and into my eye on a couple of occasions, but it was a rare occurrence in the muddiest of conditions as we’re only talking about 2 or 3mm.
Beginning the test with the clear lens to suit the classic Scottish Fall conditions, vision was good for the most part, but there were times when the slightly reflective nature of this clear lens would create a reflection on the inside of the lens that slightly impaired vision. This was only an issue when things brightened up to the point that the Revo or even smoke lens would be the smarter choice and wasn’t too extreme to the point that the clear lens was rendered unusable by any means. They resisted fogging reasonably well, not working any miracles but certainly performing as you’d hope, and they’ve retained this decent level of anti-fog and remained free from scratches over the muddy test period.
I played about with swapping lenses, which turned out to be very easy once you’ve got the technique figured, and it even encouraged me to pack a different lens in my pack a couple times for a mid-ride switcheroo as light began to fade. Fitting a new lens, everything snaps into place in a satisfying way, indicating good tolerances that give confidence in their longevity. The stand-alone nosepiece for the half-frame configuration proved to be a little tricky to pop in and out of each lens initially, needing a good tug that had me slightly concerned I would break the lens or nosepiece itself, but it became easier as I gained confidence in the strength of the components and the plastic itself softened slightly. The Smoke lens is definitely dark, and so hasn’t been tested extensively in the current conditions, but on the days, I really forced its use it provided good vision clarity devoid of any distortion. The Revo lens shares the same clarity, with a slight boost to the contrast that helps you pick out trail edges, but a more usable level of tint in changing trail scenarios. The tint did appear to drop off at the very edges of the lens but didn’t prove to be problematic when riding. This lens did pick up a bit of glare when some bright sunlight poking through the trees hit it side-on, producing a small red orb, but this was only in very specific situations. All in all, the vision side of things is not quite up to the standards of the best but offers ample clarity to let you shred without much issue.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Undercutting the price of much of the competition whilst providing a variety of reasonable quality lenses, Banana Industries’ Banoptics Chameleons are a solid option for those looking to save their hard-earned cash without compromising on performance across a range of conditions.
Banana Industries are offering The Loam Wolf readers a 10% discount on a set of Chameleons with code: Wolf10 (limited to one set per customer).