When it comes to keeping the crap out of your eyes and maintaining vision on wet and muddy rides, what are your options? Aside from a front fender on your bike, which you should have anyway, your options are limited to wiping your optics as and when they become compromised. Doing so will only scratch and degrade your lens, and going sans eyewear will only introduce debris to where you want it least; your eyes. Faced with this dilemma, downhill riders have taken cues from the world or motocross in the shape of roll-off systems and tear-offs. The latter, which are thin pieces of transparent plastic that can be torn off and discarded, shouldn't really be an option for mountain biking, as you're technically littering if you use them correctly.
Tear-offs have been vilified for this reason and banned from the British Downhill Series, Enduro World Series, and the Morzine, Châtel, and Les Gets bike parks. Will we see more race series and bike parks go in this direction? Let's hope so. With tear-offs ruled out, that leaves roll-off systems, and while they've been used in downhill racing to success for many years (think Danny Hart, Champéry, 2011
world championships) they've often been more hassle than they're worth for your average rider busting out laps in the rain.
100% Forecast Roll-Off Kit Details:
• Low profile design
• 2x 45mm wide films in the box
• Self-cleaning canister
• 9-pin retention system locks the Forecast into goggles existing lens channel, creating a tight seal against the elements
• Smooth rolling drawstring for easy pulling
• Film exits closer to the lens to reduce dirt from entering the main view
• Compatible with Racecraft, Accuri, and Strata 100% goggles.
• MSRP: $59.95 USD / £49.95 GBP
The main issue regarding roll-off systems is that they often fail in MTB scenarios. Let me explain: moto riders, for whom these systems are primarily designed, spend an average of 20–30 minutes at a time in the saddle, while mountain bikers, barreling down a mountain (after a trip up, either in a cable car or uplift truck), spend in the region of 2-5 minutes at a time and usually repeat this over the course of a day. Because we spend a lot of time with our goggles not actually on our heads, such systems can all too easily become compromised by moisture getting behind the roll-off film itself, causing it to adhere to the lens, resulting in a jam. Instalation and Operation
The Forecast system is effectively an all-in-one roll-off kit that slips into any 100% goggle via the 9-pin lens channel. The Forecast comes assembled with the simple task of installing one of the two roll-off films supplied into the canisters. The unique lens, which is larger than a standard 100% lens, has two horizontal rows of small raised pimples - these prevent the film from sticking to the lens when wet. While you can see these if you look hard enough, they're not visible when you're busy with the task at hand and staring at slick roots and rocks.
Mounted at either end of the lens are the canisters: one contains a tightly wound roll of clear film, which you then pull across the lens, under the visor at the top of the lens, and with the yellow adhesive strip, attach it to a post in the opposing canister, which rotates via a spring loaded cord below. Pulling the cord, in turn, pulls the film across the lens from one side to the other, and in doing so clears any moisture and debris covering the film. The last key component is the visor at the top of the lens—this shields the film from moisture or debris getting behind the film from above (like rain or roost).
The larger than average (for 100% goggles) lens slots into the special Forecast frame which then slots into your goggles' lens channel, just like a regular lens. Traditional roll-off systems forgo an additional frame and comprise of an adapted lens which slots straight into your goggles. The larger lens used on the Forecast system represents a significant advantage as it allows for a wider 45mm roll-off film to be used. Why is this important? Traditional after-market roll-off systems have narrow 32mm (on average) films as they are confined to set lens widths—now this makes a lot of sense when your field of vision is reduced to a thin strip. On the Trail
Providing you follow the supplied manual, getting the Forecast ready for action only takes a few minutes, although installing it into your goggles is a pretty fiddly affair. Once in, it's steadfast and seamless in its integration into the host goggle—for this test, I used their mid-price Accuri model. With the goggles on and dropping into the trail below, the first thing I noticed was the additional 125g mounted to the front of my goggles. It also took a bit of time for my eyes to get used to the lens position, which is pushed outwards thanks to the Forecast's design as it effectively offsets the lens to the outside of the goggle frame to accommodate the larger lens.
Reaching for the pull cord with a lens covered in crap is easy and especially satisfying, providing that you remember it's on the left and not the right—guess which side a throttle is on—and it immediately zips back into place as you release it, leaving you with clear vision. It really is that simple. The Forecast's construction is solid and the whole system feels resoundingly well made. The rear portion of the canisters is clear so you can see how much film you have left—you get two rolls in the box and a pack of six will set you back $15.
From days after heavy rainfall to days in the rain, the Forecast system did little to disappoint, working pull after pull and proved easy enough to break down and clean after a good day bashing through puddles. I did manage to get water between the film and lens on one occasion—this did not happen on the bike I may add, but when loading the bike onto an uplift trailer in the rain. Thanks to the lens design, it didn't jam the system but it did distort my vision. This is simple to fix provided you can find something dry, clean and absorbent (on a wet day on a mountainside—good luck!
) to get in-between the film and lens. It's situations like this which trip up all roll-off systems and it just pays to be diligent with your optics when the weather is especially bad. For racing, you can see why such systems are popular as you can keep your optics relatively clean and out of the way, ready for when you drop in for that all-important run to the bottom.
So does the 100% Forecast roll-off system deliver the answer to keeping your optics clear on wet days getting the laps in? It goes some way in that it's one of the best on the market, and while it only works in their goggles, all of their goggles use the same 9-pin lens retention system. The bottom line remains the same; these are still specialist pieces of kit that will make a difference for downhill racers and bike park regulars who like to be prepared for all eventualities and take pride in their kit prep. It's relatively well priced given its specialist use and it should appeal to those of you who have been thinking of trying such a system out for the first time or have used others in the past, to much frustration. Pinkbike's Take: