Julbo have been in the sunglasses business for over 130 years, ever since the company's founder began creating glasses with tinted lenses for crystal hunters in Chamonix, France. After that, it was a line of glacier glasses that truly put the company on the map, but in more recent years they've expanded into the running and cycling worlds – probably a smart move, considering how fast those glaciers seem to be receding.
The Renegade sunglasses are designed for mountain biking, but they also have a more casual look that won't attract odd glances if you wear them around town. A strip of rubber on each side of the nose piece and on each arm helps keep them in place, and the entire frame is slightly curved to further help prevent them from bouncing around.
Julbo Renegade Details
• Reactiv Zebra Light photochromic lens
• Anti-fog coating
• Gripping material on nose bridge and temples
• VLT: 17% - 75%
• Weight: 27 grams
• Lifetime warranty for photochromic function
• MSRP: $189 USD
The lenses aren't interchangeable, but the version reviewed here comes with Julbo's Zebra Light photochromic lens, which changes tint depending on the amount of UV radiation it's exposed to, altering the amount of visible light transmitted from 17% to 75% depending on conditions. That change isn't instant, but it does occur fairly quickly – it takes approximately 20-30 seconds for the tint to adapt. According to Julbo, the photochromic element is actually molded inside the lens, rather than being applied as a coating, in order to ensure the glasses' performance always remains the same. MSRP for the Renegade with the Zebra Light lens is $189 USD.Performance
The Renegades have a low key, casual appearance, which I appreciate. I look goofy enough as it is – I don't need to wear Macho Man Randy Savage's sunglasses to accentuate that fact. They're also very light, which makes them barely noticeable out on the trail. Although the rubberized portion on the nose and arms is fairly minimal, the fit is impressively secure - I never had any trouble with them slipping or bouncing out of place, even on rough, high-speed trails.
I didn't run into any real issues with fogging, either, other than a little bit of haziness that would sometimes develop at the very top of the lens during long, slow grinds on humid days. Once I headed downhill that little bit of fogginess would quickly dissipate -- there might not be any fancy vents, but the Renegades do a good job of keeping unwanted condensation at bay. There was also plenty of coverage to keep mud and other trail debris from making its way into my eyes, and somehow the lenses have remained scratch-free, despite having all that muck flung at them.
The photochromic lens technology is a great feature, making the glasses usable in a wider range of conditions. The lens tint does take a little bit of time to change; it's not fast enough to immediately lighten up if you're going from a brightly lit field into a stand of dark timber, but it's still a better solution to changing light conditions than only having one fixed lens tint, or needing to stop and swap lenses.
The thick tree cover that's prevalent where I live creates relatively dark trail conditions, even on sunny days, so a lightly tinted lens is a must. The Zebra Light lens worked very well in those lower light conditions, with excellent clarity, and absolutely no noticeable distortion. On a recent trip to California, where the sun was out in full force, the darkest lens tint kept my eyeballs comfortable and sheltered from that unfamiliar glowing orb. The glasses don't get completely clear, so I did leave them at home on super dark and dreary days, but the range of conditions they worked for was still impressive.Pinkbike's Take