Review: Kask Optics KOO sunglasses
How do you revolutionise sunglasses without waiting for evolution to do away with crucial elements of the human head? We all, for the most part, have a nose, a pair of eyes and two ears, so the basic principles of eyewear must remain unaltered.
Even given these very specific requirements, Kask have managed to do something quite ground-breaking with their new Kask Optics KOO sunglasses range. To do this they went back to the very cyclists who had helped shape helmets such as the flagship Protone and asked them what they wanted from their shades.
The result is a pair unlike anything else you will find, with a revolutionary hinge that swivels rather than folds. If you’re wondering why anyone would even bother with such a frivolity, just wait until you transition from bright sunlight to a dark road tunnel. That’s when the design very suddenly makes sense.
This hinge is the key aspect that sets the sunglasses apart but there are others that are equally welcome, such as an interchangeable lens that can be swapped out with the flick of a lever at the side of the frame, so quickly and smoothly that you might wonder if you could do it while on the bike. We didn’t try. The lens itself is Carl Zeiss, crystal clear and available in a full range of shades for a variety of weather conditions. The lens fitted to our glasses didn’t appear to have picked up anything in the way of a scratch or abrasion even after extended use.
The frames of the Kask Optics KOO sunglasses are manufactured from an incredibly lightweight polymer that, on our prototype test pair at least, proved virtually indestructible. The same might not necessarily be said for those arms if you persist in trying to unfold the hinge in the traditional manner, although the immediate resistance should give you ample warning that these unfold in an entirely different way.
This system does actually work when you make that sudden transition to gloom while you’re on the road. The rotation is stepped so you are able to turn the glasses down in increments. It beats leaving your glasses dangling from your chin or attempting to remove them. This stepped adjustment also helps prevent fogging - tip the lenses down a click to improve airflow and clear any mist.
These glasses are, as with Kask’s range of helmets, 100 per cent made in Italy and are also designed to fit neatly into the vents of a Protone, as well as sit in perfect harmony with the helmet on the head. That’s not to say you should remove them from consideration if you happen to own another helmet - they would work just as well with other brands.
These Kask Optics KOOs could be considered by some to look harsh on the face, a throwback to the severe designs of a few years back. There’s nothing you’re going to be able to do about that, because the design does serve a purpose - the wraparound frame protects vision from all angles and the curved nature of the lenses also helps prevent sunlight slipping through from above and below.
You can’t fault them otherwise and these Kasks are fast going to become a serious contender when picking your next shades, whether you own a Protone or not.
Summary: Kask has gone back to the drawing board to produce a pair of sunglasses unlike any other. Rotating arms might seem like a gimmick but are in fact quite useful and the Kask Optics KOO sunglasses themselves are almost bombproof. The design could be considered a little dated, especially considering the Italian reputation for style, but that's a moot point compared to functionality.
4 / 5
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