We’re trying to remember when the first eyeglasses that darkened on their own came out. Seems like about the same time frame as the first Pulsar digital watch, which sold for like $2000. Expensive! Both items went well with the leisure suit. Must’ve been the 1970s, not long after the first full-face helmet.
So why has it taken such a long time for this photochromic technology to find its way into motorcycle faceshields? If anybody at Bell knows, they’re keeping mum, so we’ll go ahead and guess it’s because motorcycle helmets draw lawsuits faster than any other man-made object on the planet.
In any case, the new Transitions SOLFX faceshield was a long time coming, but more than worth the wait. How many times have we ridden home in darker darkness than necessary? Or seen our big nose and bloodshot eyes in a photo and wished we’d been wearing a dark shield? Or fumbled frozen-fingered with a finicky shield mechanism at the side of the road? About a million times, that’s how many. That’s all over.
The SOLFX shield (available only for Bell and Akuma helmets as of now) adapts to changing light conditions as advertised—quickly and repeatedly—going from clear to slightly darker than a dark Bell shield in about 10 seconds in bright sun. It also blocks nasty UVA and UVB rays, and the Bell version, at least, is coated with Bell NutraFog II, which is said to resist fogging and scratching, neither of which have been issues for us so far. The SOLFX people recommend the usual mild soap and water for cleaning, but even the worst-case-scenario crusty gas-station bug-juice bucket and paper towel caused no ill effects.
We didn’t take a vision test, and maybe it’s just the gazebo effect, but the shield really does seem to enhance vision—maybe because it’s constantly reacting to available light and letting through just the right amount for optimal vision. Which is nice. Really nice. ’Bout time.
5550 Scotts Valley Rd.
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
|Ups||• No more carrying extra shields
• Very nice to look through
|Downs||• Not inexpensive
• We could’ve used this a long time ago