Tifosi Rail Review
Cons: Insecure fit on smaller heads, below-average fog prevention
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|$50.00 at Backcountry|
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$79.95 at REI
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|Pros||Inexpensive, great coverage, three lenses included||massive coverage and protection, two lenses included, good optics||Inexpensive, three lenses included, good optics, good dust and debris protection||Very inexpensive, comes with 3 lenses, good coverage, available in multiple frame colors||Inexpensive, good coverage, good optics|
|Cons||Insecure fit on smaller heads, below-average fog prevention||large fit, stability issues on smaller faces||Difficult lens swaps, can fog easily when stopping||Minor lens distortion, do not increase contrast||No case, limited versatility|
|Bottom Line||An affordable model with great coverage that works best for larger heads and road biking||Goggle-like performance, great optics, and retro style in a comfortable, breathable package||An impressive value with high-coverage, high-performance, and three lenses included at a reasonable price||You get a lot for your money with these very inexpensive shades||An updated classic that's great for road cycling but work in a limited range of light conditions|
|Rating Categories||Tifosi Rail||100% Glendale||Tifosi Sledge||X-Tiger Polarized||Scott Sport Shield|
|Lens Quality (20%)|
|Fit and Comfort (20%)|
|Frame Quality (15%)|
|Field Performance (25%)|
|Specs||Tifosi Rail||100% Glendale||Tifosi Sledge||X-Tiger Polarized||Scott Sport Shield|
|Fit||Large-Extra Large||Large||Large-Extra Large||Large||Medium-Large|
|Number of Lenses Included||3||2||3||3||1|
|Lens Tested||Clarion Blue, AC Red, Clear||Yellow||Smoke, Clear, AC Red||Clear/Mirrored/Polarized||Red Chrome|
|Ideal Lens Light Conditions||Clear: Low light, Clarion Blue: Bright light, AC Red: Medium to bright light||Soft Yellow: Medium to low light Smoke: Low light||Clear: Low light
Smoke: Bright light
AC Red: Medium to bright light
|Clear: Low light Mirrored: Bright light. Polarized: Bright light/water||Bright light|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||not specified||Yellow: 68% Smoke:12%||not specified||not specified||not specified|
|VLT Protection Index||unknown||Yellow: Cat 1 Smoke: Cat 3||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Ideal Activity||road/mountain/gravel biking||Running, mountain biking||road/mountain biking, running, backcountry skiing, golf, fishing, hiking||road/mountain biking, running, fishing, backcountry skiing, golf, hiking||road biking, running, backcountry skiing, fishing, hiking|
|Polarized||No||No||No||1 of the three lenses||No|
|Lens Material||polycarbonate||plastic - polycarbonate||plastic- polycarbonate||"highly flexible resin lens"||plastic|
|Neutral/Contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Neutral||Neutral|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection||Unknown||100%||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Protective Coatings||None||Hydrolio coating||None||not specified||None|
|Case Included||Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag||Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag||Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag||Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag||Microfiber cleaning/storage bag|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Tifosi may not be the first brand you think of when hunting for a new, high-end pair of sunglasses, but they typically provide great sunglasses at a fraction of the price of the most popular brands on the market. We have had some very positive testing experiences with Tifosi's sunglasses in the past, so we were excited to put the new Rail through its paces. As we would expect, the Rail packs in the value with three lens options, a semi-rigid storage case, and a microfiber cleaning and storage bag.
The Rail comes standard with three shatterproof polycarbonate lenses—Smoke, AC Red, and Clear—meaning that you're covered for almost all light conditions without needing to purchase any additional lenses. Each lens provides clear, distortion-free optics, but we found that they don't quite stack up with the best lenses in the test. Smith's Chromapop and Oakley's Prism lenses each provide increased contrast, and each of the Rail's lens options do not. The difference is small, but it's noticeable when testing back to back.
We were happy to see that each of the Rail's lenses was durable and held up well to our testing session. Despite more than a few drops on the ground and brushes with trailside branches, all three of the lenses came out of our test session scratch-free.
Fit and Comfort
The Rail is a comfortable pair of sunglasses, but they have a large fit. No matter how we fiddled with the adjustable nose piece and arm tips in testing, we couldn't get this model to fit securely when things got rough. We had no issues riding on the road or gravel, but as soon as things got a little bit rough on the mountain bike, these glasses would slide down our noses. Constantly having to reach up and adjust your sunglasses on the trail is not ideal. The frameless design means that the large, flexible lens controls how tight these glasses fit your head, and we found that no amount of adjusting the arm tips could overcome the loose fit. Riders with larger heads should have fewer issues with the fit.
Beyond the large fit, the Rail is actually a very comfortable model. The adjustable nose piece and arm tips means that you can dial in the fit to make sure all of the contact points contour to your head. We didn't have any issues with discomfort on long rides, and if not for the fit issue this model would have scored well in this metric.
Tifosi didn't skimp on the Rail's coverage at all. This model is one of only two in our test that received a perfect score in this metric. Not only is the lens massive, but it also fits close to the face meaning that even at high speeds you can barely feel any air movement behind the lens. Donning these sunglasses is a similar feeling to putting on a pair of goggles. The lens covers your full field of vision with no gaps at the periphery. When descending at high speeds on the road these glasses provide plenty of peace of mind and protection from the wind.
While there isn't much frame to be found on the Rail, the nose piece and arms are made from high-quality Grilamid TR90 thermoplastic. Most of our favorite frames in the test are made from this same material. It's flexible enough to not be easily broken in the event of a crash or impact, and it has a soft finish that makes for comfortable contact points. The frame doesn't include any grippy hydrophilic rubber at the arm tips or nose piece, which contributes to the lack of stability on the face.
Swapping lenses is fairly straightforward, but it took us a few tries before we had it down to a science. The nose piece and each of the arms snap into place on the lens. It takes quite a bit of force to remove the nose piece, and we almost lost it on the ground the first time we swapped the lens, but once you go through the process a few times it becomes easier.
We don't think these are the best choice for mountain biking, but they performed well on the road. The larger and less secure fit meant that any time we tried to hit the trails in these glasses, we would eventually have to take them off and store them in a pack. On the road, however, we didn't have the same issue. The lens fits close to the face and provides great protection from wind and bugs at high speeds, and the lack of bumps meant that we weren't constantly reaching up to keep them in place.
We did find that the close fit meant that these glasses were prone to fogging at low speeds. This was only ever an issue on steep, slow climbs, but we had to remove the glasses a few times in testing because of fogging.
The Rail's frameless style is fairly unique among modern cycling sunglasses, but this model looks right at home with a cycling helmet. The massive lens has an aggressive shape with a hint of retro styling. If you're looking to fit in with the current trend of massive cycling sunglasses, you won't have any issues with this model.
Despite its low cost, the Rail comes with a semi-rigid zippered case with storage space for both the sunglasses and the extra lenses and a microfiber cleaning and storage bag. The case is small enough to be easily stored for traveling and rigid enough that you won't have to worry about your glasses getting crushed. Typically when you buy an affordable pair of sunglasses, things like rigid storage cases go out the window, so we're hugely appreciative that Tifosi included it.
At less than a third of the price of the most expensive glasses we tested, we think the Railis a great value for the right person. The large fit means that this isn't the best option for people with small heads or riders that plan on frequenting rough trails, but the coverage combined with the inclusion of three lens options means that we would recommend these sunglasses to road cyclists.
If not for the less secure fit, we would have absolutely loved this pair of sunglasses. Even so, we still think these glasses are a good value for the right person. They have great protection and coverage, and they come standard with a variety of lens options. If you're a road cyclist looking for an inexpensive, do-it-all model, this is a good option for you.
— Zach Wick
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