Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Product Review: Halcyon Mk 9 Rider goggles

For those of you who, like myself, enjoy wearing open-face helmets and ride classic or neo-classic ‘bikes, finding decent eye protection that also looks the part is a very difficult task. Nowadays, most motorcycling goggles are of the off-road variety, and are hard to tell apart from ski goggles. And when companies do offer “classic style” goggles, they usually have more of the comedy-opera look about them than anything else. Neither is exactly what you want to be seen in when proudly riding your Vincent Rapide, your Triton or your Hinckley Bonneville.

Fortunately, some companies do take us classic stalwarts seriously. And none more so than Halcyon with their pretty extensive range of goggles. This range covers the ground from exact replicas of the goggles worn by RAF pilots during the war to more colourful items for the Vespa-borne fashionista. I am personally a rather subdued fellow, so I chose the Mark 9 Rider goggles in black synthetic leather (yes I know, I’m a cheapskate…), and also ordered the supplementary smoked polycarbonate lenses.

As you can see, we're not in Skeggy.

The goggles are truly magnificent: the grey powdercoated brass frames are hand-stitched to the facemask and held together by the screw-action nose bridge adjuster. Absolutely no difference with a similar pair of goggles a motorcyclist would have worn back in the Fifties. And they’re not made in the Far East: the right-hand frame has “MADE IN ENGLAND” proudly stamped into it. [...]

The goggles fit nicely onto a Davida or similar helmet. I tested them with both a Davida Classic and an Airborn open-face helmet and they were a perfect fit – physically and visually – with both lids. The synthetic leather facemask is a little bit stiff and will no doubt take longer to soften up and adapt to my face than a real leather one, but it sits nice and snug around the eyes, not letting in any stray draughts. A significant change from the previous set of goggles I used, a pair of Léon Jeantet T2 Pilots. The silicon ridges on the headband also mean that the goggles stay firmly put on the helmet even when making good progress and also help the facemask to sit tight against the face.

As soon as I unpackaged the goggles, I replaced the clear polycarbonate lenses that come as standard (though you can specify if you want smoked lenses as standard fitment – laminated glass lenses are also available in clear and smoke, but are perhaps less safe) with the smoked ones. This is a pretty straightforward operation, although you do have to remove the headband to free the lenses. The smoked lenses are not excessively tinted. In most situations this is not a problem, although in the bright Mediterranean sunshine I did sometimes wish the lenses were darker, since I found myself squinting occasionally in order to protect my eyes from the glare. No doubt the tint is designed with a proper British summer in mind… One advantage of these lightly smoked lenses is that they do not prevent you from riding in low-light conditions or even at night. So in view of this I will probably be looking at modifying the OE clear lenses for wearing in very bright sunlight.

The goggles give a very wide and satisfactory field of vision, particularly with a helmet like the Davida Classic, and make the “lifesaver” manoeuvre very easy, giving you a good view of the blind spot over your shoulder. Some people might be initially put off by the view through the split lenses and might fixate on the vertical line of the split. But you soon get used to it and your brain ends up “dismissing” the line.

Ventilation consists of two air scoops in each frame and there is a gap on either side of the nose curtain where it is stitched to the facemask - although these latter gaps are more for ensuring a comfortable fit than for ventilation purposes – and it is quite effective; as your speed increases you can feel a slight waft of air on your face, but this never gets too excessive and does not make your eyes water. However, since the goggles sit so snug against the face, it is possible that you will have some fogging when at a standstill, or in certain weather conditions. Applying an anti-fog coating to the inside of the lenses cures this: my preferred coating is Muc-Off’s Premium Anti-fog Treatment, which really does what it says on the bottle.

To sum up, Halcyon’s Mark 9 Rider goggles are a very good-looking piece of equipment (many riders have them just for style) but also do their job admirably well. They are well assembled, which means that they should last for some time before needing to be replaced and they’re not too expensive. My main complaint is that the smoked lenses are not dark enough; perhaps Halcyon should think about also offering darker smoked lenses for those of us who live in parts of the world where the sun shines strongly. I would also like it if there were optional yellow-tinted lenses for low light conditions and foggy/overcast days – they really do make a difference and would be a welcome option for the serious all-weather classic motorcyclist.

Halcyon Website: Halcyon Accessories

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