Julbo Ultra Review

Apparel Pro Reviews

Zebra Light Photochromic and NXT Lens
The Ultra use’s Julbo’s new Zebra Light photochromic lens made from the unbreakable, lightweight and very transparent NXT lenses. They quickly darken with a light brownish tint or lighten with a yellow tint depending on light intensity, and have an anti-fog coating that has been laser etched into them, and an outer hydrophobic coating for water removal and marking prevention. They adapt to varying light conditions from Category 1 (16% visible light coverage) in low-light conditions to Category 3 (80 % visible light coverage) in powerful light in as little as 30 seconds (not measured). Julbo lenses offer 100% protection against sunlight UV types, which include UVA’s, UVB’s, and UVC’s.

Impressions
The lenses have phenomenal optical quality, and they’re a distortion free with a high degree of clarity. The lenses are large and curved enough for a nice panoramic field of view, and being suspended it adds additional spaciousness. I like sunglasses that have suspended lenses, as it gives better panoramic vision, without any distracting frame in your lower vision, giving an uninterrupted viewpoint. The lens is attached at the nose section, and for a short distance along the inner frame, so the pliable lens is free to float. This feature gives the frame additional flexibility, which increases comfort, and allows some give to the system when moving about on the bike, and when your head is bumping and oscillating around.

The curve and shape of the frame, along with the rubbery nose piece and stem ends, and the floating lens, keeps the sunglasses stuck to your head no matter how rough the terrain becomes. They are quite comfortable, with a nice fit and feel, greatly aided by the flexible frame and floating lens, though I wish the stem or arm ends had some padding, since they can sometimes dig into your ears on long rides. Although the frame is very pliable and confirms to your head, there is no ability to adjust the frames, and they lack any additional features for fine tuning.

Thanks to the durable NXT, the lenses have been bombproof, and I have gotten no scratches, which is pretty amazing, since I always seem to do that with any eyewear, even the ones that are supposed to be unscratchable (marketing hyperbole). I have repeatedly dropped them, abraded them (accidentally) and have not been nice, and I have yet to scratch them.

They offer excellent varying light capabilities due to the Zebra Light photochromic lenses, and the new protection category 1 to 3 coverage is superb, especially if you frequent wooded areas or like to do late day and evening rides. The category 1 to 3 means the lens has a 16-80% visible light transmission, and the tint changes from yellow for low light to light brownish for brighter conditions, both of which I enjoyed, offering exceptional clarity and depth of field. In extremely bright conditions, they aren’t dark to provide adequate protection, but that is pushing the design limitations of the lens.

The lens have a anti-fog coating that works amazingly well, and they stayed clear in almost any marginal condition that I tossed them into, like dense fog, heavy rain, snow and steam room humidity, as well as my own perfuse sweating.

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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