If you don’t know the five-foot rule, here it is in a nutshell. You step inside the Starbucks, five feet from your bike, having leaned it against the storefront. You’re dressed as follows: Euro-tight, aero kit; glow-in-the-dark hyper yellow carbon-soled shoes; shaved quads; mirrored, shield lenses. Now look around the store at how everyone else is dressed. Then, as the Old Spice guy says, “back at you.” You are not the Old Spice guy. You are something very much other, and five feet from the bike you look like a Sumo wrestler in his kit…at an Arby’s. You are both very much out of context, and it shows.
I’m not telling you this to make you feel uncomfortable. I’ve lived it. When I’m on a road ride and it’s nine-billion degrees out and I need a water I’ll walk into a country bumpkin gas station and buy whatever I need. I don’t have time to care what people think of me. But there are times when context matters. When you are not only not in Europe, but you are not in Malibu, either. When you find yourself in the land of F-150s and your all-white outfit frightens the locals. When in Rome, try to blend. And there are some economic bonuses to this approach, too.
Mountain bikers already know that a decent pair of baggies might do just as well as any shorts in their closet. And sunglasses that aren’t cyborg shields can actually be worn out to a bistro, without embarrassment or needing to pretend to be the drummer from the Scorpions.
Spy’s new Quanta fits the bill pretty perfectly, because it hides a little bit of de-fog performance in the temple (there’s a tiny scoop there, like on the hood of a Subaru WRX), to vent in a fresh breeze, but still looks stealth enough to roll the top down on your convertible and not look like…a tool.
The optics happen to rock, too, which is pretty crucial. Surf/water folks will dig the polarization, but I was more enamored of a reflective light blocker that prevents the dreaded face bounce from causing slow but sure eye fatigue. The nose pad (hydrophilic so it gets stickier as you sweat) kept the Quantas glued to my schnoz except on really hairy MTB descents, when they slid down just a bit, and the temples played well with both Specialized and Giro lids.
There are a lot of lens options; all block UVA, B, and C rays but you should buy according to the weather you’ll need them for (although there are also replacement lenses in all colors offered). The black mirrored lens I tried was good for full sunlight but over-dark for partial sun. The wider your face, the better these will fit. If you have a more angular face you should try Spy’s Diablo instead.