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Tifosi Rail XC First Look: Budget Sunglass Doesn’t Miss Marks

tifosi rail xcThe Rail XC Crystal Clear Fototec. Photo c. Sam Anderson
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Tifosi portrays itself as the sports sunglass company of the people — an Oakley killer offering competitively-priced quality products.

Enter the Rail XC, the brand’s latest effort to accommodate a customer base ranging from long-distance cyclists to golfers. The XC leads with the brand’s fototec lens, which “darkens as the day grows brighter,” and a frameless shield shape geared toward coverage and ventilation.

man wearing the tifosi rail xc crystal clear fototec
Photo c. Sam Anderson

The XC is the successor to Tifosi’s first Rail, which had a bigger, higher-profile lens. The angle with the XC is to fold in folks with smaller faces. While the XC is dramatically smaller on the vertical axis, everything else remains virtually the same between the designs.

There’s the lens that combines mirroring with photochromic qualities (read: self-adjusts to light intensity). And the earpieces and nosepiece adjust to help dial in fit. The budget price tag is still there: $80 MSRP. (Note: the original Rail is on sale for $60 as of this writing.)

The Rail XC weighs a manageable 31g, and the shield dimensions are 52.6mm x 131mm.

On my first pass at the Crystal Clear Fototec XC, I liked the tint right away. The lens blocked blues nicely, and turned up contrast and clarity on anything reflective or semi-reflective, like wet pavement or vehicles. The glasses fit comfortably and felt balanced.

It was clear to me that Tifosi met its design goal of ventilating wearers’ cheeks and eyebrows and everywhere in between. There was plenty of gap at the top and bottom of the lens to let air circulate.

man wearing the tifosi rail xc crystal clear fototec
Photo c. Sam Anderson

That said, It was also obvious that the XCs wouldn’t do much on my face shape to cut road glare from directly below. I do find that I’m more highly susceptible to this than some, either due to the sensitivity of my eyes or the seemingly low position of my ears on my head (which tends to push the bottom rims of glasses outward).

The tint didn’t cut direct sunlight very strongly, but I could tell I’d be fine if I ducked below my helmet lip or visor.

All things considered, the Rail XC felt like an agreeable enough tool for summer road rides. I plan on rotating it into my kit for further evaluation.


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1 year ago

I’ve been using the standard Rail for the past year or so and I really like them. I prefer photochromic lenses and tint that’s not too dark, so it checks all the boxes.

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