The Koo Demos cycling sunglasses strike the right balance between big frame style and small frame comfort while the arms do a nice job of staying out of the way with tough-to-fit helmets.
Second lens included
Nicely balanced on the face
Tightly curved arms stay out of the way of tough to fit helmets
Comes with two nose piece options
Doesn't come with a case
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Finding the right sunglasses is inherently a personal decision, in which one of the key drivers is fashion and personal style. You've got to find something that feels good on your face and looks how you want. There's also an element of function though and with that in mind, our list of the best cycling sunglasses covers a wide range of options. Everything on our list is a high-performance product that will perform when you spend time on a bike. Of those, one of the brands that makes an appearance is Koo.
Koo is the performance eyewear sister brand from the Italian helmet manufacturer Kask. Koo covers goggles for off-road and snow as well as a small selection of cycling-specific sunglasses. Despite the Kask connection, there's nothing that keeps a user from pairing Koo sunglasses with any helmet brand. In fact, the features that work well for Kask helmets might be just what you need for your helmet.
We spent time with the Koo Demos sunglasses and now we are ready to share our thoughts with you. If you are looking for a new pair of cycling sunglasses keep reading to see what we think.
Design and aesthetics
Koo only offers a small range of sunglasses and two of them are very difficult to tell apart. Both the Spectro and the Demos came to market late in 2020 in time to make the Tour de France that year. If you spend some time studying the two options they aren't as similar as they seem at first. Most importantly though, the Demos are the smaller option that have a design meant to cater to smaller faces.
If that's what you are looking for then it starts with a narrow top bar. The Demos have plenty of angles and this is one of them. In many situations, it will echo the cut of a helmet as it comes down along the edges of the face. Dropping below the upper frame edge, the lenses have sizeable gaps on either side. It's one of the places that promotes airflow behind the lenses with the other being the bottom corner cut that mimics the shape of the cheek.
Behind the lenses sits an adjustable nose piece. There are two options for the nose piece in the box, one is larger with each side being a separate piece, and the nose pads themselves feature a ribbed texture that helps keep them from sliding down. A gentle push towards the lenses flattens out the nose piece while a slight pull inwards sets them up for a narrower nose bridge. The other option uses smaller, bulkier, nose pads that sit even closer together and have a connection to each other across the bridge.
The lens options all come from a Carl Zeiss partnership. There are 10 lens and frame colour options with a variety of lens choices covering different Visible Light Transmission (VLT) options.
We had a chance to spend time with the black frame and blue mirror combination. The combination pairs a high-gloss black frame with a filter category 3 lens that allows 11 per cent VLT. These are the high sun, summer day, lenses but you also get a second pink lens with a VLT of 58 per cent included in the box.
All of the lens options benefit from the aforementioned Zeiss partnership by picking up the Zeiss Anti-Reflective coating. Koo doesn't give much detail on this but Zeiss has some details about how it works: the obvious part of it is that the front tint stopped reflections, which is what you'd expect, but Zeiss also touts the performance of the AR coating on the reverse side of the lenses. In their words, the "anti-reflective coating reduces the light reflected on the reverse surface of the sunglass lens." This is light that would otherwise bounce "back into your eyes" where it "disrupts your vision."
They go on to claim that with "an AR on the sunglass lens, you enjoy extra comfort and clarity thanks to the reduction of blur and annoying reflected images on the reverse side of the lens."
Another important piece of the Koo Demos that benefits from a partnership is the "Anti-slip MEGOL elastomer temple inserts." This is actually a feature that sits well behind the temples at the very end of the arms. Both sides of the tip and roughly half the inside edge of the arm have a rubberised surface. It's actually a plastic that comes from a company called Trinseo, but it helps give the benefits of rubber paired with the easier production and higher durability of plastic.
For the last few years, the trend in cycling sunglasses has been bigger is better. Actual performance benefits are arguable but the idea is that the bigger lenses give better coverage, while the frame is pushed farther out of your field of view. The problem is that bigger glasses can be heavier and they don't always have the best retention. If a pair of big glasses isn't balanced it will lead to a headache. Not metaphorically, an actual headache.
On some sunglasses, when the lenses start to move forward on my face, I have a natural tendency to try and keep them in place with my ears. If they actually slide down a bit it's just an annoyance that requires an occasional finger push. When they sit just a little farther out and the weight isn't balanced, that's when it's a headache. The Kask Demos are glasses that I go back to over and over because even though they are on the bigger side they don't move from where I place them on my face and the weight feels balanced. In short, they are comfortable.
I also tend to grab the Koo Demos anytime I'm riding with a helmet that has a lower rear retention device. Kask helmets have that feature and they can interfere with some glasses, likewise the Lazer Vento Kineticore. It only makes sense that the glasses the brand produces to work with their glasses do a good job handling the issue. Although the arms aren't one of the shorter options, they hub the head tightly and curve down as they head back. It tends to end up touching the retention system but even with tricky helmets like the new Lazer Vento KinetiCore they seem to find a place.
As far as the claims Zeiss makes about the lenses, I'm not seeing it. I've never noticed a particular lack of reflections and I've never thought about that feature as a defining characteristic of the glasses. Still, the lenses are good. The tint is blue on my sample and that's the case for all of the low VLT choices that Koo offers. If you can do with a lens that's not quite as dark then there are brown/red tinted options.
When it's time to switch to the lighter 'Rose' option that's in the box, there are no special tricks. Smith is a brand that offers different systems for unlocking lenses but Koo opts for just a tension system. The bottom corner where the lens sits in front of the frame allows a place where the frame can flex and the lens can come free, simply pull up on the top frame and flex the whole frame back and the lens will come free. Putting the next lens in starts with putting the bottom in then takes just a bit of pressure to further curve the lens to get the top corners to fit. It's also pretty easy.
If the second lens was clear I'd use it more often, but the Rose is still a good option for bright overcast days rather than full rain days.
The first thing you'll want to think about is if the Koo Demos fit your style. If they do, there are some particular performance, and style, details that Koo does well in these 100-per cent Italian sunglasses.
On the style side, the top of the frame has a habit of matching the shape of helmets perfectly and the angle on the inside of the lens matches my cheek. It's a large-sunglasses-look that works for me.
On the performance side, there's plenty of ventilation and a fit that keeps the glasses where you put them while still working well with low helmet retention systems. The only thing I'd call out as an outright issue is that Koo doesn't include a hard case. It's maybe not a deal-breaker but these are nice glasses and it seems like a small detail that would make the experience a little nicer.
Tech specs: Koo Demos Sunglasses
- Price: £129 / $179 / €149 / AU$225
- Weight: 31g
- Colour Options: White / Photochromic, White / Lightbrown, Black / Rose, Black / Blue, Glass / Red, White / Turquoise, Black / Green, Blue, Orange fluo / Red, Yellow fluo / White
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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Weight: 140 lb.
Rides: Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx
By Will Jones