Rudy Project Defender review: Eye protection at its best!

Defender is Rudy Project answer to the up-to-date trends in sports eyewear. It not only embodies the attributes of contemporary fashion, but matches the design with advanced of eye protection technology.

Reviewing shades is an eminently subjective affair. Comfort, fit, vision is entirely personal, not to mention taste. The sole indisputable attributes of the eyewear are the technical parameters. Unfortunately these say very little about how they are likely to serve the given individual: will it work, or just end up in the back of the drawer. Subsequently whatever comes out of this write-up reflects my experience with the Rudy Project Defender and may or may not be transferable.

With this caveat set in ink, let’s begin the review by how I became acquainted with these shades. I first saw the new Rudy Project model last autumn and was baffled with its retro-modern design. Although it embodies the modern trends in eyewear, it’s also quite distinct, inspired by a retro-modern style. (Bikemag reported on the new 2019 Rudy Project range last November: https://bikemag.hu/english/rudy-project-2019-many-new-helmet-and-eyewear-offerings)

I was obviously exulted to have received a pair of these new shades to review, moreover I was offered the most garish of all the design variants: the exact same one chosen by the Bahrain-Merida World Tour team. It features a gold color frame and red Multilaser lens paired with blue rubber temples. Despite being a brand new 2019 model, the Defender is available with a wide array of frame configuration and lenses choice. The latter includes the photochromatic ImpactX2, the iconic smoke black and a multitude of Multilaser variants.

Those who are familiar with Rudy Project’s 30 year history on the sport eyewear market, the Defender’s main architecture may ring a bell. In its rich and successful past, Rudy offered several iconic shade designs, among which the legendary Agressor bears more than a passing resemblance to the Defender. Present tends often reach back to designs of the 1990’s, so the nod to the Agressor is absolutely in line with current fashion trends. Naturally only the shapes and lines follow tradition, the technology is up-to-the-minute, absolutely at the forefront of what science can offer.

The frame of the basic Defender version is made from Grilamid plastic. Being light, flexible and shockproof, it’s the most ideal material for this application. The premium version of these shades features a hi-tech Graphene composite frame, which is stronger than diamond and lighter than carbon. Of course this raises the price tag by some margin. The lenses on the Defender on test have received the so-called Bumper technology: a protective rubber coating at the crease of the optic. This feature provides effective security for the lens while highlighting the design architecture.

Both the nose and the ear temples are fully adjustable in all three dimensions, assuring perfect fit for as many head shapes and sizes as possible. In fact the same Defender can accommodate narrow and wide nose and head. The temples have a special coating which prevents slippage even when wet: a welcome feature for endurance sports like cycling. The lenses have integrated ventilation openings, which both increase comfort and help to avoid fogging.

Just as with most high-end Rudy Project offerings, the Defender can also be taken apart to the last component, so everything can be replaced and serviced. This also makes customizing the shades a reality. The user can mix and match the myriad of available options and colors, as well as choosing from the vast array of optics.

Did the Defender work in practice? I might be the absolute stock user, since only minute adjustments were needed in terms of fit. I have a relatively wide face, paired with a large nose, but tweaks can be made in any direction. Others who tried these shades could also make then fit with ease. This is probably the most important feature of Rudy eyewear. And when you complement the flexibility of fit with such vast experience in optical technology, the result is the best pair of sports eyewear that you’ll ever own!

I received the Defender in late winter, so I had a chance to try it in both cold-and-wet conditions as well as in blazing sun on the island of Brac. The latter was a good test of the ventilation, as temperatures rose above 30 degree at midday. Since the lens covers a large area around the eyes, I was a bit worried about overheating in the heat and getting all fogged up in cold/wet weather. These concerns proved mostly unfounded. At typical cycling speeds ventilation is more than adequate, and flying down the hills I was glad to have the extra protection such a large optic can offer. At slower speed – especially on gradients over 10% with the sun shining straight into the Defender – I did experience some overheating. Of course these shades are not specially built for maximum ventilation like the Tralyx we tested earlier, but they still fared well in typical conditions. Fogging was similarly dealt with by the large number of openings at the top of the lenses, hence the movement of air paired with the anti-fog coating prevented any moisture buildup on the lens surface.

The lenses demonstrated the usual topnotch performance we have come to expect from this Italian sport eyewear specialist. Rudy designers are maximalist when it comes to optics: the optics are crystal clear, distortion-free, offering the most realistic view of the world. As I mentioned earlier, this model is equipped with the Multilaser lens, and I had the chance to test the red, the blue and the orange color variant. The red proved to provide the best color temperature and light absorption for my taste. Other than personal preference, the choice of color will depend on the prevalent light conditions, the season and other factors. The Defender is also available with photocromatic lens for those who would rather not swap optics or taking the trouble to select a custom setup. In addition, the Defender allows for several types of a prescription solutions as usual from Rudy Project.

Up until now I haven’t written much about the design, though most consider this aspect the strongest side of the Defender. I’m a tad worried that in a few years’ time I’ll view the aesthetics somewhat differently. The retro-modern architecture marked by the large lens and futuristic “wings” are absolutely in fashion at the moment, and truly embrace this design. I love wearing the Defender, which is an important characteristic of sports eyewear. Apart from the trendy shape, this Rudy Project model offers much more: excellent comfort and great optics to boot!

The Rudy Project Defender bears a high price tag that matching its value. The HUF 59,900 cost buys you a top-of-the-line shades from one of the most renowned eyewear specialist on the market. Moreover, you’ll have to deal with the begrudging stare of onlookers!

For more information please visit the manufacturer’s website.

Rudy Project can be purchased from the Rudy Project Magyarország webshop, or in person at their store, where the expert staff will answer all your queries, as well as providing assistance concerning the choice of prescription solutions.




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