Smith Pivlock Arena sunglasses – review

Rimless shades with a strong look - and performance to back it up

Let’s face it, when we buy sunglasses we’re often just as concerned with how they make us look as how they help us see in sunlight. Cyclists are just as guilty of this – ok, so sunglasses are essential for eye protection on the road, but you can’t tell us that the vast majority of us cyclists also have style right at the forefront of our minds.

Luckily, the Smith Pivlock Arenas cater for this insatiable need to look good, with a rimless lens design that puts me in mind of the old Oakley Zeros from some ten years ago. And, as with many premium shades on the market, they’re set off with a mirrored lens that hides the eyes as well as looking very cool.

The ‘Carbonic TLT’ lens itself is available in a wide range of colours with various light transmission ratings, including the ‘Chromapop Sun Green Mirror’ and ‘ChromaPop Contrast Rose Flash’ lenses that came with our glasses, designed for bright sunlight and low light respectively.

Smith’s Pivlock Arena sunglasses have a distinctive rimless shape which offers a wide field of vision
  • Specification

  • Price: £99.99
  • Colours: Various
  • Website: Smith Optics

Enough on the style, though, because we can report a serious level of performance and practicality, too. The lens is interchangeable, with a simple twist-to-remove action that displaces the arm socks from the lens. Refitting is easy; a simple case of clipping the moulded port into the corresponding hole in the lens, and twisting the lens in so that it lines up fully with the recess in the arm sock itself.

The nosepiece comes away with ease too – you use the same one for each of the lenses – simply squeeze in inwards firmly and it comes away. It really is a doddle, more so than pretty much any removable lens system I’ve come across, including my personal Oakley Radarlocks, which I find take a lot of twisting pressure (relatively speaking) on the lens to release.

Performance in varied light conditions is very good too, thanks to the supplied lenses and and wide field of vision. That said, in bright sunlight, I found I could see the reflection of my own eyes when sunlight shines down from directly above. It’s by no means distracting because you’re always looking and focusing into the distance, but you know it’s there and takes a couple of rides to phase out.

Perhaps it’s a side effect of the tilt of the lens, which is clearly designed to be cycling-specific and well-suited to the natural head position on the bike. That results in the large real estate in the top half of the lens, as well as the wrap-around shape. Looking straight ahead results in the shades looking like they’re floating off your face slightly, so if you’re after a pair of sunglasses that you can use for running or other outdoor sports alongside cycling, there may be more versatile options.

Our test sunglasses came with two lenses, for bright sunlight and low light conditions respectively

On the bike ventilation is very good thanks in large part to the lack of rims, while that lens curvature allows air to flow out at the either side, particularly as your speed ramps up.

Overall, I also found build quality to be solid, too. I’ve removed and replaced the lenses many times during my test period, while the frame is made of quality plastic (with hinges that don’t squeak and open and shut with a satisfying-enough action). Everything works as new, which is perfect, and the arm socks remain comfortably grippy.

A quality carry case completes an all-round quality package

One area you need to be aware of, however, is that the Pivlock Arenas won’t fit neatly with certain kinds of helmets, particularly those with a low brow. For example, it fits perfectly when used with a Kask Mojito, but is squeezed when paired with a Met Manta lid, increasing pressure on the nose and reducing space for ventilation. As a result, if you have a chance to try them on first, be sure to try them with your helmet to make sure you achieve a comfortable, uninhibited, and rattle and pressure-free fit.


The Smith Pivlock Arenas are an impressive set of cycling-specific sunglasses. From the wraparound shape to the ease at which you can replace the lens and the overall build quality, you’re looking at a very well-rounded product. As long as they fit well with your chosen lid, and you’re happy spending £120 on sports sunglasses that are best used for cycling, they’re strong contenders.


  • Interchangeable lenses; easy to use
  • Visual performance
  • Distinctive style


  • Cycling-specific fit
  • They don’t fit well with all lids


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