Johnathan Harker speaks to Nils Amelinckx, head of cycle development for distributor Lyon.

Getting to know Julbo

If constantly switching lenses seems like unnecessary faff, Julbo is one eyewear brand worth a close look. Nils Amelinckx, head of cycle development for distributor Lyon, talks vision with Jonathon Harker

Can you give us some background to the brand? 
Julbo was founded in 1888 in the French Jura Alps, when Jules Baud (hence the name) designed a pair of ‘Cristalliers’ sunglasses to help protect the eyes of crystal hunters working in the mountains. That heritage meant Julbo was best known in mountaineering and they also became one of the few eyewear specialists for children. Now Julbo is well established in snowsports, trail running and cycling. Julbo is also the largest independently owned sunglasses manufacturer in the world.

POS is important for eyewear – what have you got for shops?
We recognise how important the right POS is and have a variety of options for retailers, from four-piece counter top waterfall displays to 40-piece freestanding lockable displays. There is a suitable display stand for any type and size of store.

How does Julbo’s UK Enduro Series backing affect the market?
2016 has seen the start of a major marketing push for Julbo in the UK and the UK Enduro Series sponsorship is integral alongside media reviews and much more. Julbo is no stranger to the world of Enduro and already sponsors Fabien Barel and Jérôme Clementz amongst others. Enduro, and MTB in general, is in the brand’s DNA so the sponsorship was a fantastic fit for Julbo and our retailers.

The UK Enduro Series events allow us to put the brand before a targeted audience and we run trials of our glasses and goggles with great success at the races. Rider feedback is really important and being part of events where people will be using your products gives us the chance to talk to the riders directly. A lot of the range is still made in Europe so we can respond to feedback quickly.

Lens tech is of course crucial to cycle eyewear – what can we expect in the latest Julbo ranges?
Julbo strongly believes in using one lens for all conditions rather than constantly switching lenses. This is why the high end models focus on lenses with photochromic properties that adjust very rapidly to UV intensity. Julbo use a lens material called NXT for the photochromic range that was originally designed for use in helicopter windscreens by the US army. It was as lightweight as possible, bulletproof and as optically correct as possible. So not only are the lenses optically clear, they are also very strong indeed.

Unlike most lenses on the market that are generally made from polycarbonate and injection moulded in a couple of seconds, NXT lenses are cast at moderate temperatures over 15-20 hours to give them an optical quality close to that of mineral glass. NXT is also stronger than polycarbonate and is the lightest lens material available. Photochromic treatments are built into the lens, which means they won’t wear off over time and the NXT ‘recipe’ is unique to Julbo, giving them the fastest reacting and widest range of activation photochromic lenses on the market.

What are the key ranges?
The Speed range is aimed at MTBers and trail runners. Highlights include the Pipeline (developed with help from Fabien Barel) and the new Aero has unrivalled ventilation. Then there’s the female specific Breeze range and award winning Bang MTB goggle. 

How long has Julbo been with Lyon?
Lyon took on Julbo in 1999 for their mountaineering sunglasses but soon expanded into different disciplines. Julbo pushes the limits of lens and frame technology which makes working with the brand very exciting indeed. The UK seems to have now grown more fond of the brighter colour schemes, especially in the bike market.

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