Looking after your next pair of cycling sunglasses?
Looking good is important, but protecting our eyes is equally, if not more important.
- 3 Reasons Why You Should Wear Sunglasses while Cycling
- 5 Things to Know Before Buying Cycling Sunglasses
When it comes to cycling sunglasses, there are several things that you’ll need to be aware of. For starters, not all sunglasses are created equally.
Here are 10 of the best cycling sunglasses to consider.
Best Value for Money
1. Roka SR-1 Apex
The Roka SR-1x offers a high quality pair of sunglasses at a budget friendly price point.
Started in 2011 by two former All-American swimmers, ROKA first began offering wetsuits for competitive swimmers. It has since expanded to include a host of other sports-related apparel including eyewear for cyclists.
The Apex features its GEKO fit system, which incorporates two adjustable titanium core wires that tighten the glasses around the temples for stability. The Apex also features a large lens that wraps around the face, creating a broad field of vision.
The Apex’s C3 lenses are anti-scratch and anti-fog, and they resist spotting and fingerprints. These glasses are lightweight, weighing in at just 25 grams and come in four different color variations.
2. Tifosi Alliant
Designed by Cyclists For Cyclists.
The word Tifosi means the super-fan in Italy and no wonder Joe and Elizabeth describes their this way. Tifosi was started in the U.S. by cyclists, Joe and Elizabeth Earley.
The Alliant sits atop of Tifosi’s cycling sunglasses and it comes in 5 color variants.
To give you the best fit, the ear and nose pads are fully adjustable. They’re made of hydrophilic rubber, a material that increases its grip when wet.
Lenses are interchangeable and of all, there are 3 lenses provided – 2 tinted and a clear one which would cover all riding conditions.
3. Kask Koo Open
Cycling helmet brand Kask who sponsors Team Sky recently ventured into cycling sunglasses by launching the Koo brand.
The Open is the first product to be launched under the Koo brand. They work perfectly with all Kask helmets to give you the sleek and pro looks.
One of the main features of the Koo is its rotating arms. You can rotate the arms to tilt the angle of the lens for more airflow to prevent fogging.
Out from the box, you’re provided with 2 lens, a tint and clear lens. The lenses are from Carl Zeiss and you can expect it to provide maximum clarity and contrasts on the roads.
As a bonus, there are 12 color variations for you to choose from.
4. Bolle Shifter
Bolle is one of the best known names in sunglasses, having been in the eyewear business since the 1950s.
They also offer some of the most budget-friendly options for cyclists, such as the Shifter. These glasses are styled after Bolle’s iconic Chronoshield model with a curved temple and vented lenses. The curved frame provides maximum visibility and a sleek pro look while the vents prevent fogging.
The Shifter comes in a variety of lens colors for different light conditions. Color options include shiny red, matte black and matte white. These glasses also features Bolle’s patented Thermogrip technology that is designed to keep the glasses in place.
5. Smith Optics Pivlock Arena
Started in 1965 in Idaho by Dr Bob Smith, Smith Optics is starting to gain some serious attention lately.
While Smith Optics might not be synonymous with cycling, this pair of sunglasses has a lot to offer. The Pivlock Arena Max is Smith Optic’s mid-range cycling sunglasses. It comes with 2 variations; the regular and max. The max version has a wider frame and taller lens.
The frameless design provides you with a maximum field of view and eye protection. A layer of hydroleophobic is treated on the lens to make them water and dust repellent and they’re also easily interchangeable.
Best for Performance
6. Oakley Flight Jacket
The Oakley Flight Jacket is aimed towards those who are performance oriented and want the best sunglasses.
This is the same pair of sunglasses worn by the pros in Tour de France.
The frame features an open edge brow, which is essentially a Jawbreaker but without the top frame. This is done to maximize your upper field of view, as how Oakley puts it, especially when your head is looking down.
The really unique thing about the Flight Jacket is it’s Advancer Nosebridge, which can be opened or closed (manually) to allow airflow and prevent fogging.
As with all recent Oakley cycling sunglasses, the Flight Jacket comes with only the Prizm Road lens. It’s specifically developed to increase the contrast of the surroundings by using clever light wave engineering methods.
If you ride a lot in the dark, check out the Photochromic or the Prizm Low Light version.
7. 100% S3
100% has gained a huge following in the past 3 years thanks in part to Peter Sagan, who is a triple world road race champion.
But their history dates back to the 1980s when 100% began making racing equipment for motocross and more recently sunglasses.
The S3 features a 5-base cylindrical shield lens for maximum visibility and includes a second clear lens with each pair. The Ultra HD lenses are interchangeable with HiPER lenses, which offer enhanced contrast and photochromic options, which can be purchased separately.
Other features include impact-resistant materials, oil and water resistant treatments on the lenses and ultra grip nose pads and temple tips for a secure fit.
And, if you desire that Sagan look, these glasses come in Peter Sagan Limited Edition Blue Topaz.
8. POC DO Blade
The POC DO Blade sits atop of POC’s performance cycling sunglasses range.
Established in 2005, POC is a Swedish company that manufacturers sporting wears for skiers and cyclists.
Featuring a Carl Zeiss lens that increases the contrast of the road surface, the POC DO Blade is specifically designed for cycling with its wide field of view.
The lens is treated with a protective layer that prevents fogging, keep the dirt and grime off it.
For the fashion conscious, you’ll never run out of color options as they come in 16 lens and frame color variations to match all your kits.
9. Rudy Project Defender
Launched in Italy back in 1985, Rudy Project provides eyewear for a variety of sports ranging from golf to cycling. This is a company that focuses on performance and the Defender epitomizes this goal.
The sleek and sporty look of these lightweight frames exude racing. The Defender features adjustable nose pads and temple tips for secure fit and Power Flow ventilation system to prevent fogging.
The lenses feature Rudy’s proprietary RP D Centered Optics to reduce glare and provide maximum clarity. These glasses, which come in a wide variety of colors, also have competitive racing in mind.
They include a soft protective bumper to protect the face in the event of a crash.
10. Adidas Zonyk Aero Pro
With the Zonyk Aero Pro, Adidas has managed to produce a winner.
The high and wide lens design provides a maximum field of view while also giving your eyes maximum protection from the elements.
It features a unique, removable sweat blocker at the top of the frame that prevents the annoying sweat droplets from dripping into your eyes when you’re going hard on your bike.
A nice and thoughtful feature.
They come in 10 different color variations and the lens are interchangeable depending on your riding needs.
11. Oakley Radar EV
Not into swapping lenses to suit light conditions?
Then check out Oakley’s Radar EV Path photochromic sunglasses. These glasses, which will change in tint based on how bright it is outside, feature Oakley’s patented O-Matter lightweight frame in combination with photochromic lenses that wrap the face.
The Radar is designed with a taller lens that extends the upper field of view for the wearer, a nice feature when you’re scanning the road from the drops. The ear socks and nose pieces are made of Oakley’s proprietary Unobtainium, which is designed to keep the glasses firmly in place.
These glasses also feature Oakley’s PRIZM technology which controls light transmission to maximize contrast and improve visibility.
12. Smith Optics Attack ChromaPop
The Optic Attack Max is Smith’s impressive photochromic offering.
Smith Optics began as designer and innovators of ski goggles in 1965. In the fifty plus years since the company has expanded to offer a broad array of performance eyewear.
Smith Optics puts its proprietary ChromaPop technology into its lenses. ChromaPop works by filtering certain light waves in order to provide greater definition, natural color and clarity. Lenses for the Attax Max are interchangeable through a quick release system.
For fit, the Attack Max ChromaPop has hydrophilic megol temples and nose pads that increase in gripping power when introduced to moisture. The nose pads can be adjusted to two different positions for comfort.
13. Bolle Vortex
Bolle’s Vortex photochromic lenses are designed for durability and lightweight.
They also happen to be one of the more budget friendly options among the photochromic glasses out there. These lenses have a Carboglas Coating that gives the lenses an armor shell to protect against scratches and abrasions. True to their photochromic quality, these glasses will darken in bright light and go completely clear in the dark.
The Vorte also features Bolle’s Optics Control System, which is an interchangeable lense system that allows you to swap out lenses for different light conditions. The frames are made from nylon that is lightweight, durable and flexible. Adjustable nose pads ensure a tight fit so the glasses stay on your face.
Why You Should Wear Cycling Sunglasses
1. Protect Your Eyes from Dangerous UV Rays
The sunglasses shield your eyes from the elements when you’re outside, like dangerous UV rays, winds that blows up debris and dusts particles, mud, rain droplets and sometimes even insects that fly right into your face.
Cyclists spend a lot of time under the sun especially during the summer and hence why wearing a sunglasses is so important.
If you’re wearing contact lenses, sunglasses are even more important while ccycling. It prevents tears from evaporating so that your eyes are moist and comfortable.
Did you know : Up to 3.2 million people go blind yearly due to prolonged UV exposure worldwide.
2. Fashion Statement
In recent years, cycling sunglasses has evolved from being a protection wear to a fashion wear.
Cyclists, especially the modern ones and MAMILs are constantly up-to-date with the latest trendy glasses and cycling accessories.
Everything has to match from the helmet to sunglasses, kits, socks and cycling shoes.
MAMIL is the acronym for Middle Aged Men in Lycras.
3. Hide the Pain and Suffering You're Going Through
Procyclists started wearing sunglasses around the mid 90’s and its popularity shot through the roof after Lance Armstrong won the 1999 Tour de France wearing an Oakley M Frame.
Besides acting as a protection wear, procyclists wear sunglasses to hide their sufferings on the bike from their rivals, which is obvious from their weary eyes.
5 Things to Know Before Buying Cycling Sunglasses
1. Ensure Proper Fit
Nose Bridge. As with anything you wear, having a proper fit is crucial. The nose bridge should sit firmly and securely on your nose.
If the nose bridge is too wide, the glasses will easily slide down and if it’s too small, you’ll constantly feel the pinching effects which will be uncomfortable.
Frame Width. Cycling sunglasses are specifically designed to fully cover and protect your eyes from angles.
The frames are also designed such a way that they don’t get it your way to give you a wide field of view.
PRO TIP : Some brands will have an Asian Fit, Junior or Small version for cyclists with smaller faces.
2. Type of Lens
Ideally, you should be using a lens that suits your riding conditions.
The main difference between lenses are mainly their light transmission properties, which is the amount of light allowed through the lens, their tints, and some have additional features like polarized and photochromic.
Standard Lens. These are found in the majority of cycling sunglasses. They typically have a light transmission between 15% to 30%.
They also come in a variety of tint colors to suit your personal preference.
Photochromic Lens. These are arguably the most versatile lens from my experience. They’re also sometimes referred to as transition lens.
The lens brightens and lightens according to the level of UV to suit your surroundings and have a light transmission between 20% during bright daylight and up to 70% during low light conditions.
With that, you can use it for most of your riding conditions from dusk to dawn.
Polarized Lens. They help to block reflected lights from the road surface, car hoods or road signboards and hence reduce the glare, making it more comfortable for your eyes.
Glare is caused by horizontal reflected lightwaves. A polarized lens filters these out and only allows the vertical lightwaves to pass through.
Orange/Brown Lens. Besides clear lenses, orange/brown lenses are another popular choice for those who riding in low light conditions. The orange/brown tint helps to brighten up the road ahead of you.
Clear Lens. These are meant for use riding in dark or low light conditions. They’ve a light transmission of almost 100%.
PRO TIP : Photochromic lenses are the most versatile lens which could suit most of your riding conditions.
3. Inter-changeable Lens
Sunglass frames that support inter-changeable lens are much more versatile.
You can easily swap out for a lens that suits the riding conditions of the day.
Some models come with spare lens while for others you’ll need to buy them separately.
PRO TIP : Take extra caution when you’re swapping out lenses, as the frame material can be thin and fragile.
4. Air Vents
As you ride, heat and perspiration tend to get trapped between the lens and your face.
Because there’s air flow, they get displaced and hence no fogging. But once you stopped, you’ll notice that the lens will quickly get fogged up.
PRO TIP : The air vents on the lens allow for additional ventilation and breathability that prevents the lens from fogging up.
Cycling sunglasses have silicone or rubber grippers at the temple and nose piece to prevent them from sliding around.
The temple should fit comfortably and snugly around your head.
For new sunglasses, these might feel a little tight but they’ll stretch as you wear them overtime. Some are designed to have replaceable grippers should they wear out overtime.
PRO TIP : High quality grippers get even more grippy when they’re wet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to choose the best pair of cycling sunglasses?
Apart from brand and design which are more of a personal preference, here are some of the features a good pair of cycling sunglasses should have.
- Frames should fit snugly
- Air vents to provide airflow and prevent fogging
- A lens that covers your eyes entirely
- Silicon or rubber grippers on the nose piece and temples which gets grippier when it’s wet
2. Is there a right way to wear a cycling sunglasses?
There’s no right or wrong way. But if you don’t want to look like a cycling hubbard, here’s how to do it.
Wear the sunglasses after you wear your helmet. The sunglasses should be over the helmet straps.