Looking after your next pair of cycling sunglasses?
We all want to look good (who doesn’t?) while riding and sunglasses are a part of it, besides the bike helmet, kit, socks, and shoes.
Looking good is important, but protecting our eyes is equally, if not more important. 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.
On this page, I’ll go into more details about what to look for in cycling sunglasses and also share with you some of my favorites.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Cycling Sunglasses
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Cycling Sunglasses Buying Guide
While most sunglasses seem quite straightforward, there is actually a difference in them especially when it comes to cycling.
There are things like the type of lens used for the various light conditions, fit, breathability, and more to consider.
Ensure Proper Fit
Each of us has different face shapes; length, width, and nose bridge height. It can be a big task to find a sunglass that universally fits the majority of cyclists.
That’s you often see cyclists with different sunglasses and also a lot of models out there to choose from.
Let’s take a look at some fit factors to consider.
- 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 in such a way that they don’t get in your way to give you a wide field of view.
Geek Tip : Some brands will have an Asian Fit, Junior or Small version for cyclists with smaller faces.
Type of Lens
Ideally, you should be using a lens that suits your riding conditions.
The main difference between lenses is mainly their light transmission properties, which is the amount of light allowed through the lens and their tints. Some have additional features like polarized and photochromic.
This would mean that they’re suited for sunny days especially during the summer.
They also come in a variety of tint colors to suit your personal preference. For example, SunGod allows you to fully customize not only the lens color but also the frame and earsocks colors to your liking.
These are arguably the most versatile lens from my experience. They’re also sometimes referred to as transition lenses.
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. I find them most useful during dusk rides where the rides start before sunrise and finish just after sunrise, especially during the shoulder months.
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 horizontally reflected lightwaves. A polarized lens filters these out and only allows the vertical light waves to pass through.
These are meant for use riding in dark or low light conditions. They have a light transmission of almost 100%. Oakley has a specific lens called the Oakley Prizm Low Light which is designed to be worn in these types of situations.
Geek Tip : Photochromic lenses are the most versatile lens which could suit most of your riding conditions.
Besides clear lenses, orange/brown lenses are another popular choice for those who ride in low light conditions. The orange/brown tint helps to brighten up the road ahead of you.
Interchangeable Lens for Added Versatility
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 a spare lens while for others you’ll need to buy them separately. For example, the replacement lenses for Oakley Flight Jacket and Radar EV are widely available in a variety of color and tint choices.
Geek Tip : Take extra caution when you’re swapping out lenses, as the frame material can be thin and fragile.
Air Vents to Prevent Fogging
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.
Geek Tip : The air vents on the lens allow for additional ventilation and breathability that prevents the lens from fogging up.
Temple and Nose Grips
Cycling sunglasses have silicone or rubber grippers at the temple and nose pieces 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 over time. Some are designed to have replaceable grippers should they wear out over time.
Geek Tip : High quality grippers get even more grippy when they’re wet.
Value for Money Cycling Sunglasses
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 100% S2 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.
- Pros : Available in multiple fancy colors and designs. The rubber nosepiece and ear socks remain grippy even in wet.
- Cons : Narrower frame design might not suit those with a wider face.
Julbo Rush Spectron 3+
The Julbo Rush Spectron 3+ sunglasses feature a huge lens that provides plenty of visibility regardless of what position you might be in on the bike.
Now, this is a pair of sunglasses that offer maximum coverage for your face. The lens has been designed to offer maximum visibility both horizontally and laterally.
The temples use Julbo’s patented Flex3 temples for solid grip and comfort with a helmet. Small air vents on the lower outside corners of the frame allow for ventilation, preventing your Julbo Spectron 3+ from becoming fogged up.
- Pros : Wide lens design provides maximum field of view with air vents to prevent fogging up when stopped.
- Cons : Limited colors to choose from.
When it comes to performance, a pair of cycling sunglasses isn’t just about countering the brightness of the sun.
It’s also about keeping debris and wind away from your precious eyes. That’s what Scott focuses on with its Scott Spur sunglasses.
This pair features an extra-large lens that creates a shield in front of your eyes. The narrow temples are designed to integrate easily with a helmet. The Spur also uses Scott’s ELC system, which allows for easy on-the-fly changes of the Spur’s different lens types, allowing you to customize the glasses to suit lighting conditions.
An adjustable nose piece allows you to optimize fit. Each pair of Scott Spurs comes with a spare lens, hard case, and microfiber bag.
- Pros : Great quality and fit at affordable prices.
- Cons : Wider frame don’t suit small faces
Performance Cycling Sunglasses
Oakley Flight Jacket
The Oakley Flight Jacket is aimed at 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 to how Oakley puts it, especially when your head is looking down.
The really unique thing about the Flight Jacket is its Advancer Nosebridge, which can be opened or closed (manually) to allow airflow and prevent fogging.
As with all recent Oakley cycling sunglasses, the Oakley Flight Jacket comes with only the Prizm Road lens. It’s specifically developed to increase the contrast of the surroundings by using clever lightwave engineering methods.
If you ride a lot in the dark, check out the Photochromic or the Prizm Low Light version.
- Pros : Frame-less top section avoids contact with the helmet and interchangeable lens provides added versatility.
- Cons : Design might not be to everyone’s liking.
The Roka CP-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 CP-1x 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 CP-1x’s lenses are anti-scratch and anti-fog, and they resist spotting and fingerprints.
- Pros : Frame can be easily adjusted to suit different face sizes. Very lightweight at only 29g.
- Cons : Only 4 colors to choose from.
SunGod, a British sunglasses offers cyclist the ability to fully customize their sunglasses, right from their website.
There’s little chance that two SunGod sunglasses would look the same. Everything is completely customizable, starting from the lens tint, icons, ear socks, and frame colors.
Currently, there are 5 different sunglasses models in their lineup, the Sierras, Classics, Renegades, Velans, and Vulcans. The SunGod Vulcans certainly look the best on a cyclist with its extra-wide lens that provides end-to-end eye protection.
- Pros : Customize your own color and lens combination on the fly. Wide lens for excellent coverage.
- Cons : The nose piece is not the most comfortable.
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 manufactures 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, keeps 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.
- Pros : Available in 6 frames and Carl Zeiss (very reputable in the optics industry) lens combinations
- Cons : Expect to pay a premium over the others
Photochromic Cycling Sunglasses
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 Oakley Radar EV 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.
- Pros : Comfortable earsocks and nose piece. Air vents prevent fogging in the winter.
- Cons : Lens is slightly narrower, causing frame to get in the way for some.
Julbo Aerospeed Reactiv
These Julbo Aerospeed Reactiv lenses from Julbo are built to handle speed.
They feature a large curved lens that not only shades your eyes from the sun but also deflects wind away from your eyeballs as you bomb downhills.
The Reactiv also eliminates the guesswork when choosing the right lens for a ride with a photochromic lens that adjusts automatically based on light conditions.
The temple grips are designed to absorb shocks, ensuring your sunglasses will stay put over bumpy roads. Adjustable nose pads create a good fit for any nose. Vents prevent the lenses from fogging up. And, at a weight of less than an ounce, you’ll barely know these sunglasses are there.
- Pros : Large and wide lens provide an excellent field of view.
- Cons : Frame is rigid and lack of adjustability for proper fit.
Smith Trackstand Photochromic
Bring back retro style while improving your vision with the Trackstand ChromaPop sunglasses from Smith.
This pair of sunglasses feature a retro wraparound style that maximizes your field of vision. This maximizes the effect of ChromaPop, a lense style that provides maximum clarity and color acuity.
Smith also focuses on making sure you have the right lens for the right light conditions. The Trackstand’s come with interchangeable lenses to customize your shades for whatever the day brings.
Additional features include brow vents that allow cool air to enter, cooling your face while preventing fogging. The nose pads offer two different positions for optimal fit, and a hydro oleophobic coating repels grease and water. The Trackstand comes in five different frame colors.
- Pros : Air vents at the top for ventilation and prevent fogging. Comes with 2 pair of lenses.
- Cons : Lens is prone to peeling.
Why You Should Wear Cycling Sunglasses
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 blow up debris and dust 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 sunglasses is so important.
If you’re wearing contact lenses, sunglasses are even more important while cycling. 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.
A Fashion Statement
In recent years, cycling sunglasses have evolved from being protection wear to fashion wear.
Cyclists, especially the modern ones and MAMILs are constantly up-to-date with the latest trendy glasses and cycling accessories.
MAMIL is the acronym for Middle-Aged Men in Lycras.
Hide the Pain and Suffering You're Going Through
Pro cyclists started wearing sunglasses around the mid-’90s and its popularity shot through the roof after Lance Armstrong won the 1999 Tour de France wearing an Oakley M Frame.
Besides acting as protection wear, pro cyclists wear sunglasses to hide their sufferings on the bike from their rivals, which is obvious from their weary eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
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
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.