Looking after your next pair of cycling glasses?
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 sunglasses, there are several things that you’ll need to be aware of.
For starters, they are not created equally. Hence picking one is not as straightforward as it seems.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Sunglasses for Cycling
Value Pick : Ride 100% S2
“Comes with two lens options; a standard HiPer lens and a clear lens for low-light conditions.”
Best for High Performance : Oakley Flight Jacket
“Open-edge brow design maximizes your upper field of view without the frame getting in the way.”
Best Photochromic Lens : Oakley Radar EV
“A very versatile photochromic lens for most light conditions except mid-day rides in the summer..”
How We Pick Cycling Sunglasses
There are hundreds of models to choose from. You’ll see cheap ones from Ali Express to expensive ones from established brands such as Oakley, POC, and Ride 100% among others.
In order to pick the truly good ones, we employed a mixed approach. We turned to popular cycling forums such as Weight Weenies, asked in bunch rides, and scoured Facebook and Instagram feeds to get the general consensus among cyclists. We also complement this by going through the user reviews on large online retailers such as Amazon, Competitive Cyclist, and Wiggle.
We paid attention to these criteria below :
- Price. These can cost anywhere from $20 to $200. In many cases, the cheapest ones seldom represent value for money, and the expensive ones aren’t way better as well. We picked models that provide the best value in terms of affordable price, durable overall construction with a high-quality lens.
- Fit and comfort. The shape of your face has a big influence on this. We picked models that are known to be comfortable for the majority of cyclists. In order to achieve that, these sunglasses have adjustable nose grip height and/or temple length.
- Versatile lens. Besides comfort, the lens quality is important as it affects your vision directly. To increase versatility, we picked those that have the ability to interchangeable lenses. In many cases, the additional lenses would be sold separately.
You can read more in our cycling sunglasses buying guide here.
Value for Money Picks
Ride 100% S2
Ride 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, arm pieces, and temple tips for a secure fit.
- 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+ 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 that offer maximum coverage for your face. The polarized lenses have been designed to offer maximum visibility both horizontally and laterally.
The arm grippers use Julbo’s patented Flex3 rubber for a solid grip and comfort around cycling helmets. 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 eyewear, it isn’t just about UV protection. It’s also about keeping debris and wind away from your precious eyes in all weather conditions. That’s what Scott focuses on with its Scott Spur.
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 frames doesn’t suit small faces
High Performance Picks
Oakley Flight Jacket
The Oakley Flight Jacket is aimed at those who are performance-oriented and want the best ones.
This is the same pair worn by the pros in Tour de France.
The frame features an open-edge brow, which is essentially an Oakley 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 and protect against dangerous UV rays 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 replacement lenses provide 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.
POC DO Blade
The POC DO Blade sits atop of POC’s performance 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 Lens Picks
Oakley Radar EV
Not into swapping lenses to suit light conditions?
Then check out Oakley’s Radar EV photochromic sunglasses. These lens 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 they 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 they 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 Smith Trackstand.
This pair feature a retro wraparound style that maximizes your field of vision. This maximizes the effect of ChromaPop, a lens technology 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 comes with an interchangeable lens 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 adjustable nose piece offers two different positions for optimal fit, and a hydro oleophobic coating repels grease and water. The Smith 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.
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. Does the cycling sunglasses have prescription lenses?
The majority don’t come with a prescription option. Some brands such as Oakley and Rudy Project do have prescription lenses for selected models. It’s best that you speak to your local optometrist should you need prescription glasses.
3. Can I wear contact lenses while cycling?
Yes. In fact, many optometrists recommend wearing sunglasses if you’re wearing contact lenses. Daily contact lenses are preferred as they’re more convenient, hygienic, and breathable. You can easily dispose of them at the end of the ride rather than worrying about cleaning.
4. Is there a right way to wear 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. They should be over the helmet straps.