How to Choose the Right Sports Sunglasses for Cycling

Cycling specific sports sunglasses and lenses are available in a wide range of styles from leading eyewear manufacturers. While some riders may prefer to wear an ordinary pair of sunglasses to save having to buy two pairs, it’s important to understand that cycling glasses offer far more than just good looks from a top designer eyewear brand.

Why Wear Cycling Sunglasses?

Good quality sports sunglasses for road or off-road cycling protect the user from harsh sunlight but also keep out dirt, flies, dust and wind, especially important for riders who wear contact lenses. The wrap around styling that keeps undesirable light and objects out also provides a snug fit, meaning glasses won’t move around, a huge plus point if riding at speed in a competition.

Advances in technology mean that there is now a wide range of different colored lenses on the market, made specifically for varying weather and light conditions, as well as photochromatic options and a plethora of different lens coatings for both fashion and function.

Key Features of Cycling Eyewear

In addition to wrap around styling, look for the following features when buying sunglasses for cycling:

  • Polycarbonate lenses – Most good brands offer polycarbonate lenses which are up to twenty times stronger than ordinary lens glass.
  • Interchangeable lenses – Useful for varying light conditions and also as spare lenses should one set become scratched. Most good brands offer dark, light and clear lenses, the latter being useful for evening or night riding.
  • Photochromic lenses – Allow smooth transition from low light to bright light without the need to interchange lenses; useful for competition riding.
  • Comfort – Good cycling glasses fit neatly underneath a cycling helmet without pinching the side of the head; they have a comfortable non-slip nosepiece and side arms that don’t snap easily. If possible, try on glasses while wearing a helmet to ensure a good fit. Look for glasses that can be adjusted if, for example, a sweat band is required under a helmet in hot conditions.
  • Weight – Sports sunglasses should be light and offer enough ventilation within the wrap around styling to prevent glasses misting up in humid conditions or when riding hard uphill. A good example is the innovative vented lenses on the Oakley Jawbone (see picture below).
  • Polarized lenses – These offer riders improved clarity of the contours of a trail as, according to Al Gleek of lens maker Carl Zeiss, Inc. polarization “blocks scattered light and lets in only very focused light.”

Cycling Prescription Sunglasses

Riders who need prescription sunglasses can buy cycling specific branded glasses with either clip-in or in-frame lenses. The cost is higher for in-frame lenses although cheaper non-branded options exist from specialist optical laboratories and may be preferable to paying the high cost of a custom made prescription lens with a mirrored finish.

Sports Sunglasses Brands

The main brands offering cycling specific sports sunglasses are Bolle, Rudy Project, Oakley, Adidas, Bloc and Specialized.

All offer stylish sunglasses with a variety of features such as “thermogrip nosepads”from Bolle, affordable clip-in prescription lenses from Adidas or Bloc’s innovative “8 based curve” which offers a close fitting frame with improved peripheral vision. Expect to pay between $80 and $250 depending on features and type of lens.

Buying Sunglasses for Cycling

Whilst it is possible to wear an ordinary pair of sunglasses for bicycling, most riders prefer the key features offered by cycling specific sports sunglasses; practical wrap around styling and interchangeable or photochromic lenses that suit varying light conditions. Just remember to choose a style that fits comfortably under a cycling helmet.