Keep grit, dust, and rain off your eyes with sunglasses that protect your vision and stay in place while you ride. Popular options like the Oakley Jawbreakers have stood the test of time as a pro and amateur stalwart.
Features particularly important for cyclists include:
- Contrast-enhancing lenses.
- Photochromic lenses that adjust to lighting conditions.
- Interchangeable lenses that allow you to customize your glasses for different riding conditions.
The best road cycling sunglasses protect your eyes from wind, sun, and debris. They will also allow your peripheral vision to remain clear and unobstructed even when your head tilts downward, like when riding a bike. A large field of view helps you spot hazards, road or trail obstructions, and other obstacles before they become a problem.
Cycling lenses should have high UV protection to prevent eye damage and blindness caused by long-term exposure. They should have a mirror coating that reduces glare and provides sufficient contrast for optimum vision while riding. Many brands offer lens colors that perform differently based on the ambient light and weather conditions. Gray-tinted lenses are ideal for bright and sunny conditions, while amber or orange tints enhance depth perception in low-light or cloudy conditions. Some lenses are photochromic, darken as the intensity of sunlight changes, and are popular for cyclists who want one set of glasses for all riding conditions.
Having good ventilation in your glasses is important for controlling fogging. Look for venting on the frames, lenses, nose, and temple pads to prevent your glasses from fogging during heavy breathing and sweaty rides. Some frames have a wrap-style design that keeps the lenses close to the face and nose to help control this problem.
The frame shape of a pair of cycling sunglasses is critical for comfort and safety. Large, shield-type frames that wrap around the face and protect the eyes from wind, dust, and debris are a good choice for road cyclists. These glasses must also fit well so they won’t fall off during a ride or become dislodged by grit, dirt, and salt that might get caught behind the lenses.
A wide, uninterrupted field of vision is another key feature for cyclists. These large-lens, “shield-type” glasses often have a slim rim at the bottom of the lens to keep them from cutting into your face if you take a tumble. The rim also helps to hold the lenses on your head during intense movements and when riding over rough terrain.
Some of the best cycling glasses are rimless to increase the field of view further. They may feature a clear, tinted, or mirrored lens. Tinted lenses reduce glare and enhance contrast, making it easier to see hazards, obstructions, and terrain changes. The colors of a lens tint can vary from neutral gray to yellow, rose, or amber for different lighting conditions.
Many frames are made from plastic polymers that bend and won’t break if you fall on your bike. A few brands offer interchangeable lenses, a great option for cyclists who want one set of glasses for all conditions without buying multiple pairs of frames.
Many cycling sunglasses are designed to be comfortable with a helmet, and most feature bendable arms that can adjust to fit your head shape. Ideally, they’ll also fit close to your face to prevent unwanted airflow and prevent debris from getting behind the lenses (like grit or salt). Some models are rimmed around the lens for added protection, while others are completely rimless to increase the field of vision and make them lighter.
The tint of the lens can affect how you see, too, so a lot of cycling eyewear comes with two different lenses that you can switch between to fine-tune your vision for changing conditions. Photochromic lenses that darken with UV light are especially useful for cyclists, as they can protect your eyes from the sun while allowing you to see the road ahead easily.
Finally, any good pair of cycling sunglasses should have vents to help with cooling and fogging. Fogging isn’t just annoying; it can also limit your ability to see obstacles and hazards on the road, potentially leading to an accident. Some models even come with adjustable nose pads and soft rubber earpieces to ensure you can find a comfortable and secure fit. A few pairs of sunglasses also have anti-fog coatings to prevent your glasses from steaming up as you sweat or ride.
A good pair of cycling sunglasses will protect your eyes from bugs, rocks, glare, and the wind and protect you from harmful UV rays. They should be lightweight, durable, and comfortable to wear with your helmet on.
Sunglasses with a photochromic lens are a great option if you ride in changing weather conditions, as the lenses change tint automatically depending on the amount of light they receive. They are typically a dark tint for brighter conditions and lighter for overcast or cloudy days.
The best sunglasses for cycling will also have anti-reflective lenses, which reduce the glare from road and other surfaces. This will make the road surface easier to see and help you identify hazards like curbs, gravel, puddles, and other obstacles. You can find some glasses with a polarised lens, which absorbs horizontal light waves to eliminate glare and distortion, but these may not be suitable for viewing LCD screens like those on your GPS or smartphone as they can cause color casts.
Lastly, look for cycling sunglasses with a coating to prevent the lenses from fogging up while riding. This is especially important if you are riding in cold conditions or sweating a lot. Look for a hydrophobic coating that will prevent water, oil, and sweat from sticking to the lens and blurring your vision.