Choosing the best cycling eyewear involves first analyzing your needs and considering the available options.

  • How often you ride?
  • Where you ride?
  • How fast you ride?
  • What time of day do you ride?
  • What are the most common type of conditions?
  • Do you break or lose sunglasses a lot?

Considering these factors helps determine how much to spend on riding eyewear as well as what features to include.

For example, trail riding means a greater chance of impact, like branches hitting your face. Road cycling means greater speeds resulting in more wind. Some days, as well as different times of the day, involve brighter conditions than others. Rain and cold create problems with fogging glasses. Finally, varying terrain presents constantly changing types of visibility. The best eyewear for you depends on factors such as these.

After analyzing your unique needs, the next step involves considering the options within the myriad of cycling eyewear available.

Wiley X Sunglasses Bikes2

Non-Negotiables

To start, eyewear must have at least 99% UV protection. If they are not labeled as such, don’t buy them. In addition, make sure glasses are comfortable. Be sure to test sunglasses while riding if possible since your slightly bent posture can change how eyewear fits.

Additional Options

Beyond the non-negotiable, consider the following factors available in most quality cycling eyewear.

  1. Impact protection. Polycarbonate lenses, as well as many types of frames, provide shatter-proof protection for high-speed and off-road cycling.
  2. Lightweight frames with good nose & temple grips. Frames should be light enough to comfortably wear all day and should not slip when sweat hits.
  3. Fit with helmet. Make sure you can get your sunglasses on and off easily while wearing your bike helmet.
  4. Lens coatings. Mirror coatings reduce bright light, and anti-reflective coatings enhance visibility. Anti-scratch coatings prolong the life of sunglasses, while anti-fog coatings help keep vision clear in extreme conditions.
  5. Lens shade. This is probably the most difficult choice. Grey is a good all-purpose lens, especially if glasses are worn for more than just riding. Orange and amber lenses work well for partly sunny or varying conditions, and yellow works best in overcast or low-light conditions. A clear lens is really the only option for dark conditions. Then there are polarized lenses to reduce reflective glare from wet surfaces. Look for the lens shade that suits the conditions you most often experience. If in doubt, go for allowing conditions to be a bit bright rather than too dark.
  6. Interchangeable lenses. Buying glasses with multiple lenses to switch out as conditions dictate is the best approach for someone who cycles often, at different times of day and in a variety of conditions.
  7. Photochromic lenses. If a single ride typically involves a variety of conditions, photochromic lenses may be the best choice. They adjust to changing light conditions and eliminate the need to switch lenses.
  8. Wraparound frame. Most cyclists opt for wraparound sunglasses since they provide the most comprehensive protection from debris and flying objects. In addition, this style keeps the wind from drying your eyes, a feature especially helpful for contact wearers.
  9. Elastic sports band. Those who mountain bike often find this accessory a must to keep eyewear from bouncing or slipping.
  10. Venting. For some, an anti-fog coating may not be enough. If fog is a problem, as it can be in cold weather, for example, look for frames with side vents to allow for better air movement.

Cyclist Wearing Sunglasses

Cycling eyewear comes in a wide range of prices, and cost depends on the various combination of features. Begin by deciding on a budget, then fit in as many features as possible within that amount. Know non-negotiables, and prioritize additional features based on your unique needs.

A little work ahead of time to find the right cycling eyewear will go a long way toward enjoying riding no matter the conditions.

By | 2018-07-10T18:14:05+00:00 July 13th, 2018|All Posts, Safety Tips|4 Comments

About the Author:

Michael Eldridge is a US Marine Veteran and the founder of SafetyGlassesUSA.com. He's passionate about protective eyewear and promoting vision safety. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, fishing, CrossFit, mountain biking, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball.

4 Comments

  1. harry gonzalez June 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Mr Eldridge, I am an Army Vet here who because of injuries in Iraq (TBIs x3) can only ride a recumbent (tadpole) bike. I find myself looking through the bottom portion of my current sunglasses and thats not good enough because it is a bit blurry due to the convex nature of the lens. I’m soliciting your opinion regarding a place to begin my search for riding sunglasses. thank you

    • Michael Eldridge June 18, 2015 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Mr. Gonzalez,

      First of all, thank you for your service.

      I discussed your question with my staff and we all concluded that “taller” eyewear may help reduce the distortion you’re experiencing. Since a taller lens profile would extend further down your cheek, the tendency to look through the bottom of the lens would be reduced. How much a taller lens would help depends on a persons face size and shape.

      To help steer you in the right direction I need some additional information. What lens color do you prefer (grey, brown, yellow, etc.)? Do you require polarized lenses? What’s your face size, shape (Small, Normal, Large)? What’s your price range/budget?

      • harry gonzalez June 18, 2015 at 4:41 pm - Reply

        Living in the Pacific Northwest I ride early or late in the day, wet or dry, winter, spring, etc. I currently have an array of prescribed eye-wear coloured lens. Looking at my rainbow I would have to say the light and dark yellow hue seems most popular. According to my wife (of 27 years) I have a rounded face and my budget is 200-250USD.

        • Michael Eldridge June 24, 2015 at 2:37 pm - Reply

          Hi Harry,

          I selected and compared the following styles to see which one would likely meet your specific needs.

          Oakley Radar EV Path/Pitch
          Oakley Carbon Blade
          Oakley M2 Frame
          Oakley Radar Range
          Oakley Turbine
          Wiley-X Saber

          Half of these are single lens, shield-style lenses with decent wrap and good coverage. The Carbon Blade, R-Range and Turbine have two lenses. This group was chosen mostly for the apparent height from the bottom of the lens(es) to the bottom of the nose bridge. Ultimately, it is this (and how it actually sits on your nose) that will determine your view/visibility. I will call this measurement “bridge height”.

          I used a digital caliper to accurately compare the bridge height each of the styles. I learned further into my evaluation, which one could have guessed, having no frame at the bottom of the lens is also crucial to visibility. So the Turbine, while it was near the top for lens height (17.5mm), was out. Too much of the bottom area was blocked by the frame. The Carbon Blade didn’t go down quite far enough, and the Saber was similar.

          I thought the winner would be the new Oakley Radar EV, but its nose bridge is set down too far.

          The Oakley Radar Range proved to be the best, offering the most lens below the nose bridge in the line of sight — about 18.5mm. The next best, and a great alternative, is the Oakley M2 Frame at a hair under 16mm. The difference while wearing them was less than the 2.5+mm would suggest. In reality, it seemed like a difference of no more than 1.0 or 1.5mm.

          I would suggest one with a Prizm lens to maximize visibility and contrast. And to maximize versatility, I would choose the array atop the list. Unfortunately, this one is out of stock at the moment. But my suggestions are in order below, including optional replacement lenses for the Radar Range. If you prefer a lighter lens to a darker one, then switch the TR45(3rd) with the TR22(2nd). But I think it would depend on current conditions.

          OKT-53-087 Oakley SI Radar Range Array with Matte Black Frame and Clear, TR22 and TR45 Prizm Lenses 265.00
          OKT-53-096 Oakley SI Radar Range with Matte Black Frame and TR22 Prizm Lens 185.00
          OKT-53-097 Oakley SI Radar Range with Matte Black Frame and TR45 Prizm Lens 185.00
          OKT-11-471 Oakley Radar Range with Matte Black Frame and Grey Lens 170.00

          OKT-53-125 Oakley SI Radar Range Replacement Lens, TR22 Black Iridium Prizm 95.00
          OKT-53-090 Oakley SI Radar Range Replacement Lens, TR22 Prizm 85.00
          OKT-53-091 Oakley SI Radar Range Replacement Lens, TR45 Prizm 85.00

          OKT-oo9212-10 Oakley SI M2 Frame Sunglasses with Matte Black Frame and Grey Polarized Lens 250.00
          OKT-oo9212-11 Oakley SI M2 Frame Sunglasses with Matte Black Frame and Black Iridium Lens 170.00
          OKT-oo9212-09 Oakley SI M2 Frame Sunglasses with Matte Black Frame and Grey Lens 150.00

          I hope this information helps you with your eyewear selection.

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