Though they may not be the first must-have accessory that comes to mind, sunglasses are a cycling staple, no matter what conditions you ride in. Your eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of your body, and a good pair of cycling- specific frames will keep out dust, pesky flies, and, most importantly, damaging sunlight.
Spending too much time squinting in the sun’s ultraviolet rays can lead to vision loss and up the probability of cataracts. Shielding your eyes also prevents dirt and grime from ruining your ride; chances are you already know what it’s like to get stuck with a tiny speck in your eye and have no way to get rid of it. A good pair of sunglasses should always have a place in your jersey pocket, rain or shine.
When shopping for cycling-specific sunglasses, pay attention to the varieties available to you, and what conditions each model is geared towards. Lens coloration, for example, usually indicates whether the glasses are best for sunny or cloudy weather, or if the lenses adapt well to less light. “Photochromic” is a word you’ll want to get familiar with before choosing the perfect pair; versatile and highly popular, photochromic lenses adjust to the light as you ride. Automatically darkening as UV potential increases, photochromic lenses will gauge the situation on their own, leaving you to focus on the road instead of fumbling for another pair of sunglasses. Glasses with interchangeable lenses are another option that gives you full control over your eye protection, allowing you to switch lenses based on your all- weather needs.
$184-$223 / £155-187
Oakley cycling sunglassesBeloved by professionals and weekend day riders alike, Oakley’s eyewear selection is best suited for those who tend to spend hours in the saddle. Designed to not only protect but enhance your vision as well, a pair of Oakley’s is a long term investment in your health- and your passion for getting out there. The company’s Prizm Road collection lenses highlight signage and other markings, clarifying what you absolutely shouldn’t miss and heightening your awareness of your surroundings. The three Prizm varieties, Prizm Road, Prizm Road Black and Prizm Road Jade each encompass a number of fits and styles to choose from within that lens category. Characteristically sunset- tinted, Prizm Road options include the Radar EV Path, the Sutro Lite and the Flak 2.0 Neon Yellow Collection, which features a bright yellow frame and a low bridge fit option.
Coming in at $223.00, The exclusive Limited Edition Mumbo Heaters bring back Oakley’s original aesthetic while incorporating the company’s HDO, or high definition option technology. Transporting you right back to 90’s Southern California, the Heaters are a sophisticated throwback speaking to Oakley’s long history and lasting reputation.
While Prizm Roads are designated by Oakley as “medium light” lenses, the Prizm Road Jade and Prizm Road Black series are attuned to bright light, allowing less light transition. For the company’s newest additions, check out the Prizm Road Black 2022 Tour De France Sutro Lite and the Prizm Road Jade Sutro Lite Sweep.
$130-$250 / £109-210
POC cycling sunglasses Known for its hardy helmets, POC is a name you might already be familiar with- and one you likely already trust if you own any of their gear. Established in 2005, this Swedish company was founded with safety in mind, prioritizing the quality and effectiveness of protective gear. POC Lab and Watts Lab, the company’s scientific forums, contribute evolving research and data to POC designs.
Covering everyone from cyclists to skiers, POC performance sunglasses prioritize coverage and lightweight design, making sure you stay focused on what you’re achieving, not what you’re wearing. With clarity-increasing technology and nine different hues to choose from, the company’s Aspire model is designed with demanding rides in mind. Guaranteeing full UV protection, the cycling- specific Aspire offers adjustable temples and extra grip to make sure your frames stay in place when worn with a helmet.
POC’s all-encompassing options like the Aim, Crave Clarity and Do Blade work well for any outdoor activity, while the Nivalis and Devour Glacial incorporate darker lenses and added protection for incredibly bright winter conditions.
The company also offers a line of “Lifestyle” sunglasses, which have many of the performance qualities without the ultra-athletic aesthetic. Models like Will, Want, and Define have a more casual, everyday look, meaning you can grab them and go without sacrificing small pros like nosepiece grip. While POC sunglasses are pricier than an average pair you might find at a clothing store, their long-lasting benefits make them well worth the investment in your vision.
$79.95+ / £67+
A top budget-friendly pick you’re likely to find at your local bike shop, Tifosi is a leading name in cycling eyewear. A host of cycling-specific models joins the Atheon custom option, giving customers the option to design their own pair of sunglasses by customizing elements like the lens color, arms, ear pad and even the brow bar. When it comes to interchangeable lenses, the company’s Rail, Kilo, Sledge Lite, and Alliant are among the options; each comes in a variety of color combinations to choose from. Touches like the Rail’s shatterproof lenses, built-in ventilation on the Sledge and the Atheon’s conveniently removable brow bar make every Tifosi product unique- and suited to always being on the move.
The company’s Enliven color enhancing element incorporates Color Capture technology to do just that; capture the most vibrant colors in front of you and highlight the scenery as you ride. Made with a cyclist’s constantly moving perspective in mind, the Enliven bike lens line changes what you notice while riding, gently making you more aware of your surroundings.
$165-220 / £139-185
Known for its pivotal role in motocross gear, 100% is a brand to have on your. radar, whether you’re a runner, motorsports athlete or cyclist. Sleek, simple and effortless, the company’s selection of cycling- specific sunglasses is divided into two sections, labeled sports and active performance. Under the Sports Performance section, you’ll find lightweight sunglasses designed to fit like a second skin without losing any coverage along the way.
The geometrically innovative Hypercraft model, for example, incorporates UltraCarbon technology into its build, making the entire piece exceptionally light, extremely durable, and reminiscent of your dream carbon fiber road bike. As with most 100% models, there are a number of lens tones to choose from. The Hypercraft XS broadens the options for athletes with smaller faces.
The Limited Edition Peter Sagan Collection takes three existing 100% models- the Speedcraft, S2 and S3- and re-imagines each through a colorful, mosaic-like pattern. Also available in the Fernando Tatis JR Limited Edition model, the Speedcraft offers adjustable temple tips, 360 degree visibility and lenses that are both scratch resistant and interchangeable.
Sold in bike shops worldwide, Shimano-brand eyewear is another reliable choice when it comes to full coverage, on road security and long lasting design. Rimless and curved to fit your face, the company’s Aerolite P model puts aerodynamics first, while the ultra- casual Squares will become your staple on or off the bike. While not available for purchase directly from the Shimano website, you can use the company’s “Find a Dealer” tool to quickly find the closest available pair.
$169-209 / £142-176
With eyewear designed for runners, cyclists, and other adventurers, Koo caters to athletes who spend most of their time out in the open, braving the elements one training session at a time. The company’s SUPERNOVA sunglasses ($199) weigh just over 20 grams and feature a compact, frameless lens with shatterproof technology and full UV protection. Perfect for anyone practicing a sport where unpredictable surfaces are common, the SUPERNOVA single lens is made to stay firmly in place no matter where the road takes you. Coming in at $209, the company’s Belgian Waffle Ride Limited Edition model incorporates a turquoise Polycarbonate lens and four vents to eliminate fogging and keep your vision clear. Established in Italy in 2016, Koo is a relatively young company to keep an eye on, especially when it comes to limited release treasures and innovative eyewear technology.
When choosing sunglasses, be sure to base your choice on the conditions you see yourself riding in, especially if you’ve never shopped for cycling-specific eyewear before. While a casual, square frame design will be versatile enough to wear daily, future racers will likely prefer an aerodynamic, fitted pair of frames to minimize slippage and keep the weight load as unobtrusive as possible.
If you ride daily, or even just a few times a week, relying on your drug store sunglasses can hurt not only your vision, but the quality of your ride as well; special features like color enhancement, clarifying technology and hydrophobic coating can make sure you’re focused on what’s directly in front of you.
Choosing the right pair of lightweight sunglasses will help you avoid having to constantly push your sunglasses back up, squint through foggy lenses or ignore their weighty presence. Brands that specialize in athletic gear test their eyewear for UV protection, durability and, most importantly, ultimate comfort.