If you’re a regular road-going cyclist, chances are you’ve already invested in the full kit – if you haven’t, you can check out some of the finest brands here – but one thing you may have forgotten about within the sea of jerseys, shoes and hats, is a pair of glasses.
Cycling glasses are vital for any tarmac chomper, and there are several factors you need to look out for when buying your own pair.
Cycling Glasses Frames
You’ll find whenever you look through a vast range of cycling glasses that some will have a full-frame design while others opt for rimless, leaving just the arms attached to the lens. For the most part, the design you choose comes down to personal preference (you’ll receive no judgement from us if you like the “speed dealer” look).
Another feature to consider is ventilation holes. Most pairs of glasses will offer these in some form, usually along the top, or the ‘brow’. You’ll want to make sure the pair you want have them though, as they’ll help to minimise – or ideally completely eradicate – the chances of the lenses fogging up.
And of course, you want your glasses to remain securely on your face. To help in this regard, make sure the pair you’re lusting over has grippy pads around the nose and the temple. You can go even further by making sure the (usually) rubberised areas repel water and sweat to keep them glued to your head.
Know Your Cycling Lenses
But you’re not buying cycling glasses for the frame, so much as it’s all about the lens technology, and when it comes to cycling there is plenty to take note of. Firstly, you’ll want to make sure the lenses on your pair offer great UV protection. Your eyes can be exposed to sunlight for hours on end when you’re tearing up the tarmac, and if you cycle at higher altitudes, the effects of UV rays increase the higher up you go.
Lens colour can play a huge part too. A lot of pairs of cycling glasses will offer a clear lens option but they should also have various colours to choose from too. The time of day you cycle and the light conditions you regularly experience will determine which colour(s) is/are best for you.
Road cyclists, for example, will benefit from lenses that enhance the yellow spectrum of light. Off-road cyclists will be exposed to red and browns of rocks and dirt, so enhancing these colours to bring out detail is paramount, so you can clearly see where your tyres are heading. And don’t think it’s as easy as finding a lens that can offer both, as occasionally, a lens that offers higher contrast may sacrifice definition.
Other technologies come into play too, such as photochromic, or transition, lenses. These react to changing light conditions, so when it gets brighter, the lens counteracts by turning darker and vice versa. Different companies have their own versions of this technology, but it’s essentially the same across the board.
Aside from shielding your eyes from the sun, cycling glasses also protect your eyes from flying pieces of debris, dust, sand and bugs, none of which you’d want flying into your eyes when you’re hitting the road.
We’ve put together a list of the very best cycling glasses currently available, which bring together the perfect combination of style and substance.
Cycling Sunglasses FAQ
Do I need polarized sunglasses for cycling?
Not necessarily. Polarized lenses are great in blocking out horizontal light and reducing glares, but you do not need them. In fact, if you are a mountain or trail biker, they could be detrimental since they affect your depth perception.
What color lens is best for cycling?
The best lens colors for cyclists are amber and rose. These tints are highly recommended for cycling because they increase visual acuity, giving you the brightest field of vision. They are also ideal lenses for weak to no sunlight.
How should my cycling sunglasses fit?
Your cycling sunglasses should fit the size and shape of your face well enough so they will stay put. If you sweat a lot, consider a pair with hydrophilic rubber on the nose and temple pads for added grip.
Siroko is a Spanish brand that puts eyewear front and centre. It has a small range of apparel for cycling and surfing, but otherwise you're only going to find glasses and goggles on the website. The K3 is the flagship products in Siroko's catalogue, and we've singled out the Sprinter as being the pair you want. Incredibly well priced and well-specced, the K3 Sprinter are super lightweight and benefit from interchangeable, polarised Special TAC 1.2 lenses. These filter out harsh sunlight to make the road ahead much clearer, but if you need lenses for other uses, fog for example, or you want a photochromic pair, you can buy them separately and easily swap them out. The included hardshell case has space for multiple lens types too.
Oakley is without doubt one of the most eyewear brands in the world thanks to its extensive range across multiple sporting disciplines and instantly recognisable designs. The EVZero Blades are less about the frame (which is a rimless design available in a range of colours) and more about the Prizm lenses you can attach. Prizm is Oakley's bespoke lens technology that promises to not only shield your eyes from UV rays, but to offer up much-enhanced colour and contrast at the same time, so you can easily and clearly see everything around you, no matter the conditions.
American optical company Smith has been in the game for over 50 years. It's responsible for introducing the first interchangeable lens system for sunglasses and snow goggles, along with other feats such as having the largest eco-friendly collection of sunglasses and introducing its own ChromaPop lens technology. That technology can be found on the Flywheel glasses and it works in a similar way to photorchromic lenses, by adjusting to changing light conditions. The large one-lens design helps to keep your face well-protected, while the frame is lightweight, durable and rocks hydrophilic rubber accents on the nose pad to prevent them from slipping.
French company Bollé has been producing glasses and goggles for cycling and snow sports for over 130 years and is widely regarded as the leader of the pack. The Chronoshield is the company's hero family of glasses, with this Matte edition look even more premium. Unlike some other pairs in this list, Bollé has decided that a fuller frame is better than a rimless design, which only adds to its style credentials. With the Chronoshield Matte, you're able to fit prescription lenses if you so wish, but no matter what lenses you do fit, they won't ever fog up thanks to a P80+ treatment. Adjustable nose pads and rubber inserts inside the temples deliver a comfortable and secure fit. Bollés own Phantom lenses come as standard, which filter out a great deal of glare and automatically adjust to changeable light conditions.
Swedish company POC is dedicated to keeping your eyes and head protected when out cycling or tackling runs on snowy mountains. The Aspire glasses look strikingly similar to snow goggles, just without the elasticated band. No need to worry about them falling off your face though, thanks to hydrophilic rubber grips on the nose and temple. The Clarity lenses feature technology from German neighbour Carl Zeiss, which controls the colour spectrum you can see when out in the sun (by filtering out specific peaks) to keep everything in a sharp, detailed view.
Tifosi is the Italian word for super-fan, which in turn describes the demographic the company develops its eyewear for, the true, admiring fans of all manner of outdoor sports, including cycling. The Aethon gets its name from the Greek word to meaning "blazing" or "shining", and that's exactly what this pair will block out from your eyes, shining light. The company can be confident of such a feat because it includes three different lenses in the box, each of which being designed to be used in varying light conditions. The frame, like many others on this list, is made from Grilamid, known for its lightweight and durable properties.
dhb has made it its mission to outfit cyclists at all levels, whether it be those who regularly partake in competitive racing or the Average Joe who wants to clock a few casual miles at the weekend. Regardless of whichever group you fall into, products such as the Upsilon sunglasses are made to support you. This pair sports a rimless design to not only save on weight, but to give you a completely unobstructed view of the road ahead. The Upsilon's lenses are better suited to bright conditions owing to their low light transmission percentage, so if you cycle in overcast weather a fair amount, you may want to look at some its other pairs.
Dragon Alliance has always been an eyewear and accessories brand aimed at those who appreciate extreme sports. The expertise and technologies developed since its founding in 1993 have allowed the company to broaden its appeal into other sporting arenas such as cycling. The Dr Tracer X LL glasses sport a wraparound frame design to fully protect your eyes, while the lenses are given the company's Lumalens treatment, which claims to offer optimal colour definition no matter where you happen to find yourself. You can switch them out easily for other sets with quick release tabs, while ventilation holes and rubber nose pads help to keep them fog-free and on your face.
This Dutch-based company has been in the business of cycling apparel and accessories for more than 20 years. To this day, the company's staff and founders enjoy getting on their own bikes and spending time outdoors, where they meet other avid cyclists which in turn drives their creativity for new products. The Avenger glasses employ BBB's own quick-change lens system, handy, since the company provides you with additional yellow and clear lenses to help combat any kind of lighting environment. Grilamid frames and complete UV protection make them lightweight, sturdy and a dream cycling companion.