Cycling glasses protect your eyes from debris and prevent tearing up in headwinds. However, with modern lenses offering a range of additional benefits, our guide should help you clearly see the right pair for you.
With the number and effectiveness of features varying across prices and brands of cycling sunglasses, it’s important to understand what’s available so you can find the right balance of benefits for your money.
From the active lenses of photochromic cycling glasses, to glare, wind, and UV protection, quality cycling eyewear ensures you can spin away at speed, safe in the knowledge your eyes are shielded.
But you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the advanced tech being poured into today’s top tier glasses.
Check out our guide, taking you from entry-level options all the way up to pro cycling specs to get an idea of the features available.
Jump straight to our picks of the best:
• Entry level cycling glasses
• Mid-range cycling sunglasses
• Pro-level cycling glasses
• Entry-level cycling goggles
• Mid-level cycling goggles
• Pro-level cycling goggles
Here’s an overview of the some of the key aspects of cycling eyewear to watch out for.
Frame materials: Even among entry level models, frames and lenses will be constructed from a shatter-proof material – usually polycarbonate. More exotic materials, such as titanium, can be found in top-end glasses.
Protective lenses: The vast majority of cycle glasses will provide protection from UVA rays as well as wind, mud, and other airborne debris. As lens quality improves at higher tiers, special coatings offer protection against the full spectrum of UV rays (UVA as well as UVB and UVC) and other harmful radiation (HEV or “blue light” rays).
Frame fit and design: Frame design is another essential consideration, with a balance to be struck between a snug and comfortable fit, an unobscured field of vision, and adequate ventilation to prevent fogging. Some riders prefer the secure feeling of a more solid frame, while others look for the “semi-frameless” design – where the lens is secured to the frame at the top or bottom only. Many glasses are adjustable through interchangeable nosepads to allow the fit to be ‘tuned’, but for riders with smaller or larger faces, or glasses toward the budget end of the market, a lot may come down to rider preference.
Most riders would hope to enjoy the protection afforded by sunglasses for the entire ride, but varying light conditions – from changing weather to riding in and out of shade – make that difficult. Lens manufacturers have devised two main ways of overcoming this problem and mid to high-end glasses are now offered with interchangeable lenses or photocromic technology.
Interchangeable systems As the name suggests, these come with a selection of differently-tinted lenses that can be clipped in and out of the frame as conditions dictate. Clear lenses are typically used in low-light conditions (winter riding, overcast days, dense forest etc); dark lenses are used in bright sunshine, and intermediate tints for the range of conditions in between. Tint colours will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and again can be largely a matter of personal preference.
Polarized sunglasses reduce glare by filtering the intense light that can be reflected from surfaces such as snow or a wet road.
These offer the optimum level of support for the lens and impact resistance in the event of a crash, but at the expense of a slightly narrowed field of vision and some extra weight/bulk.
Semi-frame or ‘frameless’
Lighter than full-frame glasses and some riders may prefer the subtler, more inobtrusive styling, but lenses are more vulnerable in the event of an accident.
Entry level cycling sunglasses provide you with a high level of protection and sound UV filtering against the sun’s most damaging rays.
Here’s our pick of the best:
Ideal for both road or trail, Northwave’s Blaze Sunglasses use a light, polycarbonate lens construction with a water-repellent lens coating and a smoke tint to cope with glare.
The Endura Singletrack glasses come with three interchangeable lenses, offering anti-fog mirror, smoke, and low light orange options for the price of a single pair. With high-visibility treatments and a range of adjustable parts to suit any face shape, these are an ideal choice for cross country and singletrack adventures.
Supplied with three lenses for all riding conditions, dhb’s interchangable lenses offer a clear option for night riding, an orange lens to cut down glare, and a smoke lens with black red REVO coating for bright sunny days. They are also highly impact resistant, perfect for protection against any debris that may be flicked up when riding.
Wide, wrap-around glasses with a host of features, dhb’s Omnicron PhotoChromatic lenses offer superb value. Featuring light-reactive lenses at an entry level price, these glasses also come with adjustable nose piece and temple tips.
Spending a little more on a pair of glasses gives you a wider range of choice in terms of style and improved optical performance.
Here are our top picks:
These Endura glasses offer pro-cycling performance with a choice of three lenses: anti-fog, mirror finish, and low-light orange. Featuring polycarbonate frames with uninterrupted field of vision, these are elite glasses at a mid-level price.
The choice of three lenses allows you to choose those ideally suited to the lighting conditions. Each lens is precision designed to make best use of the available light, ensuring clarity while on the road or trail. An adjustable nose piece and lightweight construction add to the long list of features.
If you’re looking for a no-compromise pair of glasses, and want the same advantages enjoyed by riders at the pinnacle of the sport, these are are the lenses and frames delivering elite performance.
Here is our pick of the best:
These iconic Flight Jacket cycling glasses represent the cutting-edge of eyewear tech. Combining a number of lens treatments and optical advancements, such as Plutonite for extreme clarity, the brow-less frame and wide-angled lens ensure these models provide new levels of clarity.
These stunners from Smith certainly bring the ruckus in terms of looks and features. The huge ChromaPop, decentred lens provides precision optics. Auto-lock hinges and two-position adjustable nose pads ensure supreme comfort while the lightweight TR90 frames are stylish yet durable.
POC offer some of the most sophisticated cycling apparel and tech in the sport and these DO Blade Clartiy sunglasses are no different. Just as stunning to look at as to see through, they provide a host of technologies, including interchangeable frames, anti-fogging treatment, and hydrophilic rubber in the nose piece.
If you’re off to the trail, a set of goggles with their extra-wide field of vision offers protection against debris, branches, and mud. Meanwhile, the thick strapping is an essential when tackling jumps, switchbacks, and the vibrations of rough terrain.
Here’s our pick of the best, from entry level to pro:
Designed for the trail, entry level googles still offer a high level of protection and comfort for those epic days in the saddle.
Here are our top choices:
These Strata goggles from 100% offer top level performance at an entry level price. A plush, dual layered foam and flexible urethane frame, they’ll last long and give you a great view of your next challenge.
Spy Optic’s Breakaway Goggles are made of flexible polyurethane with an anti-fog scratch resistant Lexan lens. These midsized frames offer 100% UV protection and are compatible with most helmets.
At the mid-range, you can expect a great balance between quality and price, as well as a few of the more exciting features fitted to pro-level specs.
Here are our picks:
The cylindrical carbonic-x exterior lens offers maximum impact protection with ChromaPop technology which automatically adapts the lens tint to your changing lighting. The frame comes lightweight and flexible with a Responsive Fit design featuring an interior triple-layer of DriWix face foam.
Developed with the help of motocross and supercross superstar Ken Roczen, these Vue goggles from Fox Racing offer an extensive peripheral vision for high speeds on the trail. The goggles come complete with tear-offs, ensuring a clear view at all times.
At the professional level, you can expect elite performance, with no expense spared when it comes to lens technologies and fitting customisation.
Oakley’s Airbrake Goggles have a strong impact resistant frame constructed using a high-pressure injection moulded process, ensuring a precise, optically accurate profile. They feature a wide view and, thanks to Oakley’s SwitchLock™ technology, you can switch out the lenses to suit different conditions in seconds.