Cyclists spend hours thinking dialing in their kits but often give no thought to their sunglasses. They simply grab a pair from the shelf and head out the door. Whether you’re bombing some gnarly single track, battling the peloton or racing against the clock in a lung-burning time trial, there are specific sunglasses to ensure your eyes stay protected.
Cycling sunglasses provide two major functions. First, they protect the eyes from any debris and bugs, and second they enhance your visibility of the road. As an added bonus, sunglasses can hide your tears of pain during that final climb.
If you’re mainly a road cyclist or a mountain biker, rimmed glasses will suit you just fine. However, if you’re a dedicated time trial rider or triathlete, get yourself a pair of rimless glasses. The lack of a frame on the top of the lens helps improve visibility while riding in an aggressive aero position.
The right lens: Mirrored vs. Colored vs. Clear vs. Photochromatic
Before you head out for your ride take a moment to make sure your lenses match the riding condition you will face.
Mirrored lenses are best for bright sunny days. These lenses typically block the most light making riding into the sun more enjoyable. There are many colors of mirrored lenses available so it’s easy to match your lens to the color of your kit. These lenses also do the best job of hiding your eyes, valuable if you are prone to pain-induced tears or are planning a mid-ride stop at the beach.
Orange or Yellow Lenses
Orange/yellow lenses are best for low-light riding conditions (e.g. the lighting conditions seen either at dawn or dusk). These lenses help to enhance low-light riding conditions by brightening up the road or anything that is on it. Keep in mind that if you’re wearing orange/yellow lenses, your eyes can be seen.
Clear lenses are designed for night riding or riding in the rain. While they won’t block any light, they will block debris. Select clear lenses if you’re going to be riding at night or going out during a heavy rainstorm.
Photochromic lenses automatically adjust to changing light conditions. They will darken when the sun gets brighter and lighten when the available light levels start to decrease. If you ride multi-day or all day, a photochromic lens, while a bit costly, might be your best bet so you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you have the right lenses in.
Managing your Lenses
Many cycling specific sunglasses will allow you to change the lenses in your frames. This will allow you to have one pair of frames but multiple lens options for those frames. Many multiple frame glasses come with a carrying case for your frames to help keep your cycling closet organized.
And finally, whatever sunglasses you wear, make sure they’re made of a shatterproof material. The last thing you want is a million pieces of glass flying around your eye during an accident.