Choosing the Right Cycling Sunglasses

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.

Rimmed vs. Rimless
Rimmed glass­es sim­ply mean the glass­es have a frame around them and rim­less glass­es do not. Pret­ty sim­ple; now for why that’s important.

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
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
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
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.