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.