The Cycling Sunglasses Gear Guide

Sunglasses are essential for protecting your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the Sun, the elements, as well as other hazards such as insects and debris. They are also important in reducing eye fatigue and eliminating the need to squint by reducing glare. For some cyclists, fashion is just as important as the eye protection itself.

Sunglasses should have quality UV blocking lenses that provide ample protection in addition to durable and comfortable frames.

The price of the sunglasses is irrelevant, just as long as the lenses meet all of the requirements and block out all UV light.

Not sure what to look for or how to choose the right cycling sunglasses for you? Then read down below or check out What should I look for in cycling sunglasses?

Due to the excessive amount of sunglasses that are available, we have compiled a list of the most popular and highly rated cycling sunglasses that are available to buy.

Reasons to Invest in a Good Pair of Sunglasses

It is important to protect your eyes as best as you can.

Apart from keeping your eyes protected from dust, smog, wind and insects, sunglasses are vital in protecting your eyes from UV and light related eye damage.

Even on cloudy days UV rays ‘bounce’, reflecting off different surfaces onto our face and into our eyes.

These harmful UV rays are known to cause skin and eye problems, such as cataracts (at an earlier onset), pinguecula, pterygium and skin cancers (basal, squamous, sebaceous and melanoma). UV exposure also increases the risk of developing macula degeneration among other eye conditions.

Lens Features

Polarized Lenses: Polarized lenses significantly reduce glare which results in clearer vision and less eye strain. It is a great feature to have if you are glare sensitive or enjoy water and snow sports.

The downside of polarized lenses apart from the added expense, is that is reduces the visibility of LCD screens (bike computers and phones) and can create an ‘oil slick’ appearance on the road. This occurs as a result of blocking horizontal light (glare is caused by horizontal light).

Photochromic Lenses: Photochromatic lenses automatically adjust depending on the lighting conditions through the interaction with UV rays. The lenses darken in bright sunny conditions and lighten in darker conditions which is great for convenience.

The only downside is that they don’t work inside a car, as UV rays do not penetrate car windshields.

Hydrophobic Coating: A thin surface layer that repels water, causing droplets to simply ‘slide off’ the lens surface.

Anti-scratch Coating: Every lens will scratch at the end of the day but an anti-scratch coating will make the lens more durable and resistant.

Anti-Fog Coating: Helps to prevent the lens from fogging up in hot/humid conditions and/or intense workouts.

Anti-Fog Ventilation: Many manufacturers put small holes in their lenses. This allows small channels of airflow, which helps to prevent the lens from fogging up.

Oleophobic Coating: Fingerprint/smudge resistant lens coating.

Visible Light Transmission

Visible light transmission (VLT) is the amount of light that reaches your eyes after passing through a lens. It is measured as a percentage, which is detailed below.

VLT is affected by the colour and thickness of the lens, as well as the lens material and added lens coatings.

Category 0; 80–100% VLT: Virtually clear lenses for very dim and night conditions.

Category 1; 40-80% VLT: Best for overcast and low-light conditions.

Category 2; 20–40% VLT: Good for all-purpose use.

Category 3; 9–19% VLT: Ideal for bright, sunny conditions.

Category 4; 3-8% VLT: Can only be used in specific situations such as high altitude trekking. Not for everyday use and especially not for driving.

Lens Tint Colours – What Colour Lens is Best For Different Cycling Conditions?

The colour of your lens affects how much light passes through the lens, how well you see different colours and the impact on contrast sensitivity.

Darker lens colours (Grey, Brown, Green): These colours are ideal for everyday use and most outdoor activities.

They are great for reducing glare and eyestrain in moderate to bright conditions. They are also great as they don’t distort colours, providing great colour perception.

Mirror lens finishes: Mirror coatings decrease the amount of light that pass through a lens which reduces glare, making them very useful for water, snow and high altitude lighting conditions.

Lighter lens colours (Yellow, Gold, Amber, Rose, Vermilion): These colours are ideal for low to moderate level lighting conditions, especially at dawn or dusk, as well as in cloudy, overcast, hazy or foggy conditions.

They provide excellent depth perception and enhance contrast, therefore improving the visibility of objects and making your surroundings brighter in darker lighting conditions.

Clear lens: Clear lenses are ideal to use in dark lighting conditions, especially at night or before dawn.

They allow the maximum amount of light to pass through the lens which is excellent for early morning or night riding. Clear lenses serve well as a means to protect your eyes from the elements and debris in dark lighting.

How Should Cycling Sunglasses Fit?

The fit is key. Below are a few simple tips when trying on sunglasses.

-Make sure that the frames sit well on your face and aren’t on an angle. The frames should fit snugly on your nose and ears, and should not pinch, rub, move or be too tight. Simple adjustments of the arms and/or nose piece can sometimes correct these issues.

-Make sure that the lens covers most of your field of view. Make sure that there are no ‘gaps’ in your vision. Nothing is more annoying than being able to look underneath or over the top of the sunglasses. Also the UV rays can reflect and still reach your eyes, if the lenses aren’t large enough or positioned well.

-Make sure that the weight of the sunglasses is evenly distributed across your ears and nose, to avoid any pressure points.

-Make sure that your eyelashes never touch the frame or lens

Everyone has a different shaped face. Some manufacturers include different nose pieces, have adjustable arms and offer frames that fit smaller faces. There is no point buying an expensive pair of sunglasses that professional cyclists or friends use if they don’t fit well or are uncomfortable.

And remember….it is always best to try on sunglasses to see how they fit, feel and look.

If you are unsure about what to look for or how to choose the right cycling sunglasses for you? Then check out What should I look for in cycling sunglasses?

Due to the excessive amount of sunglasses that are available, we have compiled a list of the most popular and highly rated cycling sunglasses that are available to buy.

View the most frequently asked cycling sunglasses questions on the Cycling Sunglasses FAQ page.