Sunglasses are essential for road cycling. They keep the sun off your eyes and face, they protect you from insects crashing into your eyes, and they help stop the wind drying your eyes out. There are many, many options – models with interchangeable lenses, photochromatic, prescription, different sizes, shapes and more.
When I started riding nearly 14 years ago I bought a cheap pair from a camping store that were wrap-around style sports glasses and they got me started but soon broke. So I realised fairly quickly that I needed to upgrade and spend a little more money. That’s when I discovered photochromatic glasses which were a game-changer for me.
It’s tempting to start with your regular sunglasses, particularly if you wear prescription sunglasses. But I’ve heard a few nasty tales about riders having accidents while wearing regular sunglasses and ending up with facial gashes from the glasses.
Here’s a quick round-up of the categories that I’ve tried:
There are many brands of cycling glasses so I won’t even attempt to list them here. The brands I’ve used over the years include Rudy Project, Siroko, BZ Optics, and more. Interchangeable lens glasses often include clear lenses, dark lenses and yellow lenses. The clear ones are great for riding in the dark or low light, the yellow ones are good for cloudy weather and the dark ones are for bright sunshine.
I’m not a fan because you need to change the lenses, depending on the conditions which are fiddly and means you have to carry spare lenses around. The yellow lenses are fairly useless in Australia where the sunlight is bright even when it’s cloudy. On the upside, they are usually cheaper.
I’m a huge fan of photochromatic glasses. You put them on when you leave home in the early morning and without you even noticing they gradually go darker as the sun comes up. And I can honestly say I’ve never thought they weren’t dark enough even riding in the bright sunshine in the middle of a summer’s day.
For many years I’ve worn Rudy Project Rydon Slim which fit me well. I find that many of the so-called Unisex glasses are huge on women’s small heads. Although, I’ve recently started wearing Siroko K3 glasses which are Unisex. They offer more coverage which I’m keen to try and they are much cheaper than some of the big brands.
I wear prescription glasses (mostly for close-up stuff) off the bike but on the bike, I’ve not felt the need to wear prescription glasses. I have a few friends who wear prescription glasses while they are riding because they can’t see well enough without glasses, and they’ve been happy to invest in good quality eyewear. One friend has invested in Rudy Project glasses with prescription lenses from her optometrist. She says they were expensive but great. If you want a more budget-oriented option BBB makes glasses that include an insert that goes on the inside of the glasses.
I recently tried another great option from BZ Optics with bifocal lenses. They include a small magnified piece at the bottom of the lens which makes it possible for people like me who wear reading glasses to see important stuff like my bike computer. I must admit I was a bit sceptical and thought they might impede my vision or make me feel a bit woozy, but once I was on the bike I didn’t notice the bifocal part of the lens.
Before I discovered the BZ Optics option I carried a small pair of folding reading glasses in my pocket which I use when I change a flat tyre or to read a menu at the post-ride café.
The final word on sunglasses is that you should wear the arms of the glasses on the outside of the helmet straps. This ensures that the glasses come off if you have a serious accident rather than get caught up to cause a facial injury.