Cycling sunglasses are a crucial tool to ensuring you experience a seamless ride. When looking for the best pair of cycling sunglasses, it’s not always easy knowing where to start, so we’ve created this buyer’s guide to tell you what to look for. Sunglass Rob and pro cyclist Stephane Roch cover frame and lens features that make all the difference for your biking experience. Also featured in this guide are a few examples of top cycling sunglasses. For a more complete list, check out Best Cycling Sunglasses of 2019.
Table of Contents
1. What to Look for in Cycling Sunglasses
2. Frame Technology
3. Lens Technology
Polarized vs Non-Polarized
Progressive vs Non-Progressive
4. Top Cycling Sunglasses
The high volume of designs, shapes, styles, and features out there can be overwhelming when figuring out what works best for you. But worry no more! We’re here to answer all of your questions with this ultimate buyer’s guide to the best cycling sunglasses and prescription cycling glasses.
A sturdy yet lightweight frame construction separates the good frames from the bad. If you’re picking up a new pair of sunglasses for cycling, make sure that they are made of a sports performance material like nylon, built to be tough but light enough not to bog you down.
Fit is always key when it comes to sunglasses, but when it comes to cycling you not only have to worry about how the sunglasses are going to fit on your face, but also how they’ll fit under your helmet. We find that frames with straight-back temples are your best bet for optimal helmet compatibility. Straight-back temples will also allow you to seamlessly remove and replace your frames when needed.
You also don’t want your glasses to be too tight and cause discomfort, but too loose and they’re slipping off. Settle for something that fits well on your face and can handle those long rides.
True cycling glasses will have both temple and nose grips to ensure a secure fit throughout every ride. You can count on these rubber materials to increase grip the more you sweat, maintaining a precise optical alignment at all times; this feature is exceptionally important in prescription cycling sunglasses.
The best cycling sunglasses are all about that wraparound frame design. More wrap means more coverage and extended peripherals. That coverage is going to come in handy, you’ll see. No really, you’ll see, like everything, and you’ll feel much more protected all at once. Wrap around glasses also provide ample wind and debris protection. If you have a high prescription, you too can reap the benefit of wrap around cycling sunglasses with frames, such as the Rudy Project Exception, designed to accommodate your high-prescription needs.
Think you’ll be fine in a pair of heavy shades? Think again. You need to think like a pro, like a swimmer even. Don’t let any weight hold you back. Plus, a lighter frame will be less apparent in its existence on your face. The best cycling sunglasses will feel like they’re not even there!
When it comes to choosing the perfect lens for your vision and riding needs, there are some features that work better than others, especially when customizing a pair of prescription cycling sunglasses. Here’s a little break down of your options and why they may or may not be for you.
Sunglass Rob’s #1 tip: Don’t wear glass lenses on the bike! Though the cycling trend nowadays leans more toward street fashion, glass lenses are a bad idea for several reasons.
For one thing, they’re heavier, and you want lightweight glasses. This goes double if you wear a prescription. Also, if you fall or debris hits your glasses, they’re done. The lens will shatter, and you also risk damage to your eyes.
All in all, glass lenses are great, but save them for your everyday wear. We recommend polycarbonate or Trivex lenses instead, as those materials are lighter than glass and shatterproof.
Now comes the decision of dark vs. light lenses. For cycling, it is always better to go with a light lens. We say this because of the safety issues that can come with having a pair of cycling sunglasses that are too dark. When riding we are usually surrounded with grey, in particular the ground, shadows, pot holes, and debris. Dark grey lenses may cause you to miss those obstacles, hindering your reaction time. Lighter lenses (such as rose and copper) provide enhanced contrast, allowing you to spot uneven road surfaces up ahead. As a result, a lighter lens (with 100% UV protection) is the way to go.
Transitions lenses automatically adjust with the changing light throughout your bike ride, and typically come in grey or brown. The SportRx Sunset Lens provides a brown-based photochromic lens, which changes from a medium rose copper to a dark rose copper, creating a lens that can work in any daytime condition.
Sunglass Rob also notes that a grey Transitions lens is better than a dark grey lens because it can change tint. You’ll still get less contrast, but it’s not as dangerous as wearing a dark grey lens on an overcast day.
As a potential alternative to Transitions, interchangeable lenses are a great feature to have. Get one frame and multiple sets of lenses to cover all your bases.
Simply put, polarized lenses cut out glare. This feature makes for a good lens when you are in bright conditions where the reflected glare can strain your eyes. Polarized lenses are recommended for water activities and driving, but are not ideal for road cycling because there are situations in which seeing glare can actually be a benefit. For example, picking up on an oil slick or pot hole would be harder with a polarized lens. A polarized lens can throw off your depth perception.
Sunglass Rob also notes that bike computers these days tend to work well with polarized lenses. So while that may have been an issue in the past, it’s not as much of a factor now.
In the end, getting a polarized lens is up to your personal preference. If you prefer not to have the interference of glare, that’s totally cool! Just note that lenses for cycling (such as PRIZM Road) typically aren’t polarized. We also have more information on the differences between polarized and non-polarized cycling glasses here.
A progressive lens is recommended if you struggle with focusing on close things and need to read maps, digital readouts, or fix a flat tire on your bike. Otherwise, a single vision lens is desirable because you have one type of vision correction across the entire lens rather than having the lens split between near, intermediate, and far distance. If you’re used to progressive lenses and like them, go for it! Otherwise, it’s best to err on the side of single vision.
This list of cycling sunglasses is provided to demonstrate how all the different features work together. It is only a sliver of the recommendations we have for you to get some ideas going. We have a complete guide to the Best Cycling Sunglasses of 2019 if you would like to see more options.
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL are tried and true sport sunglasses that are perfect for cycling. The semi-rimless frame design allows the lenses to extend downward to give you additional coverage without the bottom of the frame getting in your line of sight. Unobtanium, Oakley’s patented grip material, covers the nosepads and temples to keep the frames optically aligned. The more you sweat, the stickier and tackier it gets. The O Matter frame is both lightweight and durable for sunglasses that can be worn all-day long. Like many Oakley sunglasses, this model is offered in PRIZM Road for a maximum contrast boost so you can pick up on every detail as you ride.
The Radar EV Path has many of the same frame materials as the Flak 2.0 XL, but with more coverage due to a full-shield lens. These are available in prescription but the embedded rx options are more limited than sunglasses with two separate lenses. Another great feature on the Radar EV Path is the additional venting in the top of the lens. This increases airflow and reduces chances of fogging.
The Oakley Targetline is a great option if you want a more casual look but still need sport features. As you can see, these sunglasses are flatter than both the Flak 2.0 XL and Radar EV Path. Having a flatter lens means the frame is more capable of holding a higher rx lens.
Get Prescription Cycling Sunglasses Online at SportRx
If you’re looking for quality cycling glasses to exceed your expectations, SportRx has you covered. All of the above sunglasses are available here at SportRx, some of which are better for high prescription needs than others. If you have any questions about this list of the best cycling sunglasses, or prescription cycling glasses in general, give us a call or LiveChat one of our optical ninjas who are always here to help! We can’t wait to get you out on the road seeing better than ever.