Whether you are a professional rider or just get out on the weekends, you want the best equipment possible so you can perform at your best. Ask any avid mountain biker and they will tell you that having the right pair of mountain bike sunglasses makes all the difference when out on the trails. SportRx teams up with Hall of Fame Mountain Biker, Richie Schley, to talk about what to look for in a mountain bike sunglass. Check out the video below to learn more!
Table of Contents
1. What to Look for in Mountain Bike Sunglasses
2. Frame Technology
3. Lens Technology
Polarized vs Non-polarized
4. Features to Stay Away From
5. Top Mountain Bike Sunglasses
If you already know exactly what to look for in a mountain bike sunglass, you can always check out our guide to the Best Mountain Bike Sunglasses of 2018.
As far as mountain bike sunglasses go, prioritize comfort as much as possible from the start. If they are not comfortable from the get-go, then it's never going to get better with wear. You will want to make sure that the temples fit with whatever helmet you plan on using. Depending on your head size, some temples may extend too far beyond your ears and will make contact with your helmet which is not ideal. Having an equal weight distribution across the frame is also key for a comfortable fit. The pressure should be evenly distributed at the three points of contact; your nose bridge and temples behind your ears.
Wind, dust, and other random debris can get kicked up as you're on the go so having a wraparound or semi-wrap will protect your eyes more than a flatter frame. Also check for ventilation to be sure your sunglasses don't get fogged up on intense rides or cold days. With good coverage, you will block all obstacles that get in the way of your performance when riding.
Working up a sweat is inevitable. Sunglasses with a rubberized nose piece and temples keep the frames on your face. The more grip the better! Otherwise, you will have to constantly adjust your glasses which isn't practical at all when you are speeding down a trail. Having good grip also means your sunglasses will stay on your face and protect your eyes even if you fall.
First and foremost, find sunglasses that have high contrast. A high contrast lens will give you the ability to go in and out of shadows without losing the details in your environment. It would be better you go too light with your mountain bike sunglasses versus going too dark. A dark lens with a mirror will block out too much light on the trail and make it more difficult for you to pick up on the roots and rocks that you need to see. Most brands have their unique contrast-enhancing lens. For Oakley, its PRIZM Trail, which is designed specifically for a trail or mountain bike environment. These lenses are made to boost the contrast in the colors that your eye is most sensitive to while also filtering out the noisy, distracting colors. PRIZM Trail helps you to react quickly to your surroundings, making for a safer ride. Smith proprietary lenses are called ChromaPop which heighten contrast, allowing you to pick up on all the necessary details on the trail.
Polarized lenses filter out reflective glare. Intense glare is commonly found on water, snow, or coming off of car bumpers on a sunny day. With that being said, polarized lenses are not recommended for mountain biking since studies have shown that it can throw off depth perception. Being able to judge your distance from oncoming terrain is crucial in mountain biking since your reaction time is related directly to what you perceive on the trail.
Photochromic lenses, better known as transition lenses, are great for mountain biking because the lenses darken as more light comes in contact with the lens, and lighten as sunlight lessens. A common misconception with transition lenses is that they will change super quick and get extra dark. If you are riding in and out of shadows they will not change on the fly but they are a great option to meet multiple riding conditions. Another plus to photochromic lenses is that you don't have to bring multiple pairs of sunglasses or lenses to change out.
There are some features that can hinder your performance. Dark lenses, for one. The reason being is shadowing out on the trails can make it harder to see hazards, increasing your chance of a crash. Glass and plastic lenses are not recommended because they shatter more easily, so be sure you're getting polycarbonate lenses and save the others for your everyday eyewear. Another feature to steer clear of is metal frames. They can bend and cause possible harm if the metal becomes fragmented under stress.
Oakley Flak 2.0 XL
The Flak 2.0 XL embodies all of the features that are desirable in a mountain bike sunglass. The semi-rimless frame construction allows the lenses to extend around the cheekbones for additional coverage. The bottomless frame design also allows you to see more without the frame getting in the way of your sight. Oakley's Unobtanium grip on the temples and nosepad keep the frames optically aligned even after you break a sweat. This makes the frame extra comfortable if you are wearing them for extended periods at a time. PRIZM Trail lenses are made specifically for a trail environment so all of the colors in your environment are enhanced. This makes for a safer and more enjoyable riding experience.
As you can see, the Oakley Targetline has a much more casual aesthetic than the Flak 2.0 XL. This model is also a great mountain bike sunglass because it still has the sports features that you need. The O Matter frame is both lightweight and durable so they will withstand any physical demands you put them through. An Unobtanium saddle nose bridge and textured temples keep these sunglasses in place for hours on end. Aside from the laid back look, another benefit of a flatter frame is that it is more accepting of higher Rx strengths. Did we mention that both of these sunglasses are available in prescription?
Prescription Mountain Bike Sunglasses in Online at SportRx!
Here at SportRx, our goal is to equip you with the best eyewear possible so that you are able to see better while doing what you love. For those of you that need your mountain bike sunglasses in prescription, we've got you covered. We have opticians on hand 7 days a week, that are eager to assist you. To explore our selection of mountain bike sunglasses, visit SportRx today!