What makes a good pair of cycling sunglasses?

Bollé Cycling Glasses
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Cycling sunglasses interviews

They protect you, enhance your vision, and can say a great deal about your personality. Sunglasses.

More specifically, cycling sunglasses. Definitely, where form meets function.

We interviewed reps from four of the hottest makers in cycling eyewear products at Interbike …

and got the details – from fan favorites to what to look for in 2014 – and then summed it up along with photos, cool new features to look for, and of course, how much they’ll each set you back.

But first, what makes a good pair of cycling sunglasses?

Protection

First, and foremost, cycling sunglasses must protect your eyes and face. That includes:

  • Blocking the sun with 100% UV protection
  • Shielding your eyes and face from wind, debris, rain, bugs & glare

Value

Few of us fall into the “price is no object” category, so how much that new pair of cycling shades costs is a factor.However, the price needs to be balanced with quality, durability, versatility, comfort & protection.

Vision

While optimists may always want to look at the world through rose-colored glasses, they probably never rode 60 miles on a bright, sunny day. Instead of buying a different set of glasses for each condition (and hoping you have them with you when the light changes), interchangeable lenses are the hottest feature in town.

In addition to thinking about the size of the lenses in your new pair of cycling sunglasses, which can affect peripheral vision, what colors or tints are available? While most manufacturers have a wide variety of lens colors, in general:

  • Grey or brown lenses tend to be best overall in reducing brightness in a medium to bright light.
  • Amber or gold lenses are good in low light and tend to enhance depth perception (why they are used frequently in ski goggles).
  • Rose lenses truly make the world a brighter place (good for low or variable light, but not good on bright days).
  • Clear lenses are great for protection on a cloudy or rainy day.

Versatility

Instead of buying a different set of glasses for each condition (and hoping you have them with you when the light changes), interchangeable lenses are the hottest feature in town.

Extra lenses can easily slip into your pocket or be stored in your seat pack and quickly be changed on a ride.  But then, what if the lenses change by themselves?

Comfort

Poor fitting cycling sunglasses can make your head hurt, literally. Take your helmet to the store and try them on with your helmet on and holding your head like you are riding a bike.  The fit at that angle may be nothing like it is just casually checking yourself out in the mirror.  Other things to think about:

  • Fit
  • Weight
  • Air-flow / circulation
  • Prescription options, if needed

Let’s check out some hot new cycling shades

Bollé

Bollé cycling sunglasses
Bollé cycling sunglasses Photo credit: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bollé has long been known as a provider of quality sunglasses, having manufactured and distributed eyewear worldwide for decades. What’s new in Bollé’s cycling sunglass line?

  • Bollé’s Vortex are versatile & available in a wide range of frame & lens colors
  • Bollé introduces the Breakaway & the 6th Sense specifically designed for cyclists in early 2014.

Transitions

Transitions cycling sunglassesOakley TransitionsTransitions, long known for their lenses that automatically change from light to dark and back, have partnered with Oakley and Nike to bring sports sunglasses to the market.Specifically for cyclists – Oakley Transitions in frames like Fast Jacket that are already a big hit with cyclists and Nike MAX Transitions, which come in at a very nice price point.With transitions – interchangeable is automatic.

Smith Optics

Smith Optics Pivlock Overdrive cycling sunglassesSmith Optics knows a thing or two about eyewear designed for outdoor conditions and speed.In 1965, Dr. Bob Smith, founder of Smith Optics, created of the first ski goggle with a sealed thermal lens & breathable vent foam.That same innovation can be seen in Smith Optics’ cycling sunglasses with the Pivlock line, which makes swapping lenses quick & easy. Their two new models, Pivlock Overdrive and the Pivlock V2, both come with 3 interchangeable lenses.

Optic Nerve

Optic Nerve Cycling Glasses
Optic Nerve Cycling Glasses
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventure © Chasing Light Media

Colorado-based Optic Nerve ranks high on the value scale.Optic Nerve’s popular Neurotoxin is lightweight & flexible, comes with interchangeable lenses, and at $79, was one of the lowest priced options we found that was still feature-rich.In the spring of 2014, Optic Nerve introduces the SideSwipe™, their new interchangeable lens system.


Disclosure & disclaimer: We received product samples for evaluation for this review and were not otherwise financially compensated by the sponsor. Some samples are donated following the review. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.