Best Cycling Glasses: The Complete Guide

Best Cycling Glasses: The Complete Guide

Today we’re going to talk about cycling glasses. Just a quick little brief history on why I am going to tell you about cycling glasses – I’ve been a pretty avid cyclist since 2007, did a little bit of valley drone racing, not much at all; had a pretty bad crash at the track. I did a lot of organized centuries, did a lot of those type of rides, been on my bike many, many, many miles. Also do some trail riding, mountain biking, commuting as well, I just love bikes and I feel like if you’re on two wheels life is better.

I’ve been a certified optician since 1999 and my life is about prescription and non-prescription cycling glasses. So that’s why I’m going to tell you about cycling glasses.


Best Cycling Glasses – cycling frame


Alright, so the first thing we want to talk about is what makes a cycling frame a cycling frame, why is it important to have a frame specifically for cycling. What are the ingredients, what is the definition of having a good cycling frame? And there are a few things that you really want to consider when getting a cycling frame.


For me, first, the most important thing is coverage in the cycling position. What you really want to make sure of is that when you’re on the bike, especially a road bike, especially aggressive geometry if you’re on a TT bike or a triathlon bike. And you’re in the drop zone, a lot of times with regular glasses when you’re kind of in that bent over position, you look over the top of the glasses.


You really want to make sure that there is enough coverage around your eyebrow. There is an arch kind of system here so that when you’re kind of bent over, you are not looking over the top of the glasses – which would let wind in, debris in, won’t give you the sunglass tint.

If they’re prescription, you’re not going to be looking through your prescription, you’re going to be seeing the frame sometimes. So a true pair of cycling glasses was designed in mind to be worn in that cycling position so that you’re not looking over the top of the glasses, and you’re not looking at the frame as well. These are obviously not rimless glasses but they were designed, these are the Oakley Jawbreakers by the way, so you really do not look over the top even in a really aggressive kind of geometry.

And most true cycling sunglasses are going to have features like that so that it’s really hard when you are in that position to be looking over the top. It’s really annoying to have that frame in your way. It can be distracting, it can be bothersome, it can be unsafe, so that’s a really big important feature right there; to make sure you’re not looking over the top of the glasses while in that aggressive geometry.


Best Cycling Glasses – straight back temples


Next thing for me that is really important is having straight back temples. The reason why I really like straight back temples is that you have your helmet on first, which is how most people do it, and then you put your glasses on.

If there is a hook, if it’s like a old school regular pair of glasses and you have to have a hook, you’re kind of just trying to struggle and figure out a way to get in there. And then the strap system and the retention system, and the hook, and all that, it’s all just kind of a jarggled mess.

Having straight back temples is the way to go. And yes, you’re supposed to wear your temples over the top of your straps for coolness aero points. That’s another important factor – having that straight back temples.


Best Cycling Glasses – rubberized temples


The next really important thing for me is rubberized nose and rubberized temples. You do not want these things sliding off on your descent. You don’t want to be messing with them, constantly pushing them up and down, off and on your glasses. Hopefully you’re going to be sweating a little, maybe you’re much faster and fitter than me. You’re not sweating up the hill but I am, so I like a lot of grip, I definitely need rubberized grip – the more the better – on the temple and the nose piece. Cycling glasses is going to have a lot of grip there.


Best Cycling Glasses – wind protection


Next thing of course is going to be coverage. You want to have a lot of wind protection, a lot of debris protection. These are the tried and true Oakley Racing Jackets, they used to be called the Jawbones, and these things are basically like little shields for your eyes. And again, can’t really look over the top even though there is a frame up there. It’s got the straight temples, super comfortable, and a lot of rubberized grip and then you’re getting full, full coverage. You really don’t want to have anything bothering your peripheral, you want to have a … Basically this is like a windshield, right? You’re out there in the elements and you need to have a lot of coverage, so that’s going to make a big, big difference for fit on the glasses.


I think that’s just about it for truly what’s going to make a cycling frame. And probably the thing that people don’t think about and overlook and then it bothers them when they are on the bike again is that over the top, when you are in that cycling position. So, that’s about fit on the frame.


Best Cycling Glasses – tint on the lenses


So the next important thing to think about when choosing cycling glasses is the tint on the lenses. And my slogan on this is ‘more pop and less stop’; contrast, contrast, contrast, …. I’m an optician and a cyclist and bike enthusiast and not a safety expert, but into safety, and I continuously see people wearing really dark lenses on their bike; and to me, that is a no go. I would always recommend a lighter lens than a darker lens. Here is the situation that I explain a lot to people – You’re doing a long, hard climb, maybe a 7/8 mile good climb. And you’ll be climbing that thing and it will be a nice warm day and the sun is in your face and you wish you had the darkest most mirrored, most polarized lenses on earth to get that sun protection while you’re doing this long, brutal, enjoyable, sufferfest of a climb. And then you get to the top and you crest it and you’re coming down the back side or you’re just turning around and coming back and doing the outback.Best Cycling Glasses

Now that sun is not in your face. There are shadows on the road and there is debris on the road, and somebody dropped a beer can on the road and there are potholes, and having that too dark of a lens at this point is going to mean that you’re not seeing all that stuff as much as you possibly can.


In and out of the shadows, especially in and out of tunnels, a lighter lens is going to give you more contrast. If the ground is great, if the shadows are great, if the potholes are great, if it’s a great day and you’re wearing great lenses, guess what? Everything is great and you’re not going to be seeing everything out there.

Don’t worry so much about how dark the lens is, but the right color and the right hue and the right tint and the right contrast on the lens are going to be – in my opinion- much, much more important. I do not prefer dark grey lenses on a bike.


For example, an amazing lens is going to be like the Oakley Prizm Road which has this awesome rose tint to it, and was specifically designed to help bring out the pop and the contrast on the road. Definitely want to go with more of an amber lens, or on the inside of this lens is not as dark as the mirrored.

Sometimes you can have a cool mirrored look, but the lenses are going to be that dark. Sometimes they are going to have blue tint; I prefer the blue tint over the grey tint even though it’s still a dark lens, because it’s going to give you that contrast. So don’t be afraid of going non-neutral; neutral lenses are going to be more of a grey lens, and non-neutral lenses, rose lenses, rose copper lenses, amber lenses, orange lenses, yellow lenses even, for a real over cast day, is going to be more your friend.

You want to get as much contrast as you can out of that lens.


Best Cycling Glasses – contrast


I think that’s all I got to say except contrast, contrast, contrast, more pop, less stop. Don’t be afraid of a lens that’s a little bit too light. I should add this – photochromatic lenses are pretty cool. A lot of companies are coming out with photochromatic self-adjusting lenses, transition lenses as they’re also known, so that the lens actually changes throughout the day for you.

You don’t have to actually think about stopping and changing your lenses or “Did I bring the right color lens out for the day?” And also, a lot of these lens are interchangeable, so you can have different lenses for different light conditions. I think that’s it on lenses.


Best Cycling Glasses – summary


Alright, we learned about frames and how to pick a correct cycling frame, and we learned that contrast lenses are our friends and we don’t want to go too dark and there is photochromatic and interchangeable; let’s talk about some of our favourite cycling glasses.

I’m going to start on my left over here and kind of work my way over and write about some of our favourite cycling frames.


Best Cycling Glasses – Oakley Radar EV


So right here we got the Oakley Radar EV, this is the Pitch model.

And what I love about the Extended View is that it does give you an extended view. Really hard to get over the top; like I said that’s really important. They have venting, unbelievably comfortable, lots of unobtainium – that’s Oakley’s term for the rubberized grip.

The hotter you get and the more you sweat, the stickier and tackier unobtainium gets (one of my favorite sentences). This frame will come in a variety of colors and it is available with a prizm road lens.


Best Cycling Glasses – Oakley EVZero Range

Another one is brand new, this is the Oakley EVZero Range. These glasses are big and comfortable and unbelievably lightweight. If you are after super lightweight, if you’re a weight weeny and measuring your tubes to see which one has the least amount of grams, you’re going to love this frame. Lot of coverage, unbelievably lightweight; almost feels like it’s so lightweight it’s going to fall off, but they stay on really well. I like this guy as well, really cool frame; that’s the Zero Range.


Best Cycling Glasses – Racing Jacket


And then we got tried and true classic, I personally have 8 pairs of these glasses from my collection. Still one of my favourites, still rock them, tried and true classic. This is the Racing Jacket, started off being known as the Jawbone, has unbelievable interchangeability, vented lenses, really comfortable.

This frame for me is perfect, it just sits right in my eye socket, it just gives unbelievable wind protection, never slide off, never slips. I probably put in I would say at least 20,000 miles in different pairs of these glasses over the years. I still pick them out of my collection all the time, and it just feel like the just work. I love them, especially for mountain biking as well. The Racing Jacket is just a great tried and true pair of glasses and very, very durable; I’ve beaten up those things a lot.

A lot of the professionals are wearing right now in the Peloton, I believe the first three stages of Tour de France this year also, the winners were wearing the Jawbreaker. This one is amazing interchangeability, unbelievable coverage, not rimless, but still designed specifically for the cycling position, so this pair really, really stays in place really well. Lot of coverage, vented really well; I’ve had a lot of trouble fogging these up. I’ve been wearing these lately on the bike, even wore them a couple of times when mountain biking. I really like this pair of glasses.


Best Cycling Glasses – Flak 2.0 XL

Flak 2.0 XL

The Flak 2.0 XL can be used for a lot of sports, but actually is a really, really popular cycling pair. Sometimes people want something just a hair less aggressive. And if you still want a sporty pair off the bike, obviously they are not a tuxedo pair, but these a little less cycling roady looking. So the Flak 2.0 XL is another really popular one from Oakley.


Best Cycling Glasses – PivLock Arena Max

Then we’ve got the PivLock series from Smith – some of the best value in my opinion in the industry. This is the PivLock Arena Max, there is also the non-max which is not as big for smaller faces. These have adjust-ability on the nose so you can actually make them wider and narrower. They come with three sets of lenses, they are interchangeable, amazing price points; you’re looking around $180, $160 on some of these PivLock with three sets of lenses, a hard case. These guys are really, really lightweight, really comfortable and completely rimless. So you’re getting amazing peripheral vision, and again they work great in the drops. I have the original PivLock that came out many years ago and I still rock that one. I really like these glasses.


Best Cycling Glasses – Bolle 6th Sense

Then you got the Bolle 6th Sense. This is again going to be almost totally rimless. They have a little bit of a bar right here. What I really like about the 6th Sense is the adjust-ability. If you have a really hard to fit nose bridge, this nose bridge is actually adjustable, really lightweight; just a clean, sweet pair of glasses, nice pair of glasses from Bolle. Also very, very lightweight because of the frame-less design.


Best Cycling Glasses – Rudy Projects Tralyx

And then we have some Rudy Projects over here. This is the Tralyx; this is the inbelievable vented, lightweight pair of glasses. Again, these have interchangeable lenses, but also adjustable nose pad which is really nice. And they just kind a feel like nothing when you put them on; you almost forget that you have glasses on when you have these on. I haven’t ridden in them yet personally; I plan to, I hope to. But just playing around with them in the office and reading some other reviews about them, I can see why people are really liking this pair of glasses.


Best Cycling Glasses – Rudy Projects Agon

And then this is one of my personal favorite Rudy Projects. These are Agon, and these are not quite as lightweight. They’re super lightweight I mean, considering sunglasses in general. But compared to the other Rudys they are not quite as lightweight. But they have adjustable temples, they have adjustable nose pads, they have interchangeable lenses, they kind of have more of this half design. And I find these give me great, great coverage and really hard to fog; so another fan of these.


Best Cycling Glasses – Crit

And then, we can’t talk about cycling glasses without talking about TifosiTifosi is going to be all about value. If you don’t want to spend crazy money; if you’re more of a 105 kind of person and not a Ultegra kind of person or a Dura-Ace kind of person. The Tifosis are built to last, they are built to work well, they’re kind of a no-thrills in the marketing world, but then they give you amazing quality and value for your buck. This is a new one called the Crit, and it was named appropriately; I think you can do a lot with these glasses. They are vented, they’re lightweight, they have adjustable nose pads. The temples actually to me feel like they have just a slight adjustment as well. They come in a bunch of cool colors. This one is photochromatic, so a great option if you’re trying to save a little bit of money.


So, I don’t know which one of these would be my favorite. Luckily I get to play with all of them; but there are 10 amazing pairs of cycling glasses. .. Get all of them?

Well, I hope you guys learned a lot about cycling glasses and cycling frames and cycling lenses.

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