What To Look For In Cycling Sunglasses

04
May
2012

I’m a cyclist who claims that I was born with a pair of sunglasses on my face.  I don’t think I’ve ever been out riding without a pair on…yes, even when it’s raining I’m wearing sunglasses.  Today we have Nate Schrader from SunglassWarehouse.com providing a guest post on what to look for when purchasing cycling sunglasses.  He’s a cyclist like us and provides great information on protecting your eyes, and his company also sells some cool sunglasses at an insanely cheap price.

What To Look For In Cycling Sunglasses

By Nate Schrader | The Sun Authority of SunglassWarehouse.com

It was a few years ago when I picked up my cousin’s pair of crazy looking sunglasses from the table. They weren’t the Oakleys I was accustomed to, and the lenses were orange with holes near the frames. I don’t even remember the brand, but they were the odd duck in my book of sunglasses.

My cousin, who’s been on many charity bike rides after going through cancer treatments and beating them, put his experienced cyclist ego aside and informed me they were sunglasses for cycling. If you’re like I was, you could imagine that biking sunglasses will have some special features specific to biking, but you might not know all of them or what they are. I can tell you after biking to work at Sunglass Warehouse (and maybe doing a little research for you on the Sun Authority!) that the right pair of sunglasses do make a difference and can save you headaches, flat tires, and maybe even your life.

Sunglasses like these half-rimmed sports sunglasses with small nose pieces and tough lenses are a good example of cycling sunglasses.

First Things First: Protection

THE most important thing you can have in sunglasses is UVA/UVB lens protection. Usually acceptable at UVA/UVB 400, this lens feature blocks out the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays that cause glaucoma and other eye diseases. Plus, if you wear sunglasses without this protection, the darker lenses make your pupils bigger and let in even more light and even more harmful rays – the opposite of what you want!

Polycarbonate lenses:

Next is all about full-faced protection. Polycarbonate lenses are much more flexible and can absorb flying objects’ impact than glass. A wrap-around style that curves along the sides of your face will block even more sun, dirt, and those pesky summer mosquitoes from infiltrating your vision. Plus, if you’re a contact wearer, wrap-around styles provide a better barrier from wind at high speeds to keep your eyes fresh without eye-drops.

Seeing the Unforeseen: Comfortable, Enhanced Vision

Your next few features to look for aren’t always utilized, but in the worst conditions these two qualities can make a huge difference. If you’ve ever encountered that bright glare from the backs of cars or nearby buildings or bodies of water, you’ll probably agree that a blinding stint of glare could be the end of your ride. Polarized lenses will stop that glare faster than a red light in your groove. Although some cyclists avoid polarized lenses to better spot oil spills and puddles on the road, polarized lenses always have a place on your face on sunny, dry days.

The right lens color: can make all the difference in spotting those rocks, nails, and other flat-tire causing demons lurking in the bike lane by increasing your vision’s color contrast. Here’s the best lens tint colors for the given conditions:

  • Bright & Sunny: Grey and green
  • Overcast: Copper and amber
  • Cloudy & Nighttime: Yellow and clear

*NOTE: Yellow sunglasses are thought to improve night vision, but actually do not. Clear lenses are the best lens color for your late night rides.

This Pair Fits Just Right: an Enduring Fit

I use the word enduring because on those longer rides, tighter fits become more noticeable. You want to make sure they’re lightweight with rubber grips to prevent slipping on your hotter rides. The smaller the nose piece, the better, because combined with a half-rimmed style, your peripheral vision is clear to see what’s in front of you and those crazy right turners to your left.

Ventilation and Padding:

Finally, ventilation and padding, and maybe even an elastic strap will improve both fit and vision. The padding will increase distance between your face and your lenses, which will help prevent your lenses from fogging up. Just like rolling windows down in your car, vented lenses and frames will help with fogging too. I’ve seen some styles with an elastic strap to ensure your shades stay put, but most cyclists will agree a strap is not absolutely necessary.

Hopefully now things make a little more sense for your next trip. Remember that there’s not just performance benefits to wearing sunglasses, but eye health benefits too. So for those long rides constantly under the sun, remember that the bill of your helmet probably won’t be enough. If you have any questions, or any preferences on features to look for, comment below and help your rookie riders out!

Thanks again to Nate Schrader from SunglassWarehouse.com’s Sun Authority, a resource for “everything under the sun.” When he’s not helping others with the best sunglasses match, he’s training for his next cyclocross race and starting up a bike-share program in his home town of Indianapolis.

 

 

Enjoy Your Ride

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  • William Noah

    Good read, and for those seeking magnification for your sunglasses, try website ‘Stick on Lens ‘.

  • http://daddyridesbikes.blogspot.com/ Matt

    Excellent suggestions.  I’d caveat that the polarized glasses depend on whether you’re riding road or mountain though.  If you’re riding road they’re nice, but I’ve found that I don’t like polarized glasses for trail riding – it makes it harder to see precisely where objects are, especially in mixed shadow/light areas.

  • Julie Starling

    Great article.  Biking sunglasses are a must for my very sensitive eyes!!!  I useTifosi Tyrant Photochromatics.  I just wish they came with little magnification areas like the  eye protection goggles do, so I wouldn’t have to keep getting out my readers to read my phone.  :-D

    • William Noah

      You can buy small magnifications spots for your glasses, called Stick On Lens, you can get them in several strengths. Hope this helps.
      w..

      • Julie Starling

        Thanks!

  • Bill Micou

    In 2004, I bought a pair of Bolle glasses with interchangeable lenses and a RX insert. They were great! I’m still wearing them even though the rubber nose piece is gone as is the rubber grips along the sides. I searched for a pair like these, but no luck. Why is it so hard to find this combination – cycling specific, interchangeable lenses and RX insert.

  • http://twitter.com/NSchrader411 Nate Schrader

    Thanks for the compliments guys :)

    Conservative Values – I wish we had interchangeables, but we unfortunately do not. However, our sister site SunglassManOnline (kind of the Gap to our Old-Navy-ish SunglassWarehouse if you will) has some Tifosi sunglasses with interchangeable lenses along with some other better features like the lens vents and whatnot. It looks like they’re sixty bucks, with one interchangeable pair for about $40. Otherwise, 3 pairs with different lens tints would be about the same from SW. 
    http://www.thesunglassmanonline.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1&show=&q=interchangeable

    Keith – Those sunglasses sound pretty awesome, we’ll have to get some photochromics for the summer! With Tifosi’s being  upper level sunglasses, I’m sure they’re UV protective (it looks like they are on their page, here: http://www.tifosioptics.com/technology/lens-and-frame/)

    Bob – It’s funny you mention that, I go through the same thing when I don’t have my contacts handy. Another internet friend/cyclist just did a review with some fitovers. He has a smaller head than I do, so the regular sports sunglasses didn’t work out but the ‘fitovers’ did a good job from what Ray said in his review: http://www.tifosioptics.com/technology/lens-and-frame/

    Hope this all helps, you get some great rides in this weekend, and you’re looking forward to Bike to Work Week as much as I am! (although, isn’t every work week bike to work week?!?)

  • http://twitter.com/BobRidesABike Bob A

    Great article! The biggest problem I run into is finding shades to wear while riding that are Rx-able.  I don’t wear contacts, so I can’t just pick up any pair.  And with a prescription, the lenses can’t be too curved, or it warpes the Rx.  The last pair I found I wore a year and a half, but then the plastic hinges broke and they’re unwearable.  Maybe I should consider contacts….

  • Keith Edmiston

    I’ve been riding with the Tifosi Photochromic (changes darkness as light level changes) for a few years now…can’t believe I’ve not messed ‘em up yet. I love these glasses since I commute a lot and ride during sunrise and sunset at times.  It’s nice not having to stop to change glasses/lens, or worse yet…go without glasses at all (never do that).  The biggest drawback I can see with these, based on this article, is that I’m pretty sure they are not polarized and I’m wondering if they are UV protected.  Thanks for posting!

    • Julie Starling

       Keith, I love the Tifosi Tyrant Photochromatics too!!!  I have very sensitive eyes and these are the ticket!   I lost the first pair and messed up the second, but I like them so much I just bought a fourth pair so I can keep one in each bag.  There is a Photochromatic Polaroid version available for $99 — I just saw them at REI  a few days ago.  I have a pair of polarized sunglasses in the car for driving because those bright spots hurt me at certain times of day.  I haven’t had that issue with biking, but I do more trails, secondary streets, sidewalks, and parking lots than real road biking.

  • http://twitter.com/conservativekc Conservative Values

    Nice article! The featured glasses look like a really good deal, but only come with one set of lenses. Are other lens colors available for this model, or does SunglassWarehouse.com have other models with interchangeable lenses? A quick search at the site didn’t turn up anything…

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