Best cycling glasses: what to look for in new riding sunglasses

best cycling sunglasses

Cycling glasses seem to be getting bigger and bigger every season, with plenty of amusing memes floating around online where the lenses clearly threaten to engulf the entire face of the rider beneath.

But the best cycling glasses are not all about fashion - they are an essential item for riders throughout the year. 

Much like the best road bike helmets or the best cycling shoes, cycling glasses need to be fit for purpose for the day or type of riding you're about to undertake.

In the warmer months, they do as you'd expect and keep too much sunlight out of your eyes, but also dust and bugs. 

In winter months, there's still sun to consider, but they also provide a barrier to snow, rain, wind, road spray and mud. 

You name it, if it can possibly be airborn, your eyes need protecting from it. But what should you be looking for in a pair of the best cycling glasses that can be used all year round?

Our pick of the best cycling glasses

Oakley Radar EV Advancer

(Image credit: Future)

Best long term favourite cycling sunglasses

Reasons to buy
+Great looks+Secure fit+Good lenses+Comfortable fit
Reasons to avoid
-None to mention

The price might be in typical Oakley territory, but the quality of the Radar EV sunglasses is just what you'd expect from the American brand. We're huge fans, and with these making our Editor's Choice Award's for three years running, it's clear the Radar EV Advancer are a pair of our favourite cycling sunglasses.

Both the frames and the lenses ooze quality, and although there are no replacement lenses, the ones supplied are so adaptive that you can happily wear them all year round in a wide range of conditions.

We've also tested the Youth Collection variant of the Radar EVs. A great option if you've got a smaller face, they're not just for adolescents.

tifosi crit glasses

(Image credit: Future)

Best Cycling Sunglasses on a budget

Reasons to buy
+Quick changing photochromatic lenses+Lightweight option+Adjustable fit+Two fit options+Attractive price point+Night lens option
Reasons to avoid
-Limited colours

The Tifosi Crit glasses are fantastic value for lightweight sunnies with photochromatic lenses. In fact we rate these excellent cycling sunglasses so highly, that we selected them for a Cycling Weekly Editor's Choice Award.

There are two fit options, with the smaller option fitting the face of our super-picky tester just fine. There's loads of adjustability to the nosepiece and the side arms. Good venting works for sweaty or rainy rides up your favourite mountains and the lenses change fast enough to get you through rain or shine.

If you're wanting the best cycling sunglasses without the triple digit price tag, then these are perfect.

100% S2 cycling sunglasses

(Image credit: Cycling Weekly)

Best alternative brand cycling sunglasses

Reasons to buy
+HiPER lens+Extensive Lens coverage+Quality build
Reasons to avoid
-Lens can smear

Case in point re the new generation of large lenses! 100% is well known for its outspoken designs, but with Pro rider Peter Sagan favouring them for his Paris Roubaix victory, they're clearly winning cycling sunglasses.

On test, we also really liked them, and so much so that we had to include them on the Editor's Choice Award list, as even on our slimmed faced tester 100% S2 fitted really well.

If you're looking for great eye protection, but not the usual brands, then these are a great alternative pair of the best cycling sunglasses. The HiPER lens performed exceptionally well, though we wouldn't recommend choosing a pair without this option.

Rapha Pro Team Full Frame sunglasses

(Image credit: Rapha)

Most desirable aesthetics

Reasons to buy
+Great coverage+High performing lens+Secure fit
Reasons to avoid
-Slight intrusion on peripherals from vents

With the aim of directly interrupting the like's of Oakley's market share, the Rapha Pro Team Full Frame glasses arrived with a surprisingly more accessible price tag than expected.

The road riding wrap-around sunglasses pack some well-considered touches into a stylish package, such as the light reactive lenses.

High performing, especially when riding in dappled or changing light conditions, which is on par with both Oakley's Prism and 100%'s HiPER lens.

The overall fit is snug and secure, but our tester was aware of the side venting, which did take a little getting used too.

Cheaper than a lot of the staple cycling brands make these great cycling sunglasses for anyone wanting labels for less, without sacrificing performance.

Salice 022 sunglasses

(Image credit: Salice )

Best affordable cycling sunglasses to rival premium brands

Reasons to buy
+Great fit+Quality optics +Effective design +Lightweight option+Bold looks
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of adjustability 

The Salice 022sunglasses go large with the retro visor look, allowing them to rival many of the highly desirable brands for looks and, thanks to their simple yet effective design, performance.

The minimal wraparound lens coverage helps keep weight low and, with their forward-angled design, they’re great at better at keeping the lenses free of sweat streaks than glasses that sit closer to your face.

The fact that they’re made in Italy and of course that they have the bold looks of the Oakley Sutro, the Salice 022 sunglasses are a great lower-cost alternative to the premium cycling sunglasses brands.

Koo Demos Sunglasses

(Image credit: Koo)

Best Cycling Sunglasses for affordable performance

Reasons to buy
+Great lens clarity+Lens versatility+Stylish design 
Reasons to avoid
-No spare/ clear lens-No hard case

Designed with the Trek-Segafredo pro teams in mind, it's no wonder that the Koo Demos hit the target when it comes to performance.

Our small faced rider found that the one sized (medium) glasses fitted comfortably straight out the bag, although it's worth noting that they do come with a interchangeable nose piece to ensure a perfect fit.

Thanks to the Zeiss Polycarbonate lens, the glasses provided excellent clarity, and with four effective ventilation ports to prevent fogging, even on the heaviest breathing rides on cold winter days.

They are priced well against peers, undercutting similar options on the market by a fair margin in some cases, making these a great pro level option for many riders.

Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses

(Image credit: mike prior)

Best cycling sunglasses with a classic design

Reasons to buy
+Multiple colours+Different lens options+Easy swop lenses+Great peripheral vision+Robust construction 
Reasons to avoid
-Large fit will be too big for some

They might be oldies, but they're goodies, and no best of guide would be complete without their inclusion.

Still one of the most popular cycling sunglasses across the board, the Oakley Jawbreakers provide a great fit, managing to stand the test of time in terms of looks and performance.

The large frames might not be the best for those with small faces, but there is an element of adjustability with the arms

There's a wide choice of frame and photochromatic HDO optic lens colours to choose from. All come with their own protective lens cleaning bag and hard case for protection when not wearing.

Rudy Project Cutline Sunglasses

(Image credit: Future)

Best cycling classes for customisation

Reasons to buy
+Highly modular design+Good anti-fogging+Comfortable fit+Great lens clarity and contrast+Unobtrusive frame
Reasons to avoid
-Pricy option-Rattily on bumpy rides-Tricky to get fit just right

We found that the Rudy Project Cutline sunglasses are the brand's answer to Oakley Suntros  with it's on trend wide design. 

With more or less every aspect of the Cutline's being able to swop out, remove, replace with found these the best cycling glasses for total customisation, and a great single pair for year round use. 

The lenses offered superb clarity and contrast, and we found even on cooler days they didn't mist or fog up, with cut outs in the frame doing a good job at encouraging airflow.

The frames themselves are unobtrusive, with no blind spots or ingress in the filed of vision. Surprisingly, however, they did clatter around a bit on rougher terrain, and getting the exact fit wasn't as easy as other glasses on the market, although once you do nail it, they are really a comfortable pair. 

The price tag might put some riders off, but with the capability of swopping out and replacing each section, these could be the only pair you need for many years, making the cost per wear much more appealing. 

What to look for

The best cycling glasses lenses

best cycling glasses

The most important part of any pair of the best cycling glasses are their lenses, as the tint of the lenses will dictate what conditions you can wear them in.

Many more expensive glasses have lenses that are suited to a range of light conditions. The Oakley Prizm lens, for example, excels across a range of weathers.

However, you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get a pair of the best cycling glasses with interchangeable lenses which can be swapped out according to the weather.

Most of the best cycling glasses that come with interchangeable lenses will come with three different options. First up you should have a standard shaded lens that will provide 100% UV protection and help to dim bright sunshine when riding in the height of summer. However, they shouldn't be so dark that you're struggling to pick out the road surface if you find yourself descending down a heavily wooded lane.

The second lens should have a yellow tinge, which will be great for brightening things up when riding in overcast conditions, making it easier to spot rough road surfaces in flat light. And finally they should come with a clear lens that is there for when you're riding after dark.

What are photo-chromatic lenses?

The other option for riding in changeable condition is photochromic or photochromatic lenses which will change their lightness and darkness depending on the conditions. Back in the day these might not have been great for cycling as they would not change fast enough if you were riding in and out of shade.

However, those on the latest and best cycling glasses are much better, offering quick changes in tint, although they don't quite offer the range of cycling glasses with inter-changeable lenses. Pick these if you want to ride in different conditions, but don't want the faff of having to change lenses.

The best cycling glasses and lens shape

best cycling sunglasses

Aside from the colour of the lens, there are a number of other things to look for when picking your pair of the best cycling glasses.

First of all you want decent coverage. As well as sunshine, you want your lenses to keep bugs, water, and wind out of your eyes (with the latter being particularly important for those wearing contact lenses). One piece lenses are usually the best for this, and you also want a decent amount of coverage around the sides of your eyes.

The best cycling glasses for riding in the rain

The best cycling glasses might come with lenses that have a hydrophobic coating. When combined with a cycling cap, the best cycling glasses are very useful when riding in the rain, and a hydrophobic coating will make sure that water doesn't stay on the lenses impeding your vision.

Misting can be a problem when riding in damp conditions, or just when you get a sweat up tackling a hill. Some of the best cycling glasses come with venting slots or other features to help guard against this. For example, the Oakley Flight Jacket glasses have an adjustable nose piece to let moisture dissipate. However, we didn't rate this solution so well, finding it created a bottom heavy pair of shades with a tendency to slip down the face.

Finally, at some point your sunglasses are going to be knocked off a cafe table, so an anti-scratch coating is an important consideration especially if you've invested heavily.

Cycling glasses frames

When you pay for your new cycling glasses, most of the money will probably be going towards buying the frame rather than the lenses, so you want to make sure that you're getting good value in this area too.

The most important thing is that the frame fits well. The tips of the arms on the best cycling glasses will fit snugly around your temple just above your ears, holding them securely in place even when you're looking down or swinging your head from side to side when sprinting out of the saddle. However you don't want them to be too tight otherwise they will quickly become uncomfortable.

Again, the best cycling glasses have little rubber pads that grip the side of your head to hold them securely in place without needing tight arms. There are also a few with adjustable arms to ensure a good fit.

best cycling glasses

Another important area to look at to ensure the frame fits properly is the nosepiece. Most cycling glasses have adjustable rubber nosepieces that can be shaped depending on the dimensions of your nose. That's crucial, as you don't want the glasses slipping down your face if the nosepiece is too big, or sitting too high and falling off completely if it's too small.

It's also crucial to ensure that the frame and fit works well with your helmet. Our guide on the best bike helmets talks a little about the some nice touches some brands have deployed to ensure helmet and glasses harmony, when on and off your face.

Frame wise, broadly there are three different styles of design: full frame, half frame and frameless.

All offer similar function (although some full frame cycling glasses might have a problem where the upper or lower part of the frame is in your eyeline), so which variety you decide to go for depends on the look that suits you, and the priority you give to weight and of course what fits.

The best cycling glasses with a prescription

If you wear prescription glasses, you may want to look into getting prescription lenses for your cycling glasses too.

Some of the best cycling glasses brands - for example Oakley and Bollé - can supply prescription versions of most lens styles. Other brands provide clip-in inserts which can sit behind your sunglass lenses. Both options do come at extra expense and can be ordered via an opticians.

The alternative is wearing contact lenses underneath your normal cycling glasses.

Extra features to look for in the best cycling glasses

best cycling glasses

If you're paying a lot of money for your new cycling glasses, then you should hope they come with a hard case to keep them safe
(Image credit: mike prior)

Aside from the glasses themselves, there are a number of other little things you should be looking for when buying your cycling glasses.

First off, you should be after a hardshell case that will be useful if you're throwing the sunglasses in a bag and traveling with them. Second, you should hope for a soft microfibre cloth to help keep the lenses clean. You might also find a lens cleaning cloth or even a kit with a spray.

Finally, always check out the colour options, some of the brands offer a huge choice in frame, arms, and lenses. This allows you to ensure the all important matching with it come to outfit planning.