Rudy Project Defender sunglasses review

Rudy Project’s latest design combines retro chic with excellent optics

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Rudy Project Defender sunglasses give you the big lens look for an excellent field of vision, with a really good photochromic lens as well. They’re resistant to misting, which clears quickly if it does occur. But all that performance does make them expensive.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Good visual clarity

  • +

    Excellent photochromic performance

  • +

    Resistant to misting

  • +

    Large field of view

  • +


  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -


You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

The trend to larger lenses continues, with 100%’s extra-large sunnies worn by Peter Sagan and Simon Yates’s Scott sunnies so large that when riding the Vuelta he looked like a giant hoverfly, with just his mandible showing beneath his specs. But it’s not a new trend: the Rudy Project Defender sunglasses are based on the Aggressor model from 1992.

As with the brand’s other models, the Rudy Project Defender is available with a range of different lenses. The ImpactX2 red photochromic lenses tested offer excellent clarity and are unbreakable. I find photochromic lenses ideal for typical UK conditions, when you’re never sure whether you will be riding in bright sunshine or overcast gloom – and one ride can easily include both.

Rudy Project Defender

Sunscreen and Defender sunglasses - just what's needed for the Tour Down Under. Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Even if the weather doesn’t change while you’re riding, tree cover can change the light conditions quickly. The Rudy Project Defender’s lenses adapt as quickly, so you keep good definition to see road obstacles. The lenses lighten to almost transparent, while the red tint helps with definition and visual acuity.

Misting can be a problem with larger lenses and the wrap-around style, but the Rudy Project Defender sunglasses are resistant to this in most conditions. It was only when riding a cyclo-cross course in the rain at low speeds or coming to a stop at the top of a hill that this happened for me. There are plenty of ventilation slots built in at the base and along the top of the lenses, as well as between their sides and the frame’s sidepieces, so any misting quickly clears.

Rudy Project includes a removable soft piece at the bottom of the lens, to add a bit more protection in a crash and to prevent damage to the lens. With its large size, there’s a wide field of vision, so it’s easy to see peripheral obstacles. The lens can be swapped out too, by unclicking it from the side of the frame.

If you don’t fancy the red photochromic lens tested, there is also a grey photochromic Impact X2 lens offered with three different frame colours. The Rudy Project Defender is also available with red, blue or orange mirrored or black non-photochromic lenses. Prices start at £129.99.

Coming soon is a new Rudy Project Defender model, with graphene incorporated into its matt grey frames.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1