Best cycling sunglasses 2018: improve your vision and keep crud from your eyes

Keep your head up and your eyesight keen with our list of the best sunglasses for cycling

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Despite their straightforward name, the best cycling sunglasses do more than just stop you squinting as you reach the end of your incline. In fact, from upping the contrast to reducing glare, reacting quickly in the face of sunny spells to keeping grit, grime, flies and worse out of your eyes, there’s quite a lot they can do. 

But now you know you need some, don’t just take the change you have left after buying a stunning new road bike, go for the coolest-looking pair and be done with it. There are a few little considerations to keep in mind first.

How to buy the best cycling sunglasses

When cycling, whether it’s on the road or halfway up a mountain, we’d do well to remember the advice of The Libertines and not look back – or forward, for that matter – into the sun. But it's more complex than that

The choice of lens colour doesn’t just come down to whether you’d rather look like Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Johnny Depp in real life. Like different classes in an old-school RPG, each colour gives away a particular power: yellow lens sunglasses up the contrast, making it easier to differentiate between road and sky on those all-too-abundant grey days; blue lenses reduce glare and stress on the eyes, and are useful in low light; and brown or amber lenses improve depth perception. 

Clear lenses, while not much cop in bright sunlight, are obviously better if you’re more of a night rider, as they’ll keep all that grit and other miscellaneous flying nastiness out of your eyes without rendering you legally blind. 

After that, you have good old grey, a classic option if you’d rather your special kit didn’t look too much like special kit, or you just don’t need your world to be that much higher definition while cycling. 

Photochromic lens sunglasses, finally, are the most exciting of the bunch. Their tint changes depending on the intensity of the light, just like Reactions lenses in everyday glasses, meaning you don’t have to pull over and change your specs when the sun vanishes behind, or comes out from, a cloud. You can just keep on truckin' (cycling).

1. Oakley Jawbreaker Sunglasses

The best cycling sunglasses overall

Specifications
UV Protection: Yes
Lens type: Prizm
Adjustable nose piece?: No
Frame material: O Matter
Reasons to buy
+Light and comfortable+Excellent at keeping out flying crap+Superb lenses
Reasons to avoid
-No adjustable nose piece 

Oakley's eyewear is usually on point, and these are insanely good. 

They're comfortable to wear, the frame is  lightweight, and the clarity of the prizm lenses is exemplary, with no interference to forward vision when you're looking down, nor peripheral vision when looking straight ahead. 

You can easily forget you're wearing the Jawbreaker, and they’re adjustable at the temple to three different lengths, to accommodate for various helmets, and big heads. 

Simply great specs all round, in short.

2. Rudy Project Tralyx Sunglasses

Best cyxling sunglasses for adjustability

Specifications
UV Protection: Yes
Lens type: Photochromic
Adjustable nose piece?: Yes
Frame material: Grilamid
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable temples and nose piece+Light but durable construction
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best in low light

While they might not look as swish as Oakley’s Jawbreakers, these performance sunglasses still cut a sharp figure out on the road, and their cutting-edge design ensures they stay put. 

The adjustability system means that the nose pads can be altered to fit any face shape without pinching or rubbing, as well as changing the height of the glasses and their distance from the face to prevent potentially dangerous misting. That innovation extends to the frame, too, which is made of light but shock-resistant thermoplastic Grilamid, making for glasses that are both unnoticeable and durable – a great combo.

If the Jawbreaker doesn't suit your facial real estate, look no further than the Rudy Project Tralyx.

3. Smith Optics PivLock Arena Max Sunglasses

Best oversized cycling sunglasses

Specifications
UV Protection: Yes
Lens type: Carbonic TLT
Adjustable nose piece?: Yes
Frame material: TR90
Reasons to buy
+Total coverage+Unrestricted view
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best lookers 

If you can’t imagine anything more off-putting than constantly seeing a bit of frame in your field of vision while you’re trying to beat your PB, go for full-coverage cycling sunglasses like these from Smith Optics. 

Not only does that oversized, frameless design offer an unrestricted, uninterrupted view of what’s ahead of you – whether that’s a stunning mountain vista or just your mate Dave’s ironic yellow jersey – it also offers a greater line of defence against debris, and a closer, more comfortable fit to what Smith Optics diplomatically calls 'larger faces'.

4. POC Do Blade Cycling Glasses

Best cycling sunglasses for damper conditions

Specifications
Best for: Durability and flexibility
UV Protection: Yes
Lens type: Photochromic
Adjustable nose piece?: Yes
Frame material: Grilamid
Reasons to buy
+Great weatherproofing+Light but tough
Reasons to avoid
-Come up a bit large

POC makes some of the most safety-conscious and technical products this side of fellow Swedes Volvo. These weatherproof sunglasses aren’t afraid of anything, least of all fog and drizzle. The polycarbonate lenses are treated so that water simply pearls off (no windscreen wiper fingers for you!) and dirt and grime banished. 

All of the lens tints available have been optimised for road cycling, meaning you’re more likely to spot potential hazards like potholes in time to skirt disaster. Thanks to a Grilamid flame, they’re also flexible, giving these glasses a winning combo of near-weightlessness and durability.

5. Endura Char Glasses

Best reactive cycling sunglasses

Specifications
UV Protection: Yes
Lens type: Polycarbonate
Adjustable nose piece?: Yes
Frame material: Not specified
Reasons to buy
+Anti-fog and anti-slip+Reactive lenses
Reasons to avoid
-Changing lenses a bit fiddly 

The photochromic lenses in these sunglasses not only adjust to changing light conditions so you don’t have to keep pulling over and swapping pairs; they’re also treated with a super-hydrophobic coating to repel water in the foulest weather, and resist fogging when the sun shows its face again. 

Changing lenses can be a little fiddly, but it's arguably worth it, given how comfortable they are, despite gripping your face like a limpet. Some may find that some of the frame creeps into their line of vision when going downhill, but that's hardly the end of the world.

6. Tifosi Marzen Sunglasses

Best cycling sunglasses for style

Specifications
UV Protection: Yes
Lens type: Polycarbonate
Adjustable nose piece?: No
Frame material: Grilamid
Reasons to buy
+Versatile design with interchangeable arms+Non-slip ear and nose pieces
Reasons to avoid
-Nose piece not adjustable 

Grilamid construction shows its face, on your face, once again here. But Tifosi’s Marzen sunglasses are decidedly stylish compared to most rivals, looking less like specialist kit or a basic fly disguise, and more like sportier Ray-Bans. 

They are rather more technical than the coffee-shop looks might suggest, however: ‘Swivelink’ technology lets you swap between ‘sport’ and ‘lifestyle’ arms at will, and grip when on the sprint is remarkably good for such a cool-looking pair of specs.

7. Sunwise Equinox Sunglasses

Best budget cycling sunglasses, with a pleasingly secure fit

Specifications
UV Protection: Yes
Lens type: Polycarbonate
Adjustable nose piece?: No
Frame material: Polycarbonate
Reasons to buy
+Wraparound design+Really great value
Reasons to avoid
-Lenses aren’t polarised 

These wraparound sunglasses have been lauded by reviewers for their secure fit, meaning they stay put even when you’re sweating like a pig (or 'gently misting', or 'glowing'; whatever turn of phrase you prefer) while tackling an incline. 

Changing lenses is extremely simple, with four lenses taking you from gloomy days to ultra-bright sunshine, via a simple clicky system. Given that you get said four lenses, a comfortable, close fit, and a high-coverage design for under £40, you can definitely call this pair of specs a bargain. It doesn't look cheap, either.