I've recently started commuting via bike to work (6.5mi each way), and am looking for advice on gear... specifically sunglasses (which I find useful to prevent dust in eyes and to help block the ample sun).

Currently I'm using an expensive pair of Oakleys (not meant for riding per-se), but I'm wondering if I should get a specific pair of glasses that are preferred by riders.

Any suggestions on brands or even specific models would be nice.

  • Good question - there's obviously a lot of interest and opinions on the topic. – Mac Aug 25 '11 at 4:05
  • This question is starting to turn into a list of equally valid answers. Voting to close. – jimchristie Mar 4 '14 at 14:12

Cycling glasses are a very functional piece of equipment. While any glasses will be better than none, you ideally want glasses that:

  • Wrap your face, so the frame does not obstruct your field of vision
  • Have lenses that are close to your eyes, without large gaps between them and your face (to minimize dust and debris from getting to your eyes)
  • Allow a reasonable amount of airflow to prevent fogging
  • Fit well (meaning they essentially meet the above requirements without causing discomfort).

Cycling glasses will meet all of these aspects. However, the specific set you buy can range from low-end, nearly disposable glasses to high-end high-dollar ones. Features such as interchangeable lenses (so you can have clear lenses on shady days or in the dark) are nice-to-haves, and can be had even on cheap pairs. An alternative is to have a few pairs of glasses so you can pick the right tint for the day.

The right tint is very important--whether you have one pair with interchangable lenses, or several that you use depending on conditions, you'll want to ensure you have a pair for any riding time. Riding without glasses can be dangerous. Large bugs, branches, and road debris can really hurt if it catches you in the eye.

Price will partly be dictated by how long you'd like them to last. These will be taking bugs and other debris at relatively high speed, so they will all need to be replaced eventually.

Personally, I have a pair of relatively low-end Uvex Blaze's--paid about $30--and they come with clear and medium-tint lenses. They have suited me well, and have taken some drops. I'd expect I'll get perhaps a year of usage out of them before I do something disastrous and they are gone. The interchangable lenses are quite nice--I use them regularly, especially when commuting where I often need clear lenses after dusk.

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    Cycling glasses are probably what all the serious riders are wearing that I see all the time around here. Thanks for the product link, I'll go have a look. – r00fus Aug 25 '11 at 0:37
  • how scratch resistant are those Blazes ? – memnoch_proxy Aug 25 '11 at 2:51
  • Also important to mention is gravel. If you ride chip-sealed roads, I have gravel bouncing off me from passing cars regularly. – memnoch_proxy Aug 25 '11 at 2:57
  • @memnoch_proxy they aren't very high end, so I wouldn't expect them to be scratch resistant. My glasses tend to meet their end in very silly ways, like dropping them while walking and stepping right on them, so $30 glasses are high-end for me. If you watch deal sites you can get a decent set within that price, but if you're more responsible with them than I then you may benefit from putting more money into them. – STW Aug 25 '11 at 3:21
  • @roofus -- yes, cycling glasses have a distinct "sporty" style. Personally I don't like the looks, but as I said their form follows function. For riding they are very well suited to the task; much better so than "casual" sunglasses. – STW Aug 25 '11 at 3:24

If you don't want to spend lots of money you can still get the most relevant characteristics in a pair of safety glasses.

You can find these at just about any hardware store and they:

  • wrap around,
  • are impact resistant,
  • block UV,
  • don't look half bad
  • come in clear and tinted (and are cheap enough to get one of each usually)
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    I keep a few pairs of $7 safety glasses stored in old socks in my trunk bag. A shaded pair, a yellow pair and a clear pair. I prolly have spent a bunch of dollars replacing them as they don't last, but with toddlers around the house, I'd really regret losing a $70+ pair of shades. My regret with cheap safety glasses is how quickly they scratch up. – memnoch_proxy Aug 25 '11 at 2:55
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    Very good suggestion! My safety glasses indeed are quite similar to my cycling glasses. Better yet, if I ever need to run a side-grinder for a curb-side repair I know I'll be covered ;-) Seriously though, it really is a valid option--and the sportier styles offered can be a very good fit for riding – STW Aug 25 '11 at 3:27
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    If you have a Dollar Tree store in your area, you can pick up wraparound sunglasses for a $1, cheap as they get, some actually look very nice also. – Moab Aug 25 '11 at 17:10
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    I was given some Bolle safety glasses. They looked the part and I went out with them. Boy was that a bad idea! I felt like I was having an out of body experience or had been drinking meths (not that I would know). The problem was the optical distortion. Everything was in focus but three foot away from where I thought it was. +1 for safety glasses but there are caveats. Might I suggest 'What cheap affordable safety glasses are good for cycling?' as a forthcoming question... – ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Aug 25 '11 at 20:42
  • @ʍǝɥʇɐɯ interesting! I have never had that experience Good point to check them out before you buy! The Bolle link was just the first one I found with a picture of what I was thinking. I usually just get whatever the local hardware store has. – DQdlM Aug 26 '11 at 1:18

Transition lenses!

After riding for years with various sunnies and cycling glasses with interchangeable lenses I got sick of having to carry around multiple lenses and changing them during the ride.

Recently, I got a pair of Oakley Fives with transition lenses. They are brilliant. No more need for changing lenses, they are always the right level of shading and it's just so convenient.

I only got the fives because they were pretty cheap and they suited my face. Plenty of sports frames can handle transition lenses.

Oakley Fives

  • interesting! I wasn't aware that you could buy non-Rx transition lenses; however you've got me curious. I'll keep them in mind when my current face-shields meet their untimely end :) – STW Aug 25 '11 at 3:25
  • @STW Indeed you can. They add some cost but it's worth it when these are the only glasses you need in any conditions (in fact, in any outdoor activity at all) – Mac Aug 25 '11 at 4:01
  • Wonder if any other glasses allow for transition lenses... the Fives around $80, so I'm a bit hesitant to buy them. – r00fus Aug 25 '11 at 23:22
  • @r00fus - I'd say the lenses will be more expensive than the frames, so if $80 is too much you're not going to be able to afford this option. – Mac Aug 25 '11 at 23:44
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    @r00fus: I just searched on ebay.com for [ photochromic safety glasses ]. The cheapest pair that turned up was a pair of Uvex SX0406 safety glasses for US $32 plus shipping. The glasses include photochromic lenses with anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings. – unforgettableidSupportsMonica Dec 18 '12 at 6:20

I always go for interchangeable lenses. I use the clear ones (or yellow if you must), at night, and dark ones in really bright sun. Although mostly I just keep the clear ones in day and night.
On every pair I've had the clear lens also gives full UV protection (although clear won't cut down glare of course).
Make sure you try them on so that they are a good fit to your face.


I hate to give yet another It Depends answer, but it does. In my experience, the shape of your face will determine the cycling goggles that work best for you.

I've got a long nose and narrow face, and I wanted sunglasses that didn't admit any sun over the top edge. I wound up with a pair of Nikes (now discontinued, like every good thing Nike ever does), but only after a lot of looking. My wife's facial features are just the opposite of mine—she can't wear my sunglasses at all, and after much looking she wound up with a spendy pair of Adidas sunglasses.

Interchangeable lenses sound nice in theory, although I never take advantage of that. Wrap-around lenses that cover your peripheral vision are good. Polycarbonate lenses (I think most quality cycling goggles have them these days) is important. If you spend any time at high speed (say, descending at 30+ mph), a close fit will prevent turbulence behind the lenses, which makes your eyes tear up.


I recommend another expensive pair of sunglasses from Oakley: The Jawbone.

Excellent crystal clear peripheral vision. You can get lenses with little vents. Lens change-out is easy. Lots of colors to choose from. They stay on your face and are very durable. Many pros wear them. The only bad thing is the price at about US $200.

About lenses...

It is good to get two kinds, a dark tint for daylight and a yellow/clear one for dusk/dawn/night. I recommend polarized vented lenses for the darks and these for yellow.


For my money, I can't go past Serengeti sunglasses. They're not a very popular brand, but in my opinion they are the BEST the only other brand in contention is Ray-bands. My pilot brother put me on to them - apparently all the pilots wear them - they're that good. I bought some 6 years ago for motorbiking and I would highly, highly recommend them.

For cycling: Serengeti Maestrale

Serengeti Maestrale

  • They wrap nicely.
  • They have photochromatic lens - increasing definition
  • They have a nice tint.
  • You can get them polarised.
  • They don't look bad at all.

You can pick them up at www.opticsplanet.com for under $US100.

I'm not an agent of Serengeti or OpticsPlanet, I just love them.

  • so you actually get on with photochromics? I had a pair once and found them too pale in the light and too slow to lighten in deep shade. This might partly be because I find grey lenses preferable for their better colour definition and almost all photochromics are brown. – Chris H Mar 4 '14 at 14:42
  • @ChrisH I prefer photochromatic lenses to a regular tint. Especially as I use them when commuting in low light, sometimes even after sunset (dusk not night). Plus, they make everything look so much nicer. – Coomie Mar 5 '14 at 0:56

Yes! Cycling-specific sunglasses are super important. You need frames that stay on your face when you’re in the cycling position so you don’t have to look over the top of your glasses when you’re hunched forward. They also need to be compatible with your helmet as well as have rubber temples and nose grips to prevent them from slipping. Oakley and Rudy Project are two brands that make great cycling glasses.

Here’s a few models by a company that I use:


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    Just fyi, if you're affiliated with the company that you've linked to, you must declare so in your answer. bicycles.stackexchange.com/help/behavior – jimchristie Mar 3 '14 at 22:40
  • Why would a rider be "hunched over" when commuting? At least for an urban commute, one should ride as upright as possible. Not only is it a lot more comfortable, but it is much safer as it both makes it easier to see and easier for others to see you. – Tony Adams Aug 12 '16 at 18:50

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