How to choose great cycling glasses

Every cyclist should own a pair of great cycling glasses. But, with all the options on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start and what makes a pair one of the best. As a cyclist, you will likely spend a lot of time fine tuning your bike and ensuring that your helmet and cycling kit are a great fit, but how much time have you taken to consider whether you have the best pair of cycling glasses for your needs?

It can be easy to overlook or forget about the need for great cycling glasses, but they perform two important safety functions: they protect your eyes from any dust, dirt or debris and ensure that your eyes are well adjusted to the light conditions.

In this article, we will discuss some of the key things to look out for when choosing a great pair of cycling glasses, cutting through the jargon to provide you with the most important things you should consider.

cycling glasses

Finding great cycling glasses: Key things to consider

Choosing great cycling glasses might not be the first thing that springs to mind when considering what kit you need, but it can make a big difference to your comfort and safety. As with any piece of kit, there is a whole lexicon of specialist terminology that can seem impenetrable unless you have a degree in ophthalmology.

Lens Tint

One of the key factors that you need to consider is the lens tint. Not all glasses are the same and the tint will determine which conditions the glasses are suitable for. If you often find yourself riding along and struggling with glare, it is worth considering a pair of glasses with a darker tint, but it is important to choose glasses where the tint isn’t so dark that you are limited to just wearing them on the brightest days.

You should consider a pair with interchangeable lenses which means that you can insert the most appropriate lens into your glasses frame for a particular day or set of conditions. Whilst a pair of glasses with interchangeable lenses may cost more, they increase versatility and ensure that you can get the most out of your cycling glasses.

Whilst interchangeable lenses are a great choice for added versatility, you should be wary of marking the lens when changing the

Polarised Lenses: A must have or needless fad?

Polarised lenses give your eyes added protection by blocking out harmful UV rays. In practice, this means that you are able to see without glare in bright conditions, in turn improving your safety as you will not be blinded by the sun, making hazard spotting much easier.  

One significant downside of polarised lenses is that they are a poor option in low-light or night-time conditions. And, as this article explains, they may render your smartwatch impossible to read due to the way that light is filtered.

Polarised lenses are expensive and whilst they are generally good at blocking UV rays and reducing glare, there may be more suitable options on the market.

Photochromic Lenses: A price worth paying

Photochromic lenses adjust according to the light level. This also means that they are the most expensive lens type. This means that you do not need lenses with different tint levels as the photochromic lenses do all the adjusting for you.

Where this comes in useful is where you may be riding for a long period where you would prefer to have a different tint at varying points throughout the ride.

However, photochromic lenses aren’t for everyone. As this YouTube video explains, some people struggle when the light is in the ‘between’ phase, where it isn’t light but isn’t dark either. Where the lighting changes suddenly, it can take a second or two for the lenses to adjust to the change in lighting and this may be troublesome if, for example, you are riding through a tunnel and emerge into bright sunlight.

However, if you are looking for lenses that can be used anywhere and in any weather conditions, it may be worth spending that little extra money to invest in photochromic lenses. You should be warned though that they may take some adapting to.

Prescription lenses and cycling glasses

If you have prescription lenses in your usual day-to-day or reading glasses, then you may want to consider buying prescription lenses to insert into your cycling frames. Whilst these may be more expensive, they ensure that your individual needs are met. A number of options are available to accommodate prescription lenses so it is worth checking the brand of cycling glasses you choose to make sure that your needs can be met.

The most popular lens colour for cyclists

Lenses with an orange or yellow tint are the most popular among cyclists as they give the best field of vision. For a breakdown on which lens colour you should pick, and why, we’d recommend checking out this article.

The Frame

Choosing a pair of cycling glasses with interchangeable lenses can make a difference to your riding experience but your frame is the constant that will determine how comfortable the glasses feel. It is vital that you choose a frame that fits your face well.

The best cycling glasses for you will fit securely with the arms of the glasses resting snugly behind your ears. It is important to find a frame that does not move around too much when you are in motion as the glasses will become insecure and dislodge when you go flying round a bend or over uneven ground. However, a pair that is too tight should be avoided as these will irritate your ears and become uncomfortable.

Having arms that fit securely and lenses that give you the right level of protection is only worthwhile if the glasses fit securely on the bridge of your nose, we would recommend choosing a pair with a rubber-padded nose bridge to keep them secure throughout your ride.

Accessories and customisation

Having somewhere to store your glasses, either in a soft sleeve or a hard-shell case, can be useful if you need to take your glasses off once you have reached your destination. This can add to the cost of buying glasses but protects them from accidental damage so is well worth the investment in the long run if you are accident prone. It is also worth purchasing a cleaning kit to gently wipe away any smudges on the lenses which may impact your field of vision.

Some brands also offer you the option to add customisation to the frame of the glasses or to the protective case, for example, if you would like to add your initials to add that extra personal touch.

Your takeaway message

There are hundreds of cycling glasses on the market but if you keep our key features in mind then you should have a great starting point to choose the best cycling glasses for your needs.

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