It’s amazing that most cyclists don’t imagine a pair of cycling sunglasses to be a part of their “kit” until a fly hits them on a fast ride down a curvy decent, in Indian traffic!
The point being, cycling glasses are not just an accessory to make you look cool on your bike (although they definitely do!). They are an essential cycling accessory, protecting an essential part of your body. They protect the eyes from bright sun light and act as a barrier during rainy and windy conditions. One of the most important functions is to keep dust and other particles out of the eyes.
Cycling glasses provide two major functions
- They protect your eyes from any debris, dust, wind and bugs
- They enhance your visibility of the road
As a bonus, Sunglasses are also perfect to hide your tears of pain during those 15% gradients or those weekend sufferfest rides.
Choosing cycling sunglass can be challenging task. This guide will help you to deep dive further and help you choose cycling sunglasses.
PARTS OF SUNGLASSES
Understanding different parts of a sunglass will help you to deep dive and analyze what suits you the best and also speak the correct lingo.
- FRAME – The frame is basically the part which holds the lens in place and acts as a base for all the other parts.
- LENS – The lens is the transparent material that is fitted to the frame that acts as a barrier between the eyes and the real world.
- BRIDGE – The Bridge is the arched structure in between the frame and it rests on the wearer’s nose and takes the majority of the eyewear’s load.
- NOSE PAD – Nose pads are a soft rubberlike clip which supports the bridge resting on the nose and ensures a comfortable fit on the wearer’s nose.
- TEMPLE – Temples are the long-running arms in the side that runs from the frame and above the ear to keep the sunglasses in place.
Metal is not the material of choice for cycling glasses since they cannot be made into close fitting shapes and in case of a crash, harsh metal frames near your eyes is not an ideal situation. Polycarbonate plastic, on the other hand, is durable, very strong and light. These are shatterproof on impact and can easily be made into funky shapes to ensure they sit more securely against your face.
Frames end up in various sizes. Check for frames that allow ventilation and airflow. This will not only keep you cooler, they might also prevent fogging up of lenses.
There are three different types of frames and they need to be choosen based on your riding style.
- FULL FACE FRAME – here the lens is covered by the frame from all the directions. It gives superior protection to the lens in the event of a fall or any other force of action, but it obstructs the peripheral view as it minimizes the area of the lens.
- HALF-FACE FRAME – here the lens is supported by the frame either on top or bottom of the lens. It comparatively gives less protection and gives more of a peripheral view.
- FRAMELESS – these sunglasses do not have any frame supporting the lens and it is directly connected to the temple which provides the support to the lens.
If your position on the bike is quite aggressive or aerodynamic – if you race time trials, or enjoy triathlons – a frameless sunglass would be ideal. The lack of a frame helps improve visibility while riding in an aggressive aero position and also helps with faster sweat removal vs getting clogged in the frame.
Frames also have soft grippy rubber on the nose and temples to ensure the glasses sit comfortably and donot slip while you’re enjoying your ride.
Hand in hand with the frame comes to the option of different kinds of lenses for your sunglasses. Cycling sunglasses typically have large, curved lenses which give you a big field of vision. You will barely feel the glasses.
You will need to check for UVA and UVB protection. Long hours in the sun can cause sunburn, and impact the delicate skin around the eyes, and damage the eyes themselves. UV filters are a critical check when you’re scouting for new glasses. Many cycling sunglasses allow you to change the lenses in your frames. This will allow you to have one pair of frames but multiple lens options for those frames.
Shatter resistant lenses are worth looking for. If you do get a stone in your face, your lenses stay intact and protect your delicate eyes. Also, you don’t need to invest in a new pair
Fogging can be a problem, but there are a couple of solutions. Some lens come with an Anti-fog coating that helps prevent it happening, and vents on the lenses keep a cool flow of air over them as you ride.
Choosing a lens color/tint for the conditions you ride in can help you see better, and therefore ride better. Lots of glasses come with interchangeable lens, so you can swap between them as the light levels change.
- Dark, grey or smoke – These are the most common. These block light but don’t alter the colors you perceive. They help in adding contrast for bright sunny days and help highlight obstacles.
- Clear Lenses – Useful on overcast days, and for riding in the evenings and while it rains. They don’t block light, but they block debris.
- Orange or yellow – These lenses help to enhance low-light riding conditions by brightening up the road or anything that is on it.
Lenses also come with a different Lens Coating which enhances capabilities. Scratch resistance, Water repellent, reflectivity, and UV protection are common coatings.
- Photochromic lenses automatically adjust to changing light conditions. They will darken when the sun gets brighter and lighten when the available light levels start to decrease. If you ride multi-day or all day, a photochromic lens, while a bit costly, might be your best bet so you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you have the right lenses in.
- Mirror Coating reduces the brilliance of the light shining through the lens, making these the ones to choose on really bright, shiny days.
- Polarizing lenses reduce reflective glare – the kind of bright, harsh light that bounces off the water, cars, and the road. When light shines down from the sun it travels in a vertical wavelength. When the vertical wavelength hits a flat or shiny object, the light is reflected horizontally, further intensifying its brightness. Polarized lenses have a filter that blocks this horizontal light, thus dramatically reducing that harsh glare. While Polarized cycling lenses aid in glare reduction, these mostly come in darker tints which might compromise contrast enhancement. Contrast enables you to quickly identify potholes or debris and move comfortably through patches of sun and shade. Polarization is most beneficial in very sunny environments and for people with light-sensitive eyes.
- Anti-fog coating is a good idea too; there’s no point in having amazing sunglasses if they get fogged up every time you stop.
- Hygroscopic coating ensures water droplets don’t stick to your lens. This is especially useful if you hit a sudden downpour or to ensure your sweat does not stick to the lens and diminish visibility.
Like bicycle frames, lenses are a critical aspect of the sunglasses and it’s hard to spot the difference between a great pair and a not-so-great pair of lenses. Marketing of sunglasses companies and made up names for lens materials make it even harder to spot the difference.
Typically design and innovation, quality control of the manufacturing process, and the quality of raw materials that they start out with is what determines the final quality of the lens. Like your bicycle purchase – it’s best to buy from a reputable quality company who care about these things.
The best option is to try them on! You need to check on a few things – make sure the glasses sit closely against your face, rest comfortably on your nose, cheeks, and forehead. The side arms should grasp your head firmly without pressing against your temples too tightly and your eyelashes should not be in contact with the frame or lens. The nose piece should be adjustable by pinching them closer together or further apart
Make sure your peripheral vision is not obscured by the frame; this is where the wraparound fit comes in. Watch out for things like catching your eyelashes on the lens when you blink – after a couple of hours, this can become annoying beyond belief.
A secure fit is important, particularly if you’re going to be riding bumpy trails. When you have the glasses on try shaking, bobbing and moving your head around a little to check. It may look a bit silly, but not half as silly as your new specs flying off your face halfway round a bend.
Glasses come in a huge range of styles, colours, and price points. It’s important that you zero in n a pair that you really like the look of! Remember, the arms of the eyewear shall always be placed over the helmet straps
CLEANING & DAILY CARE
Constant exposure to Sweat, Dust, and Wind gradually reduce visibility and make your sunglasses really grimy.
A really simple way of cleaning your sunglasses is to run the glasses under some warm water to remove any dirt or grime. You can apply a couple of drops of dish washing liquid and rub in circular motion with clean fingers. Make sure you work the washing liquid around the nose pads and the arms and any rubber grippers. If the frames are removable, make sure you remove them before cleaning so that the sweat can be flushed out of the nooks and corners. Avoid using a hot air dryer or paper towels and cottom swabs to dry out your sunglasses. Excessive heat could damage/warp the glasses and rough paper could scratch your glasses. Microfiber cloth which typically comes with your glasses is perfect for cleaning out your lens without scratching it.
If you typically wear powered glasses or contacts, there are a few additional things to think about.
If you typically wear contact lenses, wide lenses and a wraparound style will help keep grit out of the eye and away from the lens. The advantage of contacts is that you can swap your sunglasses if the conditions change and still be able to see.
If you prefer to wear glasses rather than contacts, you could ask your opticians for inserts which sit inside your sunglasses. Some of the better known brands can actually create prescription Sunglasses which is the most convenient option!
How to choose your sunglass
Sunglasses should be chosen based on the shape of the face. One needs to ensure that the shape of the sunglass has to be contrasting to the shape of the face, for example, a person with a round face should avoid going for round sunglasses as the face already has the curves, he should look for other shapes like square, rectangle etc which has angles. Similarly, if the person has squared shape face he should opt for circular glasses. This will ensure the right fit and balance when
How to choose frame design
Frame design has to be chosen based on the type of riding if you ride in the conditions where pen feral view is important then you should go for a frameless design on the other hand If you need more lens protection then you should go for full frame lens. If you ride often in traffic you need more pen feral view and if you are mountain biker then you should choose full face frame which will provide extra protection. Road cyclists should ensure the top of the frame has an extended view that does not obstruct the view when down in the drops.
How to choose a lens
there is no point in investing on a complete set of switchable lenses if you ride only during the day time. You must choose the lenses based on the riding condition, if you are a day time rider you should be looking at having dark tint lens with UV protection and if you ride during the night you should be having a clear lens with scratch resistant anti-glare coating. If you commute to the office which involves both day and night it is a wise choice to opt for the sunglass with interchangeable lens.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I never stopped riding my bike! It all started with me cycling to school. It then became my tool of choice to stay fit, which seeded my passion for long distance cycling. I love the simplicity of cycling as it makes you an integral part of the elements (Rain, Cold, Heat, Climbs, Descends) which in turn makes you value every pedal stroke!
Working as a Bike Specialist allows me to spend my entire day with bicycles and working with other like-minded people.
CURRENT BIKE(S): Scott Aspect 670 & Specialized Allez
DREAM BIKE: S-Works Tarmac
OTHER PASSIONS: Running, Photography, Travelling