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Finding Cheap Cycling Sunglasses That Rival the Expensive Brands

Guy giving a thumbs up while cycling with cycling glasses and a bike helmet on

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Cycling sunglasses are an important piece of gear for any mountain biker. They protect your eyes from bugs, dirt, sun glare and UV rays. But quality cycling glasses can be expensive. This guide will help you find affordable options so you can see the benefits clearly.

What to Look For

When shopping for cheap cycling sunglasses, you still want lenses that provide good visibility and protection. Look for glasses made from polycarbonate or trivex plastic. These materials are shatter-resistant and block 100% of UV rays. The lenses should also have an anti-fog and scratch-resistant coating.

For the frame, look for a lightweight and durable material like nylon or Grilamid. Make sure the glasses fit comfortably without pinching. They should wrap around your face and block sunlight and wind from all angles. Getting a model with adjustable rubber nose pieces and temple arms will give you a customized fit.

Lens Tint and Style

Most cycling sunglasses come in a variety of lens tints like brown, yellow, gray or mirrored. Each offers slightly different benefits:

  • Brown lenses boost contrast for depth perception on trails.
  • Yellow lenses enhance contrast in low light and overcast conditions.
  • Gray reduces glare and eye fatigue on sunny days.
  • Mirrored lenses reflect more sunlight to keep eyes cooler.
  • Photochromic lenses are great for riding in varying lights such as many shadows from buildings on a bright sunny day.

Consider when and where you ride most to choose the best tint. Clear lenses are another option for very early morning or late evening riding.

As for style, plenty of budget sunglasses come in both sporty wrap-around designs as well as more classic rectangular frames. Make sure to get a lens width that fully covers your eyes and field of vision.

Where to Shop

You can find very affordable cycling sunglasses between $10 to $40 at online retailers like Amazon. Well-rated brands in this price range include Duduma, Joopin, Souke Sports and Warwitch. Be sure to read product reviews before buying.

Check sale sections on outdoor gear websites like REI and Backcountry as well. Higher end brands like Julbo and Smith occasionally discount select models under $50.

Local sporting goods stores also carry cycling sunglasses at various prices. Try them on in person to test the fit.

Other Cost Saving Tips

Buying affordable cycling sunglasses doesn’t mean you have to compromise on features. But here are some additional ways to save:

  • Look for sunglasses that come with interchangeable lenses. Then you only need one frame but can swap out lenses for different conditions.
  • Choose glasses with removable foam padding. The pads protect against sweat and dust but may need replacing over time.
  • Skip fancy cases and cleaning cloths to save money. A basic soft pouch and microfiber cloth do the job just fine.
  • Buy last year’s model on clearance for deep discounts. Technology changes little year to year.

Caring for Your Glasses

Investing in cheap cycling glasses is a smart idea. But you’ll want them to last more than one season out on the trails. Here’s how to take care of them:

  • When not wearing your sunglasses, keep them in a protective case or pouch. Don’t toss them loose into your pack.
  • Learn how to properly clean cycling sunglasses. Use soap and water or an alcohol-free lens cleaner.
  • Periodically check that all screws and rubber parts are snug. Tighten or replace anything loose.
  • If lenses become too scratched to see clearly, look into replacement lenses before buying new glasses.

Why Wear Cycling Sunglasses?

You might be tempted to skip sunglasses and just squint on sunny rides. But there are good reasons why cyclists should wear protective eyewear:

  • Blocks bugs, dirt and debris that could fly into your eyes at high speeds
  • Filters out glare and reflection off wet roads that cause eye strain
  • Absorbs UV rays known to cause cataracts and other eye damage
  • Allows you to see the trail and road ahead clearly without distraction
  • Prevents wind and chill during descents that makes eyes tear up

So don’t take chances with your vision. Investing in cycling sunglasses should be a priority whether riding roads, trails or in race events. Protect your eyes well and save money with affordable options.

What to Spend More On

While you can get quality cycling sunglasses on a budget, there are some features that may be worth spending more on:

Interchangeable Lenses

Upgrading to a model with interchangeable lenses allows you to adapt to different light conditions. Swapping out lenses is quicker than changing glasses. Expect to spend $75 and up for this feature. Popular brands are Smith, Oakley and Rudy Project.

Prescription Compatibility

If you require prescription eyeglasses, look into cycling sunglasses that can accommodate prescription inserts. Brands like Athetos and Stop and Shop offer inserts for under $50. Getting custom prescription lenses can cost over $200.

Advanced Lens Technology

Higher-end cycling sunglasses also boast advanced lens technology like polarization and transitions. These provide optimal visibility but do add cost. Figure at least $150+ for these premium lens features. Top brands are Oakley Prizm and Smith ChromaPop.

While more expensive sunglasses utilize impressive technology, affordable options still offer the core benefits needed by most riders. Determine your must-have features before deciding what to spend.

Are Expensive Cycling Glasses Worth It?

Higher priced cycling sunglasses from premium brands boast impressive technology. But are they actually worth the extra cost? Consider a few factors when deciding:

Your Riding Frequency

Casual riders can get by with basic, budget-friendly glasses. But frequent cyclists will get more value from upgraded features like interchangeable lenses and maximum protection.

Where You Ride

The performance demands also depend on your riding environment. Road racers may benefit more from advanced aerodynamic frames, while trail riders need maximal coverage and impact resistance.

Your Budget

Only you can decide if premium sunglasses are a worthwhile investment or not. If cost is an issue, rest assured cheap options still offer core protection. But expect more bells and whistles from $200+ glasses.

While expensive cycling sunglasses utilize impressive innovations, more affordable models have come a long way too. Unless you’re a professional racer, moderate priced glasses around $75 can still meet most cycling needs.

Alternatives to Cycling Sunglasses

While specialized cycling sunglasses are ideal, you can get by using other eyewear options in a pinch:

Ski Goggles

Ski goggles provide similar wraparound eye protection from wind and debris. Just look for models with lens tints suitable for sunnier conditions. They tend to lack ventilation though.

Safety Glasses

Industrial safety glasses make for durable sunglasses replacements. Look for versions with UV protection and anti-scratch coatings. They simply have a less sporty, more utilitarian look.

Fit-Over Glasses

For those who wear prescription glasses, fit-over sunglasses are a handy solution. These tinted glasses fit right over your existing eyewear, providing protection while riding.

So don’t be afraid to experiment with these budget-friendly alternatives. But for ideal vision, comfort and style on the bike, it’s hard to beat proper cycling sunglasses.

Final Tips on Buying

Finding affordable sunglasses for mountain biking is definitely possible. Keep these last tips in mind:

  • Check return policies when ordering online before you buy
  • Make sure glasses are rated for cycling use specifically
  • Prioritize fit, lens quality and coverage area first
  • Consider interchangeable lenses for added versatility
  • Don’t pay extra for fancy cases and accessories you won’t use

Investing in proper eye protection should be one of your first priorities as a mountain biker. Don’t try to cut costs here and risk safety. But with so many choices these days, you can ride in style without breaking the bank. We hope this guide gave you a good starting point for finding cycling sunglasses that match both your budget and needs.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed