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The Benefits of Cheap Cycling Sunglasses

Cycling with protective glasses on

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Mountain biking has exploded in popularity over the last few decades. As more people hit the trails, the right gear is essential for an enjoyable ride. One key piece of equipment is a good pair of cycling sunglasses. While high-end options boast impressive technology, cheap sunglasses can still provide huge benefits for most mountain bikers. Considering the safety and performance advantages, budget-friendly shades are a wise investment for new and seasoned riders alike.

Protect Your Eyes

One of the main benefits of wearing sunglasses while mountain biking is protecting your eyes. When riding at fast speeds, your eyes can take a beating from debris kicked up by your tires and the riders in front of you. Small rocks, dirt, and even branches can get flung into your face. Taking an object to the eye not only hurts, but it can potentially scratch your cornea or even cause vision damage or loss.

Wearing a pair of cycling sunglasses forms a shield over your eyes to deflect flying particles. Most sunglasses for mountain biking have lenses coated in a protective material to increase durability. The lenses resist scratching and shattering on impact. The frames also sit close to the face, preventing objects from entering at the sides or top. While accidents can still happen, a good set of shades goes a long way in keeping your eyes out of harm’s way.

In addition to deflecting debris, cycling sunglasses prevent damage from UV rays. Extended exposure to the sun can increase your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration over time. Sunglasses filter out UV to maintain the long-term health of your eyes. This protection is vital when you’re outside for hours exercising and playing sports. The best cheap sunglasses will block 100% of UV rays – the same as expensive brands. So even an affordable pair allows you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about sun damage.

Enhance Visibility

Another advantage of mountain biking sunglasses is improving what you can see on the trail. The sun shining directly in your eyes or reflecting off surfaces makes it hard to navigate obstacles and terrain. Squinting to see causes eye strain and headaches over time. Sunglasses enhance visibility by filtering out glare.

The lenses in cycling shades are coated with substances that prevent eye fatigue. These coatings allow visible light through while rejecting reflective light from water, pavement, and other surfaces. Your eyes don’t have to constantly adjust between shade and sun. Wearing sunglasses keeps your focus sharp, allowing you to spot bumps, ruts, branches, and other obstacles sooner. You can pick the best and safest lines without having to slow down or stop as often. The improved visibility gives you more control so you can hit technical sections with confidence.

Many cheap sunglasses designed for cycling and other outdoor sports now come polarized. This innovative technology blocks specific wavelengths of reflected light to eliminate glare almost entirely. Polarized lenses offer better clarity even in the brightest sun. You’ll be amazed how crisp the trails look when wearing budget-friendly polarized shades.

Enhance Contrast

In addition to cutting glare, cycling sunglasses also heighten contrast on the trail. Tinted lenses boost the definition between trail features and terrain. Subtle divots, drop-offs, and changes in surface are easier to distinguish through sunglass lenses. The enriched contrast keeps you tuned into the variations under your tires. You can adapt more quickly when the ground beneath you shifts from hard dirt to loose gravel. Staying alert helps you adjust your speed and body position to retain control.

Different tints enhance contrast in various conditions. Colors like brown and amber enrich definition in low light from fog and cloud cover. Yellow and gold lenses boost contrast on overcast days as well. Gray and green tints sharpen contrast in bright sunlight. Clear lenses are great for low-light and night mountain biking. Certain lenses use a photochromic coating that adapts to changing light throughout the day. No matter the weather, tinted shades enhance the details you need to see on the trail.

Protect From Wind

An additional benefit of wearing cheap sunglasses for mountain biking is guarding your eyes against the wind. Even with goggles, a strong headwind can cause watering eyes and blurred vision. Teary eyes are not only uncomfortable, but the tearing distorts your view of the road or trail ahead. Sunglasses form a barrier to deflect wind right off the lenses before it can reach your eyes. The aerated frames on cycling shades don’t trap airflow, so you stay cool while also blocking the wind. Less tearing up lets you see the terrain ahead and identify hazards early. Wind protection is key for maintaining optimal vision in any riding conditions.

Prevent Eye Fatigue

Wearing cycling sunglasses also prevents eye strain when you’re riding for long periods. Squinting, focusing through glare, and tearing up from wind and sun takes a toll on your eyes over time. Eye fatigue leads to headaches, reduced reaction time, and impaired judgment. You’re more likely to misjudge terrain or fail to notice ruts as your eyes get tired. Sunglasses allow your eyes to relax, keeping your vision sharp even after hours of riding. The lenses filter out irritants while cutting reflected light and battling the wind before it reaches your eyes. You’ll finish long rides with energy still in your eyes instead of fighting exhaustion. Preventing eye strain can even boost your overall energy and stamina.

Improve Safety

Ultimately, wearing cycling sunglasses improves your safety on the trails. Protecting your vision greatly reduces the risks of mountain biking. Your eyes are one of your most valuable assets when riding. Sharp vision, contrast, and fast reaction time allows you to navigate terrain and obstacles at speed. Fatigued, strained eyes put you at greater risk of crashes and injuries. Wearing proper sunglasses safeguards your sight so you can handle technical sections and react to unexpected situations. The investment in sunglasses is minimal compared to the benefit of avoiding costly hospital bills. For new riders especially, a pair of cycling shades provides cheap insurance against trail hazards. But all mountain bikers can ride with more confidence knowing their eyes are protected.

Affordable Options

The best part about cycling sunglasses is you don’t need the priciest pair. While high-end sunglasses boast premium materials and technology, cheap options offer nearly as much protection and enhancement. Lesser known brands now use similar lens coatings and sturdy frames as the top names. The main difference may be slightly heavier materials, but the optics are still high quality. Plus the lens tints work just as well to filter light and enrich contrast. Even polarized lenses are available on budget shades today. You can spend $25-$50 on solid cycling sunglasses rather than $150 or more.

Brands like Tifosi, Duduma, and Choppers offer excellent cheap sunglasses tailored for cycling and running. The interchangeable lenses allow you to swap tints for changing light conditions. Full UVA/UVB protection comes standard. And the stylish designs and comfortable fit rival far more expensive options. You don’t need designer shades from Oakley or Smith to gain major benefits on the trail. Protecting your eyes while enhancing vision doesn’t have to put a huge dent in your wallet. Quality cheap sunglasses get the job done while leaving you more money for upgrades to your bike.

Match Your Style

Another great aspect of cheap cycling sunglasses is picking the style that fits your personality. While expensive sunglasses stick to traditional sporty designs, lesser-known brands offer way more variety. You can choose mirrored lenses, colorful frames, and stylish patterns not found on high-end shades. Express your unique style by coordinating sunglasses with your helmet, bike, and riding gear. Push your limits on the trail while also looking great doing it.

Cheap sunglasses open up accessories as well. You can swap out lenses or add a neck cord without breaking the bank. Try different frame shapes and sizes for the ideal fit. Mix and match components until you find the shades that boost your confidence as well as your vision. Possibilities exist far beyond the standard sport models offered by premium brands. Don’t just protect your eyes – make a statement while you ride.


Whether bombing downhill or pedaling cross country, every mountain biker needs reliable eye protection. While expensive sunglasses are tempting, cheap shades offer most of the same key benefits. They shield your eyes from debris and UV, cut glare and heighten contrast, protect against wind, and prevent eye fatigue. For a fraction of the price, budget sunglasses boost safety and enhance vision to help you shred the trails. Protecting your eyes doesn’t require sacrificing style either. So check out the variety of cycling shades available for under $50. Your eyes will thank you on the next ride!

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