Skip to content
Home » Bike Gear » Cycling Glasses » Buying Guides » What To Look For In A Pair Of Cycling Sunglasses

What To Look For In A Pair Of Cycling Sunglasses

riding a xc bike with a helmet on

This page contains affiliate links, and I may earn a commission if you use them. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Finding the right pair of cycling sunglasses can make a huge difference in your mountain biking experience. With so many options on the market, it can be tricky to know what features are most important. This guide will walk you through what to look for so you can find sunglasses that fit your needs and enhance your time on the trails.

Lens Type

One of the most important factors in choosing cycling sunglasses is the lens type. The lens material impacts vision quality, durability, and how well they resist scratches and fogging. Here are some top options to consider:

Polycarbonate lenses are a popular choice. They are impact-resistant, lightweight, and provide good optical clarity. Polycarbonate also blocks 100% of UV rays. These versatile lenses work well for most cyclists.

Nylon lenses are another good option. They are impact resistant like polycarbonate. Nylon also resists fogging better due to its hydrophobic properties. Nylon lenses can distort vision slightly, but are great for activities with lots of weather shifts like mountain biking.

Glass lenses have excellent optical clarity and scratch resistance. However, they are heavier than plastic options. High quality glass lenses work well for road cycling and competitive mountain bikers who want max vision quality.

No matter the material, look for sunglasses specifically designed for cycling. These will have lenses optimized for sports use.

Rudy Project Cutline Sunglasses

Rudy Project Cutline Sunglasses

Lens Color

The color and darkness of lenses are also important. Like ski goggles, cycling sunglasses come in a range of tints from clear to extremely dark. Consider when and where you primarily ride to choose the right one.

Yellow/amber lenses are best for low light conditions. They enhance contrast while keeping your eyes comfortable. Amber is ideal for cloudy days, riding at dusk or dawn, and heavily shaded trails.

Brown/bronze lenses are a good all-around choice. They reduce glare and sharpen definition in moderate to bright light. Brown lenses work well on sunny days or in partly shaded conditions.

Gray/green lenses are great for very bright sunlight. They substantially reduce glare and brightness. Gray or green lenses can cause distortion in low light settings, so are best for wide open trails on sunny days.

Mirrored lenses have a reflective coating for max glare reduction. They maintain color contrast and definition well in extremely bright conditions. Mirrored lenses aren’t ideal for variable conditions.

For maximum versatility, you may want to own a couple pairs with different lenses. Consider amber for low light and gray, green or mirrored for bright sunlight.

Lens Coverage

How much coverage sunglass lenses provide is another key factor. You’ll find options ranging from tiny lenses that only cover the eyes to extra large lenses that wrap around the temples.

Minimal standard lenses offer a lightweight feel and good ventilation. But they provide less protection from wind, dust and debris. Wraparound shield style lenses provide vastly improved protection and coverage. Oversize lenses can impair peripheral vision somewhat. Find the right balance for your ride conditions and preferences.

Many cycling sunglasses also have removable lens inserts. These let you quickly swap lenses to match changing light and trail conditions. It’s a great feature if you want versatility without the cost of multiple pairs.


Durability is vital for sunglasses used in sports like mountain biking. Impacts from crashes, branches and debris are likely. Look for sturdy frames and lenses that can withstand drops, hits and flexing without damage.

Flexible frames made from materials like nylon are very durable and spring back into shape after bending. Rubber temple tips and nose pads also protect frames from stress. Replaceable lens options let you swap out scratched lenses easily.

Shatterproof lenses made from polycarbonate, Trivex or impact resistant glass are essential. They’ll resist cracks and damage from hits. Scratch resistant coatings on lenses also help maintain clarity after abrasion from dust and branches.

Prioritize longevity to protect your eyes and avoid constantly replacing broken sunglasses. Check reviews to find durable options that withstand mountain biking conditions.

Oakley Radar EV Path Sunglasses

Oakley Radar EV Path Sunglasses

Fit and Comfort

No matter how impressive the lenses are, cycling sunglasses need to fit your face and head well to be effective. An unstable pair will be annoying at best and hazardous at worst.

Look for sunglasses designed specifically for sports use with features like:

  • Adjustable rubber nose pads to prevent slipping
  • Adjustable temple arms to get the right width for your head shape
  • Curved temple tips that grip securely around your head
  • Anti-slip temple and nose pads that resist moisture and stay in place when you sweat
  • Flexible frames that adjust to the shape of your face

It’s also key to find sunglasses that are comfortable to wear for long periods. Consider:

  • Lightweight frames under 30 grams so they don’t feel heavy on your face
  • Ventilation from cutouts in frames and lenses to reduce fogging
  • Wide temple arms that avoid pinching at the sides of your head

Try on different styles to find the right balance of stability, grip, weight and comfort. Proper fit enhances performance and safety.


When it comes to sunglasses for cycling, you often get what you pay for in terms of lens quality, durability, and advanced features. That said, you can find excellent options across a wide range of budgets. Basic cheap cycling sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses and standard frames can cost as little as $25-50. These offer good UV protection and impact resistance for recreational riders. Mid-range models in the $50-150 range often have lighter frames, advanced lens materials like nylon or Trivex, and added features like vents or lens coatings.

Higher end cycling sunglasses from $150-$300+ feature top of the line lens technology, molded and flexible frames, extensive ventilation, and specialty options like prescription, polarized, and photochromic lenses. Competitive cyclists and frequent riders will get the most value from investing in quality lenses and durable construction. But casual riders can find highly functional shades even at entry-level price points if they prioritize UV protection and impact resistance. Consider how often you ride and under what conditions when setting your sunglasses budget.

Special Features

Many cycling sunglasses now include special features to enhance vision, protection and convenience:

  • Polarized lenses eliminate harmful glare for improved clarity on the trail
  • Photochromic lenses that automatically adjust tint based on ambient light conditions
  • Hydrophobic lens coatings prevent fogging in wet weather
  • Ventilation systems to reduce lens fogging
  • Padding on nose bridges and temple arms for comfort and grip during vigorous riding
  • Helmet compatibility to fit securely under bike helmets
  • Prescription options for those who need corrective lenses
  • Quick lens change systems to easily swap out lenses for different conditions

Think about when and how you ride most to determine if any additional features like these would be useful for you.

With so many lens qualities, fit factors, and bonus features to consider, it can be daunting to choose cycling sunglasses. Focus on prioritizing durable, impact-resistant lenses first. Then ensure you find a comfortable, adjustable fit. Seek out features like polarized, photochromic or hydrophobic lenses for specialized needs. Take the time to try on a variety of options and you’ll find an ideal pair of shades to enhance every ride.

Just remember once you find your ideal cycling glasses, take care of them so that they last for many seasons.


About the Author

John Williams

Hey there, fellow riders! The name's John, and when it comes to mountain biking, I'm as stoked as a kid in a candy store! Picture this: a wild mane of wind-tousled hair, a dirt-streaked grin plastered across my face, and a heart pounding with pure adrenaline. Yeah, that's me, your trusty guide in this two-wheeled adventure.

I've been pedaling my way through the gnarly trails of this majestic world for as long as I can remember. From the rugged peaks of the Rockies to the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest, I've left my tire tracks on some of the most epic landscapes this planet has to offer. But if you ask me, nothing beats the thrill of conquering a rocky downhill descent with the wind howling in my ears and the ground racing beneath me.

You see, mountain biking isn't just a hobby for me; it's a way of life. It's that heart-pumping rush of conquering new challenges, pushing myself to the limit, and experiencing the raw beauty of nature up close and personal. Whether I'm tackling technical singletracks that'll make your head spin or soaring through the air on a jaw-dropping jump, I'm in my element.

When I'm not out there tearing up the trails, you'll likely find me immersed in the world of mountain biking literature and gear, devouring every ounce of knowledge I can get my hands on. I'm constantly on the lookout for the latest advancements in equipment, the best trails to explore, and the stories of riders who've conquered the unconquerable.

But hey, it's not all about the thrill and the gear for me. I've come to realize that mountain biking is also about the camaraderie and the connections we forge along the way. The community of riders I've met over the years has become my second family, always ready to swap stories, offer tips, and cheer each other on. There's something truly magical about sharing a trail with like-minded souls who understand the unspoken language of mud-splattered joy.

So, buckle up, my friends, because together we're going to dive headfirst into the world of mountain biking. I'll be here, your loyal companion, sharing the knowledge, the inspiration, and the occasional trailside wisdom to help you make the most of every pedal stroke. Get ready to ride like there's no tomorrow, because with me by your side, the mountain biking universe is your playground.

Remember, it's not just about conquering the mountains; it's about embracing the journey and savoring every breathtaking moment along the way. So let's hit the trails, soak up the awe-inspiring vistas, and let the spirit of mountain biking ignite our souls. See you out there, my fellow thrill-seekers!