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Elevate Your Ride: A Complete Guide to Mountain Biking Glasses

Cycling Glasses

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As an enthusiastic mountain biker, having quality cycling glasses is crucial gear. The trails can get dusty and dirty. Mountain biking usually means riding at speeds that kick up plenty of wind. Protecting your eyes should be a major concern. With so many options on the market, picking the ideal mountain bike eyewear can get confusing. This article will cover everything you need to know – from lenses and frames to special features and proper care. After reading, you’ll be equipped to select the perfect MTB glasses tailored to your riding style, vision needs, and the conditions you ride in.

All About Lenses

When evaluating mountain bike glasses, one key decision is which lens type best suits your needs. Most cycling eyewear today uses either plastic or glass lenses. Each material has particular pluses and minuses to consider. Plastic lenses are the most common in MTB glasses. Usually made from impact-resistant polycarbonate or other high-grade plastics, they provide stellar protection against crashes, debris, and underbrush. They’re lightweight, often have built-in UV protection, and cost less than glass. On the downside, plastic lenses can be more prone to scratching over time. Glass lenses resist scratches better and provide crisper, undistorted optics using high density materials. However they come at a higher price point. Being more likely to shatter on high velocity impacts, glass lens manufacturers must use specialized hardening treatments. For many riders, plastic works very well. But glass lenses are best for those wanting maximum visual clarity who don’t mind paying extra.

Beyond basic lens material, there are choices related to tint, coatings, and advanced lens technologies:

Tints – Gray, brown, and amber tints are very common to cut glare and enhance trail details without overly distorting colors. Mirrored coatings not only look cool but also significantly reduce glare. Yellow and gold tints improve contrast when riding in low evening light and overcast conditions. Consider when and where you primarily ride when selecting colors.

Specialized Coatings – Hydrophobic coatings repel water, sweat, and mud while preventing smudges and smears. Oleophobic coatings prevent oil and fingerprint smudges for keeping lenses crystal clear. Anti-fog coatings prevent fogging from temperature changes and humidity. Durable anti-scratch hard coats protect from brushing against branches and gravel.

Advanced Tech – Photochromic or transition lenses self-adjust their tint darkness depending on lighting conditions. Polarized lenses filter specific light wavelengths to dramatically cut reflective glare. Prescription lens inserts allow correcting vision while wearing mountain biking glasses.

Choosing tints, coatings, and technologies to match your common riding environments ensures you can see detail and obstacles on the trail ahead.

Riding After Dark

Mountain biking at dawn, dusk, or night time requires specialized eyewear. Clear or light yellow lenses optimize visibility without overly darkening low light conditions. They should have anti-fog features too. Reflective frame elements and interchangeable LED lights that link to your glasses help you be seen by others on the trail. Select models also have dimmable lights for navigating the path ahead without blinding your vision. Go for high contrast enhancement and maximal clarity. While you won’t need heavy tints, ensure the lenses still filter harmful UV and blue light rays. See clearly and safety when riding after hours.

Frame Materials

Just as important as lenses are the frames holding MTB eyewear together. Most quality brands today construct frames from ultra-durable yet flexible thermoplastic materials. TR90, Grilamid, and optyl are often used for their lightweight, bendable, hypoallergenic, and corrosion resistant properties. Such composites allow frames to flex slightly during crashes without cracking or breaking. Rubber coated temple tips and nose pads boost slip resistance and comfort.

Frame shape is influenced by both style preference and intended coverage area:

  • Larger rounded frames with medium to high curvature wrap protect eyes, brows, and upper cheekbones from flying grit, underbrush, and debris at all angles.
  • Smaller frames with low curvature wrap suit narrower faces while still shielding eyes from dirt. Their more open design permits better ventilation and airflow too.

Whether opting for more dramatic wrap protection or slimmed down coverage, ensure your frames fit comfortably while wearing a helmet. Proper fit and alignment keeps them from shifting out of place on rugged trails.

Special Features

Several bonus features allow customizing mountain biking glasses to varying environments and rider priorities:

Interchangeable Lenses – Systems allowing easy, tool-free swapping of lenses means you can switch tints if lighting conditions change. Bring extra clear or amber lenses for low light.

Adjustability – Rubber nose pads and tips that slide along ear stems provide a more dialed fit. Retainers and head straps prevent losing glasses in extreme terrain.

Advanced Coatings – Hydrophobic, oleophobic, and anti-fog lens treatments aid clarity and resist smudges. Silver ion layer and other antimicrobials prevent bacteria and odors from sweat.

Premium Filters – Optics using high definition red iridium or vibranium metallic coatings boost terrain contrast and details.

Prescription Options – Inserts or custom lenses tuned to your unique vision prescription requirements.

Think about when, where, and how you mostly ride. Seek out features delivering extra performance, safety, and convenience based on your personal needs and riding style.

Style Matters Too

While technical performance factors are key, also consider aesthetics and style when selecting mountain bike eyewear. You’ll ideally wear your new glasses for countless hours riding the trails. Finding something fashionable you love wearing boosts the fun factor. Vibrant colors and sleek or angular sculpted designs express unique personality. Match frame and lens hues to your bike paint job or riding kit colors. Blending essential safety requirements with personal style ensures you pick eyewear you’ll be excited to take on every ride.

Try Before Buying

Visiting a well-stocked eyewear retailer allows you to test fit, feel, and directly compare different cycling glasses brands and models side-by-side. See what looks and performs best on your face before buying. Specialty staff can explain key differences as you assess options. Most stores allow taking a short spin outside too. If buying glasses online, carefully read over product details and user reviews first. Watch for specifics on sizing, curvature, and coverage width. Reputable premium MTB eyewear companies like Oakley, Smith Optics, 100%, Tifosi, and Rudy Project lead the market, while more budget friendly options from RIVBOS, JACKAROO, and DUCO also receive positive reviews. Set a spending limit, create a criteria checklist, ask fellow riders, and select glasses offering peak value.

Proper Care

Once you’ve invested in a durable pair of cycling glasses, take measures to keep them looking and performing their best for years:

  • Gently clean lenses after each ride using spray solutions and soft microfiber cloths designed specifically for lenses. Never wipe aggressively with tissues or paper towels.
  • Avoid rubbing dirt into scratches to prevent further scuffing. Consider replacing lenses with significant scratches reducing visibility.
  • Store glasses in a rigid protective case when not in use to prevent scratches and damage.
  • Regularly inspect frames and tighten any loose screws to ensure joints remain intact over bumpy terrain.
  • Upgrade to entirely new glasses as innovations emerge or to refresh style after several seasons.

Taking proper care of quality mountain biking eyewear ensures they continue providing optimal clarity and protection ride after ride, season after season.

Riding off-road poses numerous vision hazards from debris, crashes, glare, and vegetation. Protect yourself by investing in sturdy, high-performance MTB glasses purpose-built for trail riding. Carefully compare lens tint and materials, frame types, special features, and style elements when making your choice. Test options in person if possible or read reviews buying online. Seek models matching when and how you ride most. For hardcore cyclists and weekend riders alike, stylish glasses with crisp optics enhance every time in the dirt! Take good care of them and they’ll last for countless memorable adventures ahead. With so many great MTB eyewear choices now available, you’ll enjoy choosing an ideal pair providing safety, visibility and fun on the trails.

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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