Aug 27, 2023

The Best Cycling Sunglasses of 2023

We tested 14 of the best cycling sunglasses available in 2023. Whether you ride road, gravel, mountain bikes, or all of the above, there are great options to suit your performance needs, style, and budget.

No matter what type of cycling you do, protecting your eyes from the sun, wind, and debris is important for both comfort and safety. Fortunately, there are loads of great cycling sunglasses on the market to choose from that come in a wide range of styles, lens tints, and sizes to suit varying needs, preferences, and budgets.

Quality cycling sunglasses have excellent optics that dim harsh light and boost contrast, provide coverage and protection from the wind, dust, bugs, and other debris, fit comfortably, and go virtually unnoticed while riding. These days we have more great options than ever with numerous brands putting out quality eyewear with different frame styles, lens sizes, lens tints, and contrast-enhancing technologies, all with the same goal of helping you see more clearly while you ride.

With so many options, finding the right pair of cycling sunglasses for your face, riding style, and light conditions can be a challenging proposition. To help, we gathered a diverse selection of 14 of the best models on the market in 2023 for testing and comparison. Whatever your favorite riding discipline, there are lots of excellent options to shield your eyes while you’re out on the bike.

After testing these cycling sunglasses for months, we zeroed in on our favorites which are listed below, followed by the best of the rest that are all very worthy of consideration as well. To see the specs of all the models we tested at a glance, check out our comparison chart. If you need some help figuring out what you need, our detailed buying advice and FAQ section have answers to steer you in the right direction.

The Julbo Density is a new model from a brand that’s been producing eyewear for over 125 years. These featherlight shades are so light that you can hardly even tell when you’re wearing them, yet the large coverage lenses and great optics will have you seeing clearly on the road or trail.

The Density glasses tipped our scale at just 19 grams, which is the lightest weight of all the models we tested. While the differences in weight are fairly small between performance sunglass models, these shades are particularly lightweight. You can barely tell when you’re holding them in your hand, and they completely disappear when you put them on. They have a half-frame design that extends across the top of the lens and down to the nosepiece. Thin arms extend back over the ears with Grip Tech rubber that provides a gentle but very secure hold. In fact, it is impressive just how stable and secure these glasses are, whether riding through a rock garden, a washboard gravel road, or even while trail running.

These boldly styled glasses have a large 140mm x 59mm cylindrical lens that provides excellent coverage and an unrestricted field of view. They block wind impressively well, and you’re hard-pressed to see the frame or edge of the lens, even when you try. We tested the photochromic Reactiv 0-3 High Contrast lens which ranges between 87% and 12% visible light transmission (VLT) depending on the conditions. This contrast-boosting lens is essentially clear in dim light and darkens significantly in bright light conditions, providing an excellent range for whatever you may encounter on your ride. They don’t change immediately, mind you, but then again, none of them do. They are also currently offered with 3 other Reactiv lens options (all of which retail for $250) as well as Julbo’s less expensive Spectron 3 lenses (that cost less at $170)

Our complaints about the Density glasses are few. They are relatively expensive, and they only come with one lens. Given the usable VLT range of the Reactiv lenses, however, you really only need one. They are also so light that they feel like they could be quite fragile. We haven’t had any problems with our test pair, but you’ll want to take care not to crush these accidentally. And, the inner side of the lens has an almost tacky feel that makes them slightly harder to wipe clean.

Even with those minor qualms, we were thoroughly impressed by the Julbo Density and think it is one of the best cycling sunglasses on the market right now. If you’re looking for a super light, stylish, high-coverage option with great optics, we think you should check them out.

Tifosi has been producing performance eyewear since 2003 and has grown a reputation for making quality sunglasses at affordable prices. While many of the brand’s options have some late 90s futuristic styling, the Sledge is more in line with modern trends and is a large-lensed, full-frame model that’s suitable for any type of cycling or other outdoor activity. It can be purchased with either the single Fototec lens we tested, or it comes with three lenses, clear, AC Red, and a darker option. Tifosi also makes a half-frame version, called the Sledge Lite that comes in similar colors and lens options.

Selling for half the price, or less, than most high-end cycling shades, it would be reasonable to expect a reduction in optical quality from the Sledge’s lenses. While they may not boost contrast quite as well as some other brands, we found the optically decentered spherical lenses to provide super clear, distortion-free optics that are nearly on par with the more expensive competition. The Fototec lens we tested changes tint depending on the lighting conditions with an impressive visible light transmission range of 14% to 74%, making these a great option for anyone who wants a set-it-and-forget-it pair of shades that’s suitable for all lighting conditions. Should you choose the interchange version of the Sledge, you get three lenses that have you covered for all situations. The lenses are a little more challenging to swap than some other brands, but it becomes easier with a little practice.

The large lenses measure 135mm x 56mm and wrap around closely to the face providing an excellent shield for the eyes and protecting them from wind and dust very well. Four small vents at the top of the lens allow for some ventilation and help prevent fogging. The durable feeling frame is made of Grilamid TR-90, and there are hydrophilic rubber pads on the nose and arms that provide a stable and secure hold, even when wet. The frames are a little heavier and stiffer than some other options, but the performance on the road or trail is right up there with more expensive competitors. They also come with a zippered hard case and a microfiber bag for cleaning and storage.

Given their lower price point, the Tifosi Sledge gives surprisingly little to complain about. The close fit and wraparound style of the lens/frame, however, may make contact with some people’s cheeks and/or brow, and the nose piece is not adjustable to optimize the fit. While it isn’t necessarily distracting or problematic, it is possible to see the edges of the frame in your peripheral vision. They are also comparatively a little bit heavier weight at 37 grams.

Still, we think the Tifosi Sledge is a great pair of cycling sunglasses that should meet most riders’ needs without breaking the bank.

If you’re seeking goggle-like coverage and performance, the POC Devour is about as close as you can get to riding in goggles while wearing a pair of sunglasses. Designed to pair with the POC Kortal mountain bike helmet, the Devour offers some unique design features that make it an excellent option for any type of mountain biking, or for gravel and road riders seeking a full coverage option.

POC has been producing quality eyewear for years, and their experience shows in their excellent lenses. Made by optical specialist, Carl Zeiss, the cylindrical lenses provide crystal clear, distortion-free vision with the Clarity MTB Silver Mirror lens we tested providing a great contrast boost and versatile lens tint that works well in the changing light conditions often encountered on mountain bike trails. An additional clear lens is also included with each pair for dimmer light conditions, and POC offers the Devour in an assortment of different frame colors, lens tints, and reflective coatings.

The main thing that stands out about the Devour glasses is the massive lens size. Measuring a whopping 177mm x 66mm to the edges of the lens and 148mm x 58mm for the frame, these are some of the largest sunglasses on the market and they cover a lot of real estate on your face. They are nearly as large as a pair of goggles, except they sit off the face and avoid the warmth and stuffiness of foam padding. Still, they allow a decent amount of air movement with vents across the top of the lens and a slightly off-the-face fit that keeps fogging to a minimum. The lenses are also treated with Ri-Pel to protect them from dirt and shed water, plus an anti-scratch coating.

Hidden behind that huge lens is a full frame that holds the lens with six small tabs that hook over the edges from the back. The field of view is absolutely huge, but the vertical portion of the frame by the sides can be seen in the periphery if you look hard enough. The arms are dropped slightly to avoid contact with modern high-coverage half-shell mountain bike helmets like the POC Kortal, and the ends of the arms curve down behind the ears to prevent conflict with helmet retention harnesses. The arms are also adjustable for length, with four positions to fit varying head dimensions. Unfortunately, the nose piece is not adjustable, but the rubber pads grip the nose well and help keep the glasses super stable when riding over rough terrain.

At $250, these sunglasses certainly don’t come cheap, and we’d love it if they came with a hard case to protect your investment. Regardless, we feel the POC Devour is an excellent, albeit expensive, option for anyone seeking the coverage of goggles in a modern-looking pair of sunglasses.

For more information, check out our review of the POC Devour sunglasses.

Much like the Sledge, the Tifosi Rail is another great value in a market dominated by higher-priced competitors. These big, bold, frameless sunglasses provide excellent coverage, good optics, and come with three lenses included (or a single Fototec lens) at a very reasonable price. Tifosi also makes the Rail XC with slightly smaller lens dimensions and the Rail Race, which has vented lenses.

On the face, the Rail sunglasses could easily be mistaken for a more expensive pair of shades. The cylindrical lenses have been optically decentered and the optics are clear and distortion-free. With dimensions of 138mm x 59mm and a curved, wraparound shape, they provide excellent coverage and shield the eyes quite well with a massive field of vision, and it is difficult to see any part of the frame or edges of the lens. The three lens options, Smoke, AC Red, and Clear, provide all the options you need for any lighting conditions, and lens changes are very quick and easy. The darker Smoke lens is great for bright, sunny days, the AC Red works great for medium brightness or mountain biking in changing light conditions, while the clear is a great option for dim light or overcast days. Tifosi also sells the Rail with a single Fototec lens that adjusts tint depending on the lighting conditions.

Given the frameless design, the minimal frame elements include only the nosepiece and arms. Both have hydrophilic rubber touch points that grip well even when sweaty, and the nosepiece is adjustable to accommodate different nose bridge shapes for a personalized fit. The arms are fairly long, so it is possible they could contact some helmet shells or retention systems, though we didn’t have any issues with the helmets worn during testing. The frameless cylindrical lens doesn’t provide the most structure or rigidity, and we found them to be a little less stable than some other models over rough terrain. On smooth surfaces, especially when road biking, or for those with wider heads, they stay in position quite well.

For a budget-friendly model, the Tifosi Rail doesn’t disappoint, and we feel anyone seeking a large coverage, frameless pair of sunglasses for cycling should consider them. They may not have the brand recognition or “cool-factor” of glasses that cost double, or more, but they perform nearly as well at a fraction of the price.

Oakley has been at the forefront of the sunglass market for decades, creating boldly styled models with excellent optics. In the mid-1970s, Oakley started as a small brand producing motocross accessories and offered their first sport sunglasses in 1984. Since then, they’ve become one of the most popular brands in the business, with models made for everything from casual wear to cycling. They sponsor many cycling teams and athletes and are one of the most common sights in the pro peloton or any mountain bike race. The Sutro Lite is the half-frame version of the ever-popular full-frame Oakley Sutro. Oakley also makes the Sutro Lite Sweep, which is very similar but features a lens that is angled at the bottom, making it less squared off.

While most brands are making lenses with great optics these days, Oakley’s Prizm lenses stand out in a crowded market as being just a cut above the rest. Not only do the cylindrical lenses provide crystal clear, undistorted vision, but the Prizm technology does a wonderful job of boosting contrast and making the world appear to be in high definition. We tested both the Sutro Lite and Sutro Lite Sweep models with Prizm Black (11% VLT) and Prizm Sapphire (12% VLT) lenses, respectively. Both lenses worked very well for their intended bright light purpose but also proved to be surprisingly versatile on mountain bike rides and trail runs when encountering mixed light conditions. Of course, Oakley offers a wide range of lens options including Prizm Trail, Prizm Road, and even Prizm Golf, that are optimized to meet specific needs.

The Sutro Lite has a large but not enormous lens that measures 139mm x 58mm, as does the Sutro Lite sweep (just with a different lower lens shape). The look is reminiscent of some vintage Oakley Blades but with a more modern appeal. They wrap around nicely without sitting too close to the face, and the field of view is excellent, with virtually no frame or lens edge visible no matter how hard you try. Protection from the wind and debris is also great whether you’re hurtling down a backwoods trail or your favorite road descent.

The half-frame is made from Oakley’s O-matter material and it extends across the top of the lens and connects to the nosepiece. The arms are straight and fairly long at 138mm, with flexible ends that are covered in grippy, hydrophilic Unobtanium rubber. The nosepiece also has a removable Unobtanium rubber pad, and it comes with 2 thicknesses so you can swap it out for your desired fit. It is worth noting that the length of the arms does mean they may conflict with some helmet shells or harnesses, so it may be worth trying these on with your helmet(s) to see if they get along. In addition to the regular fit model we tested, Oakley also makes a Low Bridge Fit version for those with a lower nose bridge or high cheekbones.

While the Oakley Sutro Lite and Sutro Lite Sweep are quite expensive and only come with one lens, their optics are second to none in a market full of strong competition. Not only that, they look great and can easily transition from your bike ride to the beach, or even coaching your kid’s baseball team.

Smith Optics has been making high-quality eyewear for some time, and the Wildcat is one of their most popular models that has been a staple in their lineup for a few years. The Wildcat is Smith’s take on goggle-like coverage, with large cylindrical lenses, bold style, and lots of lens and frame color options to choose from. They also work well for any activity, whether that’s road, gravel, or mountain biking, paddleboarding, trail running, backcountry skiing, you name it.

Smith established itself as one of the leaders in the sunglass market some time ago, thanks in large part to the quality optics of their Chromapop lenses. Similar to Oakley’s Prizm technology, Smith’s Chromapop lenses provide crystal clear, undistorted vision with nicely enhanced contrast. They offer the Wildcat with several different lens options, with VLT % ranging from 10% for the Chromapop Black lens for dark conditions, down to 30% for the Chromapop Opal Mirror lens for more moderate brightness (other replacements are also available or lower light conditions). They also sell them with the Photochromic Clear to Gray lens we tested, which has a range of 20% to 85% VLT, making them a highly versatile option for changing light conditions. Each pair also comes with a spare clear lens for use on overcast days or in the deep dark woods, and lens changes are fairly quick and easy.

The Wildcat’s large cylindrical lenses measure 140mm x 62mm, providing a very large, but not excessively wide shield for the eyes. The lens is curved, but not dramatically, so they are a bit less prone to cheek and brow contact than models that wrap around tighter to the face. This also allows for a bit of air movement behind the lens to help prevent fogging, while still blocking the direct force of the wind, dust, and debris quite effectively. Despite their size, they still manage to be fairly lightweight at just 28 grams.

The frame is constructed from a hybrid of Grilamid TR90 and TPU, and it is a bit more flexible than some other models. This makes lens changes relatively easy, and it makes the glasses fairly forgiving to head size and shape. The Megol-coated arms and nosepiece do a fine job of holding the Wildcat secure in use, and the 2-position adjustment of the nosepiece makes it easy to dial in the fit for your face. They also come with a zippered hard case and a microfiber cleaning bag.

They aren’t exactly inexpensive, but we feel the Smith Wildcat is still a pretty solid value given their ability to work for virtually any outdoor activity you choose. With large coverage, great optics, and cool style, they’ll help you see clearly during any type of cycling or other outdoor activity and will look good doing it.

The 100% brand has roots in the motocross scene dating back to the 1980s, and over time they have grown their product offerings to include mountain bike apparel, protective equipment, and eyewear. They offer many models of cycling sunglasses, all of which feature quality lenses and bold, flashy styles. The 100% S3 is one of their latest models, essentially combining design elements of two other models, the more curvy S2 and the angular Speedcraft into a great-looking, high-coverage pair of shades.

It all starts with the lenses, and 100% uses its own HiPER lens technology that is intended to enhance contrast, boost color, and enhance detail. We tested the HiPER Crimson Silver Mirror lens with a 14% VLT that works best for bright conditions, but the amber tint proved to work well enough in medium and changing light conditions as well. We found them to work as advertised, boosting greens and browns while handling the transitions from light to shadows well. 100% makes a large range of lenses with different tints and reflective coatings, including those for low light and a photochromic option, and replacements range from $30 to $60 depending on the color and lens technology. Each pair also comes with a spare clear lens that’s easy to swap out for riding in low light.

The large cylindrical lenses of the S3 measure 145mm x 60mm and they provide excellent coverage. They block wind very effectively, and two small air scoops at the bottom of the lens allow for a small amount of air movement to keep fogging at bay. The 5.5 base curvature wraps around nicely without getting too close to the face, and the frame across the brow sits high enough that there are no distractions in your field of vision. The lenses are also scratch-resistant and a hydrophobic and oleophobic treatment helps repel water, dirt, and oils, making them easy to keep clean.

The half-frame design consists of a large nose piece that snaps into the lens and a tough TR90 frame that extends across the brow. The S3 has relatively long and straight arms,130mm from the hinge and 150mm measured from the edge of the lens, so that’s something to consider as they may make contact with some helmet shells or harness systems depending on the shape/model of helmet. The textured Ultra-grip rubber on the nosepiece and ends of the arms does a great job of holding the glasses securely on your head, and they come with an additional nosepiece that can be swapped out to adjust the fit if needed. A zippered hard case holds the glasses and spare lens, and a microfiber cleaning/storage bag is also included.

The Stone Grey colorway we tested is by far the most subdued option in 100%’s array of options that include bright-colored frames and reflective coatings. So, if you’re seeking a big, bold pair of shades to match your kit, riding style, or attitude, the 100% S3 might be the perfect fit. If you’ve got a smaller face or are looking for something a little different, 100% has a wide range of other options that may suit you even better.

Known primarily for their popular road cycling apparel, Rapha has been consistently adding to their catalog with a variety of cycling accessories, including eyewear. The Rapha Pro Team Full Frame is one of several models of cycling sunglasses they offer, slotting in nicely with the rest of their Pro Team collection of apparel, shoes, and more. The white frame we tested is perhaps the most flashy of the multiple options offered.

Given Rapha’s relative lack of expertise in eyewear, the quality of the Pro Team glasses optics is impressive. It seems they partnered with someone who knows a thing or two about eyewear to make their Toric spherical lenses. The spherical curve of the lenses is incredibly subtle, but what isn’t is the super clear vision you have when looking through them. The lenses are crisp, details are sharp, and the “contrast-enhancing lens technology” seems to work well to, you guessed it, enhance contrast. They seem to work similarly to Prizm or Chromapop lenses in that regard. We tested the Pink Blue lens that has a 21% VLT and found it to work well in conditions ranging from full sun to shadow-dappled mountain bike trails. They also come with an additional clear lens for those overcast or deep woods days. Rapha offers the Pro Team glasses with 5 different lens tints, with VLT%’s ranging from 10 to 21% (and Clear at 100%).

With lenses measuring 130mm x 53mm, the Pro Team are small to medium compared to most of today’s large coverage models. For those with smaller faces, or anyone who isn’t on board with the huge glasses look, the moderate size of the Rapha’s may be a better fit. At the same time, the pronounced wraparound and close-to-the-face fit provides excellent coverage and eye protection, and a very wide field of vision. Sure, it is possible to see the frame and the edges of the lens in the periphery, but you’ve got to try pretty hard to do it. Given their smaller dimensions, it’s actually quite impressive.

The Italian-made frame fully surrounds the lens and is constructed from tough but lightweight Grilamid TR90. Lens swaps are surprisingly easy as the frame has ample flex around the lens. The shorter-than-average arms are contoured to the shape of the head and are much less likely to conflict with helmets, and the textured Megol rubber tips provide excellent grip and stability. The nosepiece is also made of grippy, textured Megol rubber, and Rapha includes two thicknesses of pads that are easily swapped out to adjust the fit.

Overall, the Rapha Pro Team Full Frame is a great pair of cycling sunglasses that can rival the performance of the more established competition. While not giving up much in terms of coverage or protection, their slightly more modest dimensions make them a particularly attractive option for those with smaller faces or who prefer somewhat smaller glasses, and we feel that anyone looking to switch it up or complete their Rapha Pro Team kit give them a look.

The Momentum is one of the latest models in Smith’s growing and ever-changing lineup of cycling sunglasses. With Toric lenses, a close, wraparound fit, and quality Chromapop lenses, they make a strong argument for being your next pair of riding shades.

As with all Smith cycling sunglasses, the Momentum is available with several different lens options, ranging in price from $209 to $229 depending on the tint and technology. Depending on the color/tint, the Chromapop lenses range between 10% (Black) and 15% VLT, plus each pair comes with a clear lens for dim light conditions. We tested the Photochromic Clear to Gray lens that changes tint depending on the light conditions with a VLT range of 20% to 85%. They start out clear and darken enough to handle the brightest of full-sun conditions. The Toric lenses are curved to provide distortion-free vision no matter where you look, and the optics are super clear, and Smith’s Chromapop tech is right up there with the best in the business at enhancing contrast, color, and definition.

The 135mm x 65mm lenses are fairly tall and moderately wide, and they have a very pronounced wraparound fit. They sit quite close to the face and do a very good job of shielding the eyes from wind, etc., and peripheral vision is excellent. They are a touch on the narrower side compared to many other models, which may work great for those with medium to smaller faces. Conversely, they may be a tad narrow for those with larger facial structures. Given the close fit, those with more pronounced cheeks may find the bottom edge of the lens touches their face at times.

The half-frame design consists of a snap-in nosepiece and a thin frame that extends across the back of the top of the lens and connects to the arms by the corners of the lens. The arms are dropped by about a centimeter, positioning them lower which helps reduce the chances of conflicting with today’s full-coverage half-shell helmets. The arms also drop down behind the ears, making them even more accommodating in terms of helmet fit. The nose piece is also adjustable in two positions, and the Megol rubber on it and the arm tips help hold these shades very securely in use.

Our primary point of contention with the Momentum is that changing the lenses is surprisingly difficult, and there aren’t good instructions available anywhere. If you like changing your lenses frequently, there are much easier options in the Smith range and from other brands.

Lens changes aside, the Smith Momentum is a great new cycling sunglass model that is down for any type of riding you are. The Toric lenses provide excellent optics, they are super stable on the face, and the close, wraparound fit keeps the wind and anything else out of your eyes. Whether you’re slapping berms on the mountain bike or logging big miles on gravel or pavement, the Momentum has you covered, literally.

KOO is the eyewear branch of the Italian helmet brand, Kask, and they have been making cycling sunglasses since 2017. They’ve steadily been growing their product offering and presence in the cycling world, and they now have several models geared towards all types of riders along with goggles for MTB and snow sports. The KOO Demos is arguably the least flashy of all their models that has been “specifically designed with road and off-road cyclists, adventure-seekers, and cyclocross racers in mind.”

While KOO may not be a household name like some of the more popular brands, they clearly made every effort to produce some high-quality eyewear. The frames are made in Italy and they use lenses from the renowned optics exerts at Carl Zeiss. The cylindrical lenses are super clear and free of distortion, and they come in an assortment of tints and reflective coatings, as well as a Photochromic option. We had the chance to test both the Turquoise (11% VLT) and Red Mirror (23% VLT) lenses and found both to be impressively versatile across a large range of light conditions. They don’t seem to boost contrast quite as effectively as some other brands, but they do a great job of cooling harsh light and bringing up the colors a bit.

The 143mm x 60mm lenses are a great moderate size that should play well with most face sizes and shapes. They are large, but not enormous and they work well to shield the eyes from the brunt of wind and/or debris. Peripheral vision is mostly great, but the lower edge of the frame can be seen when looking down at a sharp angle. When looking straight ahead, as most of us do most of the time, there are no distractions. A total of 4 vents, 2 at the bottom and 2 at the top, promote airflow and keep fogging to a minimum.

The full frame is made from a tough-feeling plastic with most of it visible save for a small portion that is hidden behind the lower corners of the lens. This gives them an edgy, modern look, not unlike the 100% S3, for example. The arms are dropped slightly and are relatively straight and a moderate length with curved ends and grippy Megol rubber that grabs the head well. The nose pads also feature the same grippy rubber with some texture added, plus they can be adjusted in two positions to customize the fit. Koo also includes a second nose pad that can be swapped out for smaller nose bridges. On the road or trail, the Demos are impressively stable on the face, staying put through the roughest of rock gardens or bumpiest washboard gravel.

The KOO Demos are offered in a whopping 13 different frame and lens combinations with opaque and crystal frame options to choose from. They also sell a full array of spare lenses, and lens swaps are surprisingly quick and easy. If you’re tired of looking like everyone else and want to try something different, KOO’s cycling sunglasses are definitely worthy of consideration.

The Julbo Edge is a new model in the brand’s extensive lineup of performance sunglasses. While it shares similar aesthetics to their popular Fury sunglasses, they are a bit more angular and they have a unique floating lens that is connected to the frame with a magnet just above the nosepiece. They are undoubtedly quite flashy, they are offered with several different lens tints/technologies, and they provide good optics, albeit at a relatively high price.

Aside from their looks, one of the most striking things about the Edge is the magnetic lens. Not only does it make it incredibly easy to swap lenses, but cleaning them is a breeze when it’s been detached from the frame. Magnetic lens technology has come a long way, and thanks to small clips that secure it, it seems highly unlikely that it would ever come off unexpectedly in use. The Edge only comes with one lens, but Julbo sells additional Reactiv lenses ($160) or a clear lens ($45) for those looking to switch it up. They also come with a zippered storage case with a slot for a spare lens and a microfiber cleaning/storage bag.

The lens is fairly tall at 64mm, but it is one of the narrowest lenses we tested at 130mm wide. It wraps around enough that the edges of the frame aren’t too visible in the periphery unless you look for them. Still, they might be on the narrow side for those with wider/larger faces, but those with smaller heads may find these to be a refreshing departure from the width of many other models. Otherwise, the fit is quite good and they feel very light on the face with a weight of just 24 grams. It is worth noting that the frame/lens may make contact with some people’s noses depending on the flare of your nostrils. The full frame is mostly obscured from view behind the lens, and they have an almost frameless look to them. The arms are moderate length and play with helmets well, with Grip Tech rubber tips and an adjustable nosepiece that hold them securely in place.

We tested the Reactiv 1-3 Light Amplifier lens that changes tint depending on the light conditions with a large VLT range of 17% – 75%. This makes them suitable for virtually any lighting conditions you may encounter, and they really do help to brighten things up in the shadows. The optics are super clear and distortion-free, as expected at this price point. Compared to the High-Contrast lens we tested on the Julbo Density, however, we experienced lens flare in direct sunlight and an occasionally distracting reflection from the coating of the inner lens. Not a deal breaker by any means, but notable in comparison, and we would expect the other lenses to perform differently.

Those with narrower faces or anyone seeking a pair of glasses that’s super easy to clean and swap lenses could find a lot to like in the new Julbo Edge. With quality, light-amplifying optics, a light-on-the-face feel, and a bold flashy style, you’ll be seeing clearly and getting noticed at the same time.

Roka is an Austin, TX-based eyewear brand that makes everything from prescription glasses to casual shades and top-of-the-line performance sunglasses. The Roka CP-1X is one of several models of cycling sunglasses in the brand’s collection of sports eyewear, and they are worn and trusted by elite road and gravel racers and sponsored athletes. These full-frame glasses have a decidedly aggressive and racy style and they come in a variety of frame colors and lens options.

Given the range of glasses Roka makes, including readers, blue light, and prescription eyewear, it’s clear they know a thing or two about optics, and it shows in the excellent lenses of the CP-1X. The single lens has a 7 x 4 Toric shield lens that provides super clear, distortion-free vision. The Glacier Mirror lens we tested has a claimed 26% VLT that works wonderfully in bright to medium light conditions and proved to be particularly good for harsh midday sun out on the road. Still, it proved to work fairly well in mixed light conditions in the forest, helping to boost contrast and bring up color. It wouldn’t be our first choice for gloomy days in the forest, but Roka sells an assortment of replacement lenses ($70-$110 depending on the lens) for every light condition imaginable.

At 140 x 56mm, the CP-1X’s lens is large but doesn’t totally dominate the face. The tallest part of the lens is in the center and it tapers quite a bit out towards the sides, making them a good option for those with medium to smaller faces or anyone who doesn’t love the extra-large sunglasses look. At the same time, the wraparound fit sits close to the face and blocks wind very well no matter how fast you’re riding. The wraparound of the frame also provides excellent peripheral vision, and the frame stays completely out of view unless you’re looking at super extreme angles. This fit, when combined with the style of the frame, makes the CP-1X look and feel, for lack of a better word, fast.

The full frame of the CP-1X is actually two separate pieces with the lower and upper halves of the frame wrapping around the edges of the lens. The frame itself feels relatively tough and durable, and lens swaps are fairly quick and straightforward once you figure out the process. The arms have been designed to work well with helmets, and the relatively short, 119mm, temple length avoids unwanted interference with helmet shells and adjustment systems. One thing that stands out about the CP-1X is how exceptionally stable they are on the face. The textured GEKO rubber nose pad and arm tips really work well to keep these glasses securely in place no matter how rough the road or trail gets. Additionally, “customizable Titanium core wires” in the arms tips allow you to adjust them for an even more precise fit.

The Roka CP-1X is a high-performance pair of cycling sunglasses with great optics, excellent stability, and a unique, racy style. While the looks may not be for everyone, anyone seeking quality shades for aggressive riding or racing should check them out. And if the full-frame look isn’t for you, Roka also makes two half-frame models, the SR-1X with no lower frame, and the GP-1X with no upper frame, that are essentially the same glasses with slightly different aesthetics.

Oakley has a long history of creating wild, futuristic-looking sunglasses, and the Encoder Strike is one of the most recent examples. While not nearly as wild-looking as the Oakley Kato, the Encoder borrows some of its design elements while also harkening back to the original Razor Blades for a unique retro-future style. They are different from the regular Encoder, as the Strike version features six vents across the top of the lens to add some ventilation and the bottom of the lens is cut a little straighter. As with all Oakley cycling sunglasses, they have great optics thanks to their Prizm lenses, and they are also quite expensive.

Visually, the Encoder Strike makes quite an impression. The large, reflective, spherical, frameless lens is bright and bold with unique curves around the nose and across the top of the lens. There are few other glasses, except those made by Oakley, that look quite like these. The outward curves of the lens seem like it would be airflow-related, but structurally, it lends some rigidity to the frameless design. Holding that lens to your face is tasked to a pair of stiff, O-matter arms with Unobtanium rubber grips and an Unobtanium rubber nosepiece that is hidden inside the lens. They also come with a second, thicker nose pad, along with a zippered case and soft microfiber cleaning/storage bag.

When it comes to optics, Oakley’s Prizm lenses are top of the heap. Not only are they crystal clear, but the color boosting and contrast enhancement is some of the best, if not the best, on the market. We tested the Prizm Road lens with a 20% VLT and found it to be excellent for bright light conditions while remaining versatile enough for use on mountain bike rides going in and out of the shadows. Oakley also makes an assortment of lenses for specific uses including Prizm Trail, Prizm Field, Prizm Jade, etc., that are designed to meet the needs of different users.

A notable aspect of the lens on the Encoder Strike, however, is that the curved part of the lens by the nose and at the brow causes some distortion if/when it comes into view. While riding, our eyes are looking forward most of the time, but certainly not always. This distortion was most evident when down in the drops, for example, and looking up, as the curved upper position of the lens and the lens vents would come into view. Additionally, the oversized nosepiece is also quite noticeable. You get used to it, but at first, it is a bit distracting.

Beyond that, the Oakley Encoder Strike is a bold, flashy model that you’d expect from a brand that’s been constantly redefining sunglass style for decades. While they are expensive and the looks won’t be for everyone, those who are willing to take the leap will be rewarded with quality Oakley optics and eye-catching style.

The 100% Hypercraft SQ is a relatively new model in the brand’s extensive lineup of cycling and performance sunglasses. While they are still quite bold and flashy, these frameless shades represent a pretty dramatic shift away from the more frame-heavy designs the brand has been producing for years. There are three different models of Hypercraft glasses, with the SQ (square) falling in the middle in terms of lens size. These super lightweight glasses have great optics and a somewhat futuristic look that’s sure to get noticed out on the road or trail.

One of the first things that stand out about the Hypercraft SQ is their shockingly light weight. At just 21 grams on our scale, they are so light that they essentially disappear when you put them on. This is mostly due to the frameless lens and the thin, minimal arms that keep weight down to a minimum. Despite their light weight, they still have a moderately large 138 x 58mm lens that provides loads of coverage but avoids being excessively big on those with medium to smaller faces. The SQ in the model name stands for square, and while they aren’t exactly square, they are notably less angular than the regular Hypercraft or the Hypercraft XS (for small faces).

Our experience with 100%’s Italian-made lenses has always been positive and that continues with the Hyercraft SQ. The cylindrical lenses provide excellent, crystal-clear optics and the HiPER lens technology helps enhance contrast relatively well. The Red Multilayer Mirror lens we tested has a 21% VLT and works great for everything from full-blast sun to mixed lighting in the forest, plus they come with a clear lens for low light conditions. Changing lenses is also quite easy with the minimal frame elements. They also stay fog-free thanks in no small part to the slightly off-the-face fit and a couple of small top-of-the-lens vents that allow some air circulation.

Given the frameless design, the frame elements are limited to the thin UltraCarbon arms and the snap-in nose piece. The tips of the arms and nosepiece both feature Ultra-grip to keep them in place. While the glasses do stay secure for the most part, especially on road rides and smooth gravel, we did find they bounce around a bit more than some other models over rough terrain. This is primarily due to the frameless design and cylindrical lens that doesn’t provide as much structure or stiffness to squeeze against the sides of the head. Also, the Hypercraft SQ comes with two nose pieces, and even the wider one has a relatively narrow fit.

All that said, the 100% Hypercraft SQ is an impressively lightweight set of frameless cycling sunglasses that we feel is best suited to road cycling. The optics are excellent and they’re so light you’ll barely even notice you’re wearing them, yet they’re flashy enough that everyone will notice that you are.

For well over a decade, the team at Bikerumor has been reporting on the latest news, trends, technology, and products across all disciplines of cycling. Writing about bikes and all the gear that goes along with them isn’t just our job, it’s also our passion, and we’re always seeking the best products to enhance our comfort, performance, and safety on our rides. Quality eyewear is a critical piece of gear that we rely on to protect our eyes from the elements so we can see clearly and focus on the task at hand.

Our cycling sunglasses buyer’s guide author, Jeremy Benson, has been reviewing cycling gear for the past seven years and has personally tested over 30 different pairs of performance eyewear. An obsessive mountain and gravel rider, Benson spends an inordinate amount of time on the bike each year while testing various products, training for the next race, or riding just for fun. Living in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Truckee, CA, just north of Lake Tahoe, there is world-class riding on hundreds of miles of trails, gravel, and paved roads just out his front door, providing an excellent testing ground to put any bike, component, or accessory through its paces. While riding bikes for the past 30 years, Benson has seen the evolution of cycling sunglasses firsthand and knows the importance of having the best eyewear to see clearly and perform at his best. As a contact lens wearer, the right eyewear is particularly critical as he is extra sensitive to wind and dust that can cause irritation and impact his eyesight on the road or trail. In addition to cycling sunglasses, Benson has also reviewed the best mountain bike shoes, protective mountain bike helmets, and hitch bike racks to transport your fancy bikes.

For the purposes of this buyer’s guide, we rounded up 14 of the best cycling sunglass models available in 2023 for testing and comparison. Over the course of several months, each model was thoroughly tested, scrutinized, and analyzed on gravel, road, and mountain bike rides ranging from casual rips with friends to grueling endurance races. Switching between models frequently provided the opportunity to compare them directly when considering optics, fit, coverage and eye protection, frame designs, and stability in use. As it turns out, there are lots of excellent options on the market, and plenty more that we haven’t tested yet, to shield your eyes from the sun and wind no matter your fit, coverage, or style preferences.

With hundreds of different models of cycling sunglasses on the market, choosing the right pair can be a daunting task. The different frame styles, lens sizes, shapes, tints, coatings, grippers, etc., are enough to make your head spin. To help you understand, we’ll break down some of the important things to consider when searching for your next pair of riding shades.

Lenses are arguably the most important element of any pair of cycling sunglasses, providing the windows through which you view the world. These days, pretty much every brand is producing quality lenses with clear, distortion-free optics, but they vary in many ways. When considering your next pair of shades, there are several lens-related factors to take into account.

Most good lenses feature some type of contrast enhancement technology that is intended to boost contrast, definition, and colors. This is done through a combination of lens tint, filters, and coatings to manipulate the light that passes through the lenses to our eyes. Oakley’s Prizm and Smith’s Chromapop are two of the more recognizable lens technologies and arguably two of the best at their intended purpose, effectively making everything appear to be in high definition. Other brands have similar technologies, including 100%’s HiPER, POC’s Clarity, and Julbo’s Spectron 3, as examples. While they all intend to do the same thing, they all perform slightly differently but still work to enhance your vision out on the road or trail.

The tint/color of a lens is an important consideration, not just for how the glasses look, but for how the world looks when you look through the lenses. The tint of a lens impacts the colors you can see, with some being better suited to bright conditions and others working well for low-light situations. Brown/amber and grey are two of the most common lens tints for bright to moderately bright light conditions. Grey lenses tend to have more of a cooling effect while brown makes things look a little warmer. For low light, yellow and rose tints are often preferred for their ability to brighten things up. Clear is another popular lens for dim light, and many glasses come with a clear lens that can be swapped out for the bright light lens for those situations.

VLT refers to the amount of visible light that is able to pass through the lens and it is shown as a percentage. A lower number, 10% – 15%, for example, means less light is passing through to the eyes, and these lenses will be best for bright light conditions. Bright, sunny days out on paved or gravel roads with little shade are where lenses with low VLT work best. Higher VLT numbers are typically seen on lenses intended for use in low-light conditions where you want more of the visible light to help you see more clearly. Cloudy days, shady forests, and dawn/dusk are good applications for lenses with higher VLT numbers. Photochromic lenses (more on this below) change tint depending on the ambient light conditions, and most can span a huge VLT range to work well in any light condition. The Reactiv High Contrast 0-3 lens of the Julbo Density, for example, has a massive claimed VLT range of 12% – 87%.

Photochromic lenses are those that change tint depending on the light conditions. This type of lens aims to have you covered for any and all light conditions that you may encounter while outdoors without the need to change lenses. While they vary, most of these lenses can transition from essentially clear to relatively dark depending on the ambient light conditions. The Smith Wildcat, for example, can be purchased with a photochromic lens that has a VLT range of 20% – 85%. Similarly, we tested the Julbo Density with the Reactiv 0-3 High Contrast lens that has a claimed VLT range of 12% – 87%. Most brands offer a photochromic lens option in addition to the other lenses they produce. It is worth mentioning that photochromic lenses don’t transition instantly, it takes several seconds for them to adapt to major changes in light conditions.

Polarized lenses are those that block horizontal light waves with the goal of eliminating reflection and glare. This type of lens is particularly useful for water activities like fishing or boating because it helps you see through the water’s surface. They work well enough for cycling too, but they are not generally considered a must-have.

Sunglass lenses can be made from glass, polycarbonate, or plastic, with the overwhelming majority of sport/performance sunglasses using polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate is the material of choice because it is lightweight, impact-resistant, and can be made into interesting shapes and the large lenses of modern cycling sunglasses. Glass lenses may still be used in some high-end sunglasses, but given the fact that glass can shatter, it is not ideal for cycling or other activities with the chance of impact. Some very cheap sunglasses use super basic plastic lenses, but they tend to have very poor optics/clarity and durability.

The lenses of sport sunglasses all have some sort of curvature to them, and the shape of the lens will either be Cylindrical, Spherical, or Toric. The lens shapes are visibly aesthetically different, and they aim to provide clear optics in different ways. Cylindrical lenses are the most basic and they are curved on the horizontal plane while being flat on the vertical plane. While most cylindrical lenses provide excellent, clear optics, they historically have been more prone to distortion than other styles (though recently most perform on par with other lens shapes). Spherical lenses are curved on both the horizontal and vertical planes giving them a rounded, bubble-like shape. The shape is intended to better match the eye and the angles you’ll be looking out of them in the periphery for less distortion. Toric lenses are very similar to spherical lenses because they are also curved on both the horizontal and vertical planes but with more horizontal curve than vertical. These lenses aim to provide the benefits of a spherical lens while being a bit less bulbous in its shape.

Many cycling sunglasses allow you to change lenses, and many come with an additional lens (or two) for use in different light conditions. Even if the sunglasses you buy don’t come with any extra lenses, most brands sell replacement lenses should yours get damaged or you want to get something that better suits the light conditions in which you ride. The frame style and lens design will dictate how easy it is to change lenses, with some being very quick and easy and others presenting some difficulty.

A well-fitting pair of sunglasses should essentially go unnoticed while riding so you can focus on the road or trail ahead of you. It is important for them to be comfortable, protect us from the sun and wind, and remain secure and stable in use. Our head shapes and facial features vary, of course, so trying on a pair of sunglasses may be the best way to determine if they are the right fit for you.

In recent years, cycling sunglasses have been getting bigger and providing more coverage with some even resembling a pair of goggles. There’s a good reason for this. The larger the lens and greater the coverage, the more protection it provides from the sun, wind, dust, bugs, and debris that may otherwise impact your eyes and vision. This is particularly important when traveling at high speeds where watery eyes could impact your ability to see the road or trail. It isn’t just about lens size, however, as the shape of the lens and how close it fits to the face plays a role as well.

While coverage preferences vary in terms of style and fit, today’s large-lensed glasses do a great job of protecting the eyes. For those who aren’t on board with the big coverage trend, there are still loads of small to medium-lensed options on the market to suit all preferences.

Heads come in a range of sizes, and not every pair of cycling sunglasses will work perfectly for everyone. An important factor to consider here is the lens size, as some of the largest models may simply be too big for those with smaller faces/heads, and vice versa. A lens that is too large may contact your checks, brow, or even your helmet, while a lens that is too small may not provide ample protection from sun or wind. Similarly, you don’t want a pair of sunglasses that squeezes your head too tight or not enough to remain comfortable and stable in use. Thankfully, there are enough options on the market that everyone should be able to find glasses that work for them.

A well-fitting pair of sunglasses should be comfortable and remain stable while you’re riding without slipping or bouncing out of place over rough sections of trail or a bumpy gravel road. One of the main factors in this equation is the nose pads and arms that are almost always topped with grippy hydrophilic (stays grippy when wet) rubber where it contacts your skin. Additionally, many sunglasses feature adjustable, or swappable, nose pads to suit different-shaped nose bridges to optimize the fit to your face. Some sunglass arms are also adjustable and can be bent slightly to better match the contours of your head, and a select few have an adjustable temple length as well. Another factor is how much the sunglass arms squeeze your head which is related to the width of the sunglasses and how much tension is present in the frame/lens and the width of your head.

Cycling sunglasses come in a variety of frame styles including full-frame, half-frame (top or bottom), and frameless designs. While differences are mostly aesthetic, there are some other things to consider.

As the name suggests, full-frame glasses have a frame that wraps around the entire perimeter of the lens either along the edge or right behind it. In addition to protecting the edge of the lens, frames like these add structure and rigidity to the glasses. The drawbacks to full frames, however, are that the additional plastic adds weight, sometimes the frame can be visible in the periphery, it can serve as a spot for sweat to pool if it drips on the lens, and cleaning the edges of the lens can be slightly more difficult. Models like the Tifosi Sledge, Roka CP-1X, Smith Wildcat, and Rapha Pro Team Full Frame feature full-frame designs.

Half-frame designs typically do away with half of the frame, either the top or the bottom, in an effort to save weight and reduce the amount of frame that could potentially be visible from certain angles. The part of the frame that remains helps add some structure to the lens and is typically a bit easier to clean the lenses. The Oakley Sutro Lite, Sutro Lite Sweep, Julbo Density, and the Smith Momentum are examples of half-frame designs.

Frameless sunglasses usually consist of a lens with just arms and a nose piece attached. The lack of a frame makes it virtually impossible to see it in your peripheral vision while also making it super easy to clean the lenses. Typically, this style makes for very easy lens changes as well. Examples of frameless models include the Tifosi Rail, Oakley Encoder Strike, and the 100% Hypercraft SQ.

Sunglass arms are a critical element of the frame that helps keep them in place while riding. They extend back from the upper corner or side of the lens or frame and contact the head right above your ears. Most have rubber grippers that add some traction and help to keep them in place. They vary a bit in terms of length and shape depending on the model/brand. Depending on the size of your head and/or the helmet you wear, the length of the arms could be an important consideration. Long, straight arms can make unwanted contact with the shells or the adjustment systems on some helmets. Some models of glasses, like the Rapha Pro Team Full Frame and the Roka CP-1X, have purposefully shorter arms that still provide a comfortable and secure hold of the head while avoiding helmet contact. Similarly, some glasses have dropped arms that are positioned lower to try and prevent unwanted contact with helmets near the temples. The Smith Momentum and POC Devour both feature this design that plays well with today’s extended coverage half-shell mountain bike helmets.

The majority of cycling sunglass frames are made from similar lightweight plastic or polycarbonate materials. Grilamid TR-90 is one of the most common materials used that is chosen for its low weight and durability. Some brands have created their own proprietary frame materials, like Oakley’s O-matter or 100%’s Ultracarbon, or make their own blends like the Grilamid and TPU frame of the Smith Wildcat.

Compared to many other things in cycling, the weight of your sunglasses is relatively inconsequential and the differences between models are quite small. The glasses we tested range from the featherlight Julbo Density and 100% Hypercraft SQ at just 19 grams and 21 grams, respectively, up to the comparatively heavy POC Devour at 40 grams. While sunglass weight is hardly a consideration, the differences are somewhat noticeable in use, especially when switching between models frequently. Will 20 extra grams slow you down? No, but they do feel a little heavier on the face.

We all want to look good when we’re riding our bikes, right? Okay, maybe some people could care less, but like it or not, style matters. Since style is a personal thing, it’s up to you to decide what looks good and what doesn’t, and our opinions will likely be influenced by what our friends wear and the non-stop marketing machine of the eyewear industry. The good news is that no matter what your personal aesthetic is, there are cycling sunglasses to match. They come in various shapes, sizes, frame designs, lens tints, reflective coatings, and brands that you’re sure to find something you like out there.

There’s no two ways about it, quality eyewear can be expensive. You can easily spend upwards of $200 on a slick new set of cycling sunglasses, but you certainly don’t have to. Yes, many of our top picks are on the higher end of the price spectrum thanks to their excellent optics, great coverage, and great on-the-bike performance, but there are several manufacturers putting out great models at more reasonable prices. Tifosi is one such brand that sells its glasses at a fraction of the cost of the more expensive competition while leaving little, if anything, to complain about performance-wise. At just $80, both the Tifosi Rail and the Tifosi Sledge perform similarly to the more expensive models we tested, plus they can be purchased with either a single Fototec photochromic lens or Interchange with 3 lenses included.

Realistically, you can wear any sunglasses you like while cycling. Some $20 gas station shades will probably protect your eyes better than not wearing any glasses at all. Still, there’s a reason that cyclists buy sunglasses that are made for cycling. Modern lenses provide excellent optics that enhance definition, boost contrast, and bring up colors, and they come in a vast array of tints, reflective coatings, and VLTs to suit every light condition imaginable. Cycling sunglasses are also designed with large lenses that provide excellent coverage to keep, the sun, wind, dust, etc., out of our eyes so we can see clearly and focus on the road or trail ahead. Specially designed rubber nose pads and arms provide security and stability over rough terrain and can often be adjusted to optimize the fit for your face. Not to mention the fact that many of them look pretty cool too.

Many cycling sunglasses are quite expensive, but some brands are disrupting the market with less expensive options that perform nearly on par. Yes, one of the things you are paying for with high-end models is the brand name and supporting their marketing budget so they can sponsor pro teams, events, and the like. That said, there is also some serious research and development that goes into top-tier lenses and sunglass designs. The most expensive models also often feature better coatings that help to resist fogging, scratching, water, etc, which can help them perform better in the field.

There is no single lens that will be perfect for all riding scenarios, but thankfully there are so many options that you should be able to find one that is perfectly suited to the riding you do. For people who ride in a wide range of light conditions, photochromic lenses are a good option since they change to suit the current light conditions and will have you covered for most scenarios. Likewise, glasses that come with multiple lenses are a good choice because you can change out the lenses to suit the light conditions of the day. Otherwise, try and pick a lens that’s best suited for the light conditions that you’ll be encountering most often, and potentially consider getting an additional lens you can swap out if/when needed.

Some sunglass brands are making their sport/performance sunglasses with prescription lenses. If you do a little online research you can easily find numerous models that can be made with a corrective lens. Additionally, many other models are capable of accepting a prescription lens insert.

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No matter what type of cycling you do, protecting your eyes from the sun, wind, and debris is important for both comfort and safety.MSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedNumber of Lenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedNumber of Lenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedNumber of Lenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedNumber of Lenses IncludedWeightMSRPFram StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLeses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedNumber of Lenses IncludedWeightMSRPFrame StyleLens Dimensions (W x H)Lens TestedLenses IncludedWeight