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Best cycling sunglasses: look good on the bike

Cyclist magazine
4 Aug 2021

No cycling look is complete without a set of sunnies. Here are some of the most stylish out there

A killer pair of sunglasses is a must for summer cycling. For most of us, how cool we think a pair of sunglasses look is probably the biggest determining factor when buying a pair. With professional racing acting as a shop window for everything shiny and new, a celebrity endorsement from a favourite cyclist doesn’t hurt either. 

Yet it’s also vital to consider fit, visibility and the levels of protection they offer, as they’ll need to keep your eyes free of grit, grime and any bugs who aren’t looking where they’re going. Then there's all sorts of lens technology that might prevent your field of vision from getting misted or rain obscured, while potentially also boosting contrast for sharper vision. 

Whatever your tastes and requirements, below you'll find 10 of the hottest styles for summer season cycling.

The 10 best cycling sunglasses for 2021...

Oakley Sutro

Buy now from Oakley for £140

Flashback 36 years and you’ll remember a scrawny, Californian-born tearaway by the name of Greg LeMond grabbing European cycling and Bernard Hinault by the scruff of the neck to win the 1986 Tour de France. You’ll remember he also turned up in a pretty funky set of shades created by his fellow Californians at Oakley, called the Eyeshades.

Three decades later, Oakley is now the leading producer of cycling sunglasses in the world and with its Eyeshade-inspired Sutro sunglasses still winning Grand Tours, this time with Colombian Egan Bernal.

The wide-lens may not be everyone’s cup of tea but we here at Cyclist are fans and you cannot fault Oakley’s excellent Prizm lens, which it claims ‘provides unprecedented control of light transmission resulting in colours precisely tuned to maximise contrast and enhance visibility’.

Buy now from Oakley for £140

Rudy Project Defenders 

Buy now from Browns for £170

Italian company Rudy Project is a giant of the sunglasses game having provided some of the coolest riders with its shades over the years (Jan Ullrich and Vincenzo Nibali spring to mind immediately).

Rudy Project uses an interchangeable, mirrored lens that has 100% UVA and UVB protection, a dirt and water-repellent finish, helps to enhance contrast, and contains an anti-fog coating.

The hooked frame arms do create issues in trying to slot the glasses into your helmet, although they do help keep them securely fastened to your face.

Buy now from Browns for £170

100% S3

Buy now from Condor for £159

Any pair of sunglasses that are good enough for Mathieu van der Poel is surely good enough for us humble amateurs, right? 

A progression from the former S2 glasses, the 100% S3 sunglasses come with a ventilated lens that protects up to UV400 while also fully replaceable for alternative lenses dependent on weather conditions.

This same lens is impact and scratch resistant while also slightly cylindrical to allow increased peripheral vision.

The frame is also shatterproof while the rubber nose pads help to secure fit while also being removable for alternative fitting options.

Buy now from Condor for £159

Rapha Pro Team

Buy now from Rapha for £120

Not too expensive, not too try-hard, and easily nice enough to wear on the beach. Rapha’s Pro Team sunglasses then back up these traits with all the stuff nerds enjoy, such as a Grilamid construction, hydrophobic lenses with anti-fogging treatment and anti-scratch layer, plus snaplock hinges for ease of use and durability.

Available with three different coloured lenses – black/mirrored, purple/green, and pink/blue – each lets through a different amount of light.

Regardless of which you chose, each also promises to boost contrast, making it easier to spot hazards on the road or trail. For winter or other low light conditions, they also arrive with a clear lens for 100% light transmission.

Wrap-around in style and with a one-piece lens, the included interchangeable nose bumpers help ensure they fit as wide a range of faces as possible.

Buy now from Rapha for £120

Smith Optics Attack Max

Buy now from AlpineTreks for £184.99

While £200 may sound like a lot, when you delve into the details, you'll find the Attack Max glasses from Smith Optics are effectively two sets of sunglasses in one.

As with every purchase, Smith Optics provides two ChromaPop lenses (one rose, one clear) that can easily be switched around via a simple clip on each arm of the frame and, between them, are suitable for almost all riding conditions.

Both lenses are hydrophobic and with no rim, provide an excellent field of vision, too.

It’s also worth noting that Smith Optics offers a lifetime guarantee on all its products allowing you to replace them if you do damage them in a crash. 

Buy now from AlpineTreks for £184.99

Koo Demos

Buy now from Tweeks for £129

Worn by the Trek-Segadredo men’s and women’s teams – purveyors of the best kits in professional cycling – Koo’s Demos sunglasses are equally nice-looking. Plus they manage to do everything you could want from a pair of cycling sunnies too. 

Fitted with polycarbonate anti-reflective lenses from Zeiss, these come in multiple colour options, with each suited to slightly different conditions. Subscribing to the large lens style, each forms an uninterrupted polycarbonate screen that wraps itself almost entirely around your field of vision. Keeping your eyes protected from light at all angles, this also helps should anything be thrown up from the road.

Four small vents, above and below the eyes, allow air through to prevent fogging while the rubberised arms keep everything locked in place. Generally, it’s all very winning stuff, as you can find out if you read our full review here.

Buy now from Tweeks for £129

Dhb Fractal 

Buy now from Wiggle for £52.50

The cheapest set of sunglasses on the list, Wiggle’s house brand DHB has slowly branched out, with success, into most sectors of cycling clothing and accessories. Quite recently, it has tackled cycling sunglasses and with its Fractal glasses has done a solid job.

The design quite clearly takes hints from competitors although a streamlined design has made these wide-lens glasses more suited to smaller, narrower faces.

The category 3 lens offers suitable protection from the sun with a 8-18% light transmission making these best for summer riding.

Buy now from Wiggle for £52.50

Bolle Shifter

Buy now from Wiggle for £79.99

Another set of sunglasses that prescribes to the church of large lenses, the Bolle Shifter sunglasses are the shades of choice for Romain Bardet and are a little cheaper than most competitors.

Small vents at the bottom of the NXT Phantom lens prevent fogging while the full shield approach helps increase visibility for the rider.

Bolle has also given the lens an oleophobic treatment which means any grease, oil or water flicked up from the road should roll straight off and not stain.

And, as a final perk, the Bolle Shifter can be bought with prescription lenses.

Buy now from Wiggle for £79.99

Alba Optics Delta Candy

Buy now from Sigma Sports for £169

The Montreal Screwjob, the screeching guitar, the long, wet locks. That’s right, Brett Hart would have been proud to have donned a set of shades as radical as these Delta Candys from Alba Optics.

A bright pink frame and oleophobic, scratch-resistant VZUM ML Lava Lens combines retro 1980s looks with pro-level performance as the overall weight of 26 grams means you’ll barely realise you’re wearing glasses.

You’ll also notice the hook-like shape of the frame that provides added security while wearing, although will prevent you from slotting the shades into your helmet.

Buy now from Sigma Sports for £169

Scicon Aeroshade

Buy now from Scicon Sports for £170

Scicon, an Italian brand that made its name making bike bags, has taken that logical next step in any company's life to move into the sunglasses market.

Yeah, we were as surprised by this move as you but, from where we are looking, Scicon has made a good go of making cycling sunglasses with the Aeroshades.

Firstly, the Aeroshades have an interrupted frame that's supposed to ensure your vision isn't obscured at key locations on the sides of the frame. Their lenses are also cylindrically milled for undistorted vision, plus if you scratch one, Scion will replace it for free. Handily, this includes the additional spare clear lens Scicon ships the glasses with.  

Buy now from Scicon Sports for £170

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