Summer is on the way and the longer nights are here so it is time to put away the lights and reach for the sun cream and sunglasses.
Unlike other sunglasses, cycling sunglasses are not just for summer, which is why more often than not you get a selection of lenses in the box. They are not there purely so you can match the lenses to your kit, each lens colour serves a different purpose.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on glasses to get interchangeable lenses either as most glasses designed for cycling comes with three types of lenses as standard.
Tinted Dark lenses
The tinted lenses are great for sunny days and usually give you at least 70% UV protection, ideally you should be looking for 100% of course the more expensive glasses offer the option of reactive lenses (photochromatic lenses) that will auto adjust according to the amount of light meaning you don’t need multiple lenses. The thing to look out for with dark lenses is just enough tint to stop the glare in the height of Summer but not so much that it will impair your vision should you head into the woods or hit a shaded area of road.
These lenses are designed to brighten and sharpen your vision so are great for most off road forest riding or low light situations such as overcast days or evening rides.
Clear lenses are great for night riding or general day to day riding. Because it is just a clear plastic between your eye and anything coming towards it these are great lenses to use as general protection.
Other things to consider when looking at lenses is if they are hydrophobic , rain is the worst condition to ride in as tyres tend to flick mud up into your face and add to that the water beading on the lenses obstructing your view. Hydrophobic coatings are designed to combat that by using a surface that water cannot stick to meaning more time riding and less time stopping to wipe them down.
Finally before we move away from lenses another thing to consider is lens protection, or more specifically scratch protection. Sunglasses are going to get scratched it is just par for the course of using them. Luckily a lot of sports sunglasses have factored this in and offer scratch resistant lenses in the form of a special coating much like the rain coating that lessens the impact of scratches and in some cases with the more expensive glasses they sometimes offer a self-repairing lens.
This is one of the most important areas of sports glasses and also where most of your money will be spent, the frame of the glasses.
The fit has to be snug but not tight as tight glasses become uncomfortable very quickly, the arms of the glasses need to sit behind the ears and don’t be afraid to give them a test. Shake your head from side to side look up and down, if they stay put then they can take anything you throw at them while out riding.
In order to allow a fit among a wide range of head shapes you may find that most sunglasses offer rubber arms and nose pieces, of which most are interchangeable for an exact fit. The rubber also offers a better grip and resistance to movement when pedalling hard or riding over rough terrain.
There are broadly three different types of frames on offer full frames, half frames and frameless all of which offer the same function and the style will be dependent on which look you prefer.
Of course if you already wear glasses this throws up another level of problems finding sunglasses that will fit over them. Fortunately there are a few manufacturers who have products on offer that can fulfil that request, it is just a case of trying them on for fit and seeing what works for you.
This varies the greatest and it all depends on lots of things really the materials, the brand name the amount of research and design and where it was made are big factors as well as style tax.
You can get a good quality pair of sunglasses from as little as £30 and up to well over £300, what you get in the box differs greatly too but expect some kind of box or bag to transport them in and a few spares or pieces for fit.
A last thing to consider is that unless you decide to only use them on sunny days, they will also be doing the job of protecting your eyes from debris, offering protection from wind, which inevitably carries dust or grit particles in it. And lastly something I have already touched upon earlier UV protection.
So there you have it, there is not much to glasses really but they play a vital part in enjoying cycling whether it is sunny or not.