No matter the terrain or weather, it’s important to protect your eyes while on your bike. We round up this year’s best cycling glasses for attacking the asphalt or ripping up MTB trails…
If you’re thinking your beach sunglasses are going to cut it on that summer sportive or trip to the trail centre, then think again. The best cycling glasses will prevent everything from sweat in your eyes to missing essential details in your environment, be that an oncoming truck or off-camber roots.
Best cycling glasses features
Dedicated cycling shades will have other performance benefits too. Huge single lenses and frameless or wraparound designs ensure you have maximum field of view. Adjustable arm rake, Megol grippers or swappable nosepieces will guarantee your shades won’t budge even on the gnarliest of off-road descents.
Lenses can have a wide variety of ambient light transmission, meaning you can select the best specs for the light conditions. It’s worth considering glasses with interchangeable or photo-chromatic lenses, both of which will help your eyes adapt to changing light conditions.
Polarised lenses are another premium feature worth considering. These have a special chemical coating that stops some of the light passing through the lens. Filtering the light like a window blind, these lenses help reduces glare and improve colour contrast in bright light. This brings benefits like enhancing visual clarity and reducing eye strain, both of which you’ll appreciate, particularly on longer rides.
Impact- and scratch-resistant lenses are worth considering too, as these will protect your glasses from general weat and tear or in the event of a tumble. Lenses that won’t scuff up easily will ensure you keep see clearly, ride after ride.
How we test the best cycling glasses
Our cycling product tester Matt Ray put each pair through their paces, wearing them on extended rides on a variety of terrain and different lighting conditions to see which were best for overcast, bright and changing light and whether they shone particularly on road or off-road cycling sessions.
And if you’re looking for a competitive advantage when racing, it pays to maintain your poker face and remember what Fausto Coppi said: “Only my eyes can show the suffering.” So, read on to discover 2023’s best cycling glasses, tried-and-tested by us.
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These are the best cycling glasses in 2023
- Oakley Plazma ($244 / £210), amazon.co.uk
- Rapha Pro Team Frameless ($175 / £145), rapha.cc
- Oakley Kato Cavendish Edition ($318 / £278), oakley.com
- Koo Demos Glasses from ($150 / £150), amazon.co.uk
- Endura Shumba II (£74.99 – not available in the US), amazon.co.uk
- Panda Fixed Sport (£89 – not available in the US), pandaoptics.co.uk
- Oakley Kato Trail Torch ($313 / £278), oakley.com
- SunGod Velans ($232 / £192), sungod.co
Oakley Plazma (w/ Sapphire Polarized Lens)
|Features:||Suitable for prescription lenses, durable O-Matter frame|
|Lens colours:||7 colours available|
|Frame colours:||7 colours available|
If you’re after the best cycling glasses, look no further. When every cycle optics manufacturer under the sun is making massive single-lens shades, Oakley has gone old-school and produced these dual-lens beauties that give a nod to its popular Race Jackets from yesteryear.
That’s not just a style choice though, as these Plazmas rake at the perfect angle to grip your head snugly, making them an ideal choice for aggressive MTB blasts. The super-sharp lenses hug your face too, to achieve the same kind of coverage and field of view as their more sizeable rivals.
Read our full Oakley Plazma review
Rapha Pro Team Frameless Glasses (w/ Purple/Green Lens)
|Light transmission:||From 21% (pink-blue lens) to 10% (black mirror lens)|
|Features:||Megol arm grippers / hydrophobic anti-fogging lens|
|Lens colours:||Rose, pink blue, bronze, purple green, black mirror|
|Frame colours:||Silver, sand rust brown, black, white, dark navy, blue|
For cycling shades with a true racing pedigree, look no further than Rapha’s Pro Team Frameless shades. Oozing effortless style, these classy glasses offer an uninterrupted field of vision, stunning optical clarity and excellent ventilation.
The five available lens colours give you a range of light transmission from 10% to 21% with the rose or pink-blue being the best choices for mixed conditions. If you’re looking to win races with style, you can’t go wrong with the best cycling glasses from Rapha.
Read our full Rapha Pro Team Frameless review
Oakley Kato Cavendish Edition
|Features:||Adjustable rake, swappable nose pads|
Costing no more than the standard Kato (which is just as well), this Mark Cavendish signature edition is the perfect choice for fans of the Manx Missile. Released in honour of his attempt to become the Tour de France record holder for stage wins this summer, these super-hero mask-like shades could become a collectors’ item if (or when) he succeeds.
Your investment will also buy you superb coverage, class-leading optical clarity and confidence-inspiring performance in changing light conditions.
Read our full Oakley Kato Cavendish Edition review
Koo Demos Glasses (w/ Orange Mirror Lens)
|Light transmission:||12.5% – 69%|
|Features:||Megol temple inserts, 4 lens ventilation ports|
|Lens colours:||9 colours available|
|Frame colours:||10 colours available|
With a crystal-clear Zeiss lens to rival any of the Oakley optics, Koo’s Demos eyewear manages to come in $100 / £100 cheaper than any of them. Some of the best cycling glasses on the market, you’ll also be spoilt for choice with regards to frame and lens colours – the latter giving you a huge range in light transmission from 12.5% to 69%.
Four ventilation ports minimise the chance of the lens fogging, while Megol grips ensure your eyewear will stay put however dynamic your riding. Their full-frame design makes them well suited to the rigours of mountain biking too.
Endura Shumba II
|Features:||Adjustable rubber nosepiece, 100% UV protection, extra clear and bronze lenses|
|Lens colours:||Mirrored red, blue, yellow|
|Frame colours:||Grey, yellow, white|
Total coverage and maximum field of vision don’t have to cost the earth, as this budget option from Endura shows. Its exaggerated wraparound design gives total protection from debris or the elements. They don’t have quite the same clarity as Oakley or Zeiss lenses, but they punch above their weight in terms of all-day comfort.
Three sets of lenses (clear and bronze as well as the mirrored main lens) give you the option to swap out as conditions change, with the mirrored lens coping admirably with batting back glare. An EVA hard case makes this a great value package.
Read our Endura Shuma II review
Panda Fixed Sport (w/ Hot Ice Lens)
|Light transmission:||9.9%, 13.5%|
|Features:||Impact-resistant PC lens, adjustable nose grip|
|Lens colours:||Mirrored red and orange, gold|
|Frame colours:||Hot ice, iridescent|
Panda brings all its ski goggle know-how to bear in these bargain-price cycling specs. Some of the best cycling glasses out there, you get the same kind of coverage as you’d expect on the slopes and lenses that are made to cope with bright blue skies and sparkling snow.
That transfers well to scorching summer rides on road, gravel or chalky trails, keeping eye fatigue to a minimum. And you’ll appreciate the neat touches like ventilated arms when the heat is really on.
Read our full Panda Fixed Sport review
Oakley Kato (w/ Prizm Trail Torch Lens)
|Features:||Adjustable rake, swappable nose pads|
|Lens colours:||7 colours available|
|Frame colours:||6 colours available|
If you’re looking for some of the best cycling glasses to deal with the ever-changing light conditions of off-road trail riding then the Oakley Kato with the Prizm Trail Torch lens is well worth a look (through). High contrast conditions and sudden changes from light to dark or dappled sunlight are no problem a lens with a substantial 35% light transmission.
Of course you have to pay handsomely for these bad boys but what you get is a robust and highly adjustable frame, complete coverage and pin-sharp vision in all conditions except the brightest of sunshine. There are six other lens options to choose from too.
Read our full Oakley Kato Trail Torch review
SunGod Velans (w/ 8KO Iris HV Blue Photochromatic Lens)
|Light transmission:||34% – 79%|
|Features:||Colour customisation, swappable half-jacket or full-frame kit|
|Lens colours:||12 colours available|
|Frame colours:||12 colours available|
If you’re looking for high-performance eyewear you can put your own stamp on, look no further than the Velans. UK firm SunGod offers its cycling shades in an almost infinite variety of colours. Not only can you choose from 12 lens and frame colours, you can also select from nine colours for the bottom frame, the logo and the ear socks.
Add that to the options for half-jacket, full-frame and a novel ‘top and full’ best-of-both model and you really will be spoilt for choice. But the Velans aren’t just about pimping your shades; both its 8KO Iris and Smoke Iris lenses offer remarkable clarity. The former in particular is an ideal choice for overcast or changeable conditions.
Read our full SunGod Velans review