The trails are muddy and dirt is flying up from all sides because of the terrific tempo – and you keep having to screw your eyes shut because you left your cycling glasses at home again. Something like this has happened to every mountain biker, especially when you’re starting out.
Cycling glasses are one of the most important accessories when you’re out on a mountain bike – or on a road bike, too. We’ll now explain why you should always have them with you, and what eyewear is right for you!
Cycling glasses protect against ultraviolet rays
The obvious reason that everyone should always have sports sunglasses with them, especially in sunny weather, is the UV protection. To be sure, the cornea absorbs the bulk of the incoming rays. But it can’t completely prevent the retina from being affected. This is less of a problem in the lowlands. Not until you’re out in the mountains or in a particularly sunny area are the rays so strong that they can cause the eyes lasting damage in the long run – and even the cornea can’t do anything about that. Cycling glasses usually come with a special filter that absorbs all the incoming rays, thus providing the best possible protection for the eyes.
Better visibility with the right cycling glasses
Many lenses and windscreens are contrast-enhancing, which makes it easier to spot bumps on the track and thus more easily avoid them. This effect is achieved through the colour of the lens. Cycling glasses with a brown tint improve green tones, for example, so they’re perfect for mountain bikers and touring. Grey lenses, on the other hand, shade all the light and are ideally suited to general use. Special cycling glasses, such as the Prizm Road Racing Jacket Vented, are designed for just one purpose. For racing bike sports, to be precise, because they selectively enhance grey tones.
If you have to deal with glare, you need polarised glasses. They are treated so that reflected light is refracted and it doesn’t irritate you. Perfect if the next tour is happening by the sea or in a snowy area.
Some cycling glasses, such as the Julbo Dust Zebra Light have self-tinting lenses that adjust to the prevailing light conditions. This is ideal for when you start off in the afternoon and are on the road until late in the evening. In rapidly changing light conditions, however, the self-tinting is actually an impediment because it’s usually very slow.
When searching for the right eyewear, the different protection levels are a great help. They indicate how much light the glass absorbs. For example, eyewear with the protection level S3 is designed for particularly bright days. The protection level S0 corresponds to clear lenses that absorb little or no light and which are perfect for night rides or as protection against wind, insects and spraying dirt, for example.
- Protection level S0 (Light absorption: 0-20%): for wind and insect protection
- Protection level S1 (Light absorption: 20-57%): for cloudy days with low light
- Protection level S2 (Light absorption: 57-82%): for changeable, sunny weather
- Protection level S3 (Light absorption: 82-92%): for sunny days, in the mountains, and at the beach
- Protection level S4 (Light absorption: 92-98%): for mountain sports, ice and glacier touring, and expeditions (Not suitable for road traffic).
Cycling glasses offer protection from wind, dirt and insects
As the example at the start showed, cycling glasses aren’t just important for sun protection. Sprays of dirt cloud your vision, which presents a safety risk especially when cycling on trails. Eyewear with a full rim, like the Sportstyle 700 Vario Smoke from Uvex are perfect for mountain bikers, as they provide the best possible cover for the eyes thanks to their size. They also keep out the hordes of insects that swarm through forests, especially in summer.
When choosing glasses, road cyclists should pay particularly close attention to good wind protection to prevent catching a draft at high speeds. Models such as the Eye-5 Shield VL+ Varioflex cycling glasses from Alpina have large lenses that are set further back which don’t let anything into the eyes even with strong winds, preventing them from getting chilled.
Practical extras with cycling glasses
Is there anything worse than fogged up lenses when you’re riding on a sweat-inducing slope? Only hitting the wall, but that’s a whole other story! They is why you should ensure that your choice of cycling glasses either has vents or an anti-fog coating. Both prevent mist from occurring. But careful: The coating can disappear after a while. You can, however, renew the protection with special care products.
To ensure the cycling glasses sit properly even on rough rides, it’s an advantage to have a rubberized frame. It’s even better if the frame is flexible, because then it can be adjusted to the shape of your head. Some nose pads can also be bent, making the fit even better.
Finding the right cycling glasses
You should always carefully consider what the intended purpose of the eyewear is and in which areas and environments you’ll mostly be travelling. If you’re going on a road bike training camp in Mallorca soon, for example, a pair of wide glasses with a high protection level and polarization would be ideal. If you’re hitting the trails after work in winter, then a practical pair of clear glasses will be enough for you.