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10 best cycling glasses

Protect your eyes and boost your vision on the road in all conditions with a pair of hard-working frames

Look stylish on or off the bike ( Rapha )

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From the catwalk to the cols of the Alps, it seems like everyone is wearing cycling shades right now. There’s a huge range of styles, from wraparound designs offering aerodynamic advantages and superb peripheral vision, through to more traditional ones you can wear in or out of the saddle.

While top-end models can cost hundreds of pounds, you can pick up a perfectly capable pair for under £50. Whatever style you choose, buy from a reputable firm and never be tempted to risk riding in fake big brand specs that could splinter in a crash – your eyes are just too precious.

Oakley Flight Jacket: £185, Evans Cycles

Oakley revolutionised sports eyewear when they unveiled their Factory Pilot Eyeshades in the mid 1980s. Their latest design turns things upside down again – literally.

They have ditched the brow frame in favour of one across the cheeks, giving you unobstructed views when crouched over your handlebars. The iridescent Prizm Road lens not only looks amazing, it really boosts contrast – helping you spot potholes and other hazards nice and early.

Oakley have built in an adjustable nose piece to prevent fogging when climbing in really hot conditions, and there are spare, shorter arms included in the carrying case so you can tailor the fit to your favourite helmet.

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100% Speedcraft SL: £114.95, BikeInn

Designed in California and made in Italy, you’ll have seen a version of these outrageous shades worn by cycling superstar Peter Sagan.

100% has its roots in the rough and tough world of motocross, so these should stand up to any abuse you throw at them. You also get a smart, hard case plus a soft carrying sack, an extra nose piece and a clear lens for low light conditions.

Swapping between the lenses seemed daunting at first but we soon got used to clipping them in and out. These aren’t a pair for shrinking violets so, to quote 100%, be warned – people will stare when you wear these!

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Smith Attack Max: £149.99, Wiggle

American optics firm Smith has found a smart way to swap between the two ChromaPop lenses included with this pair – just pinch the top of the arms and pull them away before slipping off the nose piece.

It’s a clever way to avoid the fiddling about and fingerprints that accompany lens changes in some other designs. We opted for the Sun Red Mirror lens for bright sunshine and the pink-tinted Contrast Rose Flash for duller conditions.

Both were great, offering excellent clarity and a huge field of view. The groovy zebra patterned Squall arms we tested stood out from the crowd and the shades paired up really well with the Smith Network helmet we tested earlier in the summer.

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FWE Helios Photochromic: £34.99, Evans Cycles

You might not win any style contests wearing these, but if you’re looking for simple shades to keep road gunk and bugs out of your eyes they are a great choice.

Despite the bargain basement price, they feel comfortable and stay secure on the face. The photochromic coating works great, slowly darkening or fading as light conditions change.

If you want just one pair to protect your peepers in everything from bright sunlight to dark winter evenings, these are the ones for you.

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Koo Open: £174.99, Condor

Innovation and Italian design come together beautifully in this offering from Koo, sister company of helmet maker Kask. Everything about the Open screams quality – from the huge white case they are presented in to the frames’ revolutionary swivelling arms.

This clever design allows you to make micro adjustments to the Zeiss lenses, moving them closer to or away from your eyes for optimum comfort. Swapping between dark and clear is a matter of popping up two tiny switches before easing them out.

Despite the thick frames, peripheral vision is excellent and they stay in place even on fast rides. There’s a range of frame colours available including the smart ice-white ones we tested.

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Rapha City Glasses: £160, Rapha

Channel your inner Fausto Coppi with this chic offering from cycling’s most stylish brand. There’s even a quote from the Italian champion inside the smart leather-look pouch they come inside.

They’re ideal for anyone who wants to avoid the bug-eyed or wraparound look of so many other sports shades. They’ll stay firmly in place on a fast Sunday club run, but we reckon the classic design is best suited to zipping around town and chilling outside a cafe.

The stainless steel arms are thin enough not to interfere with your peripheral vision yet sturdy enough to stand the test of time. The Carl Zeiss lenses are as good as they get and you can opt for either round or rectangular frames.

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POC Crave: £220, Tredz

The Swedish firm certainly got the name right for this gorgeous pair – everyone will want them. They are pricey but packed with high-end features.

The frame is built from tough and flexible Grilamid plastic polymer while the lenses from top-end producer Carl Zeiss are treated with a finish that repels dirt and stops them fogging up.

Snap-in hinges on the arms means they shouldn’t break if they get bumped in a crash. The big lens look won’t be to everyone’s taste, but they are certainly distinctive and will appeal to anyone who wants to stand out from the crowd.

POC tend to evolve their designs over time, so these should last you a good few seasons without looking like last year’s model. 

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Endura Char: £59.99, Endurasport

This pair from the Scottish clothing and helmet manufacturer were among the cheapest in our test but measured up well against costly rivals.

They come with all the accessories you would expect – a zipped hard case, soft cleaning bag plus dark and clear lenses which you swap over one at a time.

Although the plastic frames feel less flexible than expensive alternatives they sit well on the head and don’t slip. The lenses compared well against rivals three times the price, although we found they fogged up slightly quicker when we stopped moving.

These are an excellent choice for those who shudder at the thought of spending mega-money on eyewear.

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Roka SL-1x: £144.52, Roka

Texan brand Roka may be new kids on the cycling block but Irish rider Dan Martin has already taken a Tour de France stage win wearing their super-light shades.

Elegant and comfortable, the carbon black pair we tested were the most understated in our test and sat well on the face. The Carl Zeiss lenses are brilliant – they don’t fog, are reported to resist scratches and are dark enough to shade your eyes from the most intense summer sun.

An excellent buy if you want a wraparound style but don’t care for over-the-top colours and designs. They come in a smart black hard shell and, as you’d expect, there’s a soft carrying case too.

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Adidas Zonyk Aero Pro: £127.99, RX Sport

This fresh-looking pair quickly adjusts to the conditions so you’ll never be caught out by changes in the light or the weather.

There’s a removable sweat-bar, which won’t suit everyone but we found it really helpful in keeping perspiration out of our eyes on hot days.

You can adjust the angle of the lenses at the arms for an even better fit and the shiny finish on the glossy plastic frames easily sheds marks from dirty fingers. It’s available in an attractive range of colourways.

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The Verdict: Best cycling glasses

Our Best Buy from Oakley are a great blend of style and practicality. Their Prizm Road lenses really do make a difference and could just give you that extra fraction of a second that allows you to avoid a looming pothole.

If you want Scandi cool, opt for POC’s superb Craves, while Rapha’s City Glasses look stylish on or off the bike.

 

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