Gear Testing the Best Cycling Sunglasses

Discover this story and more in the new issue of Highsnobiety Magazine, available at retailers worldwide and on our online store.

Cyclists are crazy. And their glasses too. But that’s the problem: you need the same pair of cajones bombing a hill at 30 mph in a pair of tights as he rocks a pair of iridescent shades that cover 40% of your face. This is real fast fashion.

While cyclists have always been crazy, their goggles haven’t always been so loud. They wore aviation-style goggles until Jim Jannard began creating goggles for bikers in the 1980s. Named after his dog, his Oakley brand created the “Eyeshades” and after Greg Lemond co-signed the frames, they were quickly found on everyone at the Tour de France and the brand later became a staple of 90s style. Since then, the world of cycling eyewear has only grown bigger and become more colored.

In this issue’s Gear Test, we tried out five cycling shades with undeniable off-the-bike style.

Seven-Eyed Ventus

If I had to choose one word to describe them, it would be “funky”. The unique goggle padding not only keeps wind and unwanted critters from flying into your eyes, it’s oddly comfortable. These glasses almost feel like they’re squeezing your eye sockets, weird as that sounds. Performance-wise, they stack up to the rest of our pick, though they don’t have that oversized cycling aesthetic.

adidas SP0041 Solar Red

adidas have managed to make this pair of sunglasses durable, despite their lightweight construction, making them a great all-day pair whether you’re on your bike or not. The rubber on the nose of the sunglasses means they don’t slip even when you’re sweating heavily, which I admit I tend to do even on my leisurely commutes during the summer. The bright red colorway and solar red tint of the lenses are definitely a statement.

Alba Optics Delta Lei

Straight out of the box, these are the most interesting sunglasses I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding in my hands. Once I put them on, however, they really came into their own. On my bike with the Alba Optics Delta Lei, I never felt like they were going to move even a millimeter. It’s like they’re super glued to my face. To top it off, the Delta is light as a feather, which means you almost forget you’re wearing it. More than once I checked where my sunglasses were, only to find them on my face.

Rapha Pro Team Full Frame Sunglasses

I expected Rapha’s pair to be heavier than them. They’re not the flashiest sunglasses I’ve tested, but somehow they made me feel like Ye every time he wore those heavy Balenciaga sunglasses. The goggles come with two sets of lenses – one tinted and the other clear – which is incredibly handy if you’re using them for their intended purpose. As a little extra, the Rapha case is adorned with Fausto Coppi’s quote “Only my eyes can show suffering”. BRB, I’m getting this tattooed on my chest.

MAAP x 100%

These MAAP x 100% sunglasses are the SUV of performance sunglasses. When you put them on, they sit relatively high on your nose, almost as if the suspension had been modified to give them an elevated ride. Not only do they look fast and ridiculously overpowered for anything we mere mortals are going to do with them, they’re lightweight and come in stunning colorways. What more could you ask for in a pair of sunglasses?

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About Leonard J. Kelley

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