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The idea of buying cheap cycling sunglasses is one that appeals to many. After all, a range-topping pair will easily cost a three-figure sum.
Beyond looking good, cycling sunglasses need to shield your eyes from the elements and enhance visual clarity. Protection is the simplest function that even the cheapest cycling sunglasses are able to achieve, creating a crucial barrier between your sensitive eyes and bugs, gravel or road debris.
It's due to this layer of protection that many would consider sunglasses an essential part of your cycling kit list, and as such, it's often hard to swallow the high price tags.
The best cycling sunglasses are rarely a cheap investment, especially if you seek the best possible lens technology too. But for those who want a simple design, with sound ergonomic fit principles and the best that trickle-down technology has to offer, there are some great optical options available.
We have listed the best cheap cycling sunglasses available, below. And some of them have great features in terms of adjustability and design.
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Best cheap cycling sunglasses you can buy
dhb Omnicron triple lens
Affordable and adaptable
Frame type: Half frame | Weight: 30g | RRP: £50.00 / $66.00 / AU$91.00
The Omnicron sunglasses are light and feature a trendy half frame structure.
Shaped with thin arms, they should not trigger any riding discomfort and offer three lens types. There is a clear lens for riding at night or commuting in fog. For those bright summer weekend training rides, there are also lenses that block a lot more light transmission.
The frame arms are adjustable, to allow correct fit tension, no matter the size or shape of your head. A shaped nose piece keeps the Omnicron stable when riding, even if you are rolling on a particularly badly surfaced road.
Outrageous American style
Frame type: Full | Weight: 30.9g | RRP: £49.99 / $49.95 / AU$99.95
Half-frame riding glasses might look wonderfully slick, but they can be a touch too tight for riders with wider temples.
These Tifosi Amok sunglasses use a full-frame construction and generous fit, to accommodate larger heads. For some riders, the full-frame gives a more solid feeling when descending on gravel roads, with the Amok less likely to bounce on the nose, due to terrain-generated oscillations.
Glare reduction is enhanced by Tifosi’s glare guard technology, with UV protection. The lenses are also ventilated, to prevent fogging in cold conditions and optically, they are decentred, to deliver a broad spectrum of clarity.
If you prefer the feel of full-frame riding eyewear, these Amoks are a good choice.
Tifosi Swick Single Lens Sunglasses
Adaptable for riding or casual use
Weight: 26g | Frame : Full | RRP: £30.00 / $38.55
Another full-frame option for riders who like eyewear that can easily be repurposed for the more casual walkaround role. These snug-fitting Tifosi Swick sunglasses have a classic style and although they lack the ventilation for autumn and winter morning riding, the optics are good.
Their Grilamid TR-90 frame is lightweight and durable, offering all-day comfort, while the hydrophilic rubber nose pieces become even more grippy as you sweat. The polycarbonate lenses are shatterproof and scratch-resistant for long-lasting wear, while they're optically decentred for optimum clarity.
At this retail price they're not pro-level but they offer simple performance and great value for money.
Madison Enigma Glasses
The pro-visor image - at a much lower price
Frame: Full | RRP: £29.99/ $35.49 / AU$46.48
If you desire the bold look of a visor-type lens, the Madison Enigma offers great value, and as a pair of cheap cycling sunglasses, they don't get much cheaper than this.
The style is daring, with the large frame housing a wraparound single lens, allowing for a wide field of view and protection from the elements. Fit and comfort are enhanced by the presence of an adjustable nose piece.
Although the Engima's optic is huge, it does have a clever adjustable nosepiece that enables you to push the lens further from your face for extra venting, which should do a tidy job of mitigating any fogging issues.
Endura Mullet sunglasses
Aggressively styled but ergonomically refined
Frame: Full | RRP: £59.99 / $82.50 / AU$126.95
A slightly more spendy option, the Endura Mullet is an aggressively styled full-frame design, housing two individual lenses. Comfort and ergonomics are assisted by rubber touch surfaces on the frame’s arms and a moulded nose piece, to ensure the Mullets remain comfortably in place, even on a long gravel ride.
Photochromatic lenses give you adequate darkening when riding in bright sunlight whilst a collection of six tiny vent ports along the outer edge of each lens, facilitate airflow.
Bold design at bargain price
Frame type: Half shell | Weight: 30g | RRP: £49.95 / $69.95 / AU$98.95
The BBB Avenger is futuristically styled, but it is not merely for show.
You’ll notice the slight ventilation clearance between lens and frame, a deliberate design to avoid the horrible annoyance of fogging, on those cold morning rides. This is an elementary comfort feature for riders who are committed to venturing outdoors for their training, in even the worst conditions.
BBB’s design team has managed to create a uniquely styled frame, that is both light and ergonomically what you would expect from sunglasses at twice the price. The Avenger comes with three interchangeable lenses and offers 100 per cent UV protection.
Cheap cycling sunglasses: things to look out for
Comfort instead of style
Be aware that despite the diversity of designs, sunglasses should be comfortable, instead of projecting a certain image. Some of the more minimalist designs might look great on display, or online, but they might not work with your specific facial features.
The best cycling sunglasses are those you hardly notice. Nose pads and adjustable arms can increase fit comfort, and both of these are features worth having. If you are on a budget, seek a frame that prioritises adjustability before style.
At a budget price point, you aren't going to get the best optics in terms of contrast and glare reduction. The kind of lenses that vividly enhance every detail on your ride, in all light conditions, cost a lot of money.
That said, the best cheap cycling sunglasses should be providing protection against road debris or insects. And on a high-speed descent, this can be a very real issue. Fortunately, even cheap cycling sunglasses are equipped with polycarbonate lenses, which happen to be both light and impact resistant.
Airflow is key
Whether you go for full- or half-frame design, vent ports or slats can be a useful addition. Temperature gradients are a very real part of cycling, especially for riders who adhere to ride at dawn or dusk.
Lens mist is not only annoying, it can be dangerous, clouding your field of view at a critical moment. You might not have the budget to afford a premium optic, but you can definitely buy cheap cycling sunglasses with good ventilation around the lens, guaranteeing you a clear line of sight in all conditions.
Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.
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