eBay Finds: Vintage Rudy Project Explorer sunglasses

Our look through eBay in search of hidden gems from cycling times past has turned over these vintage Rudy Project Explorer sunglasses (opens in new tab). There's no indication as to which year these were purchased, the Explorer was one of Rudy Project's early models, introduced in 1987, and this rather fetching pink version would suit any Giro d'Italia leader, past or present.

The seller, in Japan, reveals that they're NOS (new old stock), and so haven't been worn, and it's therefore a great opportunity to get your hands on a pair of 1980s-style cycling glasses for the modest price of £56.88 (US$69.99), plus shipping.

The long list of past Rudy Project wearers includes five-time Tour de France winners Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich, 1995 road race world champion Abraham Olano and 2004 Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego, and the Italian sunglasses – and helmet and ski goggle – manufacturer retains a presence in today's bunch that stretches back as far as the mid-1980s.

Rudy Project was founded by Rudy Barbazza in Treviso, in Italy's northern Veneto region, in 1985, and remains based in the town to this day, providing helmets and sunglasses to fashion-and-performance conscious Italians and cyclists the world over, while they're sported in the modern peloton by WorldTour squad Bahrain McLaren.

Early bike-racing pioneers opted for flying-style goggles to help to try to help keep dirt and stones from the unmade roads at bay, and riders progressed to more modern sunglasses styles in the 1950s and 1960s.

But US firm Oakley, with its Eyeshade model, in particular, is credited with bringing lightweight plastic frames with quality, protective lenses to the pro peloton in 1984, and riders such as Greg Lemond and Phil Anderson popularised that model in 1985, with further models such as the Razorblade and Mumbo following in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Rudy Project also arrived on the scene early, launching their Performace model, as used by Bernard Hinault, in 1985. The company went on to partner with Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile and Coast squads in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as well as providing eyewear to the likes of Liquigas and Lotto Soudal.

The Explorer model pictured for sale here may have been introduced back in 1987, but it helped pave the way to today's popular models, which include the Cutline and Defender.

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