The best mountain bike sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays and also the elements and debris from the road and trail. Cycling-specific glasses come in all shapes, sizes and price points. To help make your next purchase an easy and pain-free exercise we've done all the hard work for you and compiled our very best reviews in one easy-to-digest space. Keep reading to find out more about the best cycling glasses.
There are several attributes everyone should consider before buying a pair of mountain bike sunglasses. First and foremost, the glasses need to be comfortable. This is where brands create their glasses with special rubbers at the nose piece and arms, which help keep the glasses in place when riding over bumpy terrain. An adjustable nosepiece helps here, too.
It goes without saying that the UV rating of the lens is super-important, too. In terms of the lens, glasses with interchangeable lenses allow you to pick the best option for the given conditions – clear for dull days and tinted bright sunny days. Better still, photochromic glasses that change depending on the light intensity are also a great choice. Fog, venting and scratch resistance are all important features to look out for, too.
The more coverage, the better the lens is at stopping debris and trailside foliage from ending your ride, so it's wise to ensure your glasses have an adequate enough sized lens and wrap around the face, too.
Finally, for those who wear prescription sunglasses, glasses that accommodate RX inserts will allow you to take full advantage of the protection and benefits of performance eyewear, while using prescription lenses.
Best mountain bike sunglasses 2023
This model of the Melon Optics Alleycat comes equipped with a photochromic lens that adapts automatically to the ambient brightness. The brand has done a great job of making them stable, thanks to grippy rubber at the nose piece and arms, and they battle fog impressively well, too.
The photochromic lens works well in a range of conditions, and though it adapts a little slowly, it sheds rain and dirt effectively. This pair of specs can also accommodate an RX lens insert. It's available in a range of customisable colours.
For the full test results, read our Melon Optics Alleycat Photochromic review.
2023 Sungod Vulcans Top-frame side view, by Tom Epton
Like Melon Optics, Sungod is a brand that offers a raft of customisation options. Available in full and half frame options, as well as the choice to buy both, we liked these specs for their great visibility and light weight.
Included in the box are four nose pieces and the Vulcans are built with screwless hinges while benefitting from scratch-resistant and hydrophobic lenses that get a lifetime guarantee.
While these glasses offer plenty of coverage, keeping even the peripherals protected, our tester found that spray can find its way inside the lens. However, the lens is excellent for a wide range of conditions and offers great contrast on dull days. The lens is interchangeable, too.
To learn more about these glasses, have a look at the Sungod Vulcans review.
Alpina_Bonfire_2.jpg, by Ty Rutherford
We liked an awful lot about Alpina's Bonfire Q-Lite glasses including the excellent fit and thorough coverage. They're versatile, too, which makes them great for both gravel or mountain bike riding.
They're lightweight and Alpina's fancy Q-Lite lens adds a useful contract in bright conditions. That lens benefits from a hydrophobic coating to combat fog and moisture and it's rated for 100% UV A, B and C protection. Similarly to many glasses on the market, these are built from TR90 thermoplastic.
The included venting does a great job of eliminating fog and we found them to be super secure on the face. However, while the lens is interchangeable, these only come with a tinted lens as standard.
Reckon these glasses tick all of your boxes? Read the Alpina Bonfire Q-Lite review.
melon-optics-alleycat-glasses-2020-review-3.jpg, by Jim Clarkson
With the photochromic version listed above, it comes as no surprise that the standard version makes it into this roundup. As expected from Melon Optics, there's a raft of customisation options available, allowing users to pick the colour of the frame, nose rubber and Melon logo.
Our tester reckons that the Zeiss lens included is among the best on the market in terms of clarity and contrast. They improve trail vision in low light while the amber lens boosts clarity when things are duller outside. Coverage is also awesome.
If you like what you see, be sure to have a gander at our full review of the Melon Optics Alleycat .
2020 endura singletrack glasses hero 2.jpg, by Liam Mercer
Although it's best known for its range of clothing, protectives and now shoes, Endura also has a solid glasses offering, especially in the form of the Singletrack. During our test, we found these specs to be super comfy and totally fog-resistant. The lenses are easy to swap out, which is mega handy since Endura provides you with mirror, smoke and low-light lenses.
They offer 100% UV protection to EN ISO 12312-1:2013 standards and there's a hydrophobic coasting to keep water well away. The nosepiece is then adjustable with a bendy action and it gets the same rubber coating as what's found on the arms to keep the glasses firmly in place.
Even though the lenses look small, the coverage that the Singletrack offers is class-leading.
Be sure to check out all the details in our Endura Singletrack Glasses review.
Merida's RACE sunglasses are amongst the most budget-friendly on the market. Upping the bang for the buck is a hard case as well as a microfibre pouch and there's an adjustable nosepiece. They deal with fog exceptionally well, keeping vision clear even when moving slowly.
However, due to their low price and subsequently low-end build quality, we've picked up the odd scratch.
If you're after budget-friendly sunglasses, check out the Merida RACE glasses review.
The Smith Optics Flywheel offers top comfort and an impressive field of view. These glasses effectively combine a modern-yet-retro aesthetic and we found downsides to be very few.
These are built with the TR90 thermoplastic we've mentioned a bunch of times already and there are a pair of handy auto-lock hinges. There's a set of hydrophobic rubber pads that expel sweat, keeping them grippy and the Flywheel uses Smith's ChromaPop technology which filters two wavelengths of light nullyfying colour confusion.
The lens gets a coating that resists water and oil to keep vision clear but it isn't interchangeable, so you'll need to buy another set for darker days.
Check out the Smith Optics Flywheel review to learn more about its performance and how it deals with filtering light wavelengths.
Not to be confused with the bike brand, Tifosi offers a range of glasses with the Crit Crystal Fototechs scoring rather well in our review. They bring a range of handy tech to a wallet-friendly price, including photochromic lenses and a Grilamid TR90 frame.
The lenses aren't removable but they do get a Glare Guard coating and the photochromic tech to help deal with varying light conditions. They also get neat vents that effectively keep fog at bay.
The Crit is a super comfortable pair of specs but we found that the lenses take a bit of time to react, so quick dips into forested areas on bright days can get a little challenging. However, these offer great performance for relatively little money.
Read our Tifosi Crit Crystal Fototech glasses review for the full lowdown.
Smith Optics PivLock Ruckus glasses-3.jpg, by Rachael Gurney
The Smith Ruckus glasses come with very few niggles. They offer wide coverage from a proper clear ChromaPop lens while very effectively combatting fog. Differing from many glasses on the market, these use Smith's PivLock tech which effectively makes lens changes a breeze – the arms pivot 90 -degrees upwards, freeing them from the lens.
The Ruckus's nosepiece is two-position adjustable, the arms are malleable and there's a useful hydrophobic coating on the lens.
For all the details, be sure to read the Smith Optics Ruckus review.
Smith Optics Wildcat glasses-1.jpg, by Rachael Gurney
The Wildcat glasses from Smith Optics are almost like a pair of goggles. Importantly, these come with a clear lens but it is interchangeable with a black ChromaPop lens which is super-clear with excellent clarity.
Lens swaps are as easy as they get and the nose piece is adjustable, while the arms are nice and flexible. The coverage these glasses offer is vast and rivals some of the best MTB goggles.
Even though they're rather expensive, we reckon these will last a lifetime. If a mega set of durable glasses that provide huge coverage sounds like your thing, check out the Smith Optics Wildcat glasses review.
How to choose the best mountain bike sunglasses
Do I need glasses for MTB?
The easy answer to this is no but glasses offer a range of benefits that'll improve your experience when riding, and might actually make you a bit faster.
Mountain bike glasses offer vital protection against harmful UV rays and debris flung up by your bike's front wheel, or even the odd overhanging branch. They also protect against wind which can blow unwanted particles into your eyes.
However, many choose to ride with goggles for greater coverage and security, while some rides choose to ride without eyewear at all.
What makes good MTB glasses?
Comfort and coverage are two aspects of what can make a pair of mountain biking glasses great. But you'll also need to look out for UV protection ratings, lens tech such as hydrophobic coatings and effective fog resistance.
Interchangeable lenses are also mega useful as you'll only have to buy one set of specs for year-round riding. The ability to swap lenses quickly and easily allows you to choose a lens according to the conditions or brightness of the day.
What colour lenses are best for mountain biking?
You cannot go wrong with a clear, smoke or tinted lens as these won't alter the colour that you'll see when you're riding. However, many brands offer lots of different colours which work at their best in certain conditions, so do some research before splurging.
Most tinted or amber lenses found on mountain bike glasses are designed to elevate certain colours and increase contrast. This helps highlight certain trail features and improve your vision out on the trail.
Should mountain bike glasses be polarised?
Polarised glasses for mountain biking aren't necessary. More often than not, they're darker than their non-polarised counterparts and don't actually provide any benefits over standard lenses other than reduce glare and eyestrain in certain situations.