The best mountain bike sunglasses will stop your vision being compromised by debris, letting you focus on the trail ahead and just enjoy the ride with clarity
There are a few things to look out for if you’re looking for the best mountain bike glasses: they should be light, ergonomic and well ventilated, so you never feel claustrophobic. The experienced MBR testers have tried out a whole load of different brands and models, so you know that the ones we recommend here are the best of the best.
Pair these with one of the best mountain bike helmets and your whole head will thank you for it. If you’re looking for more eye protection, check out our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike goggles.
Best budget mountain bike glasses
Lens: Cloud Grey, Crystal, Black | Weight: 40g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Customisable fit, stable on the face and great optical clarity at a bargain price
Reasons to avoid: Not as exclusive a logo as the high-price options
Madison has totally nailed the Enigma. The styling looks great, finish and function are totally sorted and value is exceptional, meaning this is one of the best pound-for-pound eyewear products around.
Madison’s latest Enigma cycling glasses boast a large, modern style with a huge field of vision. Frame and hinges are well made, and both the nose and arm tips are malleable, so can be tweaked for optimum fit depending on your face shape, and also to tune stability. There’s a hint of 100% to the styling too, with an angular frame surrounding the entire lens. The glasses don’t budge, even on really rough trails, and the soft, grippy nose bridge also lets you set the Enigmas slightly away from the face for extra venting.
Best 3-lens deal
Lens: Mirror, amber, clear | Weight: 33g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Large size offers excellent eye protection, Amazing value for money , Three interchangeable lenses in the box
Reasons to avoid: Mirror lens isn’t the most durable
Yet another excellent eyewear option from Madison. The Crypto is a little more expensive than the Enigma, but it’s still a crystal clear bargain given it comes with three lenses in the kit. The lenses are all polycarbonate and clip into a TR-90 plastic frame, and you get a mirrored option for bright conditions, amber for increasing contrast in flat light, and a failsafe clear lens. Compared to the Enigma, the Crypto lenses are much bigger, so offer almost goggle-like levels of protection.
Sure, the lenses scratch more easily than some money-no-object rivals, but for the cash, the Crypto is tough to beat.
Best for customisation
Lens: 10 to choose from | Weight: 35g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Direct sale, choose your preference from 8 frame colours and 10 lens tints
Reasons to avoid: Pricy
It uses a similar frame as the Vulcans, with Grip-Lock earsocks, and you even get four different nose pads to customise the fit. The lens on my sample is the 8KO Fire, designed for sun, but the clarity is amazing and it’s not too dark, so I didn’t have any issue using this on dull days. You can choose between nine other shades including two photochromic tints. All of them get triple layer anti-scratch protection, which is OK, but I found you definitely need to keep this one in the carry bag.
The best thing about the Velans FF is the fit – it’s amazingly snug on your face and just doesn’t move, even when getting bounced around in rough terrain. Clarity is excellent too and, although I could see the white frame ever so slightly around the nose, this should be practicably invisible with the darker frames.
The colour of my sample is a bit OTT but there are some cool neutral options. The price is high for a pair of riding specs but for the lens quality and fit it’s definitely worth it.
Colours: Loads! | Weight: 30g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Superb lens clarity. Quick lens changes. Flexible frame is less prone to breakage.
Reasons to avoid: Hefty investment.
A magnetic frame makes swapping between the two included lenses (clear and choice of Chromapop tint) a doddle. Both lenses are impressively clear and durable considering the inevitably regular cleaning eyewear is subjected to when mountain biking. Vision is unobstructed and every element of the Shift Mag is well made. A premium pair of glasses at a premium price.
100% Glendale Glasses
Best large lens protection
Colours: 8 frame colours, various lens options | Weight: 47g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Massive mirror lens with added venting. Alternative clear lens and nose piece included in the protective case. Currently sold at a discounted price of £79.99
Reasons to avoid: Won’t fill smaller faces and nose shapes
The current trend for wide screen riding glasses is being widely accepted as the way to go, offering almost goggle-like protection levels from a larger, closer fitting lens. The Glendale is absolutely vast, and actually has a lens size akin to a full downhill goggle, so you literally can’t see the top or sides of the frame. The Hiper mirror lens is made from lightweight polycarbonate and has a cylindrical shape, meaning it wraps right around the front of your face.
At full price, the Glendale is good, rather than stellar, value but Freewheel is currently selling this colour (Brown Fade) online for £79.99, making them a must-buy.
Kask Koo glasses
Best choice for low weight with a large lens
Colours: Eleven frame/lens combinations | Weight: 22g | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Great vision and and a low, low weight
Reasons to avoid: Sits closer to the face than some glasses, meaning you could end up with moisture
Koo’s dramatically named Supernova glasses are optically great, and you’ll get plenty of admiring glances from roadies too, thanks to the Kask heritage. This Supernova model is bang on trend, the best mountain bike sunglasses provide big coverage that wraps the whole face from side to side with a broad field of vision, and the Supernova fits that mould nicely.
The top-class optics here work well right from bright sun to dark woods, and being so lightweight means you’ll forget you’re wearing them, but check the fit first, as the pricy Supernovas sit closer to the face than some sunglasses, and that can cause issues with drips and smears if you sweat a lot.
Wet weather eye protection at a great price
Reasons to buy: Great value for money, decent performance
Reasons to avoid: Not the trendiest brand, fit won’t suit everyone
Using safety glasses has long been a top tip for thrifty mountain bikers and the Toolfreak Spoggles are impressively cheap at less than £20. They come in a carry case with an array of accessories and feel nothing like the disposable items you might find down at your local hardware store. While not the most stable fitting glasses, we can’t argue with the quality and value.
Best for casual looks, with a great price tag
Reasons to buy: Can wear on or off the bike. Excellent price for optical performance offered. Well-made and robust with polycarbonate lens
Reasons to avoid: Lack widescreen coverage for MTB. Lens sits very close to eyeballs. Need a clear lens option for UK riding
The Target’s lens is interchangeable, with two mirror lenses and a photochromic option available as upgrades. With a more conventional/casual shape, this model targets (if you’ll excuse the pun) both road and mountain biking, and is smaller than the new-school, widescreen-style MTB eyewear that aims to offer the protection of goggles with the airflow and weight of sunglasses.
The Madison Target glasses still represent excellent value, but are better suited to recreational jaunts than hardcore trail and enduro rides.
Effective light-adapting tech
Lens: Contrast Rose Flash, Clear lens and goggle bag inc. | Weight: 25g | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Wide coverage. Excellent clarity. Stable over rough terrain.
Reasons to avoid: Premium price. Lens sits close to eyebrows. Can react too slowly for trails that dip in and out of woods.
This Fury Reactiv is just 25g and has a light-adapting photochromatic lens designed for changeable conditions. It’s lightweight and minimal, but has wide coverage and protection, in the vein of many of the bigger 1980s-inspired glasses around.
The fit is very stable and worked well with the two different helmets I tried – there’s even a soft, rubberised bridge on the arms where they sit on top of the ears. The lens doesn’t immediately react as you leap out of the open into the trees; the gradual change takes about ten seconds, but I never found it too dark at the wrong time. Having a slight tint means it’s always slightly darker than a totally clear lens for gloomy UK woods anyway.
Lens clarity, simple lens changing and comfort
Colours: Plenty! | Weight: 23g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Top quality Chromapop lens
Reasons to avoid: Very expensive and slightly distracting frame
Quality-if-pricey eyewear that sits perfectly on the head and suits a wide range of head shapes. The clarity of the Chromapop lenses is second to none. They would be perfect if it wasn’t for the slight encroachment of the lens attachment into your peripheral vision.
Protection of goggles with the airflow of glasses
Weight: 28g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Best of both worlds design
Reasons to avoid: On the pricey side
The frame may not as wide as some of the other larger eyewear on the market as the lens flares out from underneath but this means it doesn’t feel too wide on the face and keeps out of peripheral vision. The arms have just enough flex to really latch on to your head without feeling too tight.
The lens adjusts automatically depending on light conditions. It’s not fast, but if you’re in and out of the woods on a semi-regular basis, this clever tech is a useful feature. There’s also a clear lens included which will cover most UK winter conditions.
How we tested the best mountain bike sunglasses
With all our glasses and goggles, we tested them in variety of conditions as well as both wooded and open trails, looking to see how all of these performance criteria measured up against optical clarity and contrast enhancement, so that we could ride faster and more confidently.
What to look out for when buying eyewear for mountain biking
Comfort and clarity are key when it comes to mountain bike glasses, so the frames have to fit well to the face and not move around on rough terrain. They have to fit without fouling against your helmet and offer good protection from debris and insects while also allowing air to circulate for ventilation.
Ideally frames should come with replaceable lenses, so you can adapt them to different light conditions, and the lenses should be easy to switch with excellent optical clarity. Some glasses come with adjustable nose bridges and arms to custom tune to your head shape.
Which type of lens should I use?
Make sure the glasses you use for mountain biking have a polycarbonate lens – you don’t want shattered glass near your eyes in the event of a crash.
Lenses come in a veritable rainbow of colours and tints, but mostly boil down to clear, contrast-enhancing coloured tints and darker/mirrored tints for bright, sunny conditions. Yellow or rose tints can help increase contrast in low-light conditions, but they will cut the amount of light reaching your eyes, so can often make things seem darker when it’s really gloomy – they’re better for bright days in dark woods.
On gloomy winter days we’d recommend a simple clear lens. All you want in these situations is protection from your eyes from debris (and wind, which can cause watering). If you’re riding in wide-open wilderness, such as in the mountains, and there’s little tree cover, choose a dark tinted or mirrored lens (if you want to look flash).
Mirrored lenses can help enhance contrast, but they generally come with a premium price tag.
Finally there are photochromic lenses that ‘automatically’ adjust to the light conditions. These can work well if you’re in the trees for a decent length of time, then in the open for a while, but don’t react quickly enough to cope with trails that rapidly switch from tree-lined to open.
We want you to enjoy the ride, so check out our guide to the best mountain bikes and best budget mountain bikes, to suit your preferences and local terrain. Don’t forget that a great pair of mountain bike shoes will really help you grip those pedals and boost control.