Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Roadie Lads and Lasses: Suggestions for Sunglasses?

Almost as soon as I began cycling long distance, I realised that sunglasses were a must for me - not only to protect against the sun, but also to shield against insects that seemed to be irresistibly drawn to my lashes. When I rode exclusively upright bicycles, I simply wore my regular shades - preferably large ones that covered half of my face. But as I began cycling faster and on roadbikes, those no longer worked so well. Don't know about you, but I find regular sunglasses to be too heavy and also not sufficiently stable when I attempt to wear them on a roadbike. They bounce, slip, and generally feel uncomfortable - even starting to hurt the bridge of my nose and my temples over time.

As someone who is talented at losing sunglasses, I could not imagine buying those expensive ones that bicycle stores sell in glass displays. Instead, I got the cheap ones from the bin at the register (you know the ones, every bike shop has them). These worked somewhat better than regular sunglasses, but they still slipped and felt painful over time. So this summer I think I am ready for the real deal and would appreciate your advice - as I am sure would others seeking this information. I mainly want them to be as lightweight as possible, so that I don't feel them pressing the bridge of my nose and digging into my temples. And, of course, I also want them to be stable while I am cycling fast on a roadbike. There are so many makes and models to choose from - what do the roadcyclists among you wear?

62 comments:

  1. I personally like Rudy Project glasses. They are very well made and they have many different styles.

    Here is the one I use. It has a foam goggle part that snaps in for winter and comes with a strap to go around your helmet.
    .
    http://www.rudyprojectusa.com/index_inner_detail.php?group_id=1&cat_id=30&item_id=SN168606

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  2. Lately, I just use carpenter's safety goggles. I like the kind that look like a bubble, because they keep wind off best. I get them in colorless and smoke grey. I pay between $6 and $9.

    If you get expensive sunglasses and decide you like them a lot, you might not lose them. You'll be conscious of what you're doing with them, which makes you careful.

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  3. Normal glasses are often not shatterproof either which could be visually terminal if you catch a stone off a car wheel.
    I use BBB glasses, they don't break the bank and there is a variety of styles. Their glasses for those of us who require prescription inserts are very good. For something with a bit more fashion cachet Bloc are worth a look.
    http://www.dotbike.com/productsF.aspx?FIND=bbb+glasses

    http://www.dotbike.com/productsF.aspx?FIND=bloc+glasses

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  4. I'm using Shimano sunglasses, I forget the model but they cost about 100 Swiss francs 3 or 4 years ago. The frame is light and bendy (avoids breakages) and stays in place pretty well. The sunglasses are sold in a rugged case with choice of 4 lenses although to be honest I've only ever used the photo-chromatic ones.

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  5. I like Oakleys with Transition lenses. Watch sales on Amazon. Many generics are just as good but you need to shop carefully to avoid junk.

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  6. Ray Bans Wayfarrers, always a classic. A lot of the cycling glasses are so fugly and expensive.

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  7. I have always bought expensive sunglasses that I hold onto for years, I think I still have a pair of guccis I bought 14 years ago. That said I wear a pair of Prada sunglasses my dad gave me 3 years ago for Christmas and I just found a pair of polarized Persols I really like, wore those Sunday and found them to be a bit uncomfortable in combination with my helmet. Do you wear a helmet on road rides? That can be a game changer for glasses you wear.

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  8. I wear Tifosi glasses. I purchased them a few seasons ago and have no complaints with them whatsoever. They are fairly priced (mine were $40) and they have interchangeable lenses in case you damage the lens or feel the need for something lighter/darker down the road. Here's a link to their full line of cycling and running specific glasses:

    http://www.tifosioptics.com/products/results/search&sport=Cycling|Run/

    Enjoy!

    Brett

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  9. Velouria, Glad you asked this. I just picked up a pair of Chili Peppers at REI ($24). I had been using Bolle glasses with a prescription insert, but I never did like them much. I don't really need the prescription while riding anyway. The Chilis are very light and fit me very close to my face, which is what I want in cycling sunglasses. And, as they say, it feels like you're wearin' nothin' at all. Really. I get a little fogging sometimes when I first put them on, but it clears very quickly once some I start riding a get a little air circulation. I could try some RainX Fog solution, but haven't yet. I highly recommend that you try on a pair. Cheers, Steve in Md

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  10. What Tom said. I get 3M safety glasses for $1.69 at a big box home improvement store. They come in dark green and clear. The clear are great for cloudy days and night. Super lightweight and very protective. They block UV too.

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  11. Cheap wrap style sunglasses from Target. The wrap style seem to be designed to hold firm against the sides of the head, and are lightweight. They've never caused me any discomfort.

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  12. I'll be interested to hear what people have to say on this, as I am also searching for the perfect cycling sunglasses. For me they need to be UVA-UVB protective and preferably polarized.

    It's true about buying the more expensive glasses and not losing them. I was always losing or breaking cheap sunglasses, and then one summer about 8 years ago I took the plunge and bought a pair of Oakleys (which fit and feel wonderful, btw. No pinching, slipping or bouncing) and I have yet to lose them. I guess when you spend that kind of money on something, you tend to take better care of it.

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  13. I like my Boston Bill glasses. I have "the Crit", which are very light weight, don't move on my face, and are $30. I only use them for riding and store them in my helmet when I'm not wearing them, which makes them easier to keep track of.

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  14. I second the Rudy Project endorsement, not cheap, but good stuff...

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  15. Features I like in my sunglasses:

    1) Top of frame clears the brow. This way you don't have the top of the frame in your field of view when you're in an sporty position.

    2) Good ventilation, no fogging.

    3) Swappable lenses so you can carry clear ones for night and dark for daytime.

    4) Polarized.

    5) Doesn't slip, doesn't pinch doesn't itch. Tough enough to survive a fall.

    "Oakley jawbone" is ideal for me, although I think other Oakley's have similar features.

    http://www.oakley.com/products/6293/24032

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  16. I use Costa Del Mar sunglasses, i got these because I need prescription lenses and wanted a great pair of shades. At the time I did not ride bikes at all but they have been excellent glasses for riding my road bikes.
    .http://www.costadelmar.com/store/BVModules/ProductTemplates/Costa%20-%20Product%20Layout/Product.aspx?productid=FA

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  17. V., I can't tell from the pictures how wide your face is. I wear prescription glasses and, as someone with a small face, have always had trouble keeping them on my nose. Recently I have been buying children's frames. I've found them cheaper and stronger, made for the rough and tumble of the playground. I wouldn't buy children's sunglasses off the rack, but you could get a good frame and have the optical shop put in the lens.

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  18. +1 on keeping track of expensive sunglasses. Pay $1-200 on a pair that you really like and you won't leave them behind at the coffee shop.

    +1 on the Rudy Project glasses. They're very nice, indeed.

    I've got a pair of Oakley Jawbone Split Jackets. They're a slightly smaller cousin to the the Jawbone (called that because of the jawlike hinge to allow for swapping out lenses.) They're light, stable and very comfortable.

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  19. I am not sure where you want to end with the price, or what you consider too high for loss or breakage, but I like the Tifosi Slip, it is light, has a variety of lens colors, including automatic darkening lenses and my favorite lens color was the golf lens which starts off a gold color and gets brownish when in the sun. I found it a good color for cycling, as it opens and lessens the shadow contrast and there are less unexpected surprises to run over or through. They stay on well without being heavy or cumbersome and I was thrown into a lake wearing them and they stayed on my head, so there is a big plus. Of course not everyone has friends like that! I believe I paid around $35 for them and have been happy with the quality of the lenses, very sharp and clear. They go higher, depending where you buy them, so avoid paying $90 for them.

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  20. One thing that always worries me is what's going to happen to them if you get in any sort of accident or if a stone gets chucked up off the road...
    If you've ever seen a materials testing demo that shows the difference between safety plastic and normal plastic, you'll know what I mean- I don't fancy any shards of plastic in my eyes!
    Safety glasses are definitely the way to go, in my book. You can get the inexpensive versions (as mentioned above by Tom) or go all out an get a pair of Oakleys (which are made to the same ratings/standards).

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  21. I still tend to be pretty careless with my sunglasses, so I try to avoid spending too much on them. Tifosi tends to be relatively affordable and occasionally I've bought a pair of Natives when they emerge on Chainlove or one of those other deal-an-hour sites. My main criteria are: a) frameless edges, b) interchangeable lenses.

    The frameless edge is important for peripheral vision. The interchangeable lenses are for variable light conditions (darker lenses for clear days, lighter ones for overcast). If you ever expect to be riding after sunset, having a set of clear lenses is very useful because bugs are even more likely to be attracted to headlights.

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  22. I had the same issue and went with a pair of tifosi dolomites. I like that they have interchangeable lenses and allow enough airflow to not fog up. The looks aren't that great, more sporty than I like but they work well.

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  23. I wear contacts and need eye protection whenever I ride, even at night, so I use photochromic sunglasses, which aren't cheap wherever you get them. A friend of mine has access to a merchant's account at QBP, so I wear Optic Nerve. Without the discount I would buy the cheapest photochromic sunglasses I could find on the Internet.

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  24. Urgh. I am also a chronic sunglasses loser/destroyer. I am incorrigible.

    As such, I still get my sunglasses from drugstores. They don't have the nice polarized coatings and polycarbonate lenses that the good brands have, but they work and if I spend enough time at it I can find a pair that's actually quite comfortable.

    I have a feeling the main sell-up points to the more expensive glasses are the coating and lens material....and *some* extra comforts. Everybody's got a different dome. I happen to find that I can root out at least one pair on every drugstore rack that looks OK and fits really well.

    One advantage to nice polycarbonate lenses is that they are very impact resistant, god forbid that would ever have to come in to play.

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  25. I made the switch to cycling-specific glasses about six months ago for the reasons you cite, and have had great luck with a pair of Tifosi glasses. They are relatively cheap and seem durable (having survived several encounters with a 2 year-old). But best of all, my pair came with interchangeable lenses that are actually easy to swap, including clear lenses which are great for commuting in the dark. Lastly, they make several models that aren't too too pro racer looking, though they're definitely sporty.

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  26. I have also been using the same pair of prescription Rudy Project sunglasses since 2003. I've used them for MTB, road riding and everyday use. I'm still loving them and they're still going strong.

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  27. When my commute changed from a pleasant eight mile round trip to a major forty mile round trip I 'borrowed' my son's Oakley sunglasses and couldn't believe the difference. No pressure point issues, great protection from wind, dust, and glare and it seemed to improve my attitude;-) I'm learning that proper equipment greatly enhances one's experience on the bike. Thankfully, my son gifted them to me when he saw how happy I was after a ride;-)

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  28. I love my Rudy Project sunglasses, which I've had for years and years. They are so light and comfortable that I forget I have them on. After messing around with a lot of cheapos, including one pair which didn't allow me to see potholes, I finally sprung for a good pair. If you put them on a string you won't lose them.

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  29. Peppy (the amazing I can lose them for you cat)April 26, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Oooh string.

    Oooh new toy.

    Yes, please buy.

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  30. I go back and forth between my Smith Voodoos and big-box wood working safety glasses. If it's at all sunny, and I'm on the road only, I wear the Smiths. If it's overcast, cloudy, or a hint of rain, I wear clear, smokey gray, or amber safety glasses. The safety glasses are great for keeping wind, rain, and bugs out of your eyes without making it too dark to see. And they' cheap, so if they get lost or broken, I'm not too far off my game.

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  31. All the cycling-specific glasses mentioned above are good, some with better optics and adjustability than others. Oakleys have great optics but aren't the most durable. You'd probably want to get them from a place like REI with a liberal exchange policy; some feel great in the store but let in too much wind. Some, not enough. Fit, as with bikes, is important.

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  32. Thanks for the suggestions!

    On safety goggles and equivalent: While these do stay put, they are definitely too heavy and hurt the bridge of my nose after I've had them on for a while. Also, unlike regular sunglasses, I feel that they obscure my peripheral vision which compromises my safety.

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  33. Tom Reingold said...
    "...If you get expensive sunglasses and decide you like them a lot, you might not lose them. You'll be conscious of what you're doing with them, which makes you careful."


    I'll do my best, but sadly one does not follow from the other for me. The only way to ensure I won't lose (or crush) something, is if it is too large for that to happen, or attached to my body at all times. I guess I better keep them on a cord around my neck, unless I want to make a gift of them to the next guy to stop by the waterfountain...

    ann ladson said...
    "Do you wear a helmet on road rides? That can be a game changer for glasses you wear."


    Indeed, I am beginning to realise that some of them plug into helmets?.. Complicated! I do not wear one on road rides, though I may in the future if I ever join a team that requires it as part of the training attire. I guess that makes the search even more complicated!

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  34. The legs of sunglasses stick through holes in the helmet and aren't attached in a proprietary way. You just jam them in.

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  35. I am interested to see what some of the people with smaller faces will recommend. I tend to gravitate toward female specific facewear (like ski goggles and sunglasses) because I have a small face and a short nose. Safety glasses are just about the most uncomfortable thing I can imagine wearing on a bike. When I wear them in the lab, I feel like I am visually impaired and they are gargantuan on my face.

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  36. I am a sucker for Maui Jim Sports. They are so lightweight that I can't feel them at all, and they never slip around. When I do wear a helmet, they fit right under it without squeezing my temples. I personally prefer a smaller lens, but there is a variety of sizes and shapes to choose from, and the polarized lenses are great. Some people think that you don't really need polarized lenses unless you're around water, but I find that they make a huge difference in general. My eyes just feel so...relaxed.

    Maui Jim also recently came out with a more feminine shield style, which is a little heavier than the Sports, but still so much more comfortable than a regular pair. I don't see them fitting under a helmet, though.

    As for losing sunglasses... I used to have that problem until I started buying expensive pairs and found myself taking better care of them. Not a single lost pair in the past four years! And not a single scratch or broken hinge.

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  37. Anne Welch said...
    "can't tell from the pictures how wide your face is. I wear prescription glasses and, as someone with a small face, have always had trouble keeping them on my nose."


    My face is of above-average width, with high, protruding cheekbones and a high nose bridge, so the issue for me is the opposite: the glasses "sit too hard" for lack of better description on the bridge of my nose, and also press too hard into my temples.

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  38. You might try the safety glasses from the hardware store. Because I wear contacts, I always need some sort of eye covering. These type of glasses are often lightweight. have UV protection, and are very stylish these days. And cheap! Especially if you lose them like I do.

    I've also discovered the leather work gloves from the same store for when it's a bit cold out. They are leather palmed with breathable backs. But this if off topic...

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  39. Watch steepandcheap.com for good deals on sunglasses.

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  40. Velouria, these glasses were given to me by my eye doctor and I find them to be ideal for cycling. No, they are NOT spiffy, neato or keeno cycling glasses but boy do they work well !! They also look about the same as the glasses you're wearing in the photo.

    I have dry eye in the bargain and these glasses limit the wind to my eyes as well as stop all bugs and rocks that come my way since they are polycarbonate as well as UV protecting.

    Also they are cheap......
    http://www.amazon.com/Maxi-Aids-Solar-Shields-Smoke/dp/B003E6JN5K/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1303834415&sr=1-1

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  41. My husband got me a pair of Oakley Half Jacket. They are customizable to a color scheme that suites you. I went with baby blue, White and pink. I also got a pair of clear lenses to switch out for dark days or night commutes. They reach nicely behind the hears so you don't have to worry about them slipping around. http://www.oakley.com/custom/halfjacket

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  42. Dollar store. Some of the glasses will have obvious distortion, wretched optics. Put those back on the rack. Others surprisingly good. Very surprisingly good.
    If you don't like them you only lost a dollar.
    Nephew gets his from sponsor. Must be careful to have them on if his photo should be taken. At home he wears dollar store.

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  43. "Nephew gets his from sponsor. Must be careful to have them on if his photo should be taken. At home he wears dollar store."

    Interesting that he is required to be photographed with them, yet does not like them enough to wear them on his own time.

    The ones I bought at the bike store counter, were basically one step up rom dollar store, but they are not comfortable, at least not for me. I know that others wear them with no problems.

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  44. Might be duplicating some responses, but I would add lawnmower shops or hardware stores. I got my sunglasses for $6.00 from my local lawnmower store. The fit is excellent and lightweight. The 'glass' itself is great!

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  45. We don't wear sunglasses while working in our (vegetable and herb)garden pod.

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  46. I've owned 2 pairs of the Alpe sunglasses by Tifosi. Unfortunately, I left the first pair on an out-of-town retreat, never to be seen again. Most sunglasses look monstrously large on my face - these look nice, fit comfortably, stay put & are generally sturdy. They make them in polarized & non-polarized versions.

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  47. Velouria, have a look at Zeal Optics. I have never had an easy time with sunglasses--uncomfortable, slip, give me a headache etc. but I have three pairs of women-specific Zeals that I love. Their website gives information about face size for fit. You can sometimes find them at sierra trading post for cheap, but I think they are well-worth full price. The lenses are very nice and work well even in both low-light and bright-light conditions. My favorites are the Airestream for everyday wear and the Juice for riding. I've become so loyal to this brand that I even bought their ski goggles.

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  48. A few years ago I went to the local building supply store and found Nebos.They wrap around and at the time had multiple interchangeable lenses, Green and polarized for sunny days,yellow and orange for grey days, and clear for the in between times. at the time they cost $19.95 for the kit with all the lenses now I see them for $9.95 but with only one lense. The model is 4178 X-LENS they work for me and the price is right

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  49. I gave up on expensive sunglasses when I realized I lost or broke them after about as many hours on the bike as I had to work to pay for them.

    I now wear good quality safety glasses in mirrored, smoked or whatever they call browniegray, and clear for when it's not so bright. I like UVEX brand, they're German and styled in a tasteful restrained way(no stupid flames, idiotic skulls or pathetic Harley Davidson logos), the ones I like best are the "Bandit" model and I usually get 3 or 4 pairs a year at about 7 bucks apiece. They are light, almost as scratch resistant as the sunglasses I can afford and provide useful side coverage. They're also excellent safety glasses. If they stop making them I'll just give up and go blind.

    The saddest story I have about sunglasses is the time I bought a new pair of Randolph Engineering Navy spec flying glasses and lost them out the side of a friends Piper Cub 9 minutes after pulling them from the mailing envelope. I was about 22 and the $95 they cost was exactly half a weeks pay. I remember watching them tumbling into the woods at the end of the strip and thinking "SHIT, I'll never find them" and then finding out how an instructor pilot who heard me whining about it weeks later, walked out and found them hanging at eye level in a dogwood tree. He talked me into giving him the case before he told me he found them. I was mad enough to kill him but too embarrassed to ask for them back. He was still wearing them years later, maybe still is. I'm still bitter.

    Spindizzy

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  50. re sponsored nephew:
    He loves the sponsors glasses and would never breathe a word otherwise. He also gets them by the case and is allowed to sell them trackside, pocketing proceeds. They do get lost, left in hotel rooms, etc., but no need to use up inventory when just training at home.

    If you know glasses and start to shop dollar store you'll see some of the components are identical to name brand. Lenses are the least likely to be the same, but it does happen. Overall quality varies widely. It's only a buck. You can get whole wardrobes and laugh when you lose them.

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  51. I have the Sette Vexx Ray sunglasses from Pricepoint, and really like them. They come with removable lenses in a semi-hard case. They have nice rubber on the nose piece and on the legs where they rest behind the ears. I think they're pretty high quality, considering the $15-$20 price. I'm considering a second pair just so I can have two lens shades ready.

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  52. I wore cheap hardware store safety glasses in the winter when it was snowing. That made a big difference and worked for me because I don't like goggles. They're less than $2 a pair, too.

    I have yet to find a pair of sporty cycling glasses that I like. They're all so douchey looking. I wear a big pair similar to yours, Velouria. Fashion sunglasses are what they are, though, and I'm experiencing just what you do with an uncomfortable fit. I'm investigating all the mentioned brands here and hope to come up with something under $60 that I like. So far, the Ventoux by Tifosi seem okay. I have a feeling I'm going to have to go to the real store (not the innernets) and try things on, though.

    I really appreciate this post and all of the suggestions...perfect timing if the sun ever comes out again in Chicago.

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  53. "Douchey looking", I wish I had said that. I probly' look like that but I'm old, who cares.

    Spindizzy

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  54. oakley Radar, or one of the female specific models (commit?)
    all that marketing gibberish about their optics is unfortunately TRUE.. really sharp, distortion free image with better contrast
    but... they do make u look a bit dorky

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  55. Oi! what a lot of complex answers. I use my dollar store classes to ride on a busy highway and they have never shattered or even scratched too badly when hit with a stone.

    If you want to go sportier, there are some brands like SunCloud and Chilis available through REI that are about 40 dollars each.

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  56. I like the Rudy Project sunglasses because they allow for a prescription insert. I need glasses when riding if I need to stop and fix something on my bike, or read something (like a map). I tried taking regular glasses along in my saddle pack, and then just using regular cycling glasses, but the prescription glasses end up taking up a lot of space if they are in a protective case.

    Finally, I teach courses outside in the bright sun, and when I'm looking at student work, I will find myself taking off my sunglasses and putting on my prescription glasses, then switching back to my sunglasses a lot during the course of a three hour period. This becomes annoying and inconvenient. So in the end, the high price of the Rudys is worth it for both their quality and convenience.

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  57. I wear a pair of Oakley that were given to me by my other half. Nope, at about $175 I'm not going to lose them - I'm going to wear them out. Spare parts can be had from the manufacturer.

    Eye protection is important to my old, contact covered eyes. I want - total UV blockage, shatterproof, and wrap around wind resistance. Used to wear Ray Ban polarized glass avaitors, with ear loops, but the frames break yearly. Got pretty expensive. Now I wear polycon glasses made for handball at night, when I tend to hit things (like tree branches) more frequently. The polarized netural grey Oakley radar style in the daytime. Just like Lance!

    If cost is a issue I've seen pretty good sunglasses at Campmore.com sometimes they have some on sale for $20 or so. Buy two pairs!

    The more I consider this;
    Protecting my eyes is very important... maybe more than a helmet for my head!

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  58. Velouria, I know I'm late to your sunglasses party, but sites like Sierra Trading Post offer pretty good deals on quality sunglasses at around $50 or less. I use prescription Rudy Project sunglasses for brevets (more than $50), but use my Smith District frames for commutes and rides of 100 miles or less. I also use them for runs. I like Smith sunglasses a lot, particularly these. They are comfy and lightweight, fit well on a female noggin, offer great coverage, make the world look good through their lenses, and they also offer an interchangeable lens system, which is handy when it's raining or you don't need the darker lens. Good luck.

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  59. I'm a geezer, and while I can get away with plain shades for the uppers, I really benefit from having reading lenses in the lower bifocal area. The shades I use for cycling are DeWalt* safety glasses:

    http://safetyglasses.com/cgi-bin/store/store.pl?cid=167

    At $11.00/pair, I have a dark and a clear set. They come with a protective sleeve, and when I throw my bike and my gear bag in the car, I put one pair in each of my cycling shoes (next to my clip-on mirror - but that's a rant for another day).

    *Yes, Virginia, it's the same DeWalt that makes the power saws!

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  60. Hello, sorry to post so late, I just found your blog the other day and have been reading here and there. I wouldn't comment so late, but I have a solution to the sunglasses issue that I don't see in the comments.
    I'm normally not really into sunglasses, much less trendy ones, but I've found that aviators are perfect. They are lightweight, with thin wire frames, and have that gradient from dark at the top to light at the bottom that work pretty well for differing light conditions. And they are huge and curved slightly, which makes them less than attractive in my mind, but make for great bug/wind shields. There are really expensive pairs, but I bought some at the Goodwill for $2, and they work great, especially since the cost means I'm not overly worried about losing them. They even fit over glasses in a pinch, for the days when my eyes are tired and contacts are a drag. Not the best style statement, but oh well. Not sure about how shatterproof they are, but they stay put.

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  61. I like my "SC 360" polarized sunglasses which were purchased at Wal-Mart, for about $20.

    They fit my head and face very comfortably. Soft rubber cushions on the nose bridge and around the inside of the frames to reduce the gap between the frame and your face, reducing dust and drafts in your eyes, and helping keep random bugs out as well.

    The polarization works really well, cutting down reflected glare from black asphalt roadways.

    Finally, the lens sort of wrap around the side of my face, providing wide peripheral vision...nice in traffic.

    There were several sizes and styles available.

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  62. anything shatter proof, I wouldn't recommend spending alot on them either because if they get lost or you ruin them you don't want it ruining your trip!

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