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Cyclists are fucking nuts. And so are their glasses. But that’s the thing: It takes the same pair of cajones to bomb a hill at 30mph in a pair of tights as it does to rock an iridescent pair of shades that cover 40 percent of your face. That’s the real fast fashion.
While cyclists have always been crazy, their eyewear hasn't always been so loud. They were wearing aviation-type glasses until Jim Jannard started creating eyewear for bikers in the 1980s. Named after his dog, his brand Oakley created the "Eyeshades" and after Greg Lemond co-signed the frames they were quickly found on everyone at the Tour De France and the brand later became a 90s style staple. Since then, the world of bicycle glasses has only gotten bigger and more colorful.
In this issue’s Gear Test, we tried out five cycling shades with undeniable off-bike swag.
If I had to pick one word to describe these, it would be “funky.” The unique padding on the glasses not only blocks wind and unwanted critters from flying into your eyes, it’s oddly comfortable. These glasses almost feel like they are hugging your eye sockets, as weird as that sounds. In terms of performance, they stack up against the rest of our selection, even though they don’t have that oversized cycling aesthetic.
adidas SP0041 Solar Red
adidas has managed to make this pair of sunglasses feel durable, in spite of their lightweight build, which makes them a great all-day pair whether you’re on your bike or not. The rubber on the nose of the sunglasses means they don’t slip, even when you’re sweating profusely, which I admit I tend to do even on my leisurely commutes during the summer. The bright red colorway and the solar red tint of the lenses are most definitely a statement.
Alba Optics Delta Lei
Straight out of the box, these are the most interesting sunglasses I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding in my hands. Once I put them on, however, they really came into focus. On my bike with the Alba Optics Delta Lei, I never felt like they were going to move even a millimeter out of place. It’s like they were superglued to my face. To top it all off, the Delta is feather-light, meaning you almost forget you’re wearing them. More than once did I check to see where my sunglasses were, before finding them on my face.
Rapha Pro Team Full Frame Sunglasses
I expected Rapha’s pair to be heftier than they are. They’re not the flashiest sunglasses I tested, but somehow they made me feel like Ye whenever he had those heavy-looking Balenciaga sunglasses on. The glasses come with two sets of lenses — one tinted and the other clear — which is incredibly practical if you’re using them for their intended purpose. As a nice little extra, the Rapha case comes inscribed with Fausto Coppi’s quote “Only my eyes can show the suffering.” BRB, getting that tatted on my chest.
MAAP x 100%
These MAAP x 100% sunglasses are the SUV of performance sunglasses. When you slide them on, they sit relatively high on your nose, almost like the suspension has been modified to give them an elevated ride. Not only do they look fast and ludicrously too high-performance for whatever we mere mortals are going to do with them, they’re lightweight and come in mind-boggling colorways. What more could you ask for in a pair of sunglasses?