COUPONS
Printer Friendly Tell a Friend

Motorcycle Sunglasses Buyer's Guide

Motorcycle sunglasses affect both comfort and safety, but many riders wear glasses that match their riding attire better than their riding environment. This is not a surprise since it is almost impossible to find objective information about selecting motorcycle sunglasses. This guide is our attempt to remedy that problem.

As an avid motorcyclist and the owner of ADS Sports Eyewear, I get to road test every major brand of motorcycle glasses on the market. As an optician, I know what improves contrast and protects eyesight. The following guide presents two fundamental steps to follow when selecting motorcycle eyewear. At the end of this guide, I also give my opinions about the Best and Worst products from the top two manufacturers, and let you know how they compare to each other.

Looking for prescription? Jump to our section on Rx Motorcycle Glasses


Prescription Motorcycle Glasses and SunglassesStep 1: Choose glasses that fit the type of riding you will be doing.

Longer rides or even short rides at high speeds require glasses that prevent wind from swirling around behind the lens and drying out your eyes or blowing the glasses right off of your face.

If you are usually riding between stoplights, you will want eyewear that allows more air circulation to minimize fogging and perspiration around the eyes.

Wiley-X and 7-Eye by Panoptx each offer a line of sunglasses featuring a foam eyecup that protects the eye from swirling winds. Both manufacturers also feature a venting system that manages the amount of air that comes through air vents on top and escapes out the bottom or on the sides. While too much circulating air will dry out your eyes, too little circulation will suffocate them. Either condition will reduce the amount of time you can ride comfortably. Many of the knock-off versions of these glasses do not effectively balance these airflow requirements. You can spot the knock offs because they are usually priced around $15-40 and are a brand that you can’t find any information about online. Unfortunately, some online stores import cheap frames from overseas and try to pass them off as quality. We are against that practice and prefer to offer premium eyewear with a reputation for quality.

Be extremely cautious about wearing eyewear on a motorcycle not designed specifically for speed. Choose a frame that adequately wraps around the side of your eyes. Smaller frame swill direct the burble of air created by the lens right into your eye. While this might keep the bigger bugs from flying directly in to your eye, it will provide little protection from wind and dust. The frame build should be able to withstand harsh impact. An unbreakable lens has little value if the frame it is in could disintegrate right in from of your eyes.

Step 2: Choose a lens that fits your needs.

There are a limited number of solid lens choices available to motorcyclists, and many more bad choices. The importance of making the right choice cannot be overstated. The correct lens choice will reduce eyestrain, improve contrast, and quicken your reaction time. Most importantly, it must protect your eyes from harmful light AND airborne hazards. Lenses that are not an acceptable choice for motorcycling include plastic (often called CR-39), high index lenses, and of course glass lenses. At 60 MPH a June bug will go right through all 3 of these lens materials.

Factors to consider when selecting a lens include: lens material; polarized or not; photochromic (transition) or not; and lens color. Regardless of what you choose, there will be always be pros and cons. Here we try to present the pluses and minuses associated with each choice.


LENS MATERIALS:

Lens material choices should be limited to polycarbonate, Trivex, or SR-91. SR-91 is a form of Trivex so it has the same durability. Any other material will shatter when struck by a rock or a bug at highway speeds. If you wear regular street eyewear on a motorcycle, it is just a matter of time before Darwinism takes you out of the gene pool. Here is an example of how different materials hold up to impact testing.

CR-39(Plastic) Lens Material Test Polycarbonate Lens Material Test Trivex Lens Material Test

If you are purchasing prescription motorcycle sunglasses and someone offers to sell you a UV lens treatment, you can assume this person is either inexperienced or unethical. The three acceptable lens choices listed above block UV rays naturally and no additional coating is required. Any lens that requires UV lens treatment is breakable and is not acceptable in motorcycle eyewear.

We use polycarbonate lenses in about 80% of our prescription motorcycle glasses. Trivex is gaining a bigger portion of this market as more people find out about it. The new SR-91 polarized prescription lenses are now available for most of our motorcycle frames. SR-91 is about 50% more expensive than polycarbonate, but the optics are phenomenal. The SR91 Copper-12 lens is very compatible with motorcycling. All SR-91 lenses are polarized, and none are photo-chromic.


POLARIZED LENSES

Polarized Lens Explanation

Polarized lenses will alow you to see thorugh the glare on a car windshield or a wet road. It will also show stresses in a windshield, so if the back windshield has heating elements to celar fog you might see a big checkerboard through polarized lenses.

Polarized lenses are the most effective way to cut glare and get a clean, crisp view of the road. Polarization is not a lens coating; it is a series of crystals sandwiched inside the lens that blocks scattered light from reaching your eye. Sources of reflection and glare could be windshields, wet roads, buildings, or direct sun light. Reasons not to get polarized lenses include: older LED instrumentation is harder to see through a polarized lens; vision could be distorted if polarized lenses are worn under some full-faced helmets; and polarized lenses are more expensive that traditional lenses. If you do not have older LED instrumentation or a full-faced helmet, we highly recommend polarized lenses for motorcycling.

We have done lots of testing and published several articles about wearing polarized lenses while motorcycling. This article titled Polarized Sunglasses Tested for Shortcomings has some of these results. This was done in response to the old-school belief that polarized lenses should not be worn on a motorcycle because it would be harder to see puddles in the road without glare reflecting off the water. Our finding proved this theory blatantly false. Glare does not help you see anything. Polarized lenses allow you to see through the glare on top of the water so you can see hazards in a puddle. In summary, if you need glare to differentiate pavement from a puddle, you are a candidate for prescription motorcycle sunglasses.

Overall, a polarized lens is a healthy lens. Eye doctors prescribe them after surgeries for a reason, and that is to keep more light out of your eye. Most people who try polarization side by side with a regular tinted lens almost always feel better in the polarized lens.

 

 


PHOTOCHROMIC OR TRANSITIONS LENSES

Photochromic lenses are becoming very popular with people who want one pair of motorcycle glasses for both day and night riding. This is especially true of prescription lens wearers. The biggest downside of photochromic lenses is that polycarbonate lens material does not get quite as dark as the more breakable photochromic lenses (like glass or CR-39 plastic). For people that who sensitive to bright light or people who prefer a dark sunglass lens, these may not get dark enough to be comfortable.


LENS COLORS

Lens color is almost as important as polarization when trying to maximize clarity and contrast. For most people, shades of copper provide the best contrast, and copper will always sharpen colors like reds and greens. Grey lenses are best for maintaining true color. In low light conditions like dusk, dawn, or rainy days a yellow or light rust lens color can cut glare and improve contrast. However, if your only source of light is your motorcycle headlight a slight tint will not improve contrast, it will just reduce the little bit of light you have to work with.


What Most People Do:

Our customers are generally motorcycle enthusiasts or prescription lenses wearers (or both). Motorcyclists, runners, bicyclists, or prescription lens wearers constitute a large part of our customer base so our statistics may not be identical to the industry as a whole. But this is what we sell to motorcyclists:

Over 80% of motorcyclists order eyewear with black frames. About 60% order polarized lenses. About 15% of lenses are photochromic, and over 65% of lenses are some form of grey. (This includes photochromic grey, polarized grey, and tinted grey.)


Top Manufacturers Pros and Cons, and their top models:

Wiley-X Sunglasses

Overview

Wiley-X is the official eyewear provider for Harley Davidson so you know they are doing something right. Their frame material is tough while remaining very flexible, making them perfect for wearing under a helmet when needed (ALWAYS!) The ANSI impact rating shows that Wiley-X takes 'tough' to a whole new level.

Pros:

-A line of glasses with removable eye seals to protect your eyes at high speeds. Take the seal out when you are not riding!
-Every frame has a black version in either polished, matte, or both. Other colors are also available.
-The frames are ANSI safety certified.
-Every frame includes a zippered case, cleaning cloth, and a strap for added facial security just in case.
-Light weight and flexible frames that work well under a variety of helmets.
-All frames are prescription ready.

Cons:

A minor issue is in the way the removable eye seal attaches ot the frame. These can sometimes fall out when the temples are pulled apart wider than your head. This is a good reason to use our “Try Before You Buy” program for prescription lens patients. We can send you the frames to try on before we start on the lenses so that we do not learn about the size being wrong after the work has been done.

Top Models:
Wiley-X Air Rage Motorcycle Sunglasses Wiley-X Brick Motorcycle Sunglasses Wiley-X Blink Motorcycle Sunglasses
Air Rage Motorcycle Sunglasses Brick Motorcycle Sunglasses Blink Motorcycle Sunglasses
Shop All Wiley-X Motorcycle Sunglasses
Shop All Prescription Wiley-X Motorcycle Sunglasses

7Eye by Panoptx Sunglasses

Overview

This company is one of the original motorcycle sunglass companies. The frames are extremely tough and provide fantastic protection and coverage. They also offer some of the best frames for big heads and expanded peripheral vision with the Derby and Panhead.

Pros:

-A line of glasses with removable eye seals to protect your eyes at high speeds. Take the seal out when you are not riding!
-Some frames have adjustable temples so you can adjust your fit depending on the situation.
-Every frame includes a zippered case, cleaning cloth, and a strap for added facial security just in case.
-The Briza model is the best selling women’s motorcycle glasses we have.
-All frames are prescription ready.

Cons:

-Thicker foam eyecup is comfortable, but sometimes interferes with peripheral vision.
-The solid construction of the frames lacks flexibility and can be less comfortable under a helmet.

Top Models:
7Eye Bora Motorcycle Sunglasses 7Eye Churada Motorcycle Sunglasses 7Eye Diablo Motorcycle Sunglasses
Bora Motorcycle Sunglasses Churada Motorcycle Sunglasses Diablo Motorcycle Sunglasses
Shop All 7Eye Motorcycle Sunglasses
Shop All Prescription 7Eye Motorcycle Sunglasses

Oakley Sunglasses

Overview

Oakley reigns supreme in the world of sports sunglasses for a reason. They make extrememly durable frames that offer a great wrap for ocular protection and coverage. The frames are best for people with full helmeths that will help keep the sunglasses in place, or for slow riding around town in between traffic lights since there is not an option with an eye seal.

Pros

-Plenty of wrapped, full frame sunglasses that work great under a helmet.
-More standard lens options and tints than any other manufacturer.

Cons

-No longer making frames with a removable eye seal. They stopped making the Wind Jacket sunglasses and we have sold our last pair.

Top Models:
Oakley Crank Shaft Motorcycle Sunglasses Oakley Straight Jacket Motorcycle Sunglasses Oakley Hijinx Motorcycle Sunglasses
Crank Shaft Motorcycle Sunglasses Straight Jacket Motorcycle Sunglasses Hijinx Motorcycle Sunglasses
Shop All Oakley Sunglasses
Shop All Prescription Oakley Sunglasses

Top Women's Motorcycle Sunglasses

While the Briza is one of the few designs made specifically for women, the Air Rage and the Arrow also make great choices for women because of their fit. Most frames are unisex but we found that these have been very popular with women.

7 Eye Briza Women's Motorcycle Sunglasses Wiley-X Air Rage Women's Motorcycle Sunglasses Wiley-X Arrow Women's Motorcycle Sunglasses
Briza Women's Motorcycle Sunglasses Air Rage Women's Motorcycle Sunglasses Arrow Women's Motorcycle Sunglasses

Prescription Motorcycle Glasses and Sunglasses

Any frame recommendations made above are available in prescription. As far as lens colors, all of the same rules apply. Knowing the available lens designs is the most important aspect when buying your riding glasses with a prescription. It is worth knowing that we will always use a Free-Form Digital lens design when making prescription eyewear for sporting or riding activities. Free-Form digital surfacing recalculates your prescription at every point on the back of each lens using your pupil location as the starting point for the Rx. Basically, what you need to know is that a Free-Form digital lens will provide a much bigger sweet spot, and will eliminate peripheral distortion commonly associated with putting a prescription into wrapped glasses or sunglasses. If your doctor has told you that you can't wear a wrap, give us a call and you will be pleasantly surprised. More about Free-Form digital lenses.

Prescription Lens Designs for Motorcycling Glasses:

Single Vision - Free- Form Digital

This is the most common selection for people buying motorcycling sunglasses and is for people that only need distance correction. That means that you do not normally have a bifocal or reading segment in your glasses.

Free-Form Digital, No-Line Bifocal - NOT A PROGRESSIVE

This is the latest offering in the world of prescription glasses. This design provides a no-line bifocal that we can set very low in order for it to only be used when necessary to check gauges or your phone.

Progressive - Free-Form Digital

This lens is best for those who need a reading portion that gradually gets stronger as you look down further in the lens. This is also a 'no-line' design.

Prescription Lens Tint Options for Motorcycling Glasses:

Standard Tint

This is your everyday tint that blocks 88% of light while still blocking 100% of harmful UV rays. We can do a standard tint in any color you desire including brown, bronze, grey, rose, yellow, and more.

Polarized Tint

All polarized lenses are tinted but are not available in any color. We provide grey, bronze, and a green/brown tint in polarized lenses unless you are buying Prescription Oakley Sunglasses that have a much wider polarized lens selection. Read more about the benefits of polarization.

Transitions Lenses

These are the lenses that darken when sunglight hits them. They are available in either grey or brown. They will not darken behind a helmet shield or windshield in a car. You should always add an Anti-Reflective coating to a clear or Transitions lens to prevent the 'halo' effect. We do offer specialty Transitions lenses that darken behind a helmet shield or windshield.

Mirror Coatings

We know that motorcyclists like to go fast and look good doing it. Adding a colored mirror to your lenses that hide your eyes and block a little more light is a popular option. We provide mirrors of just about any color and you will find the options on the page where you purchase your glasses.

Lens Materials

The same rules for lens materials from the top of this page apply when making your choice for prescription lenses. Polycarbonate, Trivex, and SR-91 are the only materials we will use because they are unbreakable. Jump to the section on Rx Lens Materials

More about Prescription Motorcycle Glasses and Sunglasses

Video: Prescription Motorcycle Glasses and Sunglasses | ADS Sports Eyewear

Prescription Motorcycle Glasses and Sunglasses are available online from ADS Sports Eyewear, the leading online provider of prescription sports eyewear..

Conclusion:

Finding the right motorcycle eyewear will make riding safer and more enjoyable. It requires a little information, and a little time. We can give you the information. You have to get off your bike for a few minutes and make the time. If you have any questions, call us. We are happy to help or offer suggestions.

Shop All Motorcycle Sunglasses

Shop All Prescription Motorcycle Sunglasses