Van Bikeradar: Cheap cycling sunglasses: budget shades that won’t break the bank

It would be easy to spend a large amount of money on cycling sunglasses if you’re able, with premium shades now costing up to several hundreds of pounds.

And while it’s absolutely understandable – and necessary – that we all want to protect our eyes from the harmful dangers of UV rays, as well insects, gravel and other objects hitting at high speed, it can be pretty galling to have to pay top whack for what is a cycling essential.

Rest assured, quality cycling sunglasses are available for less than £60, meaning you don’t have to break the bank to look after your eyes or style.

Cheap cycling sunglasses: what to look out for

Unlike in years past, there’s a huge amount of choice at the lower price points and buying cheap no longer means forgoing style. We’ve put to the test a wide selection of glasses offering great performance and style for less strain on your pocket.

While you may not be able to find much in the way of tint-adjusting photochromic lenses for under £60, plenty offer multi-lens packages, so you can switch the lens according to the conditions.

If you wear spectacles off the bike and need prescription cycling glasses, finding cheap cycling glasses compatible with corrective (prescription) lenses is still possible.

When looking at lower-priced and budget sunglasses – for cycling or otherwise – you still want to ensure they meet the correct safety ratings.

Sunglasses are considered to be PPE (personal protection equipment), so they are subject to both UK and EU standards for safety. With this in mind, you should ensure (as we have here) that any sunglasses you buy have EN 12312-1 certification (or BS EN 12312-1). You’ll know this is the case if they feature a CE mark and UV400 printed somewhere on the glasses and/or packaging.

For more on how to choose the right glasses for you, read our buyer’s guide at the bottom of this article.

Cheap cycling sunglasses: budget shades for £60 and under

Madison Crypto 3 Pack

The angular design of Madison’s 33.5g Crypto hits the right styling cues.
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  • Verdict: Substance, style and a secure fit
  • Pros: Good fit and lens options
  • Cons: Best suited to larger heads, the lenses lack vents
  • Price: £60

The angular design of Madison’s 33.5g Crypto hits the right styling cues, while the tough TR90 thermoplastic springs happily back to shape when bent.

The arms’ non-slip rubberised tips and pronounced hooks, similar to traditional glasses, give a very secure fit.

Add in a wire-cored nosepiece with plenty of adjustment, and the Cryptos are great-fitting glasses that stay in place, even on gravel trails.

A wide and large 56mm-deep cylindrical shield lens also offers great coverage. Although you can sometimes see some frame in the peripheries of your vision, it’s nothing distracting.

At over 14cm wide, the frames are better suited to larger heads and they can swamp smaller faces. The lens doesn’t have any vents, but we didn’t experience any misting issues.

The package includes three polycarbonate lenses and switching them out is an easy process.

The main lens is a CAT3 mirrored lens and a second, CAT1 amber lens is included for lower-light conditions. The final lens is a CAT0 clear lens for night riding or poor conditions.

  • Weight: 33.5g
  • Lenses: Three
  • Colours: Black; white; Smoke
  • Extras: Soft pouch

Van Rysel RoadR 900

Top value for those with a smaller face

Changing lenses is simple, and the second, clear lens is perfect for low-light riding.
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  • Verdict: Superb lenses in a great package
  • Pros: Secure grip whatever the weather, main lens ideal for sunny conditions
  • Cons: Not an ideal shape for larger faces
  • Price: £40 / $60

Van Rysel is Decathlon’s premium offering for road bikes and components, but that doesn’t mean a premium price.

The RoadR 900 is based around a chunky pair of arms that flow neatly into a brow-only frame. Into this, a shield lens fixes in via a smart lock-in system.

The frame’s arms are coated with a sticky rubber that provides a secure fit to grip when riding in the rough and rain. The nosepiece is non-adjustable but made from the same sticky rubber as the temple tips on the arms, so they stay secure.

The main lens meets ISO standards and is rated as Cat3 to filter 88 per cent of sunlight – ideal for bright, sunny conditions.

Changing lenses is simple, and the second, clear lens is perfect for low-light riding. This lens also has a fixed nosepiece, so there’s no fiddling with small parts.

The curve of the wrap-around shield lens ensures no distortion, and, thanks to two small brow vents, there was no fogging.

The lens at its deepest is 50mm but, because of its close-fitting shape, it’s best suited to small/medium-sized faces.

  • Weight: 32.9g
  • Lenses: Two
  • Colours: Snow White, black
  • Extras: Cleaning bag, zipped hardcase

Endura Gabbro II

Perfect for blue-sky days

The 31.6g weight isn’t bad for an oversized, full-framed and sub-£50 pair of shades.
Our Media

  • Verdict: Stylish, well-fitting and secure specs
  • Pros: Durable lens and reasonable fit
  • Cons: The lens isn’t ideal for less than sunny conditions
  • Price: £50 / $80 / AU$100 / €60

The Gabbro II is the latest design in Endura’s ever-growing eyewear range. The oversized wrap-around lens is 53mm at its deepest and is held within a rigid full frame made from lightweight thermoplastic TR90 material (the same as you’ll find on premium brands such as Oakley and 100%).

The 31.6g weight isn’t bad for an oversized, full-framed and sub-£50 pair of shades.

The frame has plenty of spring to it and the glasses gripped our tester’s head securely, thanks to the combination of skinny arms with rubberised tips and the wire-cored, adjustable rubber nosepiece.

The Revo lenses are fully compliant for 100 per cent UV protection, so there’s substance behind the style.

The polycarbonate lens is has a nice tinted mirror finish and is designed to withstand reasonable impacts without breaking.

These are fixed lenses, that are only really for sunny conditions because the tint is quite dark. The large lens is clear and distortion-free, though, and the subtle 35mm-long vents on the brow do an excellent job of keeping things fog-free.

  • Weight: 31.6g
  • Lenses: Single
  • Colours: White, navy; grey; black/clear
  • Extras: Microfibre carry pouch

AGU Bold

The fit is excellent and the Bolds stayed put during rough rides.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Great-looking shades with awesome performance at a really great price
  • Pros: Good fit, staying power and protection
  • Cons: Single lens a little dark
  • Price: £50 / €50

AGU is known for its good-value, no-nonsense rainwear more than anything else, but with its sponsorship of Lotto-Jumbo and a move into pro racing (with some of its team riders seen in these shades) things have changed.

Aesthetically, the Bolds score top marks, featuring a squared-off shield design that blends the current retro 1980s trend with modern design very successfully.

The full frame sits slightly back from the lens itself, creating a small but important gap that makes the Bolds among the best-vented sunglasses on test; this, combined with the anti-fog coating, means they stayed very clear during rides.

The minimal arms are well-sprung and the temple tips are sticky and generous in size. The fit is excellent and the Bolds stayed put during rough rides, with help from those tacky arms and the adjustable nosepiece.

Protection from the wind is excellent and the clarity of the lens is as sharp as you would expect from premium glasses. The single lens is best suited to brighter days, but they’re not so dark as to be a hindrance on the road when it’s dull.

  • Weight: 28g
  • Lens: UV400 polarised
  • Extras: Soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

BBB Avenger BSG-57

The frame sits 2mm above the brow of the lens, which works well in cutting down on fogging.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Solid-fitting, good-looking and high-performing, sturdy glasses
  • Pros: Tenacious grip; sturdy; good lens quality
  • Cons: Bridge is intrusive
  • Price: £50 / $70 / AU$99 / €60

The Avenger’s large, sweeping lens provides a close wrap and the frame’s short stubby arms have plenty of spring. Because the grip is quite tenacious, these are a fine option for both on- and off-road use. The package includes three lenses, with each using a nine-layer coating called MLC by BBB, which has a high resistance to friction.

The blue-mirrored lens offers category 3 protection and plenty of contrast. In lower-light conditions, they aren’t so dark that you can’t pick out contrast on the road surface. The two other lenses are a straight clear option and a yellow tint lens for low light.

Lens changing is smart with a central anchor point: click the lens out, rotate down to remove and do the reverse to replace. It’s a better option than having to wrestle with fragile lenses to bend them into slots.

The frame sits 2mm above the brow of the lens, which works well in cutting down on fogging and is a smart solution to an age-old problem. The adjustable nose bridge helps with fit, but it does intrude slightly on your eyeline. It’s not enough to be a distraction, but it’s there.

The Avengers are a sturdy set of shades with lens quality that belies their modest price.

  • Weight: 30.9g
  • Lens: Cat 3 blue mirror, Cat 0 clear, Cat 0 yellow low light
  • Extras: Soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

DHB Polygon Revo

The slender arms are 120mm long and can be extended by 5mm by sliding back the tips, so the Polygons will fit a wide range of heads.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Multi-hued, large shield lens provides superb protection
  • Pros: Stylish; good coverage; light weight
  • Cons: Stability on rougher surfaces
  • Price: £50 / $66 / AU$84 / €57

The Polygon Revo’s styling is very close to that of Oakley’s classic Radar. The lens in particular has a shape that’s almost identical to the premium brand’s classic, half-frame shades.

The deep (60mm) lens in Revo Red offers plenty of bold contrast, which greatly enhances vision in bright sunshine, while protection from the elements from the deep, wrapped lens is among the very best on test.

The lens’ brow-line vents keep them clear of condensation and I had no fogging on the lens.

The frame is nicely sprung and grips your head well, but they’re not as secure as some. They’re fine for road duties but I did get a bit of bouncing when riding off-road on rougher surfaces.

The slender arms are tipped with good grippers, plus the 120mm long arms can be extended by 5mm by sliding back the tips, so the Polygons will fit a wide range of heads. The slender arms work better for helmet clearance than the chunky arms of the Oakley Radars.

The Polygons offer great coverage: a quality lens for pinpoint clarity with no distortion throughout the lens. They’re light, yet hold in place well on all but the very worst surfaces.

  • Weight: 33.3g
  • Lens: Revo Red (Cat 3)
  • Extras: Hardcase, soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

Galibier Ardennes Shield

The subtle, red mirror-like hue to the lens adds an air of quality.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Superb lens quality sets these budget shades apart from the crowd
  • Pros: Uncluttered vision and light weight
  • Cons: A little bounce off-road
  • Price: £40 / $52 / €47

The large Shield lens is 1980s-inspired, but the frameless design is very 21st century, as is the very light 28g total weight. The deep swept lens provides impressively clear vision with nothing to obstruct your view, regardless of head position.

Usually, the downside of frameless glasses is that they lack the rigidity to stay in place on rougher surfaces. The Ardennes do a much better job than most, aided by a soft, supple and sticky nose piece and arms treated with a similar coating of tacky rubber. I still got a bit of bounce when riding really rough conditions but for road riding they worked well.

The subtle, red mirror-like hue to the lens adds an air of quality, as does the laser-etched logo. It’s not all show, though, because the lens has full UV400 protection.

It’s much lighter than most, providing a bright contrast along with the protection on offer. That’s because the ‘plasma’ lens used here is designed to reduce the amount of blue light entering the eye, resulting in a much bolder contrast between colours.

Galibier offers the Ardennes with four different lens options, ranging from £36 to £44 depending on type.

  • Weight: 28.4g
  • Lens: CE UV400 clear plasma
  • Extras: Hardcase, soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

Madison Code Breaker

The soft tips on the arms are metal-cored, so you can bend them a little to fit and keep them in place.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Smart design and modern styling, plus RX-insert compatibility
  • Pros: Lens switch system; RX compatible
  • Cons: A little fogging at the nosepiece
  • Price: £40

These single-lens Code Breakers certainly look the business and they have something of the Oakley Jawbreaker look about them, but without the vented lens and prominent ‘O’ hinges or, for that matter, the £178 price tag.

What you do get, however, is an excellent-quality shield lens held in place with a clever system; the brow piece rotates 90 degrees, angle the arms at 45 degrees and then simply pop out the lens to clean or replace. It’s a smart system that works well.

The other big standout feature with the Code Breakers is that they are compatible with RX prescription inserts, so riders who wear glasses don’t have to fork out premium prices to get good-looking riding shades.

On the road, these glasses work very well. The soft tips on the arms are metal-cored so you can bend them a little to fit and keep them in place, and the nosepiece is adjustable too.

The lens clarity is excellent and although the frame is visible when wearing, it’s not obtrusive. The lack of venting meant our tester got a bit of fogging above the nosepiece but it was never bad enough to be a distraction while riding.

  • Weight: 35.7g
  • Lens: Cat 3Fire Mirror
  • Extras: Soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: RX compatible

Madison Stealth

Lens removal involves twisting the arms downwards and unhooking a C-shaped section from an anchor in the arms.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: These frameless shades boast good looks and top performance
  • Pros: Great fit; RX insert compatible
  • Cons: Lens removal is a little tricky
  • Price: £35

The closely wrapped curve of the lens sits well and the etched edging is a nice detail. The lens offers full UV400 protection from its category 3 (high UV protection) lens with dark silver mirror finish that belies the very modest price.

With most frameless glasses, stability can be an issue because of the lighter weight and increased flexibility. However, Madison has cleverly combatted this with an adjustable nosepiece and arms with metal cored tips that can be bent and shaped to perfectly fit your head. It makes them a rock-solid fit.

Only on a rare occasion did I have to re-sit them after a long, bumpy gravel descent. The lack of a frame and the vented lens meant I never got any fogging issues.

Madison has made the Shield’s RX insert compatible, which must surely make these some of the cheapest performance glasses that can be adapted for those who need corrective lenses.

Lens removal involves twisting the arms downwards and unhooking a C-shaped section from an anchor in the arms. It takes a bit of force, but because you’re very unlikely to need to remove the lens (only one is supplied) it’s something you’ll rarely, if ever, have to do.

  • Weight: 34.3g
  • Lens: Cat 3 Smoke
  • Extras: Soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: RX Insert compatible

Tifosi Amok

The red tint of the new Enliven lens brings a lovely warm glow to your view and the colours of the landscape pop.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Top-notch frame and lens; glasses that will stay put
  • Pros: Good staying power; lovely tint
  • Cons: Leakage when raining
  • Price: £50 / $50

Tifosi’s Amok is a full-frame glass with a mid-size 44mm deep lens. The frame is quality Grilamid TR-90 and is both flexible and stiff. The sticky temple tips and adjustable soft nose bridge do a great job of keeping these glasses where they should be, and they stay in place even when riding on the roughest terrain.

The red tint of the new Enliven lens brings a lovely warm glow to your view and the colours of the landscape pop, which means increased definition, thus making it easy to read road surfaces from tarmac to full-on rocky gravel.

The Amoks feature a Cat 2 lens, which means that these sunglasses are good for most riding conditions, although on the very brightest and sunniest days you may want something a little darker.

Despite the fact that the Amoks only come with a single set of lenses, they are very easy to switch out and they feature small vents at the brow.

The frames themselves have large centimetre-square vents on either side, so our tester didn’t get any fogging at all. However, on wet rides you do get the occasional spray coming through this gap, so maybe grab a different pair of glasses if you’re planning a ride in inclement weather.

  • Weight: 31.3g
  • Lens: Enliven bike red (Cat 2)
  • Extras: Hardcase, soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

Also consider…

The following sets of sunglasses scored fewer than four stars out of five in our test.

Rockrider XC Race Photochromatic

At 36.9g, they’re reasonably light for shades with 48mm-deep lenses.
Our Media

  • Verdict: Photochromic lenses at a great price
  • Pros: Comfortable fit; fairly light
  • Cons: Not very secure when ridden off-road
  • Price: £50 / $50 / AU$109 / €55

The Rockrider’s shape is reminiscent of Oakley’s classic Jawbreaker. The Rockrider’s photochromic lens has a proper spherical design, so your view is undistorted.

It darkens quickly between an almost clear CAT 1, suitable for overcast days, and a dark grey CAT 3 tint that copes with bright summer sunshine, covering all conditions.

The frame is nicely rigid around the lens, and the rear of the arms is supple, as is the non-adjustable nosepiece.

This makes them comfortable, and they have impressive resistance to fogging on the inside, with the venting on the brow and sides helping to keep the inner lens surface clear without interrupting vision. The glasses also shed water from the outer lens very well.

At 36.9g, they’re reasonably light for shades with 48mm-deep lenses. Though these sit within Decathlon’s MTB range, we found them better on road than off because they bounced around when riding at speed on rocky trails.

Weight: 36.9g
Lenses: Single, photochromatic
Colours: Black
Extras: Soft cleaning bag, zipped hardcase

DHB Omnicron Triple lenses

The Omnicrons offer great shield lens coverage, clean styling and dimensions to suit smaller faces.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: A bargain multi-lens package with slightly tricky lens switching
  • Pros: Good lens coverage; three lenses
  • Cons: Clunky lens switch
  • Price: £50 / $67 / AU$85 / €58

The Omnicrons’ shield lens is smaller than most at 42mm at its deepest, which makes them well suited to smaller faces. The curvature of the lens closely wraps around the face and the substantial arms have plenty of spring, so they grip very well with little movement even when riding on rougher surfaces.

The arm tips are rubberised, which also aids grip, and the soft-touch nosepiece has plenty of adjustment too. They come with three different lenses and switching between them is a case of sliding a latch on the inside of the frame, which releases the lens. It’s not the easiest way to switch, but after you’ve changed them a few times it eases up.

On the bike, the close fit and grippy frame work well at both shielding you from the wind and staying in place.

The lens does tend to fog around the nose bridge when you’re working hard in warmer weather. However, lens clarity is good and the spherical curvature means little in the way of distortion.

The Ominicrons offer great shield lens coverage, clean styling and dimensions to suit smaller faces. A good-value pair of glasses with three lenses for all conditions and year-round eye protection.

  • Weight: 30.9g
  • Lens: Mirror (Cat 3)
  • Extras: Clear lens (Cat 0), yellow lens (Cat 1), hardcase, soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

Endura Snapper II

The thick frame grips well and the adjustable nosepiece is welcome.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: A great, all-round design that’s well suited for smaller faces
  • Pros: Good protection and grip; versatile
  • Cons: Sizing is small
  • Price: £50 / €60

Endura’s Snapper IIs are well-suited for all-round use and not just on the bike.

The full-frame design is like a classic Ray-Ban Wayfarer style that’s been curved to wrap closely around your face.

The sizing is best suited to smaller faces and the lens depth of 40mm (including the frame) does a great job of shielding your eyes from the wind, along with good sunlight protection.

Endura has opted for a multi-tint running from dark at the brow to lighter at the base. Both sides of the lens have been treated with an anti-reflection coating so the view is clear.

Because of the 3D curvature, the lenses are quite spherical in shape, but you get little in the way of distortion, just a touch at the edge of the base of the lens that doesn’t interfere with your view.

The thick frame grips well and the adjustable nosepiece is welcome. They hold perfectly and are suitable for on- and off-road, even if the close fit and full frame does mean some fogging when working hard.

The Snapper IIs wouldn’t look out of place arriving at the office on a commuter bike or in the midst of a sportive, so they’re perfect if you are looking for something with more versatile styling.

  • Weight: 28.9g
  • Lens: Variable tint UV400
  • Extras: Hardcase, soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

Endura Stingray

The slender arms and slim, fixed-nose bridge make these best-suited to smaller faces.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Top-value package that comes with four lens options
  • Pros: Four lens options; good value for money
  • Cons: Condensation at the nose bridge
  • Price: £50 / $70 / €60

The Stingray’s twin-lens frame design is minimal with lenses at just 37mm at their deepest. The slender arms and slim, fixed-nose bridge make these best-suited to smaller faces.

Endura has done a sterling job to offer a good-value package because the Stingrays come fully equipped with a hardcase and a soft bag, not to mention four lens options. Our tester used the light smoke lens the most, but the dark option was certainly most welcome on brighter days.

The grip of the fit is good from the rubberised tips to the arms and because they’re so slender they work with pretty much any helmet, from minimal race lids to low-backed commuter and mountain bike helmets too.

Either side of the nose bridge did suffer a little from condensation and fogging when working very hard, but the opening on the lower edge meant that they also cleared quickly.

The Stingrays are brilliant value for money. While the style isn’t exactly the fashion right now, the performance is what matters and the Stingrays certainly have plenty of that.

  • Weight: 21.9g
  • Lens: Cat 3 dark smoke, Cat 2 light smoke, Cat 1 Persimmon (low light), Cat 0 clear
  • Extras: Hardcase, soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

Tifosi Davos

The angular and well-styled frame is made from Grimalid TR-90: that’s the same material you’ll find on shades more than twice the price.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

  • Verdict: Well-equipped, smart-looking, top-quality budget shades
  • Pros: Top-quality frame material
  • Cons: Fit isn’t always secure
  • Price: £50 / $70

Tifosi has built a great reputation for making glasses that have all the features found on premium brands but without the premium price tag.

The Davos’ angular and well-styled frame is made from Grimalid TR-90: that’s the same material you’ll find on shades more than twice the price. It’s a nylon-based polymer that doesn’t become brittle with age, resists stretching so they won’t get baggy with constant use, and has great moisture and chemical resistance so won’t stain from sunscreen or sweat.

The design means they are closely wrapped to your face, and although the frame’s bottom edge was in the line of sight for our tester, those with smaller faces may not get this. Metal-cored arms and an adjustable nose bridge mean you can get the fit spot on, although they never felt as secure as some on test.

The red-tinted Enliven Bike lens pumps up contrast, giving everything a warm, orange glow. The contrast compared to bare eyes is impressive and helps you judge road and gravel surfaces easily.

Subtle vents around the lens keep fogging at bay and the lenses are hydrophobically treated with a coating that repels water and water vapour.

  • Weight: 32.1g
  • Lens: Enliven Bike (Cat 2)
  • Extras: Hardcase, soft cleaning bag
  • Prescription option: No

Buyer’s guide: six things to consider when buying cycling sunglasses

  • Optics: Curved-profile lenses provide a clear, undistorted view both at the front and in the peripheral vision zones. Look for polycarbonate lenses with full UV protection credentials.
  • Category 3: These lenses provide a high level of protection from visible and UV light allowing only 20 per cent of visible light to penetrate. This is important for long summer rides on the bike.
  • Lens options: Many models come with at least one set of spare lenses and these are often in various tints. Other brands, however, will have the option to buy additional sets of lenses. 
  • Polarising: Polarised lenses block horizontally orientated light waves, this increases the contrast while at the same time reduces glare and overall light levels.
  • Rubber grip: What seems snug on dry skin in the shop may not grip so well on a sweat-soaked face after 100km. Make sure the rubber arm socks and nosepieces are tacky/sticky, and not hard.
  • Prescription options: Prescription inserts (RX inserts) are a separate frame containing the prescription lenses that sit between your eyes and the shade lenses.

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