When I posted awhile ago about my switch to sunglasses that are worn over eyeglasses, Bike Noob reader Nate Schrader noticed that I had a mild concern about their stylishness — or lack thereof. Nate works for SunglassWarehouse.com, and said he wears a pair that may offer a more contemporary look. He sent them over, along with a second pair of glasses similar to the ones I currently use, and asked me to see if they work for me.
The glasses are quite different. One pair has the flared out lenses favored by bike racers and other fast riders. They wraparound the face, and theoretically deflect wind. In terms of style, they’re a more “with it” look than ordinary glasses. The other pair is traditionally shaped, a medium size, with copper-colored lenses for better edge definition in overcast conditions. I’ve been able to try out both pairs, and I have a definite preference.
Last weekend, I wore the “Overcast” glasses on my trip to San Marcos. They slide easily over my biking eyeglasses — a pair several years old that I no longer wear for daily use, but that work well when I ride. The copper lenses did just what they advertised. When I left the house on a cloudy morning, they made everything sharp. When the sun came out later in the day, the glasses cut the glare. After a ride of more than four hours, I was unaware the glasses were there, they were that comfortable.
The Overcast glasses came in medium size.
“What’s different about those glasses?” asked my wife.
“They’re not as large as my other ones,” I replied.
“I knew there was something about them that made them look better,” she said. “They don’t look as dorky — like old man glasses — as your other pair.”
Uh, thanks…I guess. The lenses were a little bit smaller than the over-the-eyeglass sunglasses I wear every day for driving and cycling. For her, it made a big difference in looks.
For me, the size issue had less to do with looks than with comfort. They just felt good. I think I might have to adopt these as my regular biking sunglasses.
So does build
Contrast that experience with the other pair, the so-called “sports shield” sunglasses. I’m afraid I can’t say much good about them. While they might be slightly oversized, compared with glasses of that style that are not made to be worn over eyeglasses, they simply don’t get the job done.
The problem seems to be their shape. The wraparound style doesn’t lend itself to wearing over eyeglasses. The lenses catch on the point where the eyeglass lenses meet the temples, so the sunglasses stick out a bit from the face. The nose bridge doesn’t quite sit on the nose. I experimented by wearing these over different pairs of prescription glasses, each one smaller than the previous one. Finally, I dug out a pair of eyeglasses that I haven’t worn in at least a couple of years. They have lenses much smaller than the rest of my glasses, because they’re for distance vision only, and not bifocals. The wraparounds fit a little better over these. But they’re not really designed to be worn over eyeglasses — it’s just that their size and shape made them possible candidates.
I took my usual Tuesday evening laps around the Veloway. It’s a ride that I can finish is less than an hour. I certainly wouldn’t want to wear these sunglasses any longer than that, not only because they’re not at all comfortable, but because the poor fit leads to other problems — most notably glare from the sun getting in between the sunglass lenses and the prescription lenses. It almost negates the purpose of sunglasses to begin with.
In addition, they’re not well built. The sunglasses have an overall cheap feel about them. The frames, glossy black plastic, seem almost brittle. They didn’t crack or break while I wore them, but they do make creaking noises, as though the plastic is being stressed in some way. If I didn’t already have alternatives, I might consider wearing these, but they are really an unsatisfactory solution.
To be fair, SunglassWarehouse is in the business of selling inexpensive sunglasses. Everything retails for under $20, and the sports shields are priced at $13.56 during a “Tax Week Special.” The copper-lensed overcast glasses are on sale for $15.96.
If you’re a cyclist of a certain age like me, these types of sunglasses might be worth considering — if not for biking, then maybe for other purposes, like driving. But get the ones specifically designed for the purpose, and don’t try to make do with something just because it “might” work.