Testing Some More Sunglasses

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.

Sunglasses with copper lenses. Medium size. Good stuff.

Size matters

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 Sports Shields. I think I’ll skip these.

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.


  1. says

    Sorry my friend, I love your blog, I do – but I’ve gotta vehemently disagree with you on this one – the fishing glasses a gnarly enough to ONLY be worn when fishing. While you’re right, the one’s you’re sporting there are far better than the usual fishing glasses, they’re still fishing glasses.

    The wrap around shades are far awesomer… Of course, there’s always the clip on’s too (the nice one’s, not the, gulp, grocery store rack one’s).

  2. Mel Hughes says

    Well, everyone sees things from their own perspective… A good pair of sunglasses that allow you to utilize your prescription is a very valuable thing! I went the other way last year, trying to find a pair of sport sunglasses that would work as a prescription pair. My distant vision is minimally corrected. But my near vision has gotten worse in the 21 years since I was 40. In the past, I had bought the adhesive “reader” stick-ons and put them inside non-prescription sunglasses, like the Oakley M frame. It worked great unless I had to stop for unscheduled maintenance on the bike. Then, the coverage of the Oakleys became a heat issue with all that coverage and I would fog up. So I carried an ultra-small, light, cheap pair of readers in my seat bag. That was a good combination. And truth be told, probably one of the best ones I have come up with.
    But last year I got a chance to get a pair of Oakley Flak Jacket XL’s made in my prescription. After wearing the “M’s” for several years the Flak Jacket is HEAVY. It doesn’t cover as well as the M. The lenses that Oakley makes for their prescription glasses are thick, sandwiched affairs that are easily twice the thickness of my regular glasses with their progressive (no-line) prescriptions for near, mid, and far distance. Oakley’s placement of the different focusing areas in their idea of a progressive lens seem to be for someone who does things in a more erect, upright position than bent over a set of handlebars on the road. So to be able to effectively use that far distance portion, I found I had to sit up more than usual… Oh well, in the long term I have found that I actually do prefer my regular glasses either with a clip-on or the old standby M frame with its stick-on reader lenses. I think to wear those interesting styles of athletic sunglasses, it helps to be younger than 40 and need no vision correction.

    • says

      Mel, I use the Oakley M frames too, where do you get the “stick on”, READER lens?? My long distance vision is still very good at 57 but LOL, my arms aren’t long enough to read a menu or the bike computer! Sounds like the “stick on” reader lens would do the trick, thanks! :)

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