Best Motorcycle Sunglasses: Avoid The Glare and Protect Your Eyes When You Ride
Our top picks for the best motorcycle sunglasses to reduce glare.
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON October 6, 2021
Experienced bikers know that sunglasses are an essential accessory. They provide much-needed protection against sun glare, debris, and wind so you can stay safe while riding both long distances and short ones. Our motorcycle sunglasses buyer's guide will help you pick the right pair so the next time you twist the throttle, you'll not only be protected, but you'll also be riding in style.
Designed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., these sunglasses provide 100 percent UV protection. They're available in numerous colors and are available with polarized lenses.
- They are shatter- resistant, block glare, and reduce eye strain
- They provide good color, contrast, and clarity.
- Arms are wide, which can cause tan lines
- May slip on smaller heads
- Rubberized coating may peel over time
These anti-fog sunglasses are ANSI Z87.1-certified, offer 100 percent UV protection, and have impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses. The high-gloss, black nylon frame offers a secure fit.
- They look sharp, are well-made, and are fairly priced
- They fit well with both full-face or off-road helmets
- Lenses also block bright light, glare, and wind
- They may be tight when you first put them on
- Designed for people with smaller heads
- Do not come with foam around the eye pieces
These sunglasses have grey lenses and offer 100 percent UV protection. They meet ANSI Z87.1 standards, are available with prescription lenses, and come with a warranty.
- They work well with or without a helmet
- They fit well, do not slip, and provide good, clear peripheral protection
- Lenses are high quality and block glare very well
- Sides are wide, so there may be a small blind spot
- They may scratch easily and may not fit comfortably on people with larger heads
- Frame's hinges may loosen
Benefits of Motorcycle Sunglasses
- Protect against glare. Safety is most important when you ride a motorcycle, and road glare is a common hazard. The best motorcycle sunglasses will reduce glare so you can see the road more clearly without distraction.
- Protect against road debris. If you wear an open-face helmet, road debris can hit you in the face. This can be particularly dangerous if it gets in your eyes. Sunglasses offer a layer of eye protection against tiny particles and insects that may strike your head.
- Reduce eyestrain. When you're riding in bright light, your eyes naturally squint to block out the sun. A proper pair of sunglasses will create a buffer between you and the sun. They also prevent wrinkles caused by squinting.
- Be fashionable. No matter what your style is, there's a pair of sunglasses out there that will make you feel confident and look good when you’re on your motorcycle.
Types of Motorcycle Sunglasses
Sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses provide 100 percent protection from UV rays and are 10 times more impact resistant than plastic or glass lenses. They are also quite comfortable because they're lightweight. Polycarbonate was originally designed for use in the cockpits of fighter planes. NASA started using the material in the 1970s for space shuttle windshields and astronaut helmet visors.
A key feature of polarized lenses is their ability to block glare. They're great for people who enjoy waterspouts, but they're also good for motorcyclists because they reduce glare reflections caused by flat surfaces, such as the pavement and the hoods of vehicles. Polarized motorcycle riding glasses are also recommended if you are light sensitive or recently had cataract surgery.
Sunglasses with mirrored lenses are covered in a reflective optical coating that makes them look like mirrors. They are practical for certain conditions, such as in higher altitudes or when it snows because the coating reduces the amount of light that passes through the lenses by an additional 10 to 60 percent. Wraparound mirror sunglasses are often worn by extreme athletes. One downside is that they are easily scratched.
Photochromic lenses are clear indoors but darken outdoors when they're exposed to sunlight. The best transition motorcycle glasses are also referred to as "light-adaptive lenses" and "variable-tint lenses." These lenses are activated by UV rays. They work on overcast days because UV rays pass through clouds and are some of the best motorcycle glasses for night riding.
Clear & Colored Lenses
When choosing eyewear, you have the option of colored or clear lens motorcycle glasses. Each type has its own benefits. Clear lenses are ideal for dark and shadowed areas. Grey lenses minimize distortions. Amber and orange lenses reduce the glare of reflecting blue light. Brown lenses enable you to see more contrast and details, such as potholes. Yellow lens motorcycle glasses filter out blue light and are best suited in overcast or cloudy conditions, and they reduce glare yet maintain clarity.
If you don't wear contact lenses and require corrective eyewear, prescription sunglasses are your best option. There are several types you can purchase, including single-vision glasses that only provide one type of correction. Another option is bifocals that feature a distance prescription on the upper half and reading the prescription on the bottom. Progressive sunglasses allow you to see both distance and read print without a line in the lens.
Motorcycle glasses with interchangeable lenses are extremely versatile. You can easily swap out the lenses to match the riding conditions. For example, you may need lightly tinted lenses when it's early in the morning. But as the sun rises, you may need lenses with a darker tint. Or you may require polarization to cut down on glare. Interchangeable lenses are also great because they're easy to replace if they get scratched or damaged.
Oakley is one of the world's top sports brands. The company was founded in 1975 and is based in Southern California. The company boasts that it's in its "DNA to identify problems, create inventions, and wrap those inventions in art." One recommended product is the Oakley Men's Gascan Rectangular Sunglasses.
Based in Livermore, California, Wiley X is a privately held family company. It was founded in 1987 with the aim of providing protective eyewear to men and women in the military. The product line has since expanded to those who serve in law enforcement and civilians who participate in outdoor activities. One top product is the Wiley X Boss Sunglasses.
SPY was established in 1994 in Southern California. It designs goggles and prescription glasses as well as sunglasses. Its products integrate "Happy Lens" technology which protects against short-wave blue light that can damage eyes. One top product is the Spy Optic Dirty MO Flat Sunglasses.
Bobster, based in San Diego, California, was established in 1994. The company designs functional sunglasses and goggles for the average man and woman as well as motorcyclists, law enforcement, military, and those in the powersports industry. One top product is the Bobster Charger Sunglasses.
The California-based VonZipper was founded in 2000 in San Clemente by a group of friends. The company designs eyewear, goggles, and other accessories with a focus on innovative design and "supreme" style. One recommended product is the VonZipper Kickstand Rectangular Sunglasses.
Motorcycle Sunglass Pricing
- Under $50: There are many cheap motorcycle glasses on the market, but they typically aren't as durable or have as many protective coatings or features as more expensive designs. It's better to spend a little more to protect your eyes than to save money when it comes to motorcycle sunglasses.
- $50-$200: You can find several good-quality sunglasses at this price point. Many include 100 percent UV protection and polarization or other features that make them perfect for a trip on your bike.
- Over $200: Sunglasses can cost several hundred dollars depending on the brand and design. If you seek function over form, you can spend a little less and still get a durable, high-quality pair.
If you're exposed to a lot of sunlight over a prolonged period of time, you can harm your eyes. This, in turn, can have a negative impact on safety when you're on your bike. The best motorcycle sunglasses have a UV-400 rating, which gives you 100 percent protection from damaging ultraviolet rays.
Anti-fog motorcycle glasses include a special coating that prevents them from fogging up during certain conditions. If your sunglasses fog up when you're riding, you can lose your view of the road and have an accident. One downside is that an anti-fog coating is tough to combine with other coatings, so many manufacturers often choose to design better wraparound frames instead of opting for anti-fog treatment.
The best motorcycle glasses for wind will protect your eyes from debris and dust while you're traveling at high speeds. This type of eyewear often features foam padding in the eyecups to cut down on the wind. Wraparound motorcycle sunglasses also offer a degree of wind protection.
- Scratch Resistance: Regardless of what type of lens you choose, the best motorcycle sunglasses will include a protective coating that makes them scratch-resistant. Sunglasses are subjected to a lot of abuse on a motorcycle. In addition to road debris, they are often stored in saddlebags or backpacks, which makes them susceptible to scratches.
- Coverage: Sunglasses come in a variety of sizes, and some cover more of your face than others. The type of helmet you wear will dictate what type of coverage you require. For example, if you have an open-face helmet, you need sunglasses or goggles that cover enough to protect you against the wind, debris, bugs, and other things that can get in your eyes.
- Helmet Compatibility: Again, the type of helmet you wear is a major factor in the design of the sunglasses you choose. Motorcycle riding glasses for men and women should fit snugly under the helmet but also be comfortable. If the sunglasses are too tight or get pushed down awkwardly by the helmet, they are not the right brand.
Water Resistance: This feature is less important if you wear a full-face helmet. However, if you wear an open-face helmet or opt not to wear a helmet at all, sunglasses with water resistance are helpful in repelling water when it rains. This will enable you to see better in gloomy weather.
- Temples: The temples are the long parts of the frame that connect to the lenses and perch on top of your ears. They need to be a particular length to comfortably fit on your face. They can be hooked or straight, but the latter is easier to put on and off and may fit better under a helmet.
- Straps: One way to ensure that your sunglasses stay in place is by pairing them with a strap. A strap allows you to personalize the fit around your head. You can tighten or loosen the strap for comfort and safety. Straps used to be very popular but are no longer as trendy as they were years ago.
- Foam Padding: Motorcycle sunglasses with foam offer a degree of comfort, but they're intended to keep airborne materials and the wind from getting in your eyes. However, foam padding can degrade over time, making the sunglasses both uncomfortable and less effective. Look for brands that offer foam replacement.
- Appearance: If you're the type of person who cares about fashion, the look of a particular pair of sunglasses is important. You may want to choose a pair that matches the style of your motorcycle, or you may prefer a pair that fits well with your facial features. Cool motorcycle glasses come in all sorts of styles and designs.
Best Motorcycle Sunglasses Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- The more coverage your sunglasses provide, the better they are for your eyes. Wraparound-style glasses are best at protecting against UV rays, particularly if you use an open-face helmet or no helmet at all.
- Darker lenses, while they may look cool, aren't necessarily better. Look for sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection. They come with lenses in a variety of colors.
- For superior protection, consider sunglasses with polarization. They reduce glare from snow, water, and car windows better than lenses with just UVA and UVB protection. They also help prevent squinting and eye strain.
- If you invest in a good pair of riding sunglasses, take care of them properly. Carry them in a case and don't leave them in a hot saddlebag. If they change shape due to the heat, an optician can refit them. Clean them with specially made cleaners, and dry them with a soft cloth.
- Over time, the frame on your sunglasses may loosen. Be sure to check the screws regularly to make sure they're nice and tight. If they are loose, use a tiny screwdriver to repair them.
- If you have allergies, consider a pair of motorcycle goggles for optimal protection. Riding goggles will prevent your eyes from tearing up better than sunglasses. Goggles are also great for repelling bugs, sand, snow, and dust.
Q. Do I need motorcycle-specific sunglasses, or will regular shades do the trick?
The lenses on riding glasses have better impact protection from stones, bugs, and more. Their frames are sturdier and made from better materials, too, to survive such an incidental impact. Foam eye socket pads keep wind and debris out, which is key for riders with open-faced helmets—especially for those who wear contact lenses. Sure, regular sunglasses will serve in a pinch. But we don't recommend them as long-term riding gear.
Q. What type of motorcycle sunglasses work best in the rain?
If you anticipate wet riding conditions, choose a pair of sunglasses with hydrophobic lenses. Popular with surfers, this type of eyewear repels water so you can see clearly.
Q. How do I keep my motorcycle sunglasses from fogging up?
If you don't have sunglasses with an anti-fog coating, select a pair that has vents for air circulation. This will help prevent the lenses from fogging up.
Q. Are motorcycle sunglasses expensive?
Depends. Authentic motorcycle-specific sunglasses utilize ballistic-rated lenses and high-quality materials, which increases cost. The bottom line? You get what you pay for.
Our pick for the best pair of motorcycle sunglasses is the Spy Optic Dirty MO Flat Sunglasses. They have 100 percent UV protection and are particularly good for people with larger heads.. The lenses are also very clear with good contrast.
For a less expensive option, consider the Bobster Charger Sunglasses.