Eyes on the Prize: 5 Performance MTB Sunglasses Reviewed

Here are a handful of sunglasses we've been trying out on the trail this season.

It’s that time of year where you need to have your good glasses within reach. You never know when that sun will pop through the clouds and prompt a ride.

Riding glasses should do a few things for the rider. First and foremost, protect their eyes. Too much sun on your eyeballs is never a good idea, neither is mud or dust from your buddy in front of you burning down the trail. Glasses should also have a good field of vision and not obstruct your eye’s natural paths. Being able to see everything around you at a moving speed is vital to safety too.

Then, there are the other things cycling sunglasses should have: a light weight, scratch-resistant lenses, UV protection, easy-to-swap lenses, a good fit… and, well there’s a lot more actually.

Here are a few of the frames we’ve been wearing over the past few months and everything we know about them.

Julbo Edge

Initially, I thought these were clear riding glasses. That is, until I got into the sun. Almost perfectly clear in low light, the Julbo Edge sunglasses offer good coverage without any blind spots thanks to a mostly wraparound design. Julbo says their REACTIV lens tech offers “the widest photochromic range and fastest reaction time on the market,” and in full sun the Edge sunglasses take on a surprisingly dark amber tint that almost appears reflective on the outside.

The single-piece lens snaps into place using strong magnets at the bridge. It’s one of the easiest systems I’ve tried, and ensures you don’t get greasy fingerprints on the lens. Since the lens is only attached at the center, it floats outside the frame and can get a little clacky on the roughest trails. The nose pads are adjustable for a secure fit to most faces.

KOO Demos Glasses

KOO Eyewear is a pretty recognizable name in the cycling eyewear world. These Demos are a new favorite. For folks with smaller heads, these fit nice and snug and are a sturdy, light weight. The Demos have a Zeiss Polycarbonate single wraparound lens, four air intakes, anti-slip temples and some have photochromic lenses.

The Demos have a fixed lens, so if you are someone who wants one pair with a clear and dark option, you’ll want to look elsewhere. They have an adjustable nose piece with pads that can be moved in and out. These Demos have a reddish tent that offers good contrast between highlights and shadows and have worked well with a number of helmets.

Smith Momentum

The Smith Momentum is another great quasi-goggle for those with smaller faces and don’t want to be engulfed with their shades. The Momentums feel stable and secure under any movement or shaking. The two-position nose piece is easy to adjust although changing lenses is more involved.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do that often with the photochromic lenses. They transition surprisingly quickly from tinted to clear and vice versa. The photochromic lens isn’t as dark as other dedicated dark lenses but they still have good protection and keep a natural color to them when peering out.

Smith Shift Split Mag

The Smith Shift Split Mags are another favorite in the roundup. They come in about two handfuls of different color options, have Smith’s ChromaPop contrast/color-enhancing technology, photochromic lenses, smudge and moisture-resistant coatings, and grippy nose pads and temples.

These have a flatter fit than the Momentums and fit very lightly on the face, but have been stable. The ChromaPop might sound like snake oil, but it produces a distinct difference in color and contrast, and makes for some very vibrant greens. One of the nicest features on the Shift Split Mags is how easily and quickly you can swap the lenses. The temples essentially pinch off and so does the nose piece, before mounting to the other lens.

Tifosi Rail XC

The Tifosi Rail XCs are one of the more affordable glasses in the group. They are made with a smaller and lighter design than the Rails and do away with a frame to maximize the field of vision and are marketed for either cycling or baseball. Tifosi says the lenses have 100% UVA/UA protection, a light and durable Grilamid frame, adjustable nose and temples, and a small to medium fit. The glasses include three lenses in total.

The Rail XCs have a light fit. Though Tifosi says the Rail XCs are on the smaller side of fit, the temples spread open quite a bit. They fit well and have good coverage, and swapping lenses is simple and quick enough. My only complaint with the Rail XCs is that they have fogged up on me pretty quickly after coming to a stop on cooler, more humid days.

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