The Most Stylish Cycling Glasses of 2019

The Most Stylish Cycling Glasses of 2019
Highlighting two of the many great sunglasses designed for cycling.

About midway through the summer, a riding buddy mentioned he was looking for some new cycling glasses. I immediately started talking about the Adidas Zonyk Aero Pro, but my friend was a bit hesitant.

I love the Adidas Zonyk Aero Pro but they aren’t the most current style.

This riding buddy is a guy who will often discuss the particulars of riding with panache. So, when he was a bit hesitant I pressed him. As politely as possible, he said he didn’t think they were all that stylish. I laughed and had to agree.

You can never be complacent with style.

They are not perfectly aligned with the style of the moment. Actually, the Adidas Zonyk Pro Glasses I previously reviewed are a bit more in line with the current style, but I hadn’t been riding with them as much at that point. The whole discussion stuck with me. I loved the fact that Adidas glasses are one of only two options on the market that are both mirrored and photochromic. At the time, I thought they were the only option. 

Style matters but only if the performance is there.

Cycling glasses are one of those things where style is a big deal, though. I set out on a mission to find high performance, and high fashion, cycling glasses, and it led me in two directions- the Oakley Sutro and the Bolle Shifter. There are tons of great options on the market when it comes to cycling glasses. I chose the Oakley Sutro and the Bolle Shifter because they have unique qualities. The are both very stylish, but they don’t skimp on performance, and they each do it in a different way.  

It’s very hard to find cycling sunglasses that have mirror finish lenses as well as photochromic lenses.

When I reviewed the Adidas glasses, I looked hard for competitors, and I came up short. It is difficult to creating a lens that is both photochromic, lenses that get darker or lighter depending on the available light, and mirrored. Up until I found the Bolle Shifter, I was only aware of the two Adidas options. That makes the mirrored and photochromic club very small. I am sharing the Bolle Shifter glasses because of this feature.

Bolle Shifter sunglasses sitting on a wooden deck.
The Bolle Shifter with Phantom Clear Green Lenses are one of only two options on the market that with both mirrored and photochromic lenses.

Not every variation of the Bolle Shifter is photochromatic. Look for the Phantom NXT lens technology, and on individual glasses, the price can also be a clue. The Bolle Shifter with Phantom NXT lenses runs $149 which is a bit higher than the other Shifter options. There is also an oleophobic coating which helps resist the build up of oil and water. The coating makes the lenses easier to clean. In the places that the Shifter holds to your face, Bolle has a technology called Thermogrip.

The rear arm of the Bolle Shifter sunglasses.
The section on the rear of the arm is covered with a material called Thermogrip. It keeps your glasses on your face.

Bolle describes Thermogrip as “a hydrophilic material with moisture-absorbing properties that keeps the frames comfortably in place, even during extreme exertion.” In other words, it keeps the frames on your face when you sweat.

The vent at the bottom of the lens keeps the Bolle Shifter from fogging. It also whistles at speed above about 30mph.

Of course, the point of this review is not only the performance but the style. Bolle is a company that’s old enough to have been on the cutting edge of the 80’s styles that are now making a comeback. The Bolle Chrono Shield is a quintessential 80’s design, and the Shifter is a modern interpretation. The Bolle Shifter design is not the largest frame on the market. It’s big enough for full coverage, though, and it has the necessary design cues to convey the iconography. 

Sunglasses case with the Bolle logo on a wooden background.
Bolle Includes a hard case with the Shifter.

The other set of glasses I wanted to share are the Oakley Sutro. Oakley known for wild designs and the Sutro is as wild as you would expect. The wild design might not be a surprise but the performance of the Prizm lenses definitely is.

The performance of Oakley’s Prizm lenses is nothing short of amazing.

When I chose the Sutro to include in this article, my expectation was that they would be the style choice. Egan Bernal riding to victory in the 2019 Tour De France with the Oakley Sutro on his face is an iconic image. The huge lenses dominating his facial features might be the most iconic image of the current style that will ever exist.

Egan Bernal wearing the yellow leaders jersey and Oakley Sutro Glasses in the 2019 Tour de France
Cycling sunglasses have a way of defining a generation.
filip bossuyt from Kortrijk, Belgium [CC BY 2.0]

Limiting the Sutro to fashion alone is a big mistake, though. When I first started wearing them, I thought I must be imagining the clarity of the Prizm technology. I had other people look through them, and I went home, so I could compare them back to back with the Adidas lenses. The Oakley Prizm lenses are more clear and crisp than other options on the market.

view from the back through a pair of Oakley Sutro riding glasses.
The unexpected story of the Oakley Sutro is the amazing performance of the Prizm lenses.

The Prizm technology fine tunes the light spectrum with Prizm dyes to increase contrast and reduce glare for your specific sport, environment, and condition. It’s a technology that works really well. It did take a bit of adjusting my helmets to be able to comfortably wear the Oakley Sutro, but it’s well worth it.

Oakley Sutro cycling sunglasses on a wooden background.
The lenses are so large that they seal with your helmet the way a pair of goggles would.

They actually seal so well with my helmets that it can create a low pressure zone over your ears if you aren’t careful. It’s a great look, though, with performance to match. 

detail image of the nose piece on the Oakley Sutro cycling glasses.
Oakley does not have any grip material on the arms of the Sutro but the nosepiece does a great job of keeping them planted on your face.
Oakley also provides a hard case with the Sutro sunglasses.

Both the Bolle and the Oakley options have their advantages. The Bolle Shifter are the glasses I have spent more time in this year. Portland did not have a very sunny summer, and the photochromic lenses of the Shifter provide more wearability when the weather is changing. When I head out in full sun, I always grab the Oakley Sutro glasses. Not because they perform better in the full sun, but because I love the bold style.

Both the Oakley Sutro and the Bolle Shifter have unique advantages.

The Bolle Shifter represents the current style trends well. They reach back and make improvements. The Oakley doesn’t reach back to the past at all, and they are a far more brash style. Which approach works best for you is going to depend on your particular style. I’m known for my neon pink socks, but my friend, who started this particular rabbit hole, actually prefers the style of the Shifter. Whichever way you end up leaning, you’ll be in good hands. The Oakley Sutro sells for $166, and the Bolle Shifter has an MSRP of $149. 

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