Summer is here and the holiday season is almost upon us. December is a time when the thoughts of many turn to gifts…
As we ride through the final weeks of 2022, RIDE Media will be featuring a few items that are either new cycling-related products, or old favourites that make time on the bike more enjoyable, or comfortable, or efficient, or safe, or stylish – or all of those options… and more.
– By Rob Arnold
The UV is getting harsh and the light is bright. In Australia (and, obviously, other places south of the equator) the summer solstice is still a few weeks away and, if you’re lucky, you are probably spending more time in the sun than at other times of the year.
Stop squinting and find a pair of sunglasses that suits your style.
The cycling market has long been a key trendsetter when it comes to sporting eyewear and that remains as true in 2022 as it did back in the 1980s when brands such as Oakley really tapped into the need for sunglasses that are also suitable for active people.
Over the years, hundreds of sunglasses have featured on RIDE Media and it’s fair to say that the offerings in 2022 are more practical (and versatile) than ever before.
Big lenses in a wide selection of tints are available from a wide range of brands.
A few years ago I was hesitant about riding with the oversize options that were becoming prevalent… and then I finally succumbed to a push from the market and set off on an early morning ride with a pair of Koo sunglasses.
By the end of that short ride, I was converted. And this capitulation opened my eyes to a huge selection of eyewear that has emerged recently… including the now-ubiquitous Sutro shape from Oakley, and then the collection of quality sunnies from the innovative Swedish brand, POC.
Koo, Oakley and POC have all featured on my face while riding in the last couple of years and I’ve not looked back. Nor have I sneezed as much when in the sun since my conversion.
(On that topic, I’ve been told there are two kinds of people: those who sneeze in bright light and those who don’t. I fall into the first category. Ah, is there anyone reading this who knows if this is true… or just an urban myth?)
Sunnies selection 2022
To me there are now two defined categories of sunglasses: sporting or casual –ie. for me, that’s on-bike or off-bike. And it’s rare for me to mix these up (ie. I don’t wear sporting eyewear while walking around town, and casual sunnies are, in my appraisal, often not suitable for cycling).
So, in 2022, my personal choices for those two categories – selected after years of trial and error, and with a wealth of options sampled during reviews – are as follows:
My preferred sporting eyewear (2022): POC Elicit.
My preferred casual sunnies (2022): Oakley Holbrook.
But things are changing… kind of, at least when it comes to the casual selection. I now have a pair of Oakley’s ‘Wheel House’ sunglasses (below) and they are fantastic!
Elicit when on the bike
Since I received a pair of POC Elicit sunglasses for review, I’ve almost exclusively worn these when on the bike. There have been a few brief digressions – sporadic return rides when I’ve grabbed a pair of Sutro sunnies instead… but the form and function of the Elicit are brilliant, so much so that I now find it difficult to use other options in my cupboard.
The Elicit days started with black frames and a reflective golden lens (actually called ‘Violet Gold Mirror’ by POC, as well as a clear lens – as these sunglasses come with both options). It worked out nicely. And now I also have the white framed Elicit with the Violet Silver Mirror lenses.
The Elicit sunglasses are light (22g), the fit is fantastic on my head, and they match the POC Ventral helmet I’ve been wearing for most of 2022.
When I’m off the bike, however, I’ve got a few options but the go-to of late has been the ever-reliable casual sunglasses by Oakley, the Holbrook: great lenses, classic shape, and they sit nicely on my face (or on top of my head if I find myself indoors and without the need to shield my eyes from UV rays).
Please share your preferences: what do you wear? (Please feel free to offer a comment on any of RIDE’s social media pages.)
New casuals: Wheel House by Oakley
The ‘Wheel House’ name seems to be a nod to Oakley’s heritage with sporting eyewear. What began, by my estimation (and without Googling it to spoil the story) as a motocross brand – making goggles for moto riders – soon expanded.
Back in the 1980s, Oakley realised that there was a huge market for sunglasses that didn’t fall off while you were active.
Phil Anderson is famously one of the original ‘Factory Pilots’ for Oakley and I’ve spoken to him about his racing days and the presence of the big ‘O’ on his face for much of his career. (Here’s a summary, as told by Phil back in 2010.)
“In my early days,” Anderson explained to RIDE Cycling Review columnist Andy White, “I wore protective safety glasses due to an allergy problem so the advent of sport-specific glasses was great.”
Since those distant days, Oakley has become synonymous with cycling. The Sutro is the latest in a long list of sunnies that are great to ride with.
Note: there is now a cross-over between ‘sporting’ and ‘casuals’… and it’s on my shopping list this summer. The fabulous Sutro shape (sold with plastic frames since release a few years ago) now comes with thin titanium frames! I’ve requested a pair for review… alas, the PR agency told me that there were no samples to send.
What I did receive for review, however, was a set from the recently released Oakley Wheel House range. These combine metal arms with plastic lens frames, linked by the signature ‘O’ embossed hinge that is reliable, robust and offers a chance for Oakley to add some extra branding.
The Wheel House category falls into Oakley’s ‘Prescription Sunglasses’ category, which is most convenient if you use a script for your glasses. They look great and you can wear them all day without having the urge to pull them off and massage your temples because of an odd fit.
Mine don’t yet have a scripted lens installed (but that option clearly exists) so I’ve opted to use them when I’m walking in the sun. You can see them from a range of angles on this page. They look great. Fit well. And I’m going to consider the Wheel House frames for my next pair of reading glasses (ie. with a script to improve my vision).
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There is a lot to look at these days and plenty of eyewear options for all manner of circumstance. Maybe you combine sporting and casual, perhaps you even integrate ‘reading’ into the one-shape-fits-all-requirements of sunglasses.
How, when and where we wear sunglasses may vary from person to person but it’s clear that things are looking good for sunnies – or ‘Sporting Eyewear’ – as we close in on 2023.
– By Rob Arnold