You’ve spent the time working your way up the trail, earning the sweet downhill section that’s just over the brow. You drop the saddle and stamp the on the pedals. Twenty metres down the trail and you realise you can’t see a thing as your eyes are streaming with the wind and the dirt that your mate‘s rear tyre is spraying up into your face. So, why aren’t you wearing goggles or glasses? Your eyes are worth protecting against the elements, trail grit and passing bramble bushes and trees. So, check out the Broken Riders guide to buying some of our favourite MTB goggles and glasses around...
What to think about when buying MTB goggles and glasses
When you’re thinking about buying mountain bike goggles or glasses, think first about comfort and clarity. You want to have a pair of goggles or glasses that are comfortable to wear, don’t foul against your helmet and don’t jiggle around when you’re hammering down the trail.
Ventilation is also essential as the last thing you want is for your MTB goggles or glasses to mist up when riding, obstructing your vision. Some goggles and glasses also come with adjustable nose bridges or arms to enable you to obtain that optimum fit.
Ideally your MTB goggles and glasses should come with interchangeable lenses so that you can use the lens most suitable to your riding conditions – and if your goggles or glasses come with a clear lens you could even use them on night rides.
Budget MTB Goggles & Glasses
Just because they’re cheap, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re no good. You’ll probably find that build quality, durability and lens quality is not as good as on more expensive mountain biking goggles and glasses, but you could argue that it’s not worth paying a ton of money for something that’s eventually going to get scratched up through riding.
Leatt Velocity 5.5 Iriz goggles - £41.99 - £55.99
Great price for a pair of goggles with a wide field of vision and sweat-absorbing dual-layer foam. Good anti-fogging coating on the inside of the lens. Clarity and contrast are excellent for a goggle at this price. We found there’s quite a lot of the frame showing on the inside of the goggle. This could be distracting with brighter coloured frames, so we’d suggest opting for a darker frame.
Decathlon ROADR 900 glasses - £34.99
Excellent price, simple lens changing, light and comfortable and decent fogging resistance. Comes with a range of lenses for all light conditions. They’re a bit utilitarian in their design, but then this is a budget pair of glasses after all.
Mid-range MTB Goggles & Glasses
At the mid-price position, you’ll find the quality of fit and lens quality improves a little and the product should be more robust. Frames should be lighter, and lenses should have 100% UVA/UVB/UVC protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
Giro Blok goggles - £89.99
Fantastic field of view and super comfortable mid-priced googles that you barely notice when riding. Excellent ventilation that whips away any moisture. Available with anti-fog coated smoke or cobalt lenses for sunnier days and a clear lens for other riding conditions.
Rad8 505 Photochromic glasses - £89.00
Anyone old enough to remember the Specialized Divide photochromic MTB glasses knows the value of having lenses that can automatically adjust to your riding conditions, especially if you ride trails that pop in and out of woodland sections. The lenses of these full-frame design MTB Glasses from Rad8 go from smoke to clear and can be used even for night riding. With a lightweight frame and rubber nose bridge the 505s are great for all day riding.
Premium MTB Goggles & Glasses
Lens quality and weight are two of the biggest features the higher price range of MTB goggles and glasses offers. Lenses will give you ultra-high definition and protection from anything the sun can throw at you. Frames should be well vented and robust, with comfort levels that enable you to just fit and forget.
Oakley Airbrake® goggles - £135.00
Designed with an emphasis on stopping heat build-up and the resulting fogging, the Oakley Airbrake MTB goggles look great and are impressively comfortable. Available in six different colour options, all with Oakley’s incredible quick release Prizm lenses that you may have seen in the world of snowboarding. These goggles have posts for tear-offs, indicating their focus on downhill riding. Our only gripe with these goggles was that you need to keep the lens really clean of grease to stop it from fogging, something which isn’t always easy. Fortunately, the Oakley’s lens quick release means its super easy to pop the lens out, clean it and then put back in place.
Melon Optics Alleycat - £135.00
Featuring lenses developed for trail and road riding by camera lens manufacturer Zeiss, the Melon Optics Alleycat MTB glasses are among the finest out there. The lenses are designed to reduce green and orange light (predominant in green areas, such as woodland), to improve depth perception and clarity. Lenses are detachable (a Zeiss low-light lens is also included), can be swapped for different conditions and have superb anti-fogging qualities. A very comfortable and lightweight frame, available in a variety of customisable options completes the package. Although expensive, these are probably the best MTB glasses we’ve ever worn.
Whatever MTB goggles or glasses you decide to buy, it pays to keep them clean and ensure you care for them. All too often we’ll throw them in our backpack after a ride and then sob when they’re scratched on the next ride. Always keep them in their case or a soft bag when not using and don’t put them away dirty. It’s hard trying to ride down a technical trail when you can’t see due to scratched lenses!