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Cycling goggles offer greater protection than regular cycling glasses. As well as protecting your eyes against rain, puddles, mud, dust, snow and whatever you ride through, goggles also prevent the wind from making your eyes water when you’re riding at higher speeds.
Goggles are all about achieving consistent vision in variable conditions. They’re designed to be worn for relatively brief periods of intense mountain biking where speed is of paramount importance.
For Downhill riders they are a must have item. Goggles fit over full face helmets perfectly. Goggles are also worn by other mountain bikers too. Riders who only want to wear eye protection during downhill sections can easily stow their goggles in their backpack until it’s time to wear them. Goggles usually come supplied with a soft bag to protect during stowage. This soft bag also doubles as a handy lens cleaning cloth.
There are a few key features to consider: lens type, lens tint, ventilation and sizing.
Cycling goggles’ lenses are almost always of the cylindrical lens type. Cylindrical lenses curve horizontally but are flat vertically. There are single glazed lenses and double glazed lenses. Double lenses are sealed during construction to prevent internal fogging.
Lenses come in various colours and tints. Each one is designed to perform better in different lighting conditions. For bright or sunny conditions there are lens tints of grey, dark brown, blue and mirror. Sometimes these are polarised to reduce glare as well. For dim or flat light there are lens tints of pink, yellow and amber.
Despite all these tints available, a popular option are clear lenses. This is due to Downhill tracks usually being based in trees where the light is low – especially in the UK. Some goggles have the ability to change lenses either via supplied spare lenses or you can purchase extra lenses.
Ventilation comes in the form of holes in the outer frame of the goggles and sometimes holes in the lens itself too. Generally speaking, the more holes the better the ventilation and the lower the chance of steaming up or ‘fogging’.
Generally most adults can fit many sizes of goggles; the adjustable buckle on the elasticated strap affords lots of adjustment. If you wear a medium or large size helmet you should have no problem finding goggles that fit. If you wear a small or XL helmet you may wish to look for a pair of goggles in that particular size.
Finally, make sure your helmet will accept a goggles strap. Full-face helmets are fine. Most Trail and Enduro helmets these days have a groove for a goggles strap. XC helmets almost certainly won’t work that well with goggle straps.