Perhaps influenced by the increasing proliferation of PPE in our everyday lives, the adoption of enormous goggle-like sunglasses by most riders in this year’s Tour de France is one of the least subtle tech trends on show at this year’s race.
Though we’re not talking Sagan-like podium-goggle antics (I will stop watching bicycle racing if anyone dons a pair of these in a road race), newly-released sunglasses from the likes of Koo, 100%, Scicon and these limited-edition shades from Oakley are all uncompromising in their pursuit of ultimate bigness.
Worn alongside mandatory post-race face masks, the combination of large sunglasses and next-to-no skin on show has given the 2020 peloton an odd robot-like look that has been noticed by more than a few. Here’s a brief history of oversized sunglasses in pro cycling, who’s riding what this year, and why riders wear them in the first place.
Race leader Adam Yates has fully embraced the robot-like mask and glasses look.Marco Bertorello/Getty Images
The early nineties rolled around with a barrage of similarly oversized designs – think the Bolle Edge II – with things eventually becoming increasingly weird, small and insect-inspired as the decade progressed.
If they’re cool enough for Peter Sagan…Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
Goodness forbid should you crash, larger frames may also be less likely to impact the soft tissue around your eyes.
By virtue of their size, they also tend to obscure your peripheral vision less than smaller frames. In my experience, anyway, they can also be less prone to fogging up.
I am not alone in my love for the large life – BikeRadar technical editor Alex Evans summed up his feels on the trend as “make sunglasses bigger – better optics, fewer flies, and increase mirrored finishes while you’re at it”.
Technical writer Simon Bromley and editor George Scott also simply said of the trend, “cool”, and that’s an assessment I stand by.
On that last point, there’s no point in denying that in the midst of a several-hundred-rider strong peloton, comically oversized sunglasses are more likely to stand out on the sweaty billboard that is professional road racing.
Why were these glasses every allowed out in the wild?VINCENT AMALVY/AFP via Getty Images
Call me a cynic if you like, but, if standing out wasn’t the end goal with cycling sunglasses, why were designs such as the Oakley Over The Top, Assos Zegho or Briko Raider 2 ever allowed out into the wild?
Alongside the aforementioned new releases, an as-of-yet unreleased pair of Oakley sunglasses – which are rumoured to be the Oakley Sutro Lite – have also been spotted this season. Classics such as the POC Do Blade have also made an appearance.
Remco Evenepoel, who crashed out of the Giro Il Lombardia last month, had earlier been spotted wearing a set of as-of-yet unreleased Oakley sunglasses. These are rumoured to be the Sutro Lite.Sara Cavallini/Getty Images
Jack has been riding and fettling bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork, fixie-botherer, tandem-evangelist, hill-climbing try hard, and thinks nothing of taking on a daft challenge for the BikeRadar YouTube channel. With a near encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling tech — from the most esoteric niche nonsense to the most cutting edge modern kit — Jack takes pride in his ability to seek out tech and stories that would otherwise go unreported. Jack has been at BikeRadar for three years now and is regularly testing an esoteric mix of weird and wonderful bikes.