A Passion For Eyewear

Cycling Sunglasses, Past and Present
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Cycling Sunglasses, Past and Present

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In the beginning, there were goggles.

Some early cycling goggles – notice the spare tires carried over the shoulder!

Ever since the early days of cycling, eye protection has been an integral part of the sport. The riders of the pre-war era wore large, military-style pilot goggles; big, bulky but effective in keeping dirt and dust out. In the late 1940s, before plastic sunglasses had been invented, there was one notable style icon among the pelleton: his name was Fausto Coppi, nicknamed “Il Campionissimo” or “Champion of Champions”. He won the Tour de France twice and the Giro d’Italia five times – and he wore the Ray-Ban® Aviator™!

coppi

Fausto Coppi wearing Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses.

The Modern Age

Things all changed forever in 1984, when Oakley® introduced its first pair of sunglasses, the “Eyeshades”. They were catapulted into the spotlight when Greg LeMond (the first American to win the Tour de France) started wearing them, and within a couple of years they were widespread among the elite of world cycling. Soon brands from the snow-sports world (like Bollé, Rudy Project and Salice) were trying to muscle in on the market, and an era of hi-tech, dedicated cycling eyewear had begun.

eyeshades

The original Oakley Eyeshades model – they certainly cover the eye!

Through the 90s and 2000s there was a constant strive for innovation, and while Oakley has remained the undisputed leader of the pack throughout, that’s not to say they haven’t had their fair share of design monstrosities. Behold, the “Over the Tops”:

David Millar wearing the "Over the Tops" at the 2001 Vuelta de España

David Millar wearing the “Over the Tops” at the 2001 Vuelta

Thankfully these didn’t catch on. In recent years such giants of the sports world as Nike and Adidas have entered the fray too, as well as more boutique firms like Smith and Zero Rh, all competing for the approval of the world’s top cyclists. It’s a fast-moving world, with new products coming out every year. Who knows what the future holds? We may soon see a trend for augmented-reality vision, with sport-specialized electronic glasses already in development. Only time will tell! For now, you can check out the 400+ models of cycling sunglasses available on our website.

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