Unlike ZZ Top, I want not-cheap sunglasses.
April 6, 2009 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Rudy Project or Oakley?

I find myself in the market for new cycling sunglasses. I've been getting along in recent years with a succession of cheap, not-so-good shades, and I'm tired of making do with what's on sale and what's cheap. I decided to take the plunge and spend serious money on a good set of glasses.

What I want from my optics:

1. Wrap-aroundness - I have a wide face and thus need wider lenses that wrap around a bit to keep wind out and yet still preserve peripheral vision.
2. Interchangeable lenses - I plan on using them mostly as sunglasses but I would also like the option to use them as clear visors in the winter/darkness.
3. Tallness, for lack of a better word - the aforementioned wide face is also a large one (Hat size 7 3/4) so I need some lenses that have height and width.

I'm looking to spend no more than about $150-170, but can go to $200 if something is really good.

So far the two I'm contemplating are the Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ and the Rudy Project Rydon. Does anybody have experience with either of these glasses? Is there another brand/style that I should consider?
posted by pdb to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I own a pair of polarized Flak Jackets and found them to be quite satisfactory. I know they aren't specifically the XLJ, but maybe my experiences will be close enough. I wanted the polarization to cut down on the glare off of windshields and windows.

What I like about the Flak Jacket is that it fits snugly enough that I don't have to wear eyeglass cords, and the rubber nosepiece doesn't slip down the bridge. The lenses don't touch my cheeks, and it folds up nicely in its hardcase (that conveniently holds extra lenses; I'm trying to save up for some clear lenses, for nighttime). I also like the protective quality of Oakley lenses, though honestly I've not had to test it to have absolute confidence.

The Flak isn't that "tall," though I'm not entirely sure what you mean. My lenses are about 1.25" at the tallest. Is that enough for you? What affects how my Flaks sit are the "Asian Fit" nosepieces I bought, which lift the frame a bit higher, and it covers my eyes better.

Finally, I'm quite happy with how the Flaks look on my face. Maybe it's not the best reason to purchase a pair of cycling glasses, but I'm happy with having a little vanity with my protection.

Are you buying these glasses online, or is there a local store that carries them? I highly recommend at least trying them on. My local Oakley store actually let me walk outside (escorted, of course) so I can look around in the daylight.
posted by CancerMan at 3:12 PM on April 6, 2009

Response by poster: CancerMan - I will definitely be trying them all on, I just want a list of things to try on so I go in ready to make a purchase. I like what you say about the Flak Jackets, especially the snug fit.
posted by pdb at 3:21 PM on April 6, 2009

I've been using two pairs of Rudy Project Kerosenes for over 5 years while cycling. They're really good at staying on my face - the arms and nose pads are adjustable. I've crashed multiple times and they've stayed on my face (paramedics removed them the last time). I've also crushed the Kerosenses (in their poor included cases) and somehow, the frames are still together, even cracked halfway through.

I've also replaced the lenses several times due to scratches - Rudy Project's lens guarantee does work. I don't know what happens with discontinued glasses though, the Kerosenses are the only glasses that have stayed in their lineup for 5 years.

Given my good experience with Rudy Project, and the constant complaining of Oakley owners about their frames cracking right after the warranty period and scratched lenses, I'd highly recommend the Rudy Projects.

As usual, fit is probably the most important.
posted by meowzilla at 3:30 PM on April 6, 2009

The Rudys are awesome. I have Rudy Project Exceptions and several friends have Rydons (both Rx and non-Rx), and they're really fantastic glasses. Lenses are reasonably priced and available in a huge variety, and changing them couldn't be easier. No experience with Oakley, but really no reason to try them either.
posted by The Michael The at 5:40 PM on April 6, 2009

I've been using Tifosi for cycling glasses for a few years. Very happy with them, and they have many models with interchangeable lenses.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 6:15 PM on April 6, 2009

I have the Rydons and they really do stay up without feeling the slightest bit uncomfortable. I don't have a problem with the ear pieces and my helmet straps. I'm a few hat sizes bigger than you are so don't worry about them being too narrow.

I'm a big dork and have quite a few lenses, polarized, racing red, yellow, and clear. Swapping is pretty easy after they break in, but even after five years with them, the lenses still lock in firmly.

Like The Michael The, I have no experience with Oakleys. The Rudy's have been so good to me there hasn't been a reason to try something else.
posted by advicepig at 6:17 PM on April 6, 2009

If you are open to other brands, I would consider some Native Eyewear glasses as well--I have a pair that came with polarized dark, clear, yellow, and orange lenses, and cost a hair less than $150. I'm 6'4 with a bigger head than yours and they provide really good coverage. They don't seem to make the exact pair I own anymore, but they are really similar to these.
posted by jtfowl0 at 6:19 PM on April 6, 2009

Rudy Project owner, here. I have a narrow face, so my local eyecare/Rudy dealer said Rydon II or Rydon SX (older term, but whatever...)

Why Rudy? Similar performance to Oakley, seemed a little better priced to me, and I'm just sick of anyone on a bike thinking that Oakley is the ONLY choice.

The fit is great after I dialed it in. Nose piece stays put and the ends of the arms are bendable. I've got them fit so I can barely feel them or worry about them. Crashed once in them and they stayed on.

I've heard the similar issues on some Oakleys being fragile, both the frame and lenses. And vanity of vanities, I wanted something different.

My cycling uncle swears by his Natives (Pavement, I think), but I couldn't find a local dealer to try them on.

My training buddy likes his Tifosis, for the cost. But it seems when he changes lenses, they seem to flex and wobble too much for him.

But yeah, go try some pairs on. That's Step #1.
posted by fijiwriter at 7:55 AM on April 7, 2009

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