Photochromic vs polarized lenses which are better for mountain biking

I was trying to purchase cheap sunglasses for mountain biking and came across photochromic and polarized lenses at first they both looked great but I had no idea how they work so I started digging into them and found some pretty useful information could share with you guys as well.

At first, I was thinking of buying some normal sunglasses as well like most of you be doing out there but the sun was killing me out there so I had to look for better options that’s what all this article is based on, here it goes

sunglasses are great if you are walking down the road to go shopping but they are not useful on trails sunglasses stop at least a 60percent of light but that remaining 40 percent is enough to blind you for a few seconds on trails, especially if its summer.

So you buy yourself nice pair of photochromic lenses only to find out that they are worse than sunglasses, well I got tricked as well but apparently photochromic lenses are better in winter than in summer surprised? well, I was as well so here’s how they work and why they are or are not up for the job.

Polarized lenses :

Unlike the photochromatic lenses, polarized lenses don’t change color they may be cool than chromatic lenses but they are way better at stopping the light they are just like the sunglasses as well but they don’t let the light pass through them very easily.

Polarized lenses are famous for stopping reflective light like reflections from the car windows, mirrors, water reflections from a lake or a pond, or even generally they block light more effectively than chromic lenses and that makes them much better and more reliable.

But we are not here to discuss if they are good or not we are here to discuss if they are good for mountain biking.

Polarized lenses for mountain biking :

Polarized lenses are great for mountain biking in fact they are perfect in summer when the sun is almost eating your eyes out, these lenses are a lifesaver. But they too have some problems since polarized lenses are made to block sunlight they are ideal for most things but when it comes to mountain biking there is a catch and here’s when they do more harm than good.

Mountain bike trails are often in forests and it’s exactly the spot where they fail, you see if you are out in the sun they work great they block off extra light the path is clear and you can easily follow the lines but it gets harder when you enter the shade you start having problems, especially depth perception meaning the denser the shade gets the harder it becomes to spot holes and rocks or follow your line and its where they start failing you.

So when or what kind of areas or trails are they best for? you may ask well, they are great in the open areas where the sun is high on your head this is where the most sunglasses or glasses will fail but polarized glasses will shine the most. They are great if you are out in the dry areas where’s there not much shade and light is in abundance if you live in areas like that or your nearest trail is in an area like that polarized lenses are great for you.

Photochromic lenses :

Photochromic lenses. apparently, their name is cooler than they themselves are, or at least that’s how I see them now, so let’s get back to the topic.

Photochromatic lenses can be made up of both plastic and glass they are also called transition lenses because of how they change color in sunlight or shade, they are coated with a layer of tiny molecules that react in the presence of heat and UV light causing them to change color in sunlight.

They become almost or fully transparent depending on the light from the sun if the intensity is high they will turn more blackish and vice versa, So then why do I think they are useless? well, there is a good reason for it.

Also, I should mention that transition is a brand name so photochromatic and transition lenses are the same.

As these lenses are dependent on the sunlight they react and break at a slower speed they do change colors that do make them cool but practically so so great for driving or mountain biking here’s why.

Are photochromic lenses good for mountain biking? :

they are not well suited for mountain biking as I said earlier here’s why you see when on the trails there are patches of light and then there are patches of shades but here’s how it gets complicated.

Transition glasses just don’t have enough speed to adjust to your surrounding they need time to adjust to your surroundings it can take them 30 seconds or even minutes in some cases but despite that, they are more preferred over polarized lenses since you are almost bling with polarized lenses when it gets dark

So they are not very well suited for the sports but a lot of people use them and they are among the popular glasses for the mountain biking as well, there are also some other points that I should mention as well some of the colors even in transition lenses are not well suited there are some colors however which give better results than others, which are

  • pink
  • yellow
  • pinkish-red

colors to avoid

  • grey
  • black
  • green
  • blue

Why avoid these colors :

There are some reasons to avoid these colors.

  • depth perception
  • environmental adjustment (they take more time)

there are a lot of other reasons but these are some of the reasons that are the most commonly found and these are bad for mountain bikers.

Mountain biking specific glasses :

Well now that you know what works and what doesn’t and how they work and why they may not be the best choice for you let’s talk about glasses that are specifically made for mountain biking.

Mountain biking specific glasses are as the name suggests made for mountain bikers specifically why you might ask because they are made keeping every detail in mind to the point of crashing.

Best reasonably priced mountain biking glasses :

Most mtb specific glasses are expensive, pricy is one thing but they are way too expensive of course there are merits to them and the brands tend to make it clear why they are expensive but it’s almost the same in other sports as well.

So I did some research based on different people’s experiences with different brands or different specific glasses which are already available on amazon or other markets here are some of them

  • debris protection
  • rapidly adjusting to the environment
  • air protection
  • durability
  • better depth perception
  • and adjustment with the helmets.
  • different designs for different facial features

So you might ask at this point why to take a detour I could have asked you guys to buy some mountain biking glasses in the first place and get on with them, well I did it to clarify how and why those glasses are not appropriate for mountain biking and how they could do more harm than good.

Here are some of the most popular brands and glasses that I did my own research about and are popular among people

  • Oakley Prizm
  • Transitions
  • photo fusion
  • sensity
  • Tifosi ( brand they make mtb glasses not so good quality+not so expensive)
  • Torege mtb glasses
  • Costco
  • Ryders
  • accuri
  • ESS Ballistic Crossbow Response

Oakley is a really great brand I have heard it many times myself and most of the reviews when I asked people were positive.

Tifosi is a controversial brand some have had luck with them while others not so much so it all comes down to the personal choices as well.

But these glasses are not for everyone if you are a DH racer on a budget then safety glasses are your way to go if you are just a regular biker guy with all in all everything not tied to one specific thing then the glasses I mentioned above are enough for you.

Mountain bikers on budget-safety goggles

Conclusion :

While you may an excellent vision and you may be alright with it but I would highly recommend wearing glasses they are for your own eyes protection as they say

Iron may be as hard as it can be but once it comes in contat with water it starts rusting.

In your case dust and debris, a lot of these lens designs and color frames may not sit well with you but at least they provide you safety.

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