If you plan to go riding with an open face or off-road helmet, then you’re going to want some top quality motorcycle goggles to protect your eyes. When you’re traveling at speed, your eyes become vulnerable to the elements, road grime, and harsh UV rays. The best way to protect your eyes is to keep them covered.
But what kind of goggles should you buy? Can you wear the same goggles that you’d wear for mowing the lawn? What about that pair you bought for a ski trip last winter? Can you get away with a cheap pair of goggles bought online? Well, we’ve put together a list of the best motorcycle goggles on the market to take the guess work out of your shopping trip, and we’ve added a buying guide that should give you a good outline of what’s on offer, who makes them, and what features you should look out for. So without further ado, here are the best motorcycle goggles currently on offer:
How To Buy The Best Motorcycle Goggles: A Buying Guide
Motorcycle goggles and riding glasses aren’t for everyone, but if you want to wear an open-faced helmet without a visor, it’s important to have something to protect your eyes. Goggles come in a wide variety, and no two brands are the same – and there’s a huge difference in quality from a cheap pair of fashion or dress-up eye coverings to a well-engineered piece of protection equipment. When buying motorcycle goggles, the most important is understanding what they do.
What Do Motorcycle Goggles Do?
First things first: they are there to protect your eyes. Traveling at speed with your eyes exposed will leave them vulnerable to a wide range of harmful substances and objects, including grit, grime, and other road debris, and other things like insects, the wind, the sun, and rain.
Since your goggles will be your eyes first line of defense against these harmful things, you want goggles that can actually do the job. That’s why you shouldn’t buy the cheapest pair that you can find. They might not be able to protect your eyes. But there’s more to motorcycle goggles than protection. Here’s what else you can look out for.
- Visibility – Motorcycle riding goggles can improve your visibility. Apart from shielding your eyes from harmful projectiles, they can also help filter out dazzling sunlight, blinding reflections, or the bright headlights of oncoming vehicles. Different goggles have different properties though, so find one that suits your needs.
- Focus – Goggles can also keep you focused. A punishing wind can dry your eyes out, make them itch, or make them stream. This can take your attention away from the road, which isn’t ideal. Goggles can also stop sweat and other moisture from getting into your eyes too.
- Comfort – Lastly, goggles provide a more comfortable alternative for those who find helmet’s with visors claustrophobic, too restricting, or too hot. Goggles can improve your riding comfort, allowing you to enjoy the ride.
What Types Of Riding Goggles Are Available?
There are many different kinds of goggles available, just like there are many different types of motorcycle rider. Here are the most popular types:
Street Riding Goggles
There are plenty of street riders who prefer to feel the wind against their face rather than cover it up completely with a full-face helmet. Scooter riders, cruiser riders, standard riders, and even the occasional sports enthusiast, can be seen wearing goggles regularly. These goggles are usually quite small, with a smart, slim, and narrow design.
The off-road riding goggles are probably the most popular kind of motorcycle goggles out there. They’re specifically designed to protect the eyes from hazardous conditions. They keep mud and water out, and can withstand a good whack from a tree branch too. These goggles are very heavy duty-perfect for dirt bike riders.
Over The Glasses (OTG) Goggles
For riders who wear glasses, you’re in luck, because there are goggles out there specifically designed for you. These goggles are made for riders who don’t wear contact lenses but need glasses full-time. They fit over your glasses but without pinching the frames and arms into your head, or causing any discomfort. They offer excellent protection, to protect your eyes, and those expensive frames of yours, too.
Prescription Motorcycle Goggles
They’re a niche product, but they exist. If you don’t want to wear goggles over your glasses, you can buy special goggles fitted with prescription lenses. These riding goggles aren’t particularly cheap when compared to others on the list, but they offer excellent eye protection without making your feel uncomfortable, or having to focus on the road in front through more layers of glass than you’d like. They’re also quite rare, but they certainly do exist.
Avoid these at all cost. When we say “toy goggles,” we mean goggles that aren’t specifically designed for protecting your eyes. If you think a pair of $5 steampunk “motorcycle” goggles that you bought off of Etsy will protect your eyes at speed, guess again. They may look good, but if they’re not specially designed for motorcycling, then forget them. Swimming goggles, welding goggles, cosplay accessories, and fashion goggles – leave them at home when you’re going for a ride.
What Are Some Notable Brands?
So now that you know what motorcycle goggles can do, and the different types available, what brands should you be keeping an eye out for? Naturally, we recommend the items on the list above, but if you want to do a search of your own to draw your own conclusions, we recommend typing in these big names to help get your search off to a good start:
There’s one brand that’s got a few entries on our list, and that’s Bobster. Based out of San Diego, Bobster has been manufacturing quality eyewear since 1994, and they have some interesting motorcycle goggles in their range. They make gear for civilians, military personnel, and powersports professionals, so you can guarantee that their products will be good enough for your needs too!
When it comes to sports-related eyewear and eye protection, Oakley is arguably the most famous brand out there. This American brand is based in California, and it has been making performance eyewear since 1975. They offer a variety of goggles with a number of interesting features. We recommend that you give their products a look.
Pacific Coast Sunglasses
Pacific Coast is another reputable manufacturer of motorcycle goggles. The company was first established back in 1984, in California. The brand has a wide range of biker goggles on offer, from regular fits, to Over The Glasses models, with a variety of lens options available. They even have a range of excellent retro motorcycle goggles for nostalgic riders.
The Fox brand name should be well-known to most extreme sports enthusiasts. Launched in 1974 as a mountain bike apparel manufacturer, Fox Racing has evolved into one of the industry leaders of motorcycle accessories and apparel too. Though their products often lean towards the off-road segment, they have plenty of useful products for road riders too.
Global Vision has been selling and producing quality eyewear since 1981. It began life as a wholesaler of sunglasses, but over the years the operation has expanded and evolved. Today, Global Vision manufactures a number of exciting products, including motorcycle safety glasses and goggles, with special polycarbonate lenses, UV filtering features, and polarized options. They’re a leading brand in the goggle and eyewear industry.
Important Features To Look Out For
Now that you know what motorcycle goggles can do, what types are available, and a few popular brands that manufacture them, here are a few key features that you should look out for when you’re shopping for a pair.
Similar to buying sunglasses, when shopping for motorcycle goggles, it’s very important that the lenses offer UV protection. Anything with less than 100% UV protection isn’t worth your time. UVA and UVB rays can be harmful to your eyes, and can cause negative long-term conditions, including cataracts, that can lead to blindness. When it comes to protecting your eyes from UV rays, don’t settle for anything less than the best motorcycle goggles.
Polarized lenses are useful features for motorcycle riding goggles. The lenses block glare and prevent you from being dazzled by sunlight, strong reflections, and brightness in general. They’re also beneficial to riders with sensitivity to light. In general, they can make your ride experience safer.
Anti-fog coatings are essential for riders who want to wear motorcycle goggles. These coatings prevent your safety glasses from steaming up. This is important because if they fog up, you won’t be able to see where you’re going. Anti-fogging spray exists, but it’s better to get a pair of motorcycle goggles with a permanent coating instead.
Ventilation is another important feature. Good airflow prevents your goggles or glasses from steaming up, and prevents moisture from building up. Too much moisture will form distracting droplets and your goggles will become uncomfortable. Good ventilation also helps keep your face cool, too.
Since these goggles are there to protect your eyes, you want them to be as strong and robust as possible. They need to be impact resistant, shatterproof, flexible and comfortable. Similarly, they shouldn’t be too big and bulky, obstructing your peripheral vision either. Look out for scratch resistant and polycarbonate lenses, with foam padding the right areas, and strong, durable construction materials.
- Safety Ratings – While there isn’t a uniform safety rating guide for motorcycle glasses, goggles, and other eyewear, the American National Standards Institute has a rating for polycarbonate lenses. The ANSI Z87.1 safety rating is given to the best motorcycle goggles, so keep an eye out for that rating.
- Lens Tints – Different riding glasses and goggles have different lens types. Some have clear lens options, while others have tinted lenses for different riding conditions. Different lens properties can improve your vision under certain conditions. For example, if you regularly ride in overcast conditions, yellow lenses may be beneficial to you.
- Interchangeable Lenses – In the example above, yellow lenses may be ideal on one day, but they might not be useful the next. Some motorcycle goggles have interchangeable lenses, making it easy for the rider to switch from one lens type to another with ease, depending on the conditions. This is a very useful feature for riders riding in changeable conditions.
- Look & Feel – Finally, consider the look and feel of the eye-protection you’re considering buying. If it feels uncomfortable, or has a tight or loose fit, don’t buy that pair. Discomfort is a distraction, which is the last thing you need when riding a motorcycle. The look is also important. If you don’t like the look of a pair of motorcycle goggles, you’ll be less inclined to wear them—and if you don’t wear them, they can’t protect you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you wear glasses under motorcycle goggles?
You can wear motorcycle goggles over glasses, but only with goggles that are specifically designed for it. Known as Over The Glasses (OTG) goggles, this kind of motorcycle goggle can be comfortably worn on top of your regular prescription glasses.
Where to buy motorcycle goggles?
Most motorcycle goggles can be bought directly from the manufacturer. However, it’s possible to find great deals using sites like Amazon and Revzilla. If you decide to shop online make sure that you specifically search for real motorcycle goggles; Amazon occasionally shows cosplay, toy, and fashion-style steampunk motorcycle goggles instead.
Can you use motorcycle goggles for skiing?
You can, but there are differences between some motorcycle and skiing goggles. For example, ski goggles typically have better ventilation and improved anti-fog technology to make them operate better at a lower temperature. Professional MX goggles will have motorcycle-specific features such as tearaway lens covers. The size and length of the strap is also a regular difference.
Can welding goggles be worn for riding motorcycles?
Real welder’s goggles shouldn’t be worn for motorcycle riding. The lenses of welding goggles have special filters that protect welders from intense ultraviolet and infrared light. They’re great for welding, but no good for motorcycling.