Gotta Wear Shades

Gotta Wear Shades

Sunglasses don’t make us faster. Maybe that’s why few of us plunk down good money for performance eyewear. Add to that, we abuse them, lose them, scratch them and break them. Sometimes it’s hard to justify the high price of high-end shades.

Adidas is betting by adding some unique features, cyclists will leave something in their budgets for a pair of better than average sunglasses. And their latest entry, the Zonyk Aero Pro, has some fit and function highlights that could justify their $250 price tag.


For fit, the three stripes brand has done two things to accommodate as many faces as possible. The nose bridge is adjustable. The contact points on the bridge have two, click positions. I flared them out to get a proper position on my Euro nose. Adidas also offers an International double-snap nose bridge for a flatter, thicker nose.

For refining alignment, the arms have a three-click, vertical adjustment. This is like tilt-wheel for sunglasses. I loved this feature because it enabled me to get the bottom edge of the lenses low enough so there was no unfiltered sun creeping in from the underside of the shades. Instead of arm socks, Adidas has gone with traction grippers. Softer than the arms and rubber has a dimple pattern. They held in place, even on the bumpiest of surfaces.

On the function side, The Zonyk Pros also have notable highlights. The Vario Lens has an auto-adjust tint exclusive to Adidas. The company says it ranges from 14 to 89 percent absorption of light and they have 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. I ride off-road a bunch and frequently move in and out of shade. The Vario Lens was a big assist in picking up trail nuances. Adidas offers other lenses for this frameset, but the Vario is their star.

removable sweat bar

removable sweat bar

The Pro in the Zonyk Pro means the frames come with a sweat bar. It is right along the top of the lenses. The bar can be removed. I kept it on because I loved the way it would soak up salty drips coming down my forehead.

Like we said, sunglasses don’t make you faster, even if they put Aero in the name. The Aero in the Zonyk Aero Pros refers to the half rim style and not any reduced drag. They may not be aero as in aerodynamic, but the lack of a lower rim does improve airflow. As a result, these shades were less likely to create their own weather pattern between eye and lens. I rode in thick fog one day and was able to see well up the road without having to remove them.


The frames are made out of a material Adidas calls SPX. It looks like plastic but the company says it is sturdier, lighter and does not absorb sweat. I have nothing to discount that claim. Despite jamming them into vent holes, pockets, leaning against them and dropping them, they would not give into my lack of care.

If you are going for the Mario Cipolini-Briko look, then these probably aren’t your choice. The Zonyk is a pretty subdued looking pair. But they have had their time in the spotlight–or sunlight as it were–that’s because the Zonyk Pros are favored by sponsored athlete and super climber Naro Quintana.


Evil Eye with sweat bar

I have also been sampling the Adidas Evil Eye Pro. They wrap-around the face and provide coverage on the periphery. They also have sweat bar and the nose bridge and temple adjustments found on the Zonyk Aero Pros. They were without the Vario Lens, so they did better on bright days.

Adidas says it will be making a bigger push into the U.S. market in 2017. They have a massive optics catalog.  Look for them and their shades at more races and events. For now, they can be purchased at

Final thought: Adjustable arms and nose piece for a refined fit.

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  1. Jan

    As a long time contact lense wearer who rides through a lot of agriculture, the thing I ask about my riding glasses is, “am I crying?” Because I can’t ride 100 meters in plowing or harvesting seasons without tears running down my face without my good glasses. (They’re some kind of Oakley cover half my face glasses that look pretentious but keep me from crying.)

    So, how did you do in the dust? Were you crying?

  2. Author
    Michael Hotten

    The Evil Eyes did better in the dust due to their wrap around style. But I did ride the Zonyks in the dirt too and they did an adequate job of shielding the eyes from dust.

  3. Steven Soto

    Who has a problem with their glasses absorbing sweat? I have had a lot of problems with glasses (and I sweat a lot), but this is a new one for me. When I find myself saying “That was a great ride, but my sunglass frames were totally soggy when I was done” or “Boy, my sunglasses really stink because of all the sweat they soak up”, I will buy a pair of glasses with SPX.

    1. Lyford

      Nylon — a common glasses frame material — and many other polymers are hygroscopic. They can absorb water and their physical properties will change as the moisture content changes. I saw this in the molding plant where I worked. But I’ve never heard of it being a problem with glasses frames in use.

    2. Author
      Michael Hotten

      Thanks for reading.
      Two things on sweat and Adidas eyewear: first is the sweat bar which prevents sweat from dripping into your eyes. the second is the SPX material which Adidas says holds up better to the elements, including sweat, over the life span of the product.

  4. Winky

    There are a few things I look for with cycling glasses. Including….

    1) The top frame must be high enough and close enough to my forehead that it doesn’t block my forward vision when my head is down.
    2) No side frames that get in the way when looking back.
    3) Optics that get out of the way. Some glasses seem to make it harder for me to focus my eyes.

    I have a pair of Oakleys (Radarlock XL, I think) that are as close to perfect as I can imagine and that have easily interchangeable lenses. Sweat and fogging seem only to be an issue under the most extreme circumstances.

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