I’ve often wondered what it is about pro cyclists that really makes them look like a pro. Latest model bike from their sponsor that’s not yet available to buy by mere mortals? Sure. Freshly shaved legs? Of course. Jersey that’s coordinated with their shorts and emblazoned with the team logo? Um, doesn’t everybody…?
To be honest, all of these are taken for granted in a professional rider’s image. But, look a little closer at pro cyclists, and you’ll soon notice the really defining feature. The one thing that truly makes them stand out from the crowd of wannabee amateurs. Their sunglasses.
And, the thing is that, when you or I slip on a top pair of cycling glasses, we can also look like a pro rider. It doesn’t matter whether your bike is in last season’s colors, or you’ve got a day or two’s (or a lifetime’s) growth of hair on your legs, or even, EVEN, if you’re wearing mis-matched jersey and bibs. What really matters is the eyewear you’re sporting as you stare with grim determination and 110% focus into the TV cameras parked on the start line outside your home.
I’ve been lucky enough recently to test out a couple pairs of Rudy Project Cutline sunglasses. My bike is not new, my leg hair is bushy, my outfit is the first one I grabbed out of the laundry and…do you know what? When I’m zipping along the road, or tearing up the bike trails, I feel like a pro.
Behind the image though, these sunglasses really stack up in terms of their specification. I’ve ridden with them in a range of different weathers, road and trail conditions and they’ve always delivered.
Let’s dig in and take a look at the details.
What do I like about the Rudy Project Cutline
I’ve been testing out two pairs of Cutline glasses – these being the Fire red with matte black frame, black bumpers and smoke lens and, second, the Matte black frame, black bumpers and ImpactX-2 photochromic clear-to-black lens. There are a range of options in the Cutline family – in fact, customizability is a word that we’ll talk about much more in a moment in regards to Cutline.
Options include a choice of lens colors (each pair of glasses comes with one lens and a wide range of spare lens colors are available to purchase). There’s also a selection of frame colors, again with “Chromatic kits” available to buy separately, which include a set of replacement bumpers, arm tips, nose pads and Rudy badges, plus a little tool to swap these with the existing ones on your glasses. There’s also a very handy semi-rimless Rx insert available for fitting a pair of prescription lenses to the inside of your Cutline glasses.
All of the Cutline sunglasses scream, “pro rider”, but there’s one that stands out head and shoulders in front of the competition in terms of its pro credentials. Look closely and you’ll see a pair of glasses with matte black frame, fire red Rudy emblem detail, azure lower bumpers, and orange lens. These are the Bahrain McLaren Cutline glasses in honor of Team Bahrain McLaren. The pro team riders use a range of Rudy Project gear, including Cutline and Defender glasses, plus Spectrum road helmets and the Wing aero helmet.
The Cutline glasses have incredible lenses
As I mentioned at the top of the page, I’ve been trying Cutline glasses with two of the lens options. These being the Smoke Black lens and the ImpactX-2 Photochromic Clear-to-black lens. Both have been excellent.
Recent trends in cycling glasses have been towards larger and larger lens sizing. Rudy Project give a nod to this with the Cutlines, but without going to the extremes like some manufacturers have. Dusting off my handy vernier calipers to check measurements, we find that the lens depth (top to bottom, including the removable bumpers) is 62mm/2.44”. On me, this goes from just above my eyebrows to my cheekbones. Width-wise, the lenses are 134mm/5.28” in a straight line from one edge to the other.
Couple this width dimension with a stated Base curve of 7 and you hit a sweet spot with glasses that wrap closely to your face (giving an incredibly wide and unobstructed field of view), whilst still allowing sufficient room to fit the prescription lens inserts, if you need those.
What the heck is a Base Curve?
That’s the headline, but you’re probably asking, “What the heck is a Base Curve?” (I know I was when I first head the phrase!) Well, the Base curve is a way of describing the curvature of the lens and therefore how closely it fits around your face. Typically, glasses will range from a 4 (very flat and normally what you’d find in eyeglasses), up to a 10 (an extreme ‘wraparound’ style). A high Base curve is great for cycling glasses as it allows you to see left and right easily and without moving your head. Too much of a curve though and you won’t be able to fit Rx lenses.
This Base curve of 7 feels great for my face, allowing me to see what’s going on all around me. The deep depth of the lenses (62mm.2.44”) is also fantastic in this regard as it allows you to see the road or trail far ahead AND the road/trail beneath your front wheel all WITHOUT moving your head up and down. And, that’s a massive bonus in my book.
One minor niggle to be aware of is that the lower bumper can partially obstruct your extreme edge field of view when you look back over your shoulder to check for traffic. A tip here that I found works well is to remove the lower bumpers when you’re hitting the roads. This then gives a rimless lower half to the lens and lets you see everything in that extreme bottom corner of your vision. (It also looks uber-cool 😉)
Looking through the lenses has been (no pun intended, obviously…) an eye-opener for me. I’ve used the Smoke Black lens extensively when I’m out on the road bike. In sunny weather, the lens tones down the glare just right but without losing color definition. I’ve also used this lens in gloomier and overcast conditions, and again, it’s performed very well indeed. It’s the lens option that I’ve been reaching for whenever I’m going out in the daytime and where I can see the sky.
I found though that more and more I’m opting for the Photochromic lens. On the open road, these darken down to reduce glare giving excellent vision. They’re also superb for night-time riding as the lens stays clear, allowing you to see the holes in the road before you plummet headfirst into them. But, it’s on the mountain bike, where I’m in and out of shady tree cover where this lens really excels. Under blue skies, the lens is black, but dive into the deep dark forest and the lens switches back to clear. Where, previously, I’d have to keep swapping glasses, or lifting my dark glasses up onto my helmet top, now I can just keep going and let the ImpactX-2 lens do the hard work, letting me enjoy the trails.
Where, previously, I’d have to keep swapping glasses, now I can just keep going and let the ImpactX-2 lens do the hard work
RX Optical Insert clip – a cost-effective method of correcting vision for cycling without going to the expense of full prescription sunglasses. These fit behind the existing lens of the Cutline glasses. They’re particularly useful when you only require vision correction for some activities (such as road use, but not mtb) or for difficult light conditions (gloomy overcast weather, possibly). Also gives flexibility if you prefer to sometimes use contact lenses instead of glasses. A great money-saving option.
The Cutline frames are comfortable and highly customizable
The two main watchwords with the Cutline frames are: Adjustability and Customization. Adjustability in terms of being able to easily adapt them to the shape and contours of your face. Customization in terms of swapping out elements and colors to match your own highly unique personality (and weird tastes).
Let’s talk numbers first. Frame, lens and a full set of bumpers add a measly 36g/1.3oz of weight to your cycling kit. And even the most weight-obsessed riders would be hard-pushed to complain too loudly about that. Though, if they do, they can always remove the upper and lower bumpers framing the lens and take the weight down to an even more slimline 33g/1.1oz.
The outer dimension of the glasses (where the hinges are) is 146mm/5.75”. The distance between the temple tips is 96mm/3.78” when the arms are relaxed and 150mm/5.91” when you apply moderate stress.
What does this all mean for us?
Well, what it mainly means is that the Cutlines are incredibly comfortable to wear when cycling. They sit securely on your face propped on your upper nose and with the arm tips gripping your skull just behind your ears. I’ve tried wearing them for long periods of time and just found them so comfy that I’ve forgotten that they’re there.
There’s a range of adjustability on the Cutline frames to make sure that you get the perfect fit for your head. Temple tips can be bent up or down, in or out and the nose piece arms can be widened or pulled in. That adjustability is great for someone like me with wonky ears and a boxer’s style nose.
That adjustability is great for someone like me with wonky ears and a boxer’s style nose.
Turning to the other -ability of the Cutline glasses, customizability, we can see that there’s ample opportunity to make these glasses your own. Swapping out lenses, switching out from elements for different colors. There’s also the option to add or remove the bumpers on the upper and lower edges of the lens. They’re there for three reasons – one to protect you in the event of a crash from the sharp edge of the lens, two to give a closer fit to your face. And, three? Well, that’s because they look damn cool.
Look closely at the images and you’ll see that there are ten slots cut into the glasses (two in the arms, four in the bumpers and four in the lens. As well as enhancing that ‘cool factor’ they also have an important role to play into airflow. The slots positioned at the front allow air in as you cycle along and the arm slots help let it out. I wasn’t sure how effective this would be but have found that the slots (especially the ones along the top bumper and lens top) give a delightful cooling breeze on my eyebrows when I’m at cruising speed. And those slots help to dry sweat before it can get a chance to dribble down my tomato red face.
And those slots help to dry sweat before it can get a chance to dribble down my tomato red face.
What don’t I like about the Cutline sunglasses
Overall, I love the Cutline glasses, but there are however a couple little negatives. Weirdly though, neither is to do with the glasses themselves. Rather it’s the protective storage that they come with – the case and the bag.
The case that the glasses ships with looks great (with a touch of Marvel Ironman styling to it) but, when you’ve got the glasses stowed inside, it doesn’t feel like it closes up very easily or securely. Maybe it’s just me but it feels as if it’s a touch on the small side for the glasses. It’s no big deal (and certainly not a dealbreaker for me) as I’m more concerned with the glasses themselves. That being said, it may be worth looking at the optional Eyewear Patrol Pack, with ample room for storing not only your glasses, but also up to four extra lenses.
In the same vein, the glasses microfiber pouch is kinda on the small side too. To be sure, it’s a high quality bag with a drawstring and a useful fabric surface to clean your Cutlines with. But the fit is snug to say the least when you’re trying to fit your glasses through the mouth of the bag.
Who are the Cutlines great for?
Clearly these are designed for road cyclists, and they’ve excellent for that because of the weight, the comfortable-for-long-days-in-the-saddle fit, and the fact that they make you look like a pro rider. I’ve also been testing them out for a range of different types of bikes and riding. From mountain biking through dense forest using the photochromic lens, to cruising down to the beach on my ebike, and zipping around town on an electric scooter. For all modes of transport they work great.
In different weather conditions and seasons, there’s a Cutline for you too. For a bright summer’s day the Smoke Black lens are awesome. For changeable weather, then the ImpactX-2 lens works a treat. As it does for MTB trails that dive in and out of the treeline.
My verdict is that the Cutline glasses are an excellent choice of cycling eye protection when you want superb field of view in all conditions, teamed with a highly personalizable frame that fits great.
Oh, of course, even though it’s not something that I’d admit in a public forum, like a website or anything, but the feature that I most love about the Cutline sunglasses is that they make me feel like a pro rider.