When wearing an open face helmet or half helmet, protective motorcycle eyewear is essential for avoiding eye injury and possibly blindness from impacts with bugs and road debris. Without this eyewear, an eye injury is just a matter of time. Both riding glasses and riding goggles provide protection from this hazard.
Because goggles seal around the eyes better than glasses, they provide better protection than some riding glasses from a side impact, such as when the motorcyclist is struck while looking off to the side. We say “some riding glasses” because well designed glasses will have sufficient lens curvature and thick temples (where they join the lenses) to deflect side impacts. This is particularly true with wraparound glasses. In addition, well designed glasses with a close fit and an adjustable nose piece, are not easily dislodged by a side impact.
Beyond impact protection, how do riding glasses stack up against riding goggles? Here are other comparison points:
At higher speeds, even good fitting glasses will not completely protect the eyes from wind entering the air gap along the edges of the glasses. This can cause a condition called dry eye, which occurs when wind buffeting dries out the eyes faster than tears and blinking can replace the lost moisture. This condition is more than a discomfort. According to Mayo Clinic, it can lead to complications such as a higher risk of eye infection, eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcers, and vision problems.
This problem gets worse in the winter when the air gets cold and dry. Road glare and sunlight on the eyes contribute to the problem because they increase moisture evaporation from the eyes. Goggles form a windproof seal around the eyes that provide excellent protection from dry eye. This seal also protects the eyes from wind-borne dust.
While many motorcycle riding glasses do not protect against wind buffeting, there are exceptions. For example there are several Wiley X glasses for motorcycle riding such as the Wiley X Gravity, Brown Crystal Frame, which has a patented removable facial cavity seal. This seal technology blocks out wind, light, dust, and debris at high speeds.
When you have gone through the effort of finding and buying protective eyewear, the last thing you want is losing them because they fell off your face. Besides their loss, a more important issue is that your eyes are at risk of injury. Losing your glasses may happen when they lack a close fit and lack important features such as an adjustable nosepiece. Quality motorcycle riding glasses should provide a secure fit. However, motorcycle riding goggles do have an edge over glasses because they are secured to the head with an adjustable strap.
Because of the tight face seal of goggles, the trapped air inside the sealed cavity can become increasingly moist from perspiration and evaporation of moisture from the skin. This continues until moisture condenses against the cool surface of the goggle lenses. In other words, it fogs up.
While some goggles have small ventilation holes to mitigate fogging, there is a limit to this ventilation. Letting in too much air negates the main advantage of goggles, which is that it blocks out the wind. Fogging tends to be a problem when riding at low speeds and when stopped. However, riding glasses without a seal are less likely to fog, although they can cause wind exposure problems.
Both riding glasses and goggles look stylish in their own way when riding a motorcycle. Unlike goggles, riding glasses still look cool when you are off your bike. When you are driving or engaged in any outdoor activity, your riding glasses can double as sun glasses.
On the other hand, if your goggles have RX lenses, UV protection, anti-glare coatings, and tinting, you only benefit from these while riding your bike or when using them in extreme sports where complete eye protection is important. Use in social situations is the one clear edge that riding glasses have over goggles.
When riding off-road and especially when riding among other riders, the air gets filled with dust. This will quickly get into your eyes and can cling to the inside lens surface of a pair of glasses. Even visors do not hold up well in such an environment. This is why off-road riders and MX racers use goggles. Note that off-road bikers use off-road goggles, which are designed differently from street goggles.
Options Available to Both Glasses and Goggles
For higher end Wiley X riding glasses and goggles, both have similar RX lens options, color options, and lens coatings. Both are available with polycarbonate or Trivex lenses. Riding glasses and goggles are available in several colors including various grays, browns, clear, light pink, orange, yellow, as well as polarized and transition lenses. Optional anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings, as well as UV protection and anti-fog treatment can be applied to riding glasses and goggles.
In the end, the choice between motorcycle riding glasses or motorcycle riding goggles will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and sense of style. Because glasses and goggles are different, they don’t perform identically in different riding situations.
One serious weakness of riding glasses is its poor wind protection at high speeds. However, several Wiley X riding glasses have this covered with removable facial cavity seals that do an effective job of blocking wind. For more information about our quality riding glasses and goggles, contact us or look through our product selection.