Motorcycle Riding Goggles for Ice and Snow
Winter motorcycling is usually about riding on roads with dry pavement. In some of the southerly states, it’s not much different from riding in the summer. In the snow belt states, it’s a bit trickier because even when the pavement is clear, there is no guaranty that you will never hit a patch of black ice on a turn. However, if you are riding an off-road motorcycle with studded tires, then snow and especially ice become your best friends.
When studded tires meet ice, the grip is excellent. Riding on frozen lakes is especially enjoyable. There is nothing to collide into, the traction is great wherever you ride, and falls amount to sliding on ice and snow. Frictionless surfaces mean no road rash, and falls are usually injury-free. However, you will want to stay clear of thin ice and spinning studded tires. The dangers of thin ice are obvious and spinning tires full of sharp studs are like saw blades. When there is no frozen lake in suitable condition, you can ride on trails, logging roads, and other paths.
The Case for Goggles
Winter air is cold and dry. When it’s blowing into your eyes because it’s getting inside your sunglasses, it can cause a lot of tearing that can blur your vision. On the other hand, if your tearing reflex can’t keep pace with the drying effect of the wind, then your eyes can dry out. This can cause a condition called dry eye. If you allow this problem to persist, complications can arise such as eye inflammation and vision problems. Dry eye also increases the risk of infection. This problem commonly occurs when street biking at high speeds. Although you will not be riding at highway speeds on trails or logging roads full of snow, frozen lakes can get very windy on cold days.
Motorcycle riding goggles protect your eyes from the wind and keep snow out of your eyes during heavy snowfall. With sunglasses, you will have a problem with falling snow clinging to and melting on the inside lens surfaces. On the other hand, goggles can fog up. Getting over trail debris or aggressive riding on frozen lakes gives your body a good workout and generates plenty of body heat. This makes you sweat, and the humidified air inside your goggles can fog up the lenses.
If the lenses on your goggles are not anti-fog, you should apply an anti-fog treatment to them. A good pair of goggles will also have ventilation slits to alleviate this problem.
Beware of UV Exposure
Many people who do not appreciate the dangers of UV exposure nevertheless spend years exposed to intense winter sunlight without having any problems. The reason for this is that they wear eyewear to protect against intense sunlight glare. Fortunately for them, most eyewear that protects against sun glare also blocks out UV. With some of the cheaper eyeware, you can’t take UV protection for granted. The labeling should explicitly state that it provides 100% protection against UVA and UVB.
If the goggles are made from polycarbonate or Trivex, then both materials naturally block all UV radiation. These goggles would not be motorcycle goggles if they were not impact resistant, and polycarbonate is the material of choice for this. Therefore, you are probably covered, though you should check for UV protection nonetheless.
Why is UV protection so important? Steady exposure to years of moderate UV light slowly damages the eyes. With enough exposure you can get cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eyes. Given that UV causes skin problems such as sunburns and skin cancer, it should not come as a surprise that it can also damage your eyes.
If future eye problems do not concern you (or someone you care about), consider that UV will also cause snow blindness. This only requires a few hours to occur after sufficient UV exposure. It’s essentially a sunburn to the eyes and will go away after several days. As suggested by the name, it makes you blind and is quite painful. Many people describe snow blindness as feeling like their eyes are full of sand. Those who experienced snow blindness, never want to go through the ordeal again. An after effect of this condition is that it makes your eyes more sensitive to sunlight.
Compared to summer, winter sunlight is relatively weak. However, snow cover more than makes up for this because it acts like a sunlight reflector. It reflects eighty percent of sunlight back into your face from the ground. This is the reason for the name “snow blindness” because UV light is redirected at you from all directions. The same is true for glare. Exposure to harsh glare for hours is uncomfortable and may cause headache and fatigue. This greatly detracts from your motorcycling enjoyment and may cause an accident because the intense light can wash out important surface details in the snow and ice.
There are a number of anti-glare options available for motorcycle riding goggles. These include tints such as gray, brown, yellow, and amber. Transition and polarized lenses are also available. Gray tints preserve true colors while tints of other colors enhance contrast in various ways. For the intense sunlight exposure of frozen lakes, a tinted polarized lens is a good choice. Polarized lenses are highly effective at blocking reflected glare from horizontal surfaces, which is exactly what a frozen lake is. Choose a tint darkness that worked well for you in the past in similar situations.
For more information about our quality riding glasses and goggles, contact us or look through our product selection.