Decathlon's Orao Arenberg glasses are light, comfortable and cost less than a coffee and slice of cake. If you can put up with the inevitable 'safety glasses, aren't they?' jibes, you're quids in over the eye-candy brigade.
The Arenberg Trench is a 2400-metre-long arrow-straight cobbled road slicing through a forest in Northern France. It is considered the defining 'secteur' of pavé in the Spring Classic Paris-Roubaix race. Mineworkings riddle the ground underneath, and it was former miner-turned-pro cyclist Jean Stablinski who suggested to organisers that the road be included in Paris-Roubaix, first appearing in 1968.
Therefore it is entirely appropriate that Decathlon, French sporting mega-retailer headquartered just 20 miles to the north, would choose the name Arenberg for a product at first glance not unlike the sort of safety glasses used in the mining or forestry industries.
The Arenberg comes from Decathlon's Orao in-house optical range. The model is a fixed lens coming in clear, as reviewed here, and also a yellow and a grey for overcast/foggy and bright weather respectively. All three are made from 100% UV-blocking impact-resistant polycarbonate.
The arms taper considerably just before the ear into more flexible rubber-coated tips that sit well. They are thin enough to slip easily under a skullcap, and grippy enough to stay in place if worn over helmet straps or ear warmers.
Even without a rubberised nosebridge the glasses stayed in place and didn't require pushing back up onto the face during trips over rough roads. Of course everyone's face is different, so depending on yours the obligatory Your Mileage May Vary caveat is appropriate.
Decathlon says the Arenbergs are for 'medium to large faces (Men/Women)'; my head measures 23in around the temple and they felt good, with no excess pressure evident. My wife measures 21in and the Arenbergs fitted her fine too. Weighing just 23g, they're hardly noticeable on and moving your head around doesn't induce them to slip.
The wraparound design delivers a very wide field of vision – in use, the sides and top of the lens are only visible if you really try to look at them, and the lower edge is low enough to afford both protection and ventilation.
There aren't any vents, but I was only able to generate brief fogging through turning my head at low speed. If this were an issue for your fit and conditions, an anti-fog solution should help. Riding for six hours through 2-7°C mist and rain in the Yorkshire Dales, the Arenbergs performed pretty much faultlessly.
And all for £3.99. You can buy these and still have change for a choccy bar from a fiver.
Usually I read up on a product's market prices and a bit of technical detail, so that I can compare and contrast thoughts as I ride along during the review period. For some reason with these I didn't – and was assuming I was wearing something that cost at least 20 quid. I was very happy with the performance, so to find out that they actually cost a fifth of that came as a genuine surprise.
Over the years I've amassed a collection of Lidl and Aldi's finest sub-£5 optical creations – ones costing several hundreds of pound are just as likely to be dropped, scratched, sat on, lost or chewed by the dog, all events that have befallen expensive eyewear in my past. To me, cycling glasses frequently appear to be the epitome of the Emperor's New Clothes; base materials such as polycarbonate and rubber know no fiscal master, nor does design in an age of blatant emulation – there are only so many ways you can put tinted plastic in front of your eyeballs. I've always found much better things to spend £200 on, to be honest.
The Decathlon Orao Arenbergs only reinforce my opinion that high-quality, robust glasses can be had for loose change, and the snobbery of 'aren't those just safety glasses' can be countered with 'what sort of mug spends £200 on basically the same thing?'.
The Arenbergs will make a perfect glovebox or kitbag backup for that £200 pair you or your dog/child are going to demolish any day now. I'm off to order the two tinted versions sharpish.
Depending on your face shape, these could well become your main cycling glasses – they're that good
road.cc test report
Make and model: Orao Arenberg Cycling Sunglasses
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
occasional to regular cyclists or runners (1 to 2 sessions a week) in rainy weather or at night. Full UV protection lenses.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
SUN PROTECTION: Category 0 lenses - 100% UV protection: brightness in cloudy water or at night.
ANTI-FOGGING: Frameless glasses: promotes ventilation.
DURABILITY: Polycarbonate lens: impact resistant.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Lightweight sunglasses: 24g.
STABILITY: Flexible arm tips: better hold of the glasses.
COVERAGE: Wraparound design: protects the eyes from wind, splashes and bad weather.
FIELD OF VISION: Large lenses: provide enhanced peripheral vision.
ALSO AVAILABLE: 0, 1, 3
LENS: Category 0: lets through 80% to 100 % of light (protection in sunny weather - Standard: ISO 12312-1).
Full UV protection filter.
Optical class 1: superior lens quality.
Material: impact resistant polycarbonate.
Geometry: spherical - 8-base.
Frame material: polycarbonate.
Arms material: polycarbonate.
Arm tips material: rubber.
Size: sunglasses for medium to large faces (Men/Women).
Face colour: transparent
Arms colours: transparent & black
Lens colour: transparent
Robust and accurate hinges, and the polycarbonate feels perfectly strong enough.
They performed really, really well – arguably only fogging under conditions that would have been the same for other glasses.
No concerns that the hinges will fail anytime before I die.
I found them comfy for three-hour-plus rides, no need to move them around at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The field of vision.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing. Except possibly having to argue with people who said 'aren't those just safety glasses?'
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The lack of vents and rubberised nosebridge, while not really affecting me, are the only things I can think of to mark the Arenbergs down from five stars.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking and Dutch bike pootling