100% S3 sunglasses review: The best cycling glasses for winter

Big size and durability stand out, but its the clear lens that makes these a winner in my eyes

100% S3 sunglasses review
(Image: © Will Jones)

Cyclingnews Verdict

A really solid choice for year-round riding, both on and off road


  • +

    Big lenses give excellent coverage

  • +

    Clear lens included

  • +

    Soft touch frames feel luxe


  • -

    HiPER lens doesn't perform as well as some in low light

  • -

    Brow sits a little close to face

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In my seasonal quest to coagulate all the best cycling glasses in one place, I’m revisiting a pair I’ve had in my usual rotation for close to two years now. 100% as a brand rocketed onto the scene a good handful of years ago now with the high profile sponsorship of Peter Sagan (anyone remember the podium goggles?), and a young, but still prolific, Mathieu van der Poel. 

Now the brand has settled back somewhat, becoming a staple of the market as opposed to a new upstart, and sponsors the Movistar team and Lidl-Trek. Two of its models, the S3 and the Hypercraft, made it into my overall guide, and today we’re going to tackle the older of the two, the S3.

After nearly two years, with use both in summer and in winter, I’m pretty confident in assuring you this is a quality set of shades. Where do they shine, and where, if anywhere, have they been found wanting?

Design and aesthetics 

Despite the best efforts of Geraint Thomas, large, single-lens cycling glasses are here to stay. The 100% S3 fits this billing, with a half-frame setup, though the nose gripper does extend further along the base of the lens than most, purely for an aesthetic touch.

The lens itself is one of the largest I’ve had on test. It’s slightly larger than the Oakley Sutro but is still dwarfed by the genuinely titanic POC Devour. The lower half of the lens is angled, a little like the Sutro Lite Sweep, but not to quite the same degree. 

Visually it’s a much more angular package than the Sutros, which to my mind is its main competitor. There is something about them that seems to hark back to the brand's heritage in motocross; you could imagine this shape but with a big strap around the back of your head. 

Like the majority of Oakley cycling glasses, the arms are straight, designed to wrap around your head rather than hook onto your ears. The arm and nose grippers themselves actually feel smooth, rather than tacky, but we’ll get into how they grip later on. The whole frame, on my test pair at least, is the ‘soft tact’ finish, which is another way of saying it has a smooth matte, rather than glossy finish, rather than implying they are particularly diplomatic when breaking bad news. It’s lovely and makes them feel more premium, so if you can opt for it I would recommend it. 

The colours here are clearly a pretty unapologetic nod to the classic Gulf Racing livery of yesteryear. But there are a myriad of other options to choose from, though the lens you get will vary - Here I have the HiPER Silver Mirror lens, which is a classic modern lens utilising an orange base tint to add contrast and a less transmissive outer coating to reduce the brightness. Whichever one you get though, you’ll also have a clear lens in the box. 


A big lens means big coverage, and that’s what you get here. They sit relatively high on the face, with the brow about as high as it could be before starting to bounce off the brim of my helmet which is something I absolutely detest happening. The brow actually tended to just touch my eyebrows if I wore them right up at the top of my nose, but not quite enough for it to become an annoyance. Nudge them down a fraction and it's problem solved. 

In terms of grip, they’re pretty tenacious, despite my initial misgivings on the material of the grippers. They aren’t quite so secure as Oakley’s ‘Unobtanium’ grippers, but the frame itself and the arms are sufficiently stiff for the S3 to grip your face well enough that they never thought about ejecting unexpectedly, even from my small head. The arms, though long enough to interfere with some helmet cradles, are flat enough that when this does happen it isn’t such an issue as with some other glasses.

The hinges have stayed smooth after two years, and don’t click into place so the glasses themselves don’t feel overly rigid. Everything still looks pretty new despite the abuse I’ve thrown at them - they get used for filthy gravel rides as much as they do pristine road ones. The matte finish on the frames does hold mud a little more, but not to the extent it was ever an issue, and nothing a run under the tap wouldn't fix. 

The coverage and wind protection are excellent. Given the lenses' height, they work well even in extremely aggressive positions. The HiPER lens too is excellent, though despite all the right characteristics it isn’t as good in low light as the benchmark Oakley Prizm Road lenses. 

The flip side to this is that these come with a clear lens, which many glasses eschew nowadays, which has meant I’ve been able to use these year-round where I’d have to eventually swap other glasses out. The clear lens, too, has been excellent for muddy winter riding even in daylight, where I’d be concerned about scratching the coating off the main lens. The lens swapping process, I’m also pleased to report, is extremely easy and quick. Simply pull the nose piece off, and then pull the lens down while gripping the frame and pop, out it comes. 

That being said, I have got the lenses pretty filthy, and the outer lens coating has remained scratch-free. Aside from the odd spot of mud, they are essentially as good as new, which is a testament to their durability. 

100% S3 sunglasses review

Adding a clear lens really opens these up for year-round riding. (Image credit: Will Jones)


Cycling glasses pricing tends to fluctuate a fair bit. New models are usually quite expensive and then drop off quite quickly as they are superseded by newer models. Even at full price (£130/$150 or so), I think these represent good value, given the year-round use proposition, but you can pick them up nowadays for under £80 in some colours. 

I would suggest the HiPER lenses are the ones to opt for, and it’s worth paying a bit extra for them if you’re torn between pairs. 


Not yet an elder statesman of the cycling glasses world, but very much worthy of being described as a mainstay. Great coverage, quality aesthetics, comfortable and durable. The lenses aren’t quite top-tier, but with the included clear lens you’ll get more use out of them if you still ride outdoors when the sun has dipped below the horizon. Of all the glasses I’ve tested the 100% S3 is probably the best option for winter.

100% S3 Review

In moderately low light I opted for clear, and when riding off-road I usually just slapped the clear lens in too so I avoided scratching the main lens.  (Image credit: Will Jones)
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Testing scorecard and notes
Design and aesthetics Good looking and durable, with easy lens swaps8/10
Field of visionThese lenses are big, so you rarely get a glimpse of the frames9/10
Lens performanceNot quite top of the line, but not bad by any respect7/10
Comfort and retentionNot as grippy as some, but never felt floppy or came off8/10
Value for moneyWith the extra lens they represent good value, even better if you can find them on sale8/10
Overall ratingRow 5 - Cell 1 80%

 Tech Specs: 100% S3 Sunglasses

  1. Price: £149.99/$149
  2. Weight: 34.6g (actual)
  3. Colour/lens Options: 19

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