Rudy Project’s Game-Changing Milestones

In 1985, former bike racer Rudy Barbazza launched Rudy Project in Treviso, Italy. His mission was clear: to build better sunglasses for competitive cyclists. The goal was a pair of lightweight, durable sunglasses that delivered the best optics in the pro peloton. By 1986, Rudy Project glasses appeared in the Tour de France, worn by legendary multi-Tour winner Bernard Hinault. Propelled by that early success, the company has expanded into bike helmets, snow sports goggles, prescription glasses and sunglasses, snow sports goggles, and an array of lens tints specific to water sports, low-light activities, fishing, golf, tennis, and more. Below is a short log of Rudy Project’s milestones, which put it on the map.

1987 - Rudy Project Sunglasses, The Explorer

A mere two years after launching the company, Rudy Barbazza introduced the Explorer sunglasses and two signature design elements still featured in Rudy Project’s high-performance sports sunglasses. The first was hiding air vents in the company logo on the nose bridge. This small innovation helped reduce lens fogging and helped with cooling. The second was adjustable nose and temple pads, which allowed wearers to achieve a custom, comfortable fit that stays snug and secure on any ride. 

Elements introduced in the Explorer 38 years ago appear in the popular Cutline frames and lenses launched in 2020. Their Powerflow ventilation design lets cool air in and channels hot, moist air out. Interchangeable lenses on the Cutline allow you to don the perfect lens tint for the weather, time of day, and terrain. Adjustable nose and temple pads deliver a custom fit, and an anti-fog coating on the inside of the lens further enhances their ability to stay clear in all conditions.

1996 - Rudy Project Helmets, The Sweeto

The radical aerodynamic Sweeto time-trial helmet married Rudy Project’s decade of expertise in optics with its then-new helmet line. The helmet incorporated sunglass lenses to minimize aerodynamic drag and produce the most efficient bike helmet of the era. Five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain wore the Sweeto during the time trials at the race in 1996, cementing Rudy Project’s position as a game-changer in the sport. That approach — incorporating the fit and needs of sunglasses to fit under a bike helmet — has driven Rudy Project ever since. It’s also been copied by other optics companies who have spun off their own line of helmets.

Today, the mantle of “fastest helmet” goes to The Wing, introduced in 2021. Wind-tunnel tested, the Wing prioritizes aerodynamics, but not at the expense of comfort over long hours on the bike. Its revolutionary air-flow design, highlighted by its rear “exhaust port,” allows it to be worn comfortably by iron-distance triathletes during their 112-mile-long bike legs. And while the Wing still carries over the Sweeto’s integrated optics, Rudy Project made the lens shield removable for ultimate flexibility.

2023 - Rudy Project Sustainability, Rilsan® Clear bio-plastic

Rilsan Clear is a bio-plastic made from 45% natural material sourced from castor oil, and it signals Rudy Project’s commitment to #RidetoZero. The goal of the initiative? To save the endangered environment by producing less waste throughout its manufacturing and design processes. Rilsan Clear can be found in the new Kelion sunglasses and several other models of Rudy Project sports performance and lifestyle sunglasses and glasses frames.