Online retailer, Melon, has built a reputation in the riding community for glasses and goggles that are cheaper than the leading brands but match them on quality. They also offer a ton of fully customizable color finishes for all their products enabling purchasers to get something pretty unique.
The Alley Cat was Melon's first large framed, riding-specific model, followed by the brand's latest sunglasses, the Kingpin. Are these ride specs good enough to be ranked as one of the best mountain bike sunglasses? Keep reading to find out.
Design and specification
Like all Melon's optical products, the Kingpin comes with a Zeiss lens, which in case of the Kingpin, has been optimized for greener/redder (i.e. off-road) environments. A full frame encapsulates the oversized lens, while a rubberized nose piece and arm tips help to add comfort and security. The lens has a Ripel coating which helps keep dirt and sweat away.
One of the best bits about buying a Melon eyewear product is the online customization process. Using the Melon website, you can create your own (almost) unique custom gear. The sunglasses builder lets you individually color the frame, lens, nose rubber and Melon logo. There's six different color options plus two patterns for the frame, and seven different lenses. I went for a Paint Splat Matte frame and Silver Chrome lens with a Neon Yellow nose rubber and Melon icons. The glasses also come with a low light lens, microfiber soft case and soft case as standard.
The Kingpin comes in two variations – Trail and Gravel. Unsure of the differences, I put the question to Melon and and the answer is that both glasses are identical aside from the name.
I tested the Kingpin in a wide range of range of conditions, from cold and soggy to dry and dusty, plus everything in-between. They performed well in all situations and look great, so quickly became my go-to riding glasses.
The Silver Chrome mirrored lens tint on my test pair removes glare and helps add detail rather than overly darkening the view. The Kingpin glasses are fine to use in heavily wooded sections, but you do lose some trail detail even with the minimal tint. That's true of any standard riding sunglasses I've tested though and dimly lit conditions are where the included low light lens comes in handy.
Despite the Kingpin being full frame, they're very well ventilated and I had no problems with misting on freezing mornings or sweaty climbs. They are comfortable and you can barely feel them when wearing, while the lens gives excellent clarity and a great field of vision.
The only negative issue I've had is that the arms can can come into contact with some deeper fitting helmets, like the Bell Super Air and the Specialized Camber. This makes them rub annoyingly against the rear of the helmet as you ride and means the glasses don't quite sit properly on your face. Compared to Melon's Alleycat models, the arms are virtually the same length, however, on the Kingpin they're slightly flared away from the head near the arm tips, which is what seems to cause the problem.
The Melon Kingpin sunglasses are up there with the best riding specs around. The customization options make it possible to get a pair that's almost unique and, while not exactly cheap, they are excellent quality and the included low light lens makes them good value for money.
If you wear a deep fitting helmet, I'd advise trying a pair before investing though, otherwise, the Kingpin glasses are highly recommended.
Tech Specs: Melon Kingpin sunglasses
- Price: $162.30 / £135
- Lenses available: Amber, Smoke, Green Chrome, Silver Chrome (tested), Red Chrome, Violet Chrome, Photochromic
- Weight: 30g
- UV protection: UV 400