Posts Tagged ‘sunglasses’

ROKA SL-1 sunglasses

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 | Reviews

ROKA has gained a lot of traction in the triathlon world. Until now, their products have been out of reach to many European customers because of the prohibitive shipping costs. But those dark days are over and ROKA is now doing UK and European distribution.

Following on from my recent review of the ROKA Phantom sunglasses, I’ve also been testing the ROKA SL-1s. ROKA offer frames along the top, bottom or all around, but who needs frames when you’re living in the future? My personal preference is to do away with them, and the SL-1 does, putting it squarely in competition with the Oakley EVZero.

Here’s the unboxing:

The glasses are supplied with a hard case, filled with foam on the inside. This is perfect for stuffing into the bottom of your kit bag without worrying it will get crushed or shaken about. It’s not unusual for high-end sunglasses to come with a hard case, but most are empty, allowing the glasses to be shaken around, so the foam is a nice touch.

The frames represent what you would expect from performance sunglasses: rubber ends to hold them against your face and a satisfying click as they open or close so you won’t end up with the frames being stuck half open. They’re flexible enough that you can still slide the arms into your helmet when racking them in transition.

Coverage is wide, offering near perfect side to side and lower vision. Upper vision is fine on the hoods of your bike but I found I could see over them slightly when I got down on the drops. If that annoys you, you may want to opt for the SL-1X instead, which rises over the top to give you that extra vision while in the TT position. The nose bridge is noticeable in a way that it isn’t with the Phantom, but arguably that is a tradeoff you accept when you choose frameless glasses.

These things are absolutely glued to my face. I could get a bit of movement on the Phantom when I deliberately tried to invoke it. But even when rocking out to Lordi, the SL-1 remained exactly where I had put them.

The dark artic mirror lens make a good choice in the sun, and most importantly, they’re mirror lens and mirror just looks cooler than anything else. It’s the lowest light transmission ROKA do for the SL-1, so if you’re going to be out in other conditions, you might want to look at some of the other lenses (some of which also come in mirror). That said, they can still hold their own against other sunglasses I’ve tested in lower light conditions.


There is a lot to like about the ROKA SL-1. Other sunglasses are often hard to put on or don’t stick in place, but the SL-1 is both flexible enough to slide on easily and glued to your face. They look cool and they’re comfortable to wear, although the nose bridge is a little annoying. If you’re running or road cycling, these make a great choice. If you spend most of your time in the TT position, I would recommend checking out the SL-1X instead, as you’ll appreciate the extra vision at the top.

ROKA Phantom sunglasses

Monday, November 26th, 2018 | Reviews

ROKA make some amazing looking stuff. However, as I wrote about in October, their shipping costs were incredibly high. Well, great news: the bad old days are gone! ROKA now has a UK distribution centre allowing them to serve UK and European customers without adding 50% on to the price of your order.

To celebrate, I’ve been testing the ROKA Phantom sunglasses. First up, here is the unboxing:

These are the carbon (polarised) lenses. The packaging looks excellent. It feels like you’re opening an Apple product. Inside you’ll find your glasses, along with a pretty rugged soft case. Not something I would want to be thrown around in the bottom of a suitcase, but sturdy enough to leave in the outer pocket of your backpack without worry.

They weigh in at just under 20 grams. I also weighted my existing sets of sunglasses, all of which weighed in at somewhere between 30 and 35 grams. Whether you can tell the difference, I’m not sure, but they do feel super light when I’m putting them on.

The light transmission works well in most environments. Admittedly, the British winter isn’t the best time to test them in bright, sunny conditions. But my usage so far has been positive. You can’t stare directly into the sun (I didn’t test this intentionally, but the sun is pretty low around here during winter), but you can get close, and they function well in low light scenarios, too: walking into the office and driving at dusk both left me with enough detail to see clearly.

Racing in aviators isn’t something I’ve previously considered but ROKA insists they will stick to your face. So far, they’re holding pretty true. I can make them jump forward if I rock out to Metallica on maximum. But anything that would actually happen in a race wouldn’t be enough to disturb them: see the video above for my own shake test.

What you won’t get with the aviators is an ultra-wide field of vision. They’re more than adequate on the run, but on the bike, you can see around the side of them and as soon as you get on the drops or TT bars, you can see over the top of them, too. If you’re looking for a wide field of vision, check out my upcoming ROKA SL-1 review. That said, the inner vision is arguably better. The nose bridge entirely disappears on the Phantoms in a way that it doesn’t quite on the SL-1.


ROKA set out to make a set of aviators that was built for racing. They’ve done an excellent job. I don’t think I’ll be trading in my sport style glasses for these while on the bike due to the extra vision I get with the former. But, when the on run, the low weight and invisible frames come into their own.

ROKA shipping posts

Sunday, October 28th, 2018 | Life

These are the ROKA SL-1 sunglasses. They look pretty nice:

Here it is listed on their website for approximately £95 (at time of writing the dollar is trading at 0.76 to the pound).

But what happens if you try and buy the sunglasses in the UK? Suddenly they are £165.

That appears to be £18 in mysterious currency difference, £25 delivery and £28 in taxes. Although to be fair, I can reduce the delivery cost by £2 if I select “import charges collected upon delivery” with no indication as to how much these might be.

Is this what everything we buy is going to be like after Brexit?

Snapped sunglasses

Saturday, August 4th, 2018 | Life

Last month, in an effort not to have to spend hundreds of pounds on some cycling sunglasses, I ordered a £10 Bolle-style pair from Ali Express. They looked awesome.

Then, when I told my friends, one of them pointed me to this story on Cycling Weekly about someone who was almost blinded by a pair of knock-off Oakley’s that snapped during a crash.

Heartbroken, I went back to my Aldi special buy sunglasses. They were told in the UK and would, therefore, be subject to EU legislation, so no problems there I thought. Literally, the week after, this happened:

It didn’t happen in a crash, thankfully, it happened while I was putting something into my bag. However, I was still rather surprised about how little force was required to snap them in two, as I wasn’t jamming anything in hard.

So, the search continues. Hopefully, Roka will expand into the UK, and offer everyone a 90% discount to celebrate, sometime before September.