Review: Roka Matador Ultralight Performance Sunglasses

Review: Roka Matador Ultralight Performance Sunglasses


The Roka Matador Ultralight Performance Sunglasses are impressive, offering good protection, excellent clarity, and a wide field of vision. However, their high price doesn’t even include a spare lens or a hard case.

Like the CP-1X glasses that I reviewed a couple of years ago, the Matadors are a full frame model but with a particular focus on reduced weight, coming in at only 26g. This is a very impressive weight for any set of glasses, let alone full frames.

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Happily, they also perform well in other areas – including the C3 7-base cylindrical lens. Roka claims it provides the ‘sharpest optics on the planet from every head position’; without testing every other lens out there this isn’t something I can confirm, but one I’m certain of is that they offer excellent clarity regardless of where you’re looking.

There are currently 10 lenses available, six for full sun, two for medium sun, one for low sun, and a photochromatic lens for ‘variable’.

The Gold Mirror Lens on test offers a 16% transmission rate and has a wide range of use. I tried the glasses in everything from heavy rain to bright sunshine and they offered comfortable visibility at all times.

Changing the lens is very easy – simply hold the nose-piece and pull up on the top of frame, then pull out the lens and replace it.

You’ll have to buy the replacement lens, though, as there isn’t one supplied as standard, which is a bit disappointing considering the price.

Roka also claims the lens has a fingerprint-proof coating, but I found it picked up fingerprints as much as any other pair of glasses I’ve used.

As regards field of vision, the glasses are very good; right at the periphery you can just about see the edges of the frame, but not in a way that impedes your view at all. If you’re in a tuck you cannot see the top of the glasses at all, and there is nothing getting in the way if you’re doing a shoulder check either.

This is particularly surprising given the design of the glasses, where the thick hinge sits towards the bottom of the frame rather than at the top. They’re fairly unusual looking glasses as a result, but the added bonus of the low hinge is that they sit higher on your face, which allows that unimpeded view when in a tuck. Roka refers to this design as the V-Core temple, which ‘seamlessly integrates with helmets and caps’; essentially, it stays out of the way because it’s lower down.

Ventilation is good, and combined with the anti-fog and hydrophobic coating on the lens means that the only time I saw even a modicum of fogging was after riding up a particularly steep hill on a particularly hot day, then needing to wait at the traffic lights at the top. Even then the fogging cleared quickly once I set off again. Roka has done this particularly well as there isn’t visible venting on the glasses, so they maintain a clean look.

I found the fit superb thanks to the amount of adjustability built into them. The glasses come with three different nose pads, so you can choose the shape that best suits your nose, and they also have titanium core wires within the arm tips, allowing you to bend them to sit most comfortably against your head.

Along with this adjustability, the Geko Grip used on the arms and nose pad, plus the light weight of the glasses mean they sit comfortably on the head regardless of how sweaty I get or how much rain is pouring on my head.


With an rrp of £200, these are definitely towards the top end of the scale, especially when you consider that they don’t come with any spare lenses or a hard case.

The MAAP X 100% Glendale glasses that I reviewed a couple of months ago are 15g heavier and £5 less but come with a replacement lens and a hard case.

Similarly, the Rudy Project Defender ImpactX Photochromatic 2 Black glasses I tested a couple of years ago are only 8g heavier, cost £8 less, and come with a photochromatic lens and a hard case.

> Buyer’s Guide: 31 of the best cycling glasses

Overall, these are are impressive performance glasses. Their field of vision is excellent, as is their clarity, and they are the lightest pair of full frame glasses I have used. Ventilation is also exceptional, with any fogging that appears quickly dissipating. However, there is no getting around the high price, especially when you don’t get a spare lens or hard case.


Excellent pair of glasses, but very expensive and don’t even come with a hard case or spare lens

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Make and model: Roka Matador Ultralight Performance Sunglasses

Size tested: Matte Black Frame – Gold Mirror

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?

Roka says, ‘Great for sunny and slightly overcast conditions. Increases contrast on roads and trails. Enhances green and yellow colors’

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Roka lists:









Rate the product for quality of construction:


Very well made, with strong hinges and easily bendable arms.

Rate the product for performance:


Performance is excellent with no kind of distortion regardless of how I looked through them.

Rate the product for durability:


They feel like they would survive a fall, with easily bendable arms.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)


Difficult to top – the lightest full frame glasses that I’ve used.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)


Very comfortable thanks to the levels of adjustability combined with the impressive weight and the ease with which they stay on your head.

Rate the product for value:


Very expensive and no hard case or spare lenses.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

They were excellent, offering superb clarity and field of vision, combined with comfort and a lightweight construction.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The ventilation is great, and without any visible vents too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price, especially as there’s no hard case or spare lens.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

The MAAP X 100% glasses that I reviewed a couple of months ago are 15g heavier and £5 cheaper but come with a replacement lens and a hard case. Similarly, the Rudy Project Defender ImpactX Photochromatic 2 Black glasses that I tested a couple of years ago are £8 less, and come with a photochromatic lens and a hard case.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes – if on sale.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – if on sale.

Use this box to explain your overall score

These are an excellent pair of sunglasses, but I would expect at least a hard case and perhaps a spare lens for my £200.

Age: 33  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: CAAD13  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I’ve been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,


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