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The Roka Kona sunglasses work brilliantly whether you're on or off the bike. They're light, offer good protection and aren't fazed by sweaty heads on fast rides. And they look pretty good too. They are expensive, but get the right frame and lens combination and they can be your one pair to rule them all. They'll withstand a good deal of abuse, too.
A single pair of sunglasses that covers a multitude of activities? That's the tenet of Roka's Kona sunglasses. No matter what you're doing, whether it's lounging on a beach or tucked into an aero position, they perform very well. They're high quality and look great too.
Though the looks definitely lean towards the casual side of the spectrum with that classic square styling, there's loads of useful tech that makes the Rokas a great choice for cycling.
They aren't as fragile as they appear. The nylon frames are pretty tough and give a decent amount of flex. They're also light at just 24g, so you barely know they're perched on your face.
Neatly concealed spring hinges offer dual benefits, allowing you to pull the arms wide apart to get them on easily without worrying about stressing the frames. They also keep the frames secure once on, no matter the width of your head.
Allied to this are the patented Gecko Pads on the inside of the arms and on the nose bridge. This is a squishy elastomer which Gecko says is 'hydrophilic, chemical resistant and supports multidirectional traction with comfort.' Basically, what this means is when you get really sweaty they stay in place.
Throughout the lovely warm test period, these glasses never budged a millimetre, even on rough stuff. This was actually a little unsettling at first, as I've got used to regularly pushing cycling sunglasses back up.
The Roka C3 Optics have an anti-scratch, anti-fog and anti-reflective coating. They also repel moisture thanks to the hydrophobic coating, which allows water drops to bead up and roll off quickly. The oleophobic coating resists greasy fingerprints, to a degree.
The relentlessly warm, sunny weather (I know, poor me) meant I didn't get a chance to see how fog-resistant they are in typically cold, humid weather. I suspect they will perform well, however, based on how easily they shed water.
The lenses aren't interchangeable, but the Konas do come in several frame and lens combinations. I tested the Shadow Frame with Bronze (polarised) lens, which gives 15% light transmission and boosts contrast alongside greens and yellows.
The contrast enhancement really helps on those lanes where you might encounter dappled shade, helping you to spot nasty things like potholes or gravel on tricky descents.
They offer a crystal-clear view, with excellent protection against sunlight. You might want darker lenses for really bright, sunny days, however, and either way you don't get the full wraparound effect of many cycling-specific sunglasses.
The only stumbling block here is the price, which is rather on the high side – even though you could, in theory, replace multiple pairs of sunglasses with them.
The Konas start at £170, though polarised lenses are an extra £35. They come with a stylish storage box and a soft case.
In comparison, the Oakley Sutros are £140, with loads of coverage against the sun, though there are no polarised lenses available.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Tifosi Swick Onyxs look a total bargain at just £30, with a similarly square – if not quite as nice – design. They also feature hydrophilic rubber inserts. Job done – albeit without the premium tech or feel of the Roka Kona sunglasses.
Stylish sunglasses with great performance in any situation, but the price is sky high
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Roka Kona sunglasses
Size tested: n/a
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: "Inspired by the Hawaiian birthplace of IRONMAN, an annual proving ground for the latest in performance technology, the Kona has a modern, square lens that echoes iconic American style of the 50s and 60s."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
NYLON FRAMES PROVIDE HIGH STRENGTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO, STRONG ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS AND CORROSION RESISTANCE
ROKA C3 OPTICS WITH ANTI-SCRATCH, ANTI-FOG AND ANTI-REFLECTIVE COATINGS
SUPER-HYDROPHOBIC AND OLEOPHOBIC COATINGS FOR ANTI-SPOTTING, FINGERPRINT RESISTANCE, AND EASY CLEANING
Very premium feel, as you might expect for the price.
Great protection against sunlight with a crystal clear view, and they stay glued to the face even on bumpy terrain. Not total wraparound protection, though.
Nylon frame is very tough. The spring hinges feel incredibly solid, and help prevent stressing the arms when putting them on.
Very comfortable, and fit all widths of head perfectly thanks to the spring hinges.
Very expensive, though they perform very well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great protection, perfect fit and they stay on your head at all times.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The spring hinges offering a secure but comfortable fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
More expensive than any other 'casual' style lens. The Oakley Sutro sunglasses are £95 cheaper, though you don't get polarisation. The Tifosi Swick Onyx might not be on the same level, but offer good performance at just £30 – bargain!
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No - too expensive for my tastes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Great all-round performance, and really could be your quiver-killer – they're excellent off the bike or on any bike you choose to ride (whether on gravel, dirt or road). Only the price really holds them back.
About the tester
I usually ride: Steel audax bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives,