Roka GP-1X sunglasses are ultra-lightweight, comfortable to wear, and flexible enough to fit a variety of head sizes without too much pressure. The lens provides good eye coverage and excellent vision, although you don't get a second one as part of the deal.
- Pros: Lightweight, good coverage, comfortable
- Cons: No second lens, high price
Roka is a young US brand whose glasses you might have spotted being worn by the likes of Team Direct Energie and Ireland's Dan Martin. You buy direct from Roka's website and the product is sent out from a UK warehouse (the same day if you order before 2pm).
The first thing you notice about the GP-1X glasses is just how light they are. Roka claims 26g and our sample pair weighed in at exactly that. Saving a few grams on your glasses isn't going to make you ride any quicker but it might make them more comfortable; these are so light that you barely feel them. For comparison, a pair of 100% Speedtraps that I'm also using at the moment are 40g. The difference is easily enough to notice.
The GP-1X lens is large, even in an era of the most massive sports glasses in human history, although the lack of a frame at the top means these glasses don't look as big as some. The lens measures 57mm in height and 140mm across, while the GP-1's lens is a little shorter at 53mm.
The frame at the bottom of the lens extends around to the arms, the glasses wrapping around the side of your face enough that there's no interruption to your vision when you check back over your shoulder to see what's going on behind. Similarly, the fact that the lens is open at the top means nothing gets in the way when your head is down and you're straining to look forward while riding in an aero position. Vision really is excellent.
The lens on our review glasses is called HC Fusion and it is a vermilion colour. It comes with a slight mirror finish and 19% visible light transmission. Designed for partly cloudy to bright and sunny conditions, the lens does a good job of heightening contrast. Other tints are available; go to the Roka website to see each in action.
The lens is swappable, in theory, although you only get one included and accessory lenses are not yet available on Roka's UK website. That's work in progress; you should be able to buy extra lenses within a couple of months. You can file the changing process under 'easy enough when you know how'. Doing it the first time, though, requires a leap of faith and nerves of steel because you think you might snap something. You have to twist the hinge area upwards with quite a lot of pressure. Roka's pictorial instructions didn't give me the confidence I was looking for so I found a YouTube video instead. Job done in 10 seconds, but there are definitely less scary systems out there.
The lens has anti-scratch protection along with hydroleophobic coatings on both sides that are designed to stop moisture and oil sticking to it, plus anti-fog and anti-reflective coatings on the inside. Bear in mind that none of this stuff is magic, so you still have to be careful in order to avoid any damage, while greasy paw prints and trails of sweat are pretty much inevitable on long, hot rides. The anti-fog coating certainly works to a degree, but go full gas and stop at the traffic lights and they'll quickly get cloudy, just like every other pair of glasses I've ever used.
The arms have a titanium core that you can easily bend inwards/outwards to adjust the fit, although it won't curve downwards. That's a shame because I tried these glasses out with a whole load of different helmets and the arms clashed with the fit systems of a couple of them. If that's an issue, you can return any glasses you buy (unused, of course) within 30 days for an exchange or a refund.
The arms are covered with a ridged elastomer – Roka calls it Geko – that gets more grippy when wet, and the nosepiece is made of similar stuff. You actually get four differently sized nosepieces to choose between, and swapping from one to another is simple. I'm pretty sure that at least one of them will work for you. I've certainly had no worries on that score.
The price of £215 is a lot of cash for glasses with a single lens. They're not alone: the Poc Do Half Blades that we reviewed recently are £225 and they have just one lens, but the £195 Smith Attacks have two that you can swap between according to light conditions. Some other glasses at similar prices, such as the Scicon Aerotechs (£224), have a photochromic lens that darkens in bright light.
The Roka GP-1X glasses are lightweight and offer plenty of comfort thanks to their easily adjusted fit. They also provide loads of unobstructed vision, although the price is high considering that you don't get a second lens as part of the package.
Superlight and comfortable glasses with good coverage, but you don't get a second lens
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Roka GP-1X sunglasses
Size tested: 57mm tall lens
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, "Built for all-out efforts in mud, over cobbles, through the gravel, dirt, rain and fog. The GP-1 was born out of direct work with the best world tour cyclists, to solve the problems they face in extreme race conditions. Tough enough for Paris-Roubaix, but versatile enough for the farm road down the way, the lower rim adds security and maximum protection from anything the ground can throw up at you. Ultralight and with an unrestricted forward field of view, the GP-1 boasts the world's best optics in a sleek, stylish package."
The GP-1X that we have here is simply a version of the GP-1 with a taller lens.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Roka says: "Critical performance coatings include front and back-side hydroleophobic coatings to keep moisture of any kind from sticking on the lens; front and back-side anti-scratch protection; a multi-layer anti-reflective back-side coating; an anti-fog ri-pel coating on the back of the lens; and a multi-layer mirror coating or polarisation film.
"The GP-1 comes fitted with customisable titanium core wires that offer ultralight stability while also allowing the wearer to adjust the temple pieces for a precision fit. Wrapped in Geko, the core wire fit system ensures unmatched security, retention and comfort for every athlete.
"The lens is easily removable and interchangeable with additional Roka accessory lens options to meet the needs of every run, ride, or race. The lens lock tab provides a simple guide for placement and peace of mind knowing your lens is securely seated.
"Featuring Geko technology, the nosepiece locks down the fit and security of the frame. Every pair comes equipped with three nosepiece options to ensure a custom fit for every face.
"Design evolved over a billion years. Inspired by the soft but amazingly sticky feet of the Gecko, our patented Geko fit and retention system features a proprietary elastomer for nose and temple pads that's hydrophilic, chemical resistant, and supports multi-directional traction with comfort.
"No matter how sweaty you get, and which way you move, bounce, or shake –– you'll never have to worry about slippery frames falling off your face."
These are light enough that you barely feel them.
The titanium core arms and changeable nosepiece allow you to get a comfortable fit that's perfectly secure.
For this kind of money you'll often get a polarised lens, or a second lens included. Bear in mind that you can't buy accessory lenses through Roka's UK website yet.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The level of performance is high, the glasses providing good coverage and vision while being very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The coverage and the light weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The process for removing the lens is a bit of a heart stopper when doing it for the first time.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Poc Do Half Blades that we reviewed recently are £225 and they have just one lens, but a spare lens is common at this price. The £195 Smith Attacks, for example, have two that you can swap between according to the conditions. Some other glasses at similar prices, such as the Scicon Aerotechs (£224), have a photochromic lens that darkens in bright light.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Only if it was a little cheaper.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above.
Use this box to explain your overall score
These glasses put in a very good performance but the price drags the overall score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.