When the full-coverage glasses fad started, I really wanted in. I mean, ‘gloggles’ are kind of ridiculous, but everyone wearing them somehow looked like they were just having more fun on the trail, or off (thanks Pit Viper), and I was envious of the eye protection they afforded without having to go full enduro. But, I have a very small face. Like, the POC Devour glasses would quite literally devour my face. Like, I can squeeze into my toddler’s sunnies if I’m desperate. That small. So I figured I was perpetually destined for dorkiness and subpar coverage.
But when I got my hands on a pair of the Machines For Freedom X Roka collaboration GP-1 series glasses, which are made specifically for small faces, my style started looking up. The limited-edition Palmera print frame is colorful and fun and can’t be found anywhere else, and I really like supporting a brand like Machines For Freedom, whose mission has always been to make cycling more accessible to women of all riding abilities and sizes.
My GP-1’s came with Roka’s HC Octane mirror lens, which has 20-percent light transmission and excels in both bright sun and overcast low-light, the two most common conditions I encounter riding in coastal southern California. Rain is rarely an issue and often, especially this time of year, I’ll start riding in a marine layer that gives way to full sun an hour or so into a ride. So a lens that can offer solid visibility in both is key.
The GP series was born on the Pro Tour, designed to stay in place on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix and remain comfortable for the ungodly number of hours on the bike Tour de France riders face for three weeks straight. I can’t speak to those sorts of testing conditions, but I have worn these glasses on nearly every ride I’ve been on for more than six months, and they’ve held up wonderfully. The lens is scratch-free, a miracle given the number of times I’ve tossed them in my helmet after a ride and let them float around the backseat of my car. I’ve worn them on dry, exposed dusty trails and in tree-covered, low-light loam, up long, hot sweaty climbs and on cool, humid days. They’ve proven to be well-ventilated and remain mostly fog-free when the sweat starts pouring out of every pore. On the most humid days, I’ve had to pull them off my face slightly to clear the lenses, but that’s rare and the only complaint I can muster. On super-bright days, a darker lens with slightly less light transmission would be ideal, but lenses are interchangeable and Roka has five other options, three of which are designed for full-sun conditions.
Often a glass will appear to have a snug fit until you hit a rock garden and they’re all over the place, but these stay put very well—thanks to Roka’s ‘Geko’ no-slip nosepad and temple pads—and at just 25 grams, they truly disappear while I’m pedaling, which is exactly what I want from a glass, to work well and be barely noticeable in the process. They’re also compatible with a variety of trail helmets—I’ve paired them with the Fox Speedframe, POC Kortal and Giro Source, without any annoying interference where the top of the lens and the bottom of the visor meet, or the opposite, a dreaded gap between the two. And the fit is so spot-on. The 53mm height offers nice coverage without completely dominating my face, with the lower rim falling to my cheekbones and the top just above my eyebrows. The 140mm width means a wide field of vision and the 119mm temple length gives the glasses proper leverage to cling to my head. And for those who don’t suffer from small-face-itis, Roka also sells the GP-1x, with a 57mm height and 7.5-percent increase in field of vision.
At $250, these Made In The U.S.A. gems aren’t cheap, but also fall in line with other high-quality full-coverage glasses in the market. I’ll admit when I first put these on, it was mostly about looks, but they’ve turned out to be technically stellar, comfortable and durable. This is a limited-edition collab that is nearly at the end of its run, but you can still find a few pairs of the special GP-1s over at Machines For Freedom.