Ultra lightweght, shield-style sunglass that are nearly fog-proof, and offer excellent clarity and field of view.
nearly fog-proof lens;
excellent field of view;
few lens color options;
won’t stay docked in a helmet
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Roka Matador Air updates the previous generation of shield sunglasses with a few notable improvements. The Roka Matador won VeloNews accolades with 2020 Best Gravel Gear, and the updated version improves on the well-received previous version, the Roka Matador sunglass.
Also read: Roka Matador sunglass review
Frame and contact points
While the first version had a frame that surrounded the lens, the Matador Air loses the frame on the bottom. While it may not seem like a big deal, after hours of wearing these glasses, they feel noticeably lighter than similar shield style sunglasses from Oakley, 100%, and Rudy Project, and the field of view is noticeably improved. Roka boasts this shield sunglass weighs 25g, but my scale pegs them at just a hair over 24g — just 5g more than the brand’s diminutive titanium-framed, casual-wear Falcon sunglass. And compared with the 35g of the 100% Speedcraft Peter Sagan edition, the Roka Matador Air feels every bit as light as the numbers indicate.
While I think the shape of the frame looks like its upside down, the style provides excellent functionality, as the lens is comfortably situated and centered on my face. The dropped arms also reduce the chance of low-slung helmets hitting them. The contact points — the temples and nosepiece — are wrapped in a proprietary material from Roka designed to prevent slippage even during heavy perspiration, and it’s effective. Even during hot and humid summer days when I was mostly drenched, the Matador Air very infrequently moved on my nose, even when sweat collected on the inside of the lens. To aid the snug-but-comfortable fit, the temples can be modestly bent to fit the dimensions of your face.
After hours of use, and hundreds of times putting these glasses on and taking them off, the hinges on the sides of the frame remain snug, and have a satisfying feeling when they are clicked into place.
Where the Roka Matador Air sunglasses shine best is the lens. The smudge-proof lens seems nearly impervious to dirt from fingers (except when covered in PB&J from a mid-ride snack). And when the lens does smudge, all I have to do to clean them is breathe a little hot air on it, and wipe on a dry part of my jersey, or use the inside of the included travel pouch/lens wipe.
The most impressive feature of the Roka Matador Air is the three, small horizontal vents at the top of the lens, just below the frame which keep it from fogging. While I’ve worn sunglasses that are supposed to never fog, these Rokas truly are fog-free for me even with my head down, like while waiting at a traffic light and grabbing a quick snack and waiting for the green light. I’ve had very positive experiences with other shield sunglasses — a style that commonly fogs — that have vents, but the Roka Matador Air is superior in this respect.
I’m also impressed with the distortion-free clarity of the lens, and the unobstructed peripheral vision is excellent. But I notice some glare, even on the inside of the glasses, on the brightest days, but only at certain angles.
If Roka could change one thing
If there is one annoyance about the Roka Matador Air, it’s that they do not stay put when docked in my helmet. They rattle around and come very close to falling out of my helmet when I drop my chin. And they slide forward a bit, when I tilt my head down just slightly, like when I get eyes on the wheel just ahead of me. Yes, I can hook the glasses onto my jersey or cram them into a pocket, but I prefer to slide them, upside down, into the vents in my helmet where they are easily reached when needed. But this lack of a feature is not a showstopper, nor a reason to pass on the Roka Matador Air sunglasses.
And if Roka could change one other thing: offer a greater variety of lens options. A photochromic lens, a polarized lens, and even just additional color options would be nice.
Roka Matador Air verdict
If you’re in search of an ultra-lightweight shield style sunglass, with a nearly fog-proof lens that offers a distortion-free view, I recommend the Roka Matador Air. I really like not having any frame at the bottom of my field of view, and the three vents at the top of the lens are effective. While these Roka glasses are on the pricey side, they offer features and comfort that make them a good buy.