After pulling the goggles out of the box for the first time, it’s clear that Melon has developed a clean product – no signs of stray foam or adhesive showing here. The outrigger allows the goggle to conform to the contours of your face. One thing we noticed was how flimsy the frames of the goggles are. If you’ve every taken a goggle and tried to twist it like a pretzel, you’ll know what we mean. Goggles from Oakley and Leatt are stiff, and offer a sense of facial protection, but can sometimes be uncomfortable on certain face-types. These are flexible and conform nicely, but do leave us wondering what a face full of rocks would do.
Melon uses an ultra-soft outermost layer of foam that caresses your cheeks. It’s almost a velvety sort of texture, and although it gets warm and stays wet if you sweat a lot, it looks and feels nice.
There’s plenty of range on the strap to fit near enough any size of helmet, though the strap did stretch a small amount over the test period as we had them cranked up super tight – this isn’t a major concern though since the straps are easily replaceable. The removable nose guard pops on and off with a good ‘snap’, and adds some aggression to the look of the goggles in addition to providing roost and sun protection.
The clear lens is optically correct as far as my eyes can tell, and the view is as wide as they come. We did have some trouble with the mirrored lenses however and would not suggest using them, despite their cool looks. After a first run with some less-than-desirable depth perception we reached out to Melon and found out that we had received goggles from a batch that they discovered had a small flaw, although they said nobody else had reached out yet.
We were sent some replacement mirrored lenses and although they were a bit better, still had some lateral chromatic aberration. The problem isn’t too bad in lower light, but when riding in bright, sunny days with grasses or rocks that are similar in color to the dirt, we had a very hard time focusing and getting a good read on depth. If you primarily ride with clear lenses, then this won’t be an issue for you.
When up to speed, the ventilation on the goggles does the trick, combining with the anti-fog coating to leave the goggles clear and free in a majority of conditions. We did have some fogging on slower climbs but this cleared as soon as the speed picked back up. The ultra-cushy outer layer traps and holds moisture, which is great for preventing any stray sweat from finding its way into your eyes. This does, however, mean if you get the goggles damp and take them off, then putting them back on gives your face a cold and wet welcome. These are certainly not the only brand of goggles this has happened with, but it seems that the ultra-soft fabric absorbs more sweat than others.
Melon’s second offering to the mountain bike world takes another step up the quality ladder, but still aren’t on par with performance optics from brands like Scott, Leatt, or Oakley. For example, Leatt’s 4.5 goggles offer better optical performance and a safer feel and cost just $49, but you can’t build your own. Melon’s customization process is bar-none the best out there and makes goggle shopping more fun that it already is! On top of that they do it at an affordable price point. The downside to that price point comes somewhere and sadly, we’d have to say it comes from the flexy frame and lower quality lenses. If customization and looks are most important to you, these are a solid choice for mountain bikers looking to add some extra style to their kit. We still love how cool our goggles look.