The Melon Optics Alleycat glasses were first launched in late 2019 and, as a relative newcomer to the world of eye protection, the rider-owned brand has clearly worked hard to meet high the expectations set by more established companies.
With impressive levels of customisability, the Alleycat doesn’t skimp on performance with a Zeiss lens and high-tech materials used in the frame’s Italian construction.
Melon Optics Alleycat details
At the heart of the Alleycats are its user-customisation options for the lens and frame.
There are five frame colour options, five rubber nosepiece colours and five logo colour choices. Six Zeiss lenses are available too, ranging from a silver chrome model with an 18 per cent light transmission through to a yellow hued low-light lens with an 86 per cent transmission rating.
As standard, my test sample came with the category two red chrome lens with a blue tint for 28 per cent light transmission. It is claimed to work in a wide variety of conditions from full sun to tree cover. All of the lenses have in-built vents to help reduce the chances of fogging.
Each Alleycat is also supplied with a low-light lens as part of the package, additional lenses cost £45.
The frame is made from a flexible plastic material, called TR90, that’s claimed to be strong and lightweight – my test sample including lens weighed 31g.
The arms and nosepiece are rubberised to help improve grip and comfort on the wearer’s face.
Along with the low-light lens, the Alleycats are supplied with a microfibre bag and zip-up hard case with cut foam, to keep them in place.
Melon Optics Alleycat performance
The Alleycats resemble a number of modern, wide-framed glasses such as Oakley’s Sutros and 100%’s Hypercrafts. The frame is thin and elegant, attaching to the lens at the sides and top only, leaving the bottom portion of the lens frame-free.
The rubberised nosepiece gripped the bridge of my nose well, sitting comfortably without constricting my breathing. Likewise, the frame easily flexed open behind my ears and sprang closed with enough force to keep the glasses in place, without creating the aching feeling above the ears some tighter glasses can.
The rubberised sections on the arms gripped my skin well too, and remained comfortable.
I found the glasses stayed put over very rough terrain, not bouncing around or requiring any readjustment once set to position. I didn’t feel the need to readjust them at all, even after long periods wearing them.
They were comfortable with a wide variety of helmets too, including Fox’s Speedframe, Troy Lee Design’s A1 and Smith’s Session. They didn’t clash with the front rim of the lids and the arms proved to be thin enough to fit around the cradles and under the straps, furthering compatibility.
Both the low-light and red chrome Zeiss lenses had incredible clarity on the trails, although I preferred using the low-light lens in the vast majority of conditions, even bright sunlight.
In low light, its yellow hue increased contrast and upped brightness, making obstacles easier to spot. There were no reflections in the lens caused by either the frame or light passing behind it, and there appeared to be no optical distortion either.
The red chrome lens worked best on open trails and brighter days, but once the trail got particularly shaded or dappled with light, they struggled compared to the clear lens, lacking a little versatility. Overall, clarity was great, though.
The lenses remained mostly mist-free while I was on the move, even at slow speeds in cold and damp conditions. When stationary, they did tend to steam up after a few minutes of heavy breathing, but as soon as I set off again they cleared themselves instantly.
Ventilation was good and it was possible to feel air softly blowing behind the lens. This didn’t compromise protection from mud, water and roost though, and no debris was able to pass under or behind the lens into my eyes even on the dirtiest rides.
Lens removal was easy and quick, and its teeth disengaged smoothly from the frame with a small amount of force. Reinstalling the lens was a bit trickier at first, but once the correct technique of locating the top tabs was mastered, it became easier.
Melon Optics Alleycat bottom line
The Alleycats look good, are comfortable to wear and come supplied with a low-light lens as standard.
They’re customisable with plenty of colour options and have a host of main lens options, so there should be a combination to suit everyone’s needs and tastes.
They are expensive, but do have a feeling of quality and the lens clarity and protection is fantastic, which makes them hard to fault.
|What we tested||Alleycat grey matte frame, neon pink nose rubber, black gun metal icon, red chrome lens, low light lens|
|Features||Changeable lenses, Zeiss lens, rubberised nose gripper and arms, TR90 frame, smart venting system.|
|Key features||Changeable lenses|