When conditions get properly gnarly a good set of mountain bike goggles are an absolute must.
They’ll keep grime out of your eyes, protect you from flying debris and – of course – they look bad ass.
We’ve brought together our favourite mountain bike goggles for downhill and enduro right now and put them head to head to see which ones came out on top.
The Holy Grail of goggles is a pair that has good visibility, a frame size that fits every full face helmet but doesn’t look daft when used with a half face lid, good ventilation, tear-off compatibility, comes with a spare clear lens and tear-offs, don’t squish your nose and make you look like a badass. Of course, they’ve also got to come in some cool colours, right?
Fighting for the top spot in this test are X-Force Assassin, Scott Prospect, Dragon Vendetta, Melon Parker, Spy Omen and Smith Squad MTB.
Most of these should be available via your local bike shop or online. We’ve tried to list the best price we can online but, of course, don’t forget to ask your local buy shop for a price!
It’s worth saying: This isn’t an exhaustive list of all goggles on the market right now, it’s just what we’ve been able to test. If brands want to send us their goggles, we’ll happily include them when we re-run this feature.
The Dragon Vendetta goggles were really comfy for long rough downhill days and stayed put really well over a full-face helmet meaning the coverage was great and they left me with a really wide field of vision. The ventilation was great and they didn’t restrict my nose at all which is a problem I find with some other brands.
Effective ventilation around the whole goggle meant they didn’t feel overly sweaty and didn’t steam up at all. They’ve also got tear-of stems on the lens and the outer mask, leaving plenty of options for fiddle-free tear-offs.
The stability of the goggles was thanks to the “outer mask” around the edge of the goggles. This worked really well in conjunction with a full-face but meant that the goggles didn’t really cross over to an open face helmet. The goggles are so wide that they’re very cumbersome to wear with an open face helmet and look plain ridiculous when used in this sort of set up.
If you’re after goggles to use solely with a full-face you’d be hard pushed to find a comfier pair than these.
Xforce certainly won’t be the first name to pop into your head when you think of goggles, but the Assassins might well be about to change that. Xforce make goggles for a lot of the major brands and have ventured into the market themselves with the Assassin offering.
Despite the unknown name, the quality of the end product shows their experience. Fit is good, with plenty of easy adjustability in the strap, while the nose doesn’t sit funny even on my slightly wonky face. Changing lenses was no less difficult than any other brand, and I think this will be a faff regardless.
The frames sit comfortably across the face in either a full or half face helmet, making them a great option if you dabble with both.
Even during long, sweaty Alpine days, I never felt the need to slap these around the back of my helmet, although the fitted mirrored lens won’t have too much riding time in the UK. Thankfully there is a clear lens supplied.
The Omen combines all of the things we really like about the other goggles we’ve hammered to bring this grouptest together into a pretty solid package that doesn’t break the bank.
Two lenses come supplied, a clear and a mirrored offering, but in all honesty, a British winter doesn’t call for anything other than the clear option. The Omens look good in Green Highlighter with the green mirrored lens but do cost slightly more than the less jazzy options. You can pick these up for just under £60 online which makes them a real steal.
They have a sensible size that works well with both full and half face lids alike while offering a good field of view and sport a foam that is comfortable and warm-feeling without being sweaty.
Neither lens fogged up despite the wintery conditions they were used in, and the Woots became a regular edition to the riding pack if there was precipitation and wind forecast.
The Smith Squad MTB goggle is neither the most expensive nor the cheapest in the test and ticks all the boxes without any particularly jazzy features or wild styling. Don’t be fooled though, subtlety doesn’t mean poor performance.
The Smith Squad MTB is one of our favourites of the bunch. The fit is, in our experience, perfect. Despite being designed specifically to interface with the Smith Forefront helmet the Squad goggle fits beautifully with all of the full and open face helmets we’ve used.
Ventilation is also spot on and the large vents keep air flowing and fog at bay. So far, we’ve had no issues with misty goggles of any kind be it on the top of hillsides or sat in start gates. Comfort is good and whilst the foam isn’t deep and luxurious like others, we’ve got no complaints.
All in all, we’ve got no complaints at all about the Scott Squad MTB. They’re light weight, they’re comfortable and they fit nicely. They may not be the brashest of the bunch but they’ll sit quietly on your face and do their thing without bothering you one bit. Insert mum jokes here at your leisure.
The Prospects easily win the jazziest goggle award on test with their yellow and fluoro pink offering, combined with a mirrored lens. Far from just looking good though, the Prospects are a quality item.
Scott’s three-layer foam feels luxurious against the face, almost like a rug than foam, and does a very good job of keeping your face sweat-free and sitting on your face rather than digging in. The lens lock system does reduce the faff of swapping lenses, which is a nice touch.
Sweaty Alpine days and chilly Scottish winter expeditions were no real challenge for the Prospects, with no fogging up or sweaty eyelids. Vision afforded by the ample frame can only be described as panoramic, with very little of the frame in your periperhal.
One thing you notice when you slide these out of the supplied carry bag though is their size. Yes, they are an MX goggle, they’re listed as a large size will be larger than a standard goggle, but my word, these things are wide. I didn’t have a full face helmet that these would fit into without sitting off my face slightly.
A slightly smaller frame would see the Prospects very much at the sharp end of this test.
There’s a lot to love about Melon’s mountain bike goggles, not least the fact you can build your own designs on their website. Just log on and pick your strap, frame and lenses with an almost infinite number of combinations from the understated to the obscene. We chose a stealthy black-on-black pair and a much less stealthy tie-dye-and-hot-pink combo with a mirrored lens!
Sure, the Melon’s don’t have the fancy features of some of the other goggles in this test but, who cares? They’ve got a non-slip strap, they’ll take tear-offs and they offer a very decently large field of vision. We tested these by racing the Megavalanche in hot, dusty, tough conditions and they didn’t steam up once which was really impressive. They’re not the most high-tec goggle in this group but they sit quietly in place and do their thing hassle free.
A nice touch on the Melon Parker goggle is the ‘Switch-fast’ strap system which means you can easily and quickly remove the strap – great for swapping between styles and for keeping the strap clean.
The best bit about the Melon Parker is the price. Where many of the goggles on test are rocketing towards the £100 mark, the Parkers are £42.50 delivered next-day to your door. An extra lens will cost you between £7.50 and £12.50.
The Parkers get a massive thumbs up from us. The custom goggle builder is brilliant fun and they look and work just as brilliantly on the trails.
And our favourite is…?
Melon Parker goggles
In the end, all of the goggles in this group are a great choice and a favourite in their own way. But, there’s only one best-of-the-best and it has to be the Melon Optics Parker goggle.
Melon’s custom goggle builder is awesome and let’s you create a unique goggle that’s unlikely to be seen elsewhere on the trails. On the bike the Parker has a wide field of view, rarely fogs and does what it’s meant to do. The strap and lens are also simple to remove and noticeably less faffy than others.
Last but not least, the price. The Melon Parker is a great performing goggle that costs at least half (at full retail price that is) than the others in this feature. What’s not to like?