In a world of Oakleys and 100%s you might not necessarily think to seek out bike giant Merida when hunting for some new shades.
But at just £30 and boasting some decent technical features, the Merida Sunglasses Race 3 are definitely worth a look.
The Merida Sunglasses Race 3 follow the fashion du jour of full-coverage, half-frame glasses that have long been popular on the road scene.
They offer loads of coverage and a big, wide lens that wraps around nicely to cover your full field of vision save for a slim gap along the bottom where the glasses sit away from your cheeks.
There’s a nice simplicity to the Sunglasses Race 3. There’s a single piece of ‘frame’ along the top and two folding legs. The legs have grippy rubber to hold them in place and can be lengthened or shortened by a few millimetres to adjust their fit. The nose piece is a simple, rubber affair that can be also be adjusted to suit.
The effect is a very comfortable, unobtrusive pair of glasses that you won’t particularly notice when you’re wearing them. They sit nicely on your brow and nose, lifted slightly away from your cheeks and without any noticeable pressure points.
At just 35g, they’re just a couple of grams weightier than serious-money-sunglasses and feel very light on your face adding up to a more comfortable, less noticeable experience.
Merida’s big, flashy and mirrored lens feels like a really impressive piece of kit for the money. It looks much more premium than the money suggests and according to Merida’s website, is “a Cat 3 lens” which “provides great protection against visible and UV light, allowing just 20% of light to penetrate”.
The Cat 3 lens seems to favour brighter conditions but for summer riding works well. The lenses seem to provide a nice balance of reducing bright light whilst still allowing enough to negotiate difficult trails. Shadier trails in the trees may need you to whip them off and stow them away though.
Merida’s venting feels impressive. Two small gaps at the top of the lens and the slim gap between the lens and your cheeks allow air to move and keep your vision clear. I’ve ridden them in some fairly hot and sweaty conditions (25°C or so in the UK) and haven’t experienced any instances of them fogging up as you might with other glasses.
An inevitable feature of big, showy sunglasses is their size and the Merida Sunglasses Race are a bit bulky to fit in the pocket of your riding shorts.
When the light drops you’ll need to stop and stow them in a pack or find a way of storing them on your helmet and risk dropping them on rougher sections. If you ride without a bag, you’ll need to bear that in mind.
I’ve also personally found that the distance the glasses sit from your face can cause a bit of sweat to gather on the inside of the lenses. On particularly hot rides, I’ll find the inside of the lens gets a bit smudged and smeared with sweat, obscuring my vision a little and needing me to stop and use the goggle bag to give them a clean. I suspect that’s as much a symptom of my bushy eyebrows as it is Merida’s design.
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that the Sunglasses Race don’t offer the ability to swap or replace lenses. There’s no option to replace scratch lenses or switch them to match different conditions.
What do we think?
The Merida Sunglasses Race 3 are, despite their somewhat unglamorous name, a really impressive piece of kit. They look far more flashy than the price tag suggests, the fit and feel is great and the lens is a pleasure to use in brighter, sunnier conditions. They weigh a gram or two more than glasses several times the price.
Given how much these glasses offer for such a small price tag, we’re finding it a hard job to find any significant reasons not to recommend them. If you don’t need changeable lenses for different conditions, these are a great choice.
Big, bold, flashy sunglasses that look far more premium than they should for the money.
Feel light, comfortable and airy.
Lens has a very comfortable tint that works well in bright to overcast conditions.
They cost £30.
Could Do Better:
We’ve experienced instances of sweat gathering inside the lenses.
No option to swap or replace lenses.
A little bulky to store if you like to ride without a bag.