At a glance
The Melon Optics Kingpin is their full frame action sports sunglasses. You can choose from 7 different Zeiss lenses and 7 different frame color options to create your almost custom product. Lenses are interchangeable, so when the seasons change, you’re able to adjust. They come in a case, with a microfiber bag and are manufactured in Italy.Buy Glasses on
About the brand
The guys and gals at Melon Optics have been in the game since 2013, kicking off as a small startup tricking the founders father into shipping the goods, while founder James went to do ‘product research’ in Morzine. Although a suspicious move at first sight, it definitely paid off in the end. After some more conventional sunglasses and some good looking goggles they launched their Alleycat glasses in the winter of 2019. Launching sunglasses in winter isn’t the most logical move, but if you want to do things properly it always takes longer than you think. Manufactured in a family owned factory in Italy, they keep the carbon footprint in check by not shipping stuff needlessly around the globe. Although that’s a nice touch, this is all we could find on their stance regarding sustainability and the environment.
The Kingpins arrive in a smart looking protective case, holding a spare low light lens and space for another spare lens. The microfiber cloth is included to make sure you can safely stash it in your backpack and clean off any dust or mud.
The Kingpin lens ratings are as follows:
Low-Light = S0 (86% VLT)
Amber = S2 (29% VLT)
Violet Chrome = S2 (25% VLT)
Red Chrome = S2 (28% VLT)
Green Chrome = S2 (22% VLT)
Silver Chrome = S3 (19% VLT)
Smoke = S3 (19% VLT)
Photochromic = S0 – S3 (85% – 18% VLT)
The higher the category (and lower the VLT %) the more light the lens blocks, so an S2 lens is often good for if you’re riding in varying light conditions, whilst an S3 lens will perform best if you’re mostly riding bright conditions.
It’s good to note that the photochromic lenses are not made by Zeiss (they don’t make them at all in fact.)
There is also a Kingpin Snow, which does not come with a low light lens and has different lens options, optimized for filtering out more blue light, which you find in snowy conditions.
Out on the trail
The Kingpin has a fashionable shape that does not make any compromise in function either. It offers good protection, and even in the more difficult conditions we never had any problems with the lenses fogging up.
The frame is definitely tough, as it survived many rough moments when it ended up in the bottom of my backpack buried under snacks, first aid kits and spare parts for several rides. Changing lenses is also a breeze.
Our Red Chrome S2 lens did a great job in variable conditions, but on those blue bird days we’d definitely opt for a darker option like the Smoke or Silver Chrome.
The Kingpins are a set of solid shades that offer not only a good look but also some quality protection from the elements. 150 Euros is a fair bit of pocket money, but they do come with high quality Zeiss lenses and deliver a great package with a storage case and low light lens too. Thumbs up from us at IMB!Buy Glasses on
This review was in Issue 70 of IMB.For more information visit Melon Optics
By Jarno HooglandJarno's life has revolved around two wheels ever since he swung a leg over his first BMX at age 4. After a BMX and DH racing career, he moved on to work for bike shops, distributors and brands before ending up in the editors seat at IMB. Based in the ultimate testing ground in the Swiss mountains, he runs his guiding operation and makes sure every IMB issue is filled with top notch content.