New lids, shoes, kit…O’Neal look like they’re on it. Here’s a quick low down on it all, plus a little video to illustrate just how awesome ‘Fidlock’ is.
First of all if you’re wondering what the hell ‘Fidlock’ is, it’s the incredibly quick and easy to use helmet closure that is featured on an ever increasing number of O’Neal helmets. We reckon it’s pretty neat to say the least, but if you don’t believe us then check out the video below…
See! It really is unbelievably easy to use. The system is actually made by a separate company and is used on a whole load of other products, and I don’t know if O’Neal have some kind of exclusive helmet deal with them, but if they don’t then personally I’d love to see other helmet manufacturers take on the design.
Anyway, onto the new bits of kit themselves…
First up is the Spark full face lid which is super lightweight without feeling flimsy. Even the standard composite version that’s shown here weighs in at just 870g, and then the carbon option is positively featherweight at only 700g. They haven’t scrimped on features though as there’s everything that you’d expect to find in a quality lid such as a fully removable/washable lining, an adjustable peak, and a whole pile of vents to keep you cool. Both versions of the lid also come with that superb Fidlock fastening system. We reckon O’Neal have also done a great job on the styling and it’s a very similar fit to a Troy Lee. The icing on the cake has to be the great value pricing.
If you’re more concerned about maximum protection (although it has to be said the jury is still out on whether or not MX lids are better or worse for mountain bike crashes) then instead you might want to consider the latest MX lid from O’Neal, a product which they’ve been working on for over two years. With its typical MX style deep padding it’s unbelievably comfortable, it feels like your head is in a pillow. But despite all that padding and its overall size/amount of protection it still only weighs in at 1226g. That’s on a par with several DH lids. Impressive, especially at such a reasonable price too. Of course you also get a fully removable lining, but seeing as this is an MX lid you get a traditional D-ring fastening rather than the Fidlock system. A carbon version is in the pipeline but by the sounds of it you shouldn’t expect that to appear any time soon. Definitely one of the best value MX lids that we’ve seen, and this one is available now.
This new ‘Evo’ version of the O’Neal Dirt Lid is essentially the same as previous models but you now get the Fidlock fastening system. They claim that it weighs 450g, but our XL one tipped the scales at a hefty 567g. That is a lot heavier than the lightweight in-mould style designs that are also on the market, but with its thick outer shell there’s no doubting that this lid will survive being thrown about a hell of a lot more. As with pretty much all piss pot lids you don’t get any fancy adjustable fit system, but you do get a few different thickness pads to tailor the fit. O’Neal also have a brand new trail lid which they’ve been working on, and hopefully it won’t be too much longer before that hits the shops.
O’Neal also have a couple of new flat pedal shoes on offer, both of which feature sticky ‘Honeyrubber’ soles, and in keeping with the name they have a honeycomb pattern. Grip doesn’t feel like it’s on a par with a pair of Five Ten’s, but then again what shoes are and these still feel impressive with a good level of feel. The sole also has a good level of stiffness and the overall build gives us the impression that these should last well. The no-nonsense leather upper also scores highly with us as there’s nothing else that works as well in the mud. This particular pair are the mid-top Trigger’s but the other option is a low-top Stinger. It’s essentially the same shoe, just with less ankle protection. Both models sell for the same price and are available in several different colours, including a far more stealthy plain black.
More often than not race kit just undergoes a colour change from year to year, but for 2013 O’Neal have made significant changes to their entry level Element kit. The panels have been cut completely differently to give an improved fit. The jersey now features an extended tail, sewn in elbow padding, and a super stretchy collar which allows it to be pulled over a neck brace. The material also has a new antibacterial treatment and wicks sweat better than ever. With the race pants you now get a ratchet waist strap, stretch panels in the knee, bum and groin areas, hard wearing reinforcement on the bum and inner knee, and an elasticated ankle. Both the jersey and pants are available in eight different colours, and with the price of this kit remaining the same for four years on the trot they certainly offer great value. Oh, and yes we know our work experience tea boy was a bit small to be the model.
Finally we have the Jump gloves which despite the name are Greg Minnaar’s glove of choice, and it’s not surprising. We love the their minimalist nature, they’re just ultra thin and light which results in the best possible feel. The fit is also excellent and although O’Neal have taken the pared down route with these gloves it’s good to see that they have still included a little bit of reinforcement on the thumb and have wrapped the stronger palm material around the ends of the fingers. Those little touches don’t take away from the minimalist feel but they should increase the lifespan.