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First Ride: 2022 O'Neal MTB Apparel and Protection

While the company is perhaps still most known for its place in MX, O’Neal has been steadily adding to their range of mountain bike gear and the catalog is pretty impressive these days. We took delivery of a box of 2022 goodies, and we’re here to give you a rundown of some of the items featured on this year’s MTB menu.

Element FR Short Hybrid Tobanga Short Pin-It Short
  • Mid-weight breathable 2-way stretch fast-wicking, quick-drying main fabric for ultimate comfort
  • Stretch panels on crotch, top of seat/ waist for improved freedom-of-movement
  • Abrasion-resistant seat panels
  • Abrasion-resistant side patches
  • Laser-cut ventilation holes on inside of thighs
  • 2 side zipper pockets
  • Handy hang tab on back of waist for drying and storage
  • Double- popper waist closure with side hook-and-loop adjustment for secure snug fit
  • Stream-lined design for aerodynamics while riding/ racing
  • MSRP: $89.99 USD
  • Extended over-the-knee cut to cover top of pads when riding 
  • Mid-weight fast-wicking, quick-drying fabric for the perfect balance of durability/ abrasion resistance and weight 
  • Stretch panels on seat/ waist for improved freedom-of-movement 
  • Pre-curved leg tailoring for great on-bike fit and comfort
  • Laser-cut ventilation holes on inside of thighs
  • Pre-curved leg tailoring and high back waistband for great on-bike fit and comfort 
  • 4 pockets: 2 x zipper side, 2 x thigh
  • Integrated loop in left thigh pocket for key ring or lift-pass holder 
  • Popper waist closure with side hook and loop adjustment for secure snug fit 
  • Improved durability with tough material panels on the crotch and inside of legs 
  • Compatible with O’Neal inner chamois shorts (available separately)
  • MSRP: $79.99 USD
  • Active cut with shorter leg length
  • Breathable, quick-drying, and fast-wicking material
  • 3 pockets: 2 x side zipper, 1 x zipper rear waist
  • Laser-cut ventilation holes on inside of thighs
  • Pre-curved leg tailoring and high back waistband for great on-bike fit and comfort
  • Popper waist closure with side hook and loop adjustment for secure snug fit
  • Compatible with O’Neal inner chamois shorts (available separately)
  • Abrasion and water resistant seat panels
  • MSRP: $99.99 USD
Legacy Pant V.22 Element FR Jersey Hybrid Pin-It Jersey
  • Lightweight breathable 4-way stretch, fast-wicking, quick-drying main fabric for ultimate comfort 
  • Stretch panels on thighs, top of seat/ waist and ankles for improved freedom-of-movement 
  • Abrasion-resistant seat panels 
  • Padded back waistband for added comfort
  • Pre-curved leg tailoring and high back waistband for great on-bike fit and comfort
  • Laser-cut ventilation holes on inside of thighs
  • Stream-lined design for aerodynamics while riding/ racing DH 
  • Double-popper waist closure with side Velcro® adjustment for secure snug fit
  • MSRP: $129.99 USD
  • Long-sleeved jersey with mesh panels under arms for extra ventilation and comfort
  • Ideal for Downhill, AM, Enduro and Trail riding
  • Extra comfort while riding with fast-wicking, quick-drying, breathable new improved fabrics
  • Long tail to tuck jersey securely into pants/ shorts
  • Can be worn with or without protection
  • MSRP: $49.99 USD
  • Improved comfort while riding with new lighter, faster-wicking, quicker-drying, more breathable fabric
  • Hidden secure side back pocket with zipper
  • Shorter front and drop tail for a great fit when on the bike
  • Mesh panel under arms for increased ventilation
  • Flat-locked seams for added comfort
  • Laser-cut ventilation holes
  • Round collar with seam- welded workmanship
  • Built-in goggle/ sunglasses wipe
  • MSRP: $49.99
Slickrock Jersey MTB Performance Sock Redeema Knee/Elbow Guard
  • Breathable, quick-drying and anti-bacterial performance shirt
  • Comfortable round collar
  • Matches all shorts in the range for a more casual look without compromising on technical properties
  • MSRP: $29.99 USD
  • Designed for the perfect fit with no bunching of material or tight spots
  • All-day-long comfort with quick drying and fast-wicking fabric
  • Performance fit and materials for day-long comfort
  • MSRP: $14.99 USD
  • IPX protective material used for main pad
  • Auxiliary foam pads on knee guard for protection from side impacts
  • Zippered design for easy on/off
  • Velcro straps for extra retention
  • Slim design
  • Silicone grippers at both hems
  • Comfortable & breathable materials
  • Certified to CE EN 1621-1 Level 2
  • MSRP: $99.99 USD (knee) / $79.99 USD (elbow)
Mayhem Squadron Glove Matrix Glove
  • Silicone printing for a better grip
  • Long-lasting and flexible materials for the perfect fit
  • Super lightweight design with bold non-fade graphics
  • Seamless rollover fingertips
  • Synthetic leather palm with double layer thumb reinforcement
  • Hook and loop adjustable wrist closure
  • MSRP: $32.99 USD
  • Vented mesh top for increased airflow and cooling
  • Adjustable wrist with Velcro® closure for a secure fit
  • Stretch Lycra® side panels for added comfort and flexibility
  • Ergonomic padding and stitching on palm for increased comfort and dexterity
  • Pre-curved tailoring
  • MSRP: $19.99 USD

Impressions and On-Trail Observations

Starting off with the shorts, we received three models to test. They all share several features like the dual Velcro waist adjusters and the double snap fly buttons. The Element FR short also sports a couple of extra anti-abrasion patches in the thigh area, as well as the seat panels. Laser cut holes add a little extra ventilation, which is useful given the sturdy general nature of this short. There are two large zippered pockets that offer adequate storage space for your essentials. On the trail, the cut works really well. The short sits in the right place and offers enough adjustability around the waist to take up a little slack if need be. The short runs true to size in general.

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The Pin-It short is quite similar to the Element FR short in general, but with the added advantage of a water-resistant seat panel patch. If you frequently ride in muddy conditions, you’ll appreciate its ability to fight off the wet-bottom syndrome. On the topic of bottoms, there is also a third small pocket at the back of the waist on this one – useful for smaller items like a credit card for example.

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The Tobanga short is a bit of a different animal. It’s made from a 4-way stretch fabric that is softer to the touch, and it also sports 4 full-sized, zippered pockets making it a good choice for the pack mules among you. The Tobanga is also one of several shorts that feature longer than average inseams, making it a convenient companion if you happen to have proportionally longer legs for your size. 

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The build quality on all the shorts is good, and they all work really well on the bike. We’re fans of the Element short for its no-nonsense approach and cut, and of the Tobanga for its super-soft, all-day comfort. We should also point out that they are competitively priced, especially given the amount of features present.

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For those who prefer full-leg coverage, the Legacy pant offers a great mix of toughness and on-bike comfort. It’s cut to provide enough room for knee guards, without being overly flappy. Compared to the more “enduro” oriented Trailfinder pants we tested last year, the Legacy pant is made from a more sturdy fabric, with reinforced seat panels and abrasion-resistant patches over the knees and inside the calves. Two zippered pockets offer good storage options, while laser cut ventilation holes provide extra air flow. The inseam is not particularly generous so it will be a good match for those with proportionally shorter legs. The Legacy pant is comfortable to pedal in and it is also highly suitable for racing and bike park duty.

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Moving on to jerseys, we tried out a few models here as well. The Hybrid FR jersey is the most “modern” of them all, and by that we mean mainly the fabric. Super light, breathable, and very comfortable to the touch, this one falls into the “high-tech” category of apparel. Laser cut ventilation holes add airflow, and super light mesh has been deployed under the arms to keep the A/C on in this crucial area as well. The cut is pretty tight, certainly in line with the somewhat “racy” overall look. If you intend to run body armor, you may need to size up, at least with regards to elbow guards. We appreciated this one in particular for its ability to make itself forgotten, even in warmer weather (we’d have to say it looks pretty good, too).

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The Pin-It jersey features more classic polyester mesh, with a hidden zippered pocket and a goggle wipe as well. The Slickrock jersey is a very basic T-shirt style piece of apparel, with a polyester fabric that is very soft to the touch yet offers good performance when things get sweaty. They both pair up well with the rest of the MTB line, with muted colors and reasonably subdued graphics. All the jerseys are quite competitively priced.

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New for 2022, the Redeema knee and elbow guards feature CE EN 1621-1, level 2 certified IPX foam inserts built into a soft chassis. The level 2 certification is unusual enough to warrant being highlighted, as many knee guards in this category only achieve level 1 (the difference between the two certification levels is the amount of energy that can be dispersed by the guard and thus avoid being transmitted to the protected body part). The knee guard is fully zippered to allow it to be put on or removed without having to take off your shoes. There is a Velcro strap up too to help cinch the pad down, and auxiliary pads around the main pad to add protection. 

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The elbow guard does not have the extra foam pads nor the zipper, but shares the overall construction with a mesh fabric on top of foam inserts making up the main chassis. The IPX inserts can be removed from both the elbow and the knee guards for washing purposes. 

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On the trail, the Redeema guards are comfortable. They run very big, so you should definitely consider sizing down if you are at all between sizes – we’d strongly recommend trying before buying. Thanks to the silicone strips and the extra Velcro straps the guards do a good enough job of staying put, but we think the overall cut would benefit from being a bit more aggressively shaped to better conform to the shape of the knee and elbow joints. The amount of protection on offer is very good, and the general comfort level high, so provided you can find a size the matches your anatomy, you’ll likely be happy with them. 

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To round out your O’Neal get up and cover up your extremities, choose from a range of gloves and socks. The “MTB Performance Socks” do pretty much what it says on the box – they offer good performance when riding your bike. They are super comfortable and will not bunch up on your foot thanks to the stretchy fabric and the heavily pre-formed cut. With anything from outlandish to super mellow graphics, there’s something here for everybody.

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As for the gloves, we tested both the Mayhem Squadron and the Matrix gloves with good results. The Mayhem is thicker with a more heavy-duty feel in the palm, while the Matrix will please those who want more ventilation and less material between their hands and their grips. Both gloves run absolutely true to size and are very comfortable in action. Neither feature snot wipes or touch-screen compatible fingertips, so take that into account if either of those features are important to you.

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You can find more information and details of O’Neal’s full MTB range at: www.oneal.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 48 // Years Riding MTB: 16 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord

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