O’Neal has been steadily growing their catalogue of mountain bike gear over the past few years, always with a focus on providing great value for money. Continuing this theme for 2022, the California brand sent over a few of their latest additions to the range for us to check out – keep reading to learn more!
The Blade helmet has been around for a few years, but 2022 marks the first time it is readily available in the US. O’Neal has also just introduced the $299 “Hyperlite” version, which sits in between the $429 Carbon IPX and the $189 Polyacrylite versions. The Hyperlite is made from fiberglass and features O’Neal’s “IPX A Cells” – a set of small, rubber-like inserts that serve to absorb rotational impact energy. There are a number of mesh-covered vents placed all around the helmet, and the generous “Dri-Lex” liner has been treated with “Polygiene” to help prevent the build-up of nasty odors. The visor is adjustable, and the cheekpads are equipped with pull-tabs to make removing them after a crash easier. The box also includes spare visor hardware, clip-on plastic hydration hose guides, a soft helmet carrying bag and a removable GoPro mount – pretty good at this price point!
On the trail, the Blade provides a very comfortable and confidence-inspiring experience. The padding is plush and luxurious to the touch, while the vents do a good job of keeping such a serious piece of equipment cool. The fit runs true to size, perhaps a tad on the big side for some. The frontal opening is large and will accommodate your goggles of choice, and the protruding position of the chin bar helps alleviate any risk of self-suffocation on your own exhaust fumes, so to speak. The chin strap is quite imposing and could be the only slightly uncomfortable aspect of this helmet, depending on your anatomy in this area. Other than that small issue, we’re big fans of the fit, comfort, and safety aspects of the Blade Hyperlite, and at this price point, it is definitely worthy of your full-face helmet short list. We liked the carbon version back in 2020 when we did our last big full-face helmet shootout, and we think the Hyperlite is every bit as good today.
Keeping dry when the heavens open up is often the difference between having fun and suffering on wet rides. O’Neal has added a proper rain short to the range for 2022, featuring a 3-layer waterproof fabric and fully taped seams to keep the elements at bay (this short replaces the “All-Mountain” short which was built around a single-layer fabric with extra waterproof padding in the crotch area). The “Mud WP” short is a sturdy affair, with a fairly stiff fabric that feels like it would be almost indestructible. This also means that the short is not as elastic as some of its rain short competitors, but with a price tag of just $109 USD, we think this is a fair trade-off. If you’re looking to keep dry without spending crazy amounts of money on the very latest (and very expensive) 3-layer fabrics, this one will do the job – especially for lift-assisted riding where you don’t need to pedal much. It runs true to size, just bear in mind that it doesn’t stretch much so go big if you are in between sizes.
For when the weather is definitely not rainy, O’Neal’s new “Airwear” gloves might be just what you are looking for to keep your hands cool this summer. Made from “Nanofront” fabric, this minimalistic glove aims to provide maximum ventilation and a soft touch on the grips. The super thin palm area does indeed work as advertised, providing a direct connection with the bike all while protecting you against scuffing and other discomfort. We love the wrap-around fingertip design, and social media fiends will be pleased to know that the Airwear works really well with touchscreens. The back of the glove is very thin and will let your hand breathe as required. If you crash a lot you may well want to opt for something sturdier, but if you want your gloves to make themselves all but forgotten, the new Airwear is pretty awesome.
To round off this overview, O’Neal added a chamois option to their Matrix short – at $79.99 USD this is pretty impressive value. The chamois is a high-quality affair with an elaborately shaped “CoolMax” pad providing comfort for your nether region. The body of the liner is very long, and reaches quite far both up the waist and down the legs, giving it almost an XC appearance on its own. If fits perfectly under the Matrix short and will provide extra “lock-in” for your kneepads if they feature a tall upper sleeve. The Matrix short itself is an excellent all-rounder, and the addition of the chamois option makes it even better value for those looking for extra comfort on a budget.
Blade Hyperlite Helmet
- Fiberglass lightweight construction
- Multiple large ventilation openings for maximum airflow and cooling
- Durable multi-colored graphics
- Matte finish
- Dri-Lex padded inner lining with antibacterial Polygiene treatment, ultra-plush, removable, sweat-absorbing and washable
- Emergency removal tabs on the cheek pads
- Integrated IPX A Cells rotational impact management / absorption technology. Designed to reduce head injuries caused by rotational forces during falls
- GoPro mount included with ALL Blade series helmets
- Height adjustable visor, pre-installed with premium, anodized aluminum screws
- Exceeds the EN1078 / CPSC safety standard for bicycle helmets and meets the ASTM downhill standard
- MSRP: $299.99 USD
- Palm material made of Nanofront technology allowing sweat absorption feels soft to the skin and reduces irritation
- Extended wrist with a 4-way flexible vented material for the perfect fit
- Slip-on lightweight design with bold, non-fade graphics
- Nanofront Seamless rollover fingertips, touchscreen compatible
- Nanofront double layer thumb reinforcement
- MSRP: $32.99 USD
Mud WP Shorts
- Extremely durable and lightweight design for maximum comfort and protection
- 3-layer waterproof material
- Cut to fit over the knees and pads even when pedaling
- Ergonomically shaped for more comfort when riding
- Elastic waistband with two press studs for an optimal fit
- Waterproof pocket with zipper for a secure closure
- Waterproof welded seams – fully taped
- MSRP: $109.99 USD
Matrix Chamois Shorts
- Fabrics provide the perfect combination of comfort and protection while riding
- Lightweight and breathable 4-way stretch
- Cut to sit over knee and pads even when pedaling
- Quad-Snap waist closure uses four poppers for a precise fit
- Single side pocket with secure zipper
- Removable chamois liner included ($39.99 USD value)
- MSRP: $79.99 USD
MTB Inner Shorts
- Side attachment loops, compatible with all O’Neal MTB shorts
- Chamois pad for comfort while riding
- Lightweight, breathable, fast-wicking and quick-drying fabric
- MSRP: $39.99 USD
What’s The Bottom Line?
There’s something for everyone in O’Neal’s growing catalogue of MTB apparel and protection, from DH to trail. The items we’ve covered in this article are new or updated for 2022, and they all have one thing in common: they provide great features at fairly aggressive price points, something particularly remarkable in this climate of steadily increasing prices. Whether you’re looking for a full-face lid for the bike park season or a rain short for those muddy rides, the O’Neal range is always worth a look. Cruise on over to www.oneal.com for more.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord - Age: 49 // Years Riding MTB: 17 // 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 and Nils Hjord