O’Neal has been making gear since 1970 and I think Doug Dubach has been wearing it as long as I have been alive! To be completely honest with you, I haven't been a huge O’Neal fan in the past, but the last couple years the gear has grown on me and has really improved. I really wanted to get O’Neal in the testing loop and get their latest 2019 offering some quality time on the track. I decided to try the Hardwear Rizer gear, which is there their flagship set of gear. O’Neal has a 2-in-1 philosophy that allows the buyer to choose two different colored jerseys with each set of colored pants. O’Neal offers three sets of pants and six jerseys in the Hardwear Rizer line. Yes, mix matching isn’t my type of program, but it is cool that O’Neal offers this for the blue collar guy who can’t necessarily afford two full sets of gear. This way he or she can change it up with a fresh jersey and get away with the same pair of pants. Basically you're purchasing one and half sets, which is a great way to save some coin.
The Hardwear pant is built very tough with triple stitching and heavy-duty type fabrics. However, it doesn’t feel super heavy when putting the pant on. The Hardwear pant has a 360-degree adjustable Velcro belt that allows a size-32 pant to fit waist sizes from 30 to 34. It allows you to cinch your pants as tight as you want for a wider, more customizable fit. There is a full-length mesh netting inside the pant, which is rare to see these days in the premium motocross pant market. O’Neal stitches a soft material around the entire leg cuff so your knee brace straps do not catch when putting the pant on. There are a lot of subtleties included in the Hardwear pant that you may not appreciate until you wear them. The Hardwear pant has stretch spandex panels, accordion knees and flexes enough on the bike where it doesn't hinder your movement on the bike. The Hardwear pant is not an athletic cut pant, but I like that the pant is tight enough around my leg that it doesn't give you too much access material when stretching out your leg through corners. There is nothing more annoying than having a pant that is baggy and ends up getting caught up on the shroud when lifting your leg high through ruts. Did I mention that this Hardwear pant is tough? I had a long stretch of testing where I wore the pant everyday and the yolk of the pant has not shown any signs of wear nor is the leather knee started to burn or tear. My CTi knee braces are no match for the leather of the O’Neal Hardwear pants.
The Hardwear jersey features a moisture-wicking material, an extended tail made of mesh with silicone print (to keep the jersey tucked in), and a flexible collar with a tag-less label. Like I have mentioned in other tests, I really hate when jersey’s arm lengths are long or baggy. This isn't 1992 where we need to look like we are wearing parachutes. I love the arm length of the Hardwear jersey and the overall feel of the materials are very soft to the skin. The Hardwear jersey also ventilates fairly well (better than the pant) and is also more of an athletic cut fit than the pant, but it’s not so tight where you see every little muscle or fat roll on your torso. The collar is nicely placed on your neck and doesn’t allow dirt to get down the front or back of your body. The Hardwear jersey has a simple clean look and has the correct sizing, so you don’t need to worry about getting a larger sized jersey.
Overall the O’Neal Hardwear pant and jersey is some of the most underrated set of gear available today. For some reason I feel like the perception around our industry is that the O’Neal brand isn't “cool”. They may not have the marketing money that some of the other brands do, but to me I feel like it’s one of the most cleanest sets of gear out for 2019. To me, that makes the O’Neal brand “cool” and the fact the stuff is worth the $174.99 and $54.99 price tag the pant and jersey come with. If there is something that I could complain about, it would be ventilation. The pant ventilates decent, but definitely isn't the most breathable pair of pants that I have worn. I will be trying O’Neal’s Mayhem Lite gear before the summer’s completely over to see if that set of gear has more ventilation for my desert rat ass. If you're looking for a set of gear that is durable, looks clean, and fits well go visit oneal.com and check out their line of Hardwear gear.