At A Glance
O'Neal has been in the MX game since the ’60s, but it wasn’t until the late ’80s when it entered the mountain bike market. Jim O'Neal was an MX rider during the birth and the initial growth of the sport. Driven by a need to help himself and his fellow riders to progress in the sport, Jim started to design equipment specifically for their needs. These same processes are now used to inspire their mountain bike range.Buy Body Armour on
New to the popular and award winning Sinner range, the Kevlar Knee RACE Guard allows riders to enjoy using a pad with buckets of protection as and when it’s needed on a ride. They boast a full length flexy zipper so that the pads can be whipped off with ease without having to remove footwear, ideal for those long climbs when you’d rather have them in your bag.
The pads hold good sized IPX® foam inserts which are accessed via a small Velcro flap on the inside, these stay pliable whilst riding yet harden on impact. On the outside of the pad this latest model from O'Neal has a removable carbon look hard shell which allows more freedom of movement for pedalling and extra protection for the descents.
On The Trail
On initial testing I was impressed with how easy they strapped into position. Without using the zips they pulled up and found their place nicely. The Velcro straps above and below the knee make for a really simple and effective fitting. Although feeling a bit on the bulky side, the comfort was there and the pads felt confidence inspiring from the off.
On the first all-day test ride the comfort was good for a couple of hours until a sore point cropped up on the front of the knee. However, as soon as I took the removable Velcro fastened hard shell away they felt way more comfortable and allowed me to ride without any more rubbing issues. The downside to this is that it is easy to forget to put the hard shells back on when you might need them, and also it is another easy to lose piece of kit (if you're anything like me!). Once I was used to this though, the ideas from the O'Neal design team totally made sense; after all, this is a pad offering masses of protection on the descents with features which allow full day use.
The zipper system didn’t work too well to begin with as the zip kept snagging on the inner zip storm flap, but after more use the materials loosened off and this issue ceased, meaning the pads could eventually be removed in a matter of seconds without taking my shoes off. For those that compete in enduro races this is a real advantage: on transfer stages or during a long uphill the legs can relax, cool and regenerate better.
Having so much protection means that they don’t dissipate the heat as well as you’d like on those hot days and can become quite sweaty, however the material is quick drying compared to other pads I’ve used and of course being able to remove them so easily certainly makes up for this.
The thing I really love about these pads is that once they are on they feel bomb-proof. There is no doubt that they will help massively at protecting your precious knees in the event of an impact with anything hard and gnarly. Complimenting this nicely the build quality seems excellent, showing no signs of stitching, material or Velcro failure even after a tonne of use and abuse - certainly impressive stuff.
More heavy duty than your average trail pads, the Sinner Kevlar RACE come into their own in an enduro race environment or big alpine style days where the climbs are big enough to warrant them hiding in your bag and the descents deserve the respect of good protection.
By Charley OldridCharley Oldrid is a man who spends a lot of time in the saddle. A highly experienced Mountain Bike Guide, having led trips all over world riding the finest trails he can find. His personal riding style can only be described as wild, getting sideways isn't an option on a ride with Charley, it's mandatory. If anyone can find the limit of a test bike, it's him.