At £80 O'Neal Pump Flat offers a decent saving over most recommended shoes, but it’s not enough to justify step down in traction and foot security.
Completely new for 2021, O’Neal Pump Flat Pedal shoe comes over like an updated version of its Pinned Pro model. Unlike some kooky space-age mtb shoes, the Pump has ‘standard’ lace-up skate shoe-style looks and uses a quick-drying polyurethane fabric upper. The sole has the brand’s special ‘Honey rubber’ outsole compound using a complex webbed pattern designed to lock into studs.
Fit is decent, although the shoe feels a little stiff for the first couple of outings with an upper that’s slightly more rigid than a Five Ten Freerider Pro. This solidity does offer good protection against accidental impacts, however, and the toe box works well to protect against stubbing pinkies on rocks. The thickness of the midsole offers a good balance between pedal feel and not being uncomfortable with impacts or clawing over the platform. Out on the trails I noticed a lack of stability on the pedal quickly. The grip on platforms feels good in the car park, but get moving fast and start hitting bumps and grip is clearly inferior to the market leading flat pedal shoes.
This is because, once you introduce some moisture and mud into the mix, there’s way less friction in the Honey rubber than blends like Five Ten’s Stealth, but also there’s less damping in the sole and shank to suck up impacts. This means it’s easy for the Pumps to shuffle around on even the grippiest pedals, and my feet frequently got bounced about, rather than feeling totally locked down.
Maybe it’s just even more years riding in Five Tens since last testing Honey rubber shoes, but I’ve downgraded my opinion of O’Neal Pump Flat shoe’s sole in terms of grip and stability, and, in 2021, I simply wouldn’t wear these shoes myself or recommend them. There’s nothing wrong with the fit and construction, but unless O’Neal gets closer to the grip levels and damping qualities of Five Ten, Specialized and Ride Concepts, so that they absorb vibrations and hits without slipping or bouncing about, there are much better mtb shoes available for not much more cash.