The O'Neal Sender Pro is the brand's flagship flat shoe, and as such is fully loaded with features.
The most obvious tech feature on the O’Neal Sender Pro shoe is the micro-adjust ratchet lacing system, which is similar to the erstwhile BOA. By twisting the dial on the side, it pulls an interlacing string that creates even pressure on top of the foot and eliminates a lot of the hot spots you sometimes get with traditional lace systems. It’s slightly trickier than the BOA to release – you have to flick up a tiny lever to disengage the mechanism – and it can be susceptible to damage if you whack the dial on a rock, but O’Neal does sell spares for £11 a pop.
To try to compete with best mountain bike shoes and add extra support, there’s an additional Velcro strap, a thick tongue and plenty of padding around the ankle area. The upper is a synthetic leather with a sort of fake carbon-fibre finish and, while it’s not particularly breathable, so far it’s only sporting a few scuffs. To further resist abrasion, the Sender Pro gets an externally reinforced rubber toe and another raised bumper on the back of the heel.
At the heart of the O’Neal Sender Pro shoe is O’Neal’s new Honey Rubber super-grip outsole, but we can’t imagine what it was like previously, because when we measured the rubber it was actually harder than a lot of the clipless shoes. The sole does have a waffle-style pattern that allows the pins to locate into the recesses, but they don’t hold. There’s not a lot of flex in the sole either, so the grip level is the lowest of all the flat shoes here, and in the wet these shoes are treacherous. It’s almost as if we were riding in a clip-in shoe without a cleat fitted, which probably isn’t that far from the truth, because O’Neal offers an SPD version of this shoe called the Session with the same last and rubber compound.