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In the world of skate-shoe-inspired, clipless mountain bike shoes, O’Neal’s Pinned is a stealth and stiff offering. The company tested these shoes with top athletes Luana Oliveria and Greg Minnaar for more than a year to make sure they are purpose-built to shred.

Pinned SPD

One of the first elements I look for in mountain bike footwear is protection. Our feet are packed full of 26 small bones that can easily break when the front tire launches sticks and stones at them. O’Neal’s Pinned SPD kicks are well prepared to keep your feet as safe as possible, with a rigid, reinforced toecap, a burly nylon sole, durable leather uppers, and padded tongue and ankle areas.

The rigid toe cap provides robust protection from whatever your front tire tosses up.

The second most important element of an MTB shoe is fit. Depending on what I have going on, I sometimes need to wear my mountain bike shoes for an entire day, and I want them to feel good on my feet.

The Pinned lace system leaves enough room for folks with narrow feet to cinch them down tight, and the toe box is wide enough for an extra pair of socks — or an extra-wide foot. Added padding around the ankle and along the tongue gives these shoes a cushy feel, similar to that of the modern skateboard shoes they resemble.

The cleat-channel on the SPD version provides ample room for the cleat to freely engage and disengage.

Beyond comfort and safety, I like MTB shoes that work well, and don’t require me to fuss with them or make adjustments during a ride. The laces on the Pinned did shift around a bit, as there is nothing maintaining the exact tension between individual lace holes. I would prefer an added hook and loop strap, or boa to keep the shoes tight.

The sole of these kicks is noticeably stiff, which makes them perfect for hard race efforts and longer climbs. Their overall pedaling efficiency feels fantastic. I have worn these on several 3+ hour rides without any hot spots or fatigue where the pedal meets the shoe. This rigidity is certainly a testament to O’Neal’s commitment to working with pro racers to design their products. Those folks push far harder on the pedals than I do, and need dependable support.

On the traction front, I give the Pinned a 5 out of 10. If you only need to get traction in the cafe, and on your pedals, they are good to go. For sessioning jump lines or steep hike-a-bike stints, the soles offer minimal grip unless the dirt is bone dry.

Unfortunately, there is no added traction at the heel and toe where you need it most. The stiff nylon sole insert makes the shoes somewhat awkward to walk in on an incline without feeling your heel sliding out.

Extra protective rubber along the side is an indication that these shoes were tested by legitimate gravity riders.

Lastly, it’s a sweet bonus if shoes look good, and the Pinned are stealth enough to keep most folks happy. They look more like casual kicks than athletic MTB shoes, though with a little dirt they fit right in on the trail

You can use the SPD version with flat pedals or clipless, simply by swapping out this piece of the sole. The cleat-channel is quite long, extending toward the mid-foot where a lot of gravity riders prefer their weight to rest.

O’Neal Pinned SPD details

  • New for 2018
  • Clipless-compatible
  • Durable and lightweight upper
  • Vent holes on side and front
  • Lace closure system
  • Lycra ankle gaiter to keep debris out
  • Nylon sole insert to increase outsole strength and improve pedaling efficiency
  • O’Neal Honey Rubber sole compound
  • Removable and interchangeable footbed
  • Reinforced toe cap for added protection
  • Weight: 982g, size 44 with SPD cleats installed
  • Sizes available 36-47
  • Price 79.99 € / $89.99

Pinned SPD top, Pinned bottom. The shoes are nearly identical, apart from the removable cleat cutout and added side protection found only on the SPD model. The standard model retails for about ten bucks less.

Pinned flat pedal

I have the knee joints of a middle-aged, ex-single-speeder, and prefer not to ride flat pedals as the lack of float makes my joints cranky. I will wear flats if the trails are far too muddy to clip in/out, and for that, I would prefer a lot more toe and heel traction to keep me upright while walking than what the Pinned offers.

The flat-pedal version of this shoe, called the Pinned Flat Pedal, is identical to the Pinned SPD reviewed above, save for the lack of an SPD cleat channel and slightly less toe protection on the outer edge of the toebox.

Clipless left, flat right. Can you tell the difference?

Pinned flat pedal shoe details

  • Completely new for 2018
  • Flat pedal riding shoe
  • O’Neal’s unique Honey Rubber sole
  • Durable and lightweight upper
  • Lace-up closure system
  • Removable and interchangeable footbed
  • Reinforced toe cap for added protection
  • Additional side outsole stitching for reinforcement and increased durability
  • Actual weight: 903g, size 44
  • Sizes available 36-47
  • 69.99 € / $79.99

In conclusion

The new Pinned shoes from O’Neal are stiff enough for any gravity racing needs and will keep your feet safe on the way down. With their clipless/flat conversion option, the SPD version essentially offers two pairs of shoes in one, at half the price of many of the competitors. If you prefer the feeling of your foot melting around your pedal in a death grip fashion, these may be too stiff for you. With their minimal Honeycomb traction, both pairs of shoes are designed with racing and hard riding in mind, where riders will stay on the bike 90% of the time.

Both the SPD and flat pedal versions are available now at your local O’Neal dealer.

We would like to thank O’Neal for providing the Pinned shoes for review. 

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