Bikes, Baja California & Beers – The Story of O’Neal

Jim O'Neal - Now & Then

Jim O’Neal – Now & Then (photo from O’Neal Europe)

Jim O’Neal is a man I would love to sit and have a beer and a chat with, after a day riding motorbikes of course!

Jim is the man behind the O’Neal brand and Ae7 has been selling his helmets, body armour & clothing for a number of years now. Initially I knew nothing about the man behind the business however as the years have went past I’ve noticed his name appearing in different places and read quite a few articles about him. He is an interesting character with a real passion for his sport. The fact he turned his passion into a successful business puts him up there with a group of entrepreneurs whom I admire.

Jim O’Neal is now in his late 60’s and he still rides motorbikes every week, nowadays with his sons & grandsons. He takes part in the Baja 500 off road race in Mexico every year. I was working a few years back with another great guy, the travel show host, writer and tv star Anthony Bourdain. The show No Reservations was being filmed in the Baja California area of Mexico. Whilst in the town of Ensenada (where the Baja races start & finish) we were lucky enough to hang out with a group of locals who were big into off road motorcycling and I spent a good part of the day riding motorbikes along the beaches and sand dunes nearby (working of course!). I later read that Jim O’Neal races here every year and he holds the record for the most stage wins, 14 to date according to score international.

So what’s his story? Well basically Jim grew up in California, in the San Fernando Valley. He got into motorbikes as a teenager and began racing in the 60’s just as motocross began to boom in the United States. In 1970 he began to sell tyres and parts at the races and he launched his first product which was a front fender known as the “Preston Petty Fender”. This was the beginning of the O’Neal business that 45 years later is an international company with interests in MX and Mountain Biking. Jim’s sons helped to push the cycling side of the business in the 1980’s and these days O’Neal has a massive range of products and a growing number of brands that include O’Neal, Azonic, Blur Optics, Four & Rockhard Helmets. Nowadays O’Neal has a 67,000 square foot facility in the US and sales distributors around the world. In 1970 Jim had his van!

Jim still uses Baja and local races to test out new gear. A lot of the products that O’Neal sell have been getting thrashed on the race circuit for a couple of years before they make it into production for selling to the public.

On the business side of O’Neal, Jim was clever enough to take on partners at key times to help develop the growth of products & sales and he’s seen exceptional growth over the last 10 – 15 years around the world.

There are a lot of strong brands out there but sometimes the stories behind these don’t always get told. Jim O’Neal’s passion for quality and his principle to “create the best possible products for riding and racing in the dirt” has stood his company well.

Here at Ae7 we share his passion and love the products O’Neal continue to create. 2014 is going to be an interesting year for O’Neal. New technologies & designs have made the latest range of O’Neal goods stand out and we’re very excited about showing you all the latest gear! Watch this space.

Jim, a beer awaits when you have time for a chat (and a blast on the motorbikes of course!).

Rob
Ae7

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Extreme Electric Bike Fun

Electric bikes might not pop into your head when we mention extreme biking. These guys however have brought out a crazy ass video of an OSET electric trials bike in action. It’s worth 5 minutes of your day … you’ll be impressed with what these little bikes can do. OSET Bikes is a company set up by Ian Smith after he built a prototype electric trials bike for his son. Check out the video!

Rob
Ae7

Camelbak Goes Bright for 2014

Camelbak Mule 2014 Lemon Green

Camelbak Mule 2014 Lemon Green

Opening boxes with new kit inside is the closest we get to Christmas morning here in the Ae7 Warehouse. Santa had delivered the new 2014 Camelbaks & we smiled gleefully as we pulled out the new models for this year. Colour was the first thing that hit us. The range has been brightened up and the new Camelbak Mule in Lemon Green certainly gets the winning vote for the most “now that’s cool” comments!

Camelbak Mule 2014

Camelbak Mule 2014

The Mule has 11 litres of storage space and a 3 litre bladder or reservoir so there’s plenty room to get your gear, spares & lunch in for a days riding. It’s low profile design sits comfortably on your back and the although it comes in black, blue & orange, we can’t see past this lemon green colour.

Camelbak packs rock, they revolutionised the way we stay hydrated in the great outdoors and now they come with a lifetime guarantee as well … nice one! We’re getting them all up onto the Ae7 website as we speak. If you want one that’s not on yet just call us at the warehouse 0141 237 4664 or e mail info@ae7.com.

Have fun out there!

Rob
AE7

Bawbags prove their worth in Iceland!

Bawbags Baw Baw Beanie

4 Bawbags wearing Baw Baw Beanies

Ok, so we heard the Bawbags Baw Baw Beanie was pretty good at keeping your head warm so we thought we’d test that shout out somewhere extreme. Where better than Iceland! Land of Ice, Vikings and Bjork. If a Baw Baw Beanie kept you warm there then it would work anywhere … even in Scotland!

So we took a blue, purple, green & black Baw Baw Beanie out to the frozen lands and wore them non stop for 4 days.

The official results: Bawbags Baw Baw Beanies work! They keep your head warm, even in Iceland. We found no variation in temperature, although the purple one did get cooler than the blue when the wind blew hard (maybe that was something to do with the test dummy forgetting to wear gloves during the harsh test conditions). Even inside a warm cafe in Reykjavik the Baw Baw Beanie was comfortable to wear.

The end.

Thanks to Louise, Niall & Joanne for volunteering to help out with this extreme and scientifically driven test …

Ae7 have a great range of Bawbags clothing!

Five Ten Elements Keeping Your Feet Dry

Five Ten Elements Shoe in Black

Five Ten Elements Shoe in Black

Five Ten have always given us some pretty special footwear to use on our bikes. If I was to be picky and find anything negative about them, I could only say there are the odd days when I wish they held out the water. You know the days (maybe it’s just us here in the UK?)  when the heavens open and the rain starts to hit us. If we’re out for a quick ride, say an hour or two, then it’s not really a drama. If we’re out for longer and especially if the temperature dips, then suddenly having cold & wet feet starts to eat into the enjoyment of our ride.

This year Five Ten played the ace card with the Freerider Elements Shoe. They essentially took the popular Freerider shoe, gave the uppers some DWR treatment and bang … the water resistant Freerider Elements mountain bike shoe was born. No shoe is really waterproof, big puddles and open bits where you place your feet make sure of that!  The Elements shoe is weatherproof though, beading the worst of the water away when you ride and thanks to foam insulation inners your feet stay warmer than they normally would. The PUR foam, as Five Ten call it, also wicks away moisture so you can wear them the rest of the year round when it’s not wet & cold. The Elements have the classic Stealth Rubber sole so your feet still to the pedals like no other shoe.

All in all we’re very happy with the design and would like to thank Five Ten for creating a shoe we can wear in Scotland … surely they must have been thinking about us when they designed the Elements!

Rob
Ae7

O’Neal Fury Fidlock Helmets go all Evo.

O'Neal Fury Fidlock Helmets

O’Neal Fury Fidlock Helmets

Another great product is coming to the end of it’s life. The Fidlock Fury helmet has been around for a few years and there have been a lot of cool designs placed onto these lids. The range has been a great seller for both O’Neal and Ae7 so it’s a shame that it’s about to disappear from our shelves.

The good news is that O’Neal have already lined up a replacement range. In fact the Fury has had a bit of an upgrade and the new Fury Fidlock Evo helmets are about to be unleashed! There is also going to be a new a cheaper full face option called the Backflip Fidlock Evo. The Fury Evo will be priced at £89.99 with the Backflip Evo coming in at a pocket friendly £69.99.

These helmets will be in stock very soon .. watch this space for details of the new range. As soon as we get them in we’ll tell you all about it.

In the meantime we are selling off the last of the fantastic Fury Fidlock range. When they’re gone, that’s it … your helmet becomes retro, so grab one of the last remaining helmets before they become extinct!

Endura v Bawbags Neck Off!

Bawbags v Endura

Bawbags v Endura

We were having a debate in the Ae7 Cycling Protection Warehouse over who makes the best neckwear piece. In fact what do you call them? Neckwear, buffs, sleeves, multitubes??

The debate over the name is at the same stage as the debate over which is best. I’m a fan of Bawbags, Gary can’t see past Endura (it’s the roadie in him).

To be honest both are pretty similar, the Bawbags wizard sleeve feels slightly thicker, Gary says the Endura multisleeve is more streamlined (whatever that means!). They are both the same length, width & price so at the end of the day it really comes down to style choice. The wizard sleeves come in the original MOD as well as the new Day of the Dead & Jack styles. Ae7 will be getting some of these in soon. The multitubes come in 6 different colour schemes: Arctic Camo, Anthracite Tonal, B&W, Zipzag, Blue Paisley, Black Camo & Red Paisley.

Lots of choices and we’ll have them all in stock here at Ae7 as soon as they become available!

So, seeing as I’m writing this, I get the final vote and Bawbags win … sorry Gary!