Allows hard and fast riding, offers tons of grip and has no weird traits
Being designed by a World Cup DH champion on a coffee shop napkin is a cool marketing story for Onza’s latest downhill tyre the Onza Aquila RC2.
Apparently, Aaron Gwin sketched out perfect tread pattern by blending two leading downhill tyres; the Specialized Butcher and Maxxis Minion, for, respectively, the cornering and braking prowess he wanted. Aaron also defined the exact depth and direction of the tread siping and set out the edge blocks inline with central lugs, rather than staggered like on a Minion.
Gwin races on the RC2 model tested here that uses a firmer 55a durometer centre and 45a shoulders, but there’s also a softer, pricier Visco model using Graphene, which likely isn’t as fast since he doesn’t use it. The blocky tread knobs are laid out with a continuous empty channel both length and sideways, and the rubber compound rolls pretty well for a 1.3kg tyre with good wear life.
Straight off, with its super stable and rigid casing, the Onza feels as tough as Gwin’s hard-baked Californian home turf. The way the tyre initiates turns as the ‘L’ shaped edge blocks take over from the broad shoulder channel is not so much aggressive, as downright nasty. The tyre drifts a little before hooking up, but then locks in and always feels predictable and stable.
The sturdy Aquila isn’t that compliant and transmits plenty trail feedback, so enduro riders with less travel after a bombproof tyre could find this a little more tiring. The Onza is planted and hard to deflect in the wet on roots and rocks, but the edge blocks are so willing to turn leant over that it can oversteer and pull uphill in off-camber ruts in UK mud; to be fair, something it presumably wasn’t totally aimed at. Show the muscular Aquila who’s boss and you can really milk the grip and smash the bike around, but it’s a bit of a harsher ride than some super-damped, slow-rebounding DH tyres.
Allows hard and fast riding, offers tons of grip and has no weird traits. The Onza simply smashes down the hill and digs down for grip wherever you stick it. Really secure on wet rocks and roots too.