But before I get to more about those pedals, I wanted to revisit the Onza juggernaut for a bit. Thinking back on that time, I cannot really say that any other company had such an over-arching success with mountain bikers. They had the bar end business locked up. You either rode Onza bar ends, or you weren't cool. The same with their tires for a time as well. Who could forget the white Porcs?
|An old Onza catalog page courtesy of the "new" Onza's Facebook page.|
Added to this was the fact that Onza was a presence on race bikes of the best racers. One must understand that there was no internet to see things with. We had to actually wait to get our next monthly fix of Mounatin Bike Action, or Dirt Rag and we would disect the Pro race bike overviews to see what they were running, because, you know, that's what we should be running, right? And those guys and gals, in many cases, were sporting something Onza made on their rigs. Sponsorships for Pro mtb racers were something of a free-for-all back in the day, and racer's set ups were often rather eclectic mixes of several brand names.
Another thing we did was that we devoured everything in print in the mags, including the ads, and Onza spent a lot of bucks on adverts. Like I said, it seemed like Onza was everywhere on everyone's bikes. Plus, it didn't hurt that their product was fairly priced and worked pretty well.
So, when clipless pedals came out, and Onza introduced the HO's, riders went ga-ga over them, because their retail price was significantly less than Shimano's or Time's for their pedals, and they were actually available, unlike Graftons and some others. Consequently, tons of people bought tons of Onza HO pedals. Oh yeah.....and they were also significantly lighter in weight than anyone's pedal designs. I remember that being a big selling point as well. Shimano 747's and Time pedals, while vastly superior designs, were tankish anchors that were far heavier than our old toe strapped caged pedals. No one was interested in slapping more weight on their rigs. Then of course, some of us never did get clipless pedals because you had to buy special shoes. What? No Chuck Taylors anymore? Blasphemy!!
|An Onza HO pedal still in use as seen on my workstand the other day.|
I was one of these "first timers", but not for lack of trying to get into a competing system. I initially went for Grafton pedals, which were a cool, caged pedal design that had a funky, triangular cleat. I got the pedals, but I never could get the cleats, so finally, after a few months of going back and forth with Grafton, I "settled" for the wildly popular Onza pedal. Boy.....was that ever a mistake! (Both the Graftons and the Onzas!) Anyway, it wasn't long before I was crashing my brains out on just about every ride because I was a clipless pedal newbie. Or was that really why. Eventually I caught on to the fact that it was really the pedals, and I was looking like an idiot falling over after every body else had stopped safely. Eventually, my HO's came off, and I got some Shimano based Ritchey pedals instead. Funny thing happened after that........I didn't crash anymore like I had been.
Suddenly the word got around- Onza pedals suck- and riders turned in their Onza pedals with the boxes of extra elastomers by the dozens, literally. I can remember down at the old shop where I started that we had piles of Onza clipless pedals in boxes that no one wanted anymore. Well.......that isn't entirely true. Some people actually liked Onza HO pedals, and so they eventually bought up all the piles of parts and pedals to keep theirs going. Oh- and if you are still in the market for some Onza HO pedal stuff, click here.
This all coincided with the "CNC Era" and many folks were getting burned by poor performing, high priced "chi-chi" parts, and Onza kind of got caught in the cross hairs. Plus, their OE spec went way down when other companies started doing their own branded accessory parts. Combined with the poor PR from the pedals, Onza disappeared as a major force in the mtb marketplace by the late 90's. The only thing they left behind were those silent reminders, those porcupine stickers, which seemed to be on about every used mountain bike for several years afterward.
|The "new" (again) Onza is UK based and just introduced a couple of cool steel frames like this 29"er.|
Now it seems that the UK Onza is getting back to doing mountain bike stuff again with a line of handle bars, stems, and flat pedals. I just caught on to the new frames as well, which look rather cool. So, Onza, a company once on top of the mtb hill, is back at it again, albeit in a much smaller, localized way. Will they ever be a player in the US again? Who knows, but if they decide to come over and play here again, I would advise against any elastomer based clipless pedal reprises!