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Onix Azzuro (2011)

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Price: $3,933.00

Manufacturer: Onix

Website: http://www.onixbikes.co.uk/

"WorldTour quality ride for a fraction of the price"

by Ben Atkins

Onix: a new name

Onix is a new name in the cycling world; based in the northwest of England, the company only launched its first frameset at the end of last year. Topping the 2011 range is the Azzuro, a full-on racing frame built from Toray T1000 carbon, with a 12K outer weave.

Stiffness to the Max

So many of the tube profiles on the Azzuro have been specifically shaped for one reason, and one reason only: to make it as stiff as possible. To this end Onix has added a whole load of extra carbon to the huge bottom bracket area and widened the downtube. These things, and others like the massive, barrel-shaped head tube, can be seen on many carbon frames right now but he things that Onix is most proud of, and what it considers set it apart from others, are the “Unsymmetrical” chainstays.

Many frames have differently shaped chainstays to reflect the different forces they are subject to; the driveside (right) is subject to forces along its length, while the non-driveside (left) is subject to more lateral forces. The Azzuro though, has taken this to another level with a massively flattened non-driveside stay, which Onix says that tests have shown makes the rear of the bike able to take much higher forces without flexing.

Geometry-wise the Azzuro is set up for racing. My 56cm tester had a 56.2cm top tube allowing a long, aggressive racing position, while the 73 degree angles of the seattube and headtube makes the ride very stable. The short-as-possible chainstays and slight rake to the arrow-straight fork blade makes the wheelbase 993mm, which helps to keep handling direct.

The claimed weight for a frame and fork is 1450 grams, which is by no means the lightest out there but is plenty light enough.

The frameset itself costs £1,099, and Onix can provide a bike built up with any Campagnolo groupset between Veloce and Super Record, or Shimano between Tiagra and Di2.

My test bike was built up with Campagnolo Centaur, with the bike price coming to £2,417.92.

Stiffness on paper equates to stiffness on the road

Whether it’s down to the quality of the carbon fibre used or the tube profiles, or more likely a mix of the two, Onix certainly has achieved the stiffness it desired in the Azzuro. The rear end managed to stay straight and true no matter how much force I put through the pedals, on sprints and climbs alike.

Not only was the rear end stiff and true, but the front of the bike was similarly direct. The head angle and fork rake meant that the bike aimed straight for every bend it was pointed at, neither under- nor over-steering; this gave me the confidence to throw it into corners and descend with as much confidence as I wanted.

Even under as much load as I could put through it on out of the saddle efforts, I could neither feel the rear of the bike bending, nor the front of the bike twisting, thanks to the huge, and rigid tubes.

Where a lot of frames have their stiffness compromised in their search for comfort, the Azzuro maintains its rigidity, which means that it gives you constant feedback from the road. It was by no means uncomfortable with this though, and, while the rough roads of rural England were certainly felt through the frame, their broken tarmac didn’t detract from the ride.

Componentry on a budget doesn’t mean poor performance

Centaur is Campagnolo’s top 10-speed groupset and, although it lacks the 11th sprocket of its more expensive brethren, it shares a number of their performance attributes. The carbon levers and chainset carry the high-end look of Super Record but at a fraction of the cost. In all the kilometres I put in on the Azzuro it performed faultlessly and, while I sometimes wanted the extra sprocket, it was more down to my own performance than any shortcomings on Centaur’s part.

The bike is ripe for upgrading, in which case it might be advisable to spend a little bit more for 11-speed Athena. There’s little performance difference between the two groups but upgrading can be done in smaller steps than with 10-speed Centaur.

The wheelset was an excellent pair of Campagnolo Zondas; they may be only the Italian company’s third-best “medium profile” wheels, but they’re fantastically stiff and true and still only weigh 1555 grams the pair. Onix fitted them with a pair of Michelin Pro3 Race tyres – some of the best all-round tyres out there in terms of strength, weight and grip. The Al Capone style whitewalls set the bike off nicely!

Deda Elementi’s Zero1 stem and RHM 02 bars were another good value option that performed well. The 6061 aluminium of both lacks the glamour of carbon – although you can’t tell because they’re both painted white – but this is one of the simplest areas to upgrade when budget allows. The seatpost was an in-house Onix UL1 Ultralight, which set the bike off nicely, was nice and stiff, and held the excellent fi’zi:k Arione saddle in place without problems.

The overall weight of the bike came out a little on the heavy side, but most of this can be attributed to the components. There is, as with everything, the law of diminishing returns when spending money on parts but, generally speaking, the more you spend the lighter it will get. The frame itself is certainly light enough that a more expensive build could bring its weight down to the UCI’s weight limit.

Some minuses, but very little ones

While I personally like the bike’s look with it’s black and white paint, with panels of visible carbon, the monochrome appearance may not appeal to everyone so it would be nice to see a bit of colour in there somewhere.

One of my personal pet peeves with frame design is where a rear brake cable hangs straight beneath a bowed top tube. It works perfectly well, and the alternative is a rather more complicated internal routing of the cable, but I personally find it a little unsightly.

A highly upgradable frame that punches well above its weight

The brand lacks the kudos of the WorldTour, but the quality of the bike means that it wouldn’t be out of place there. With a frame of this price it’s always tempting to use the “for the money” line, but even ignoring that it’s worth a look. In terms of stiffness and directness the Azzuro compares very favourably with frames costing two or three times as much.

The frame really deserves a higher group than Centaur, but if that’s what your budget dictates then it’s an excellently performing group. If you can do without the 11th sprocket though – and most of us can – then there’s no reason to spend more.

5 Community Product Review(s)

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Carbon Copies's performance rating: 

Carbon Copies's value rating: 

Carbon Copies's rider type: Road Racer

Product use by Carbon Copies: 2 years or more

Equipment used when testing:
Hong Fu FM001

Carbon Copies's review summary:
Hong Fu FM001

Product Strengths:
Hong Fu FM001

Product Weaknesses:

Similar products used:
This is a frame commonly known as the FM001 from the Chinese manufacturer Hong Fu. Available from many sellers on Alibaba and eBay. Its been available for years. Shipped from Hong Fu it probably cost £260 in single quantities with significant discounts for bult orders.

Great to see Onix's marketing includes hyperbole that would perhaps be better described as out and out lies. Hard to see why a paint job justifies a price increase x4. Need warranty? Just by a second frame and its still cheaper.

James Maloney's performance rating: 

James Maloney's value rating: 

James Maloney's rider type: Road Racer

Product use by James Maloney: 3 months

Equipment used when testing:
The Onix Azzurro with Shimano 105 5700, Deda Alu stem & bars

James Maloney's review summary:
I don't normally write reviews or respond to comments on websites, as it takes far too much effortt that could be better spent doing other things, but I felt compelled to respond to the last review by Road Racer.
I have owned my Onix Azzurro for just over a month now and it's by far the best carbon road bike I have ever had - even better than my Trek Madone 5.5.
The frame is ultra-stiff thanks to the oversized bottom bracket and unsymetrical chainstay - all of which helps make climbing and sprinting far easier than on most overpriced brands.
Road Racer seems to have a bit of a bee in his bonnet about the cost of the Onix Azzurro. Yes, it's not dirt cheap like some of the unbranded frame and forks you can purchase from the Far East, but then you're not buying them off some random seller who will close their account once they've got you cash.
You're buying of a genuine seller - one who is based in the North West. One that has great communication and after-sales care. I'd much rather buy a bike off a bloke based down the road from me, rather than some faceless eBay seller on the other side of the globe.
Road Racer seems to think that buying a cheap frame and fork off an eBay seller from Hong Kong is the answer - he even suggest buying two. What a stupid idea. The reason I, like most sensible people, buy a bike of an established firm, is that if anything goes wrong with it, then you're protected by uk consumer rights.
Plus, by buying local, you're helping your local economy. But all that is by the by. I bought my Azzurro because it's a British based brand, the other reviews I have read were outstanding and the fact that the price was far, far less than other 'big named brands' offering stiff frames.
My Azzurro is forever turning headings at races and on clubruns. I has even got better with each ride and I am proud to be helping out such a fantastic brand. I have even been in touch with other owners via twitter and each of them also sings the praises about Onix.
Road Race, turn it in, mate. You don't know what you're talking about!!!

Product Strengths:
The sheer stiffness and responsiveness of the frame, as well as the price - plus it looks mega cool

Product Weaknesses:

Similar products used:
Trek, Specialised, Cannondale - all the major bike brands

Peter Spencer's performance rating: 

Peter Spencer's value rating: 

Peter Spencer's rider type: Road Racer

Product use by Peter Spencer: 1 year

Equipment used when testing:
Onix Azzuro with Dura Ace group,Onix Wing carbon bars & Fulcrum Racing Zero Wheels

Peter Spencer's review summary:
I bought my Onix Azzuro frameset before the Onix name was really known. I contacted them and drove up to see the product myself as I had heard great things about it.

This is no cheap frame off Ebay or Alibaba!
As we all know Ebay and alibaba are renown for selling cheap imitations and poor products cheap.

The quality of the finish and carbon is astounding and as Mr Atkins says in his review the bike looks and performs like a machine with 3 times the asking price.
This bike is incredibly stiff and responsive and quite frankly it is the best bike I have ever ridden and I have ridden pretty much all of them.

Like Mr Maloney says it felt great to buy and support a new british bike brand but putting that aside what you get for your money is hard to find anywhere else.

The added bonus as well of course is how good it looks, the 2 tone simple design looks great and turns heads everywhere I go.

In short go & buy one, you wont regret it!!

Product Strengths:
Very Stiff
Tremendous Handling
Great value for money!

Product Weaknesses:

Similar products used:
Kuota Kredo
Trek Madone 5.9
Scott Adict
Pinerello Prince

a baxter's performance rating: 

a baxter's value rating: 

a baxter's rider type: Road Racer

Product use by a baxter: 2 years or more

Equipment used when testing:
record, ritchey, zipp.

a baxter's review summary:
I had a an FM001 ie. onix azzuro and rode it for just under 2 years. It's decent enough ride for a cheap carbon frame - stiff, light but lacks refinement. While i admire something new coming into the marketplace this isn't something new - it's been around for ages. I've just read the technical page on the onix website and it's totally incorrect. The onix price is a joke and anyone considering a cheap carbon frame ie. £500 quid mark should look at some of the 2011 frames from other companies like ribble/planet x becuase those frames are 5 years ahead in terms of the engineering that goes into them as they are from a trustworthy factory. Fm001's are from China and very cheap -Onix shouldn't claim stuff that isn't true - ie they developed the frame. I'm afraid the other gentleman who negatively commented was totally correct. To the guys who bought an onix - well i'm sure you will be happy as it does a job if you spec it well - i just hope you didn't pay the prices i've just seen on the onix website...ouch.

Product Strengths:
stiffness, weight

Product Weaknesses:
finish - have a look inside the frame - doesn't fill you will alot of confidence

Similar products used:
Look 595
cervelo rs

Craig Middleton's performance rating: 

Craig Middleton's value rating: 

Craig Middleton's rider type: Recreational Rider

Product use by Craig Middleton: 2 years or more

Equipment used when testing:
Dura Ace Group
Spinergy Wheels
Onix UL1 Seatpost
Onix Carbon Wing Bars
Onix BC1 Bottle Cages

Craig Middleton's review summary:
It’s Craig Middleton, owner of Onix bikes.

I welcome constructive feedback from forums, which I’m reading with interest.
However, I am concerned that some of the comments here may be misleading.

My whole ethos behind Onix was to source the best quality framesets from the Far
East, tested by professional riders, built up by race mechanics in the UK, to a
specific customer specification, with full protection/warranty under UK
statutory law. That continues to be what Onix stands for.

As highlighted, framesets can be purchased direct from the Far East, from a
variety of sources, including framesets made from the same mould, it’s quite
commonplace in a globalising market.

However, quality can not be guaranteed as factories can use different types of
carbon or production techniques. Onix guarantee the quality of all of our bikes
and specifically selected the factory we source from due to their pedigree.

In the meantime, I really appreciate the continuing support and encouragement
Onix is receiving, and the interest around the brand. We’re working on a new
website right now and bikes for 2012, so more to come.

Product Strengths:
Very High Stiffness

Great value for money for quality of carbon used and performance

Use of our own High Quality carbon from the mould unlike the others mentioned

Before choosing a mould we have the bikes tested by a former Tour De France stage winner & other professional riders

On there feedback we then choose the mould which RIDES the best and produce using our own carbon.

Our bikes are raced by continental professionals in Europe.

Very positive feedback from all our customers who have bought our bikes,a couple of which are above

Product Weaknesses:
Rear cable run as mentioned in the review.

Similar products used:

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