Just in – Onix Azzuro

Top of the range model from new British bike brand gets a pre-test once-over

by Mat Brett   June 2, 2011  


Onix? Funny you should ask. Onix is a British brand that has been around only since 2009 and the first fully built bikes have been on sale for just a few months. Them’s new. Onix only sell direct to the consumer through their website, keeping prices low by avoiding the middle man.

The Azzuro is Onix’s top frame, made using Toray T1000 carbon – a fine material for building strong and stiff bikes. Onix reckon they’ve chosen the best resin to work with this carbon fabric, and that they use a higher pressure than normal in their moulds. A strengthened rubber bladder inside the frame tubes compresses more of the resin and coats the fibres more thoroughly. This allows the manufacturer to add extra layers of carbon to the high stress areas of the frame in order to increase stiffness without increasing weight or affecting the quality of the ride. That’s the theory, anyway.

The resulting frame has a distinctive look to it. The top tube, for example, bows a little as it dips down from front to back. The tube has slightly concaved walls and a profile that alters almost constantly along its length. The down tube has a raindrop shaped profile, again with sidewalls that are slightly concaved, while the head tube is a bulbous affair although it houses bearings that are both standard 1 1/8in.

The bottom bracket area is, it’s fair to say, voluminous – small mammals could make a home in there – although the bottom bracket itself is an external one rather than oversized BB30. The chainstays are asymmetric which is something quite a few manufacturers are now doing although not in exactly this format.

Basically, the driveside stay is tall and thin while the opposite one is flat and wide. The idea is that this increases the overall stiffness for a higher performance, especially while sprinting, and also improves the handling and the quality of the ride. That’s what Onix reckon; we’ll be interested to see if we can detect this out on the road.

In terms of geometry, the Onix is stretched. Our 58cm bike has an effective top tube of 59cm, which is pretty long. With an 18cm head tube, we should be looking at a low and efficient ride position. It has a long wheelbase too, which usually makes for a stable feel.

There are a couple of features we’re not so sure about. The cable stops for the rear brake are both sited on the side of the top tube so that in places the cable runs very slightly outside the line of that tube rather than above or below (or inside) it. We’ll be looking to see whether that’s ever a problem. And we’ll also be paying attention to whether the rear cable stop ever gets in the way when we’re pedalling, although we’re guessing that it won’t be an issue.

It’s not related to performance but another funny little feature is the positioning of the logo on the seat tube. The front mech band goes straight over the O of Onix. Not a biggie, obviously, but it seems a little strange on a bike you’re very unlikely to run without one.

Anyway, in terms of build you can make your choice from a wide range of different options on offer from Onix starting at £1,649.99 for a complete bike. Ours is more expensive. We have a Campagnolo Centaur 10-speed groupset with a carbon chainset and Ergopower levers, plus Campag’s Zonda wheels. Along with an aluminium cockpit, a Fizik Arione saddle and Onix’s own carbon seatpost, it comes in at a grand total of £2275.93. Oh, and it weighs 7.46kg, or 16.4lb in old money (without pedals).

One other thing that’s worth mentioning before we saddle up and get out of here: all Onix bikes come with a 20 day trial period. You can’t go into a shop to test ride an Onix, so they give the option of winging it back to them for a full refund if you’re not happy.

And with that, we’re gone. If you want more details before we’re back with our full ride report, go to www.onixbikes.co.uk.

26 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Hong Fu FM001.

All the hyperbole about it being designed in Britain is rubbish. This is a Chinese open mold frame. At least Planet X pass on genuine savings to you.

posted by euanlindsay [80 posts]
2nd June 2011 - 12:58


wow - so it is...

still, is this any different from the countless other companies that rebadge frames from the same factories in china and taiwan?

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
2nd June 2011 - 13:17


No different, but it doesn't make it right. Especially considering how much you personally could by a single one of these frames for.

posted by euanlindsay [80 posts]
2nd June 2011 - 13:34


As Euan says, there's nothing wrong with marketing a mass produced bike, plenty of companies do it. It's the level of "Designed by ME" spin that accompanies these bikes that I find galling.

I did the maths on this, it's possible at retail prices to build bike they sell at £1649 (without the graphics, admittedly), for £760. The spec we see above? Can be built up for less than £1250.

By all means, build a bike company around a mass produced frame that's available to anyone who can pick up a catalogue, just be honest about it. Don't claim YOU designed it and while I've nothing against making a profit (and I know, import duty is a killer, rates, taxes blah blah blah), but I don't see how a direct to consumer model that's supposed to offer the best possible prices can justify charging £890 more than it would cost me to build it myself if I bought all the parts in my LBS.

posted by Velo_Alex [71 posts]
2nd June 2011 - 15:15


I bet the guys at Onix are really glad they sent the bike out for test now Sick

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
2nd June 2011 - 15:58


they say -
"When we tested the Azzuro and Aurious monocoque frame prototypes in Onix HP carbon the results were astonishing.
The beauty of a monocoque is that is it completely unified, and the stresses are distributed over a greater portion of the frame structure, Our monocoque designs along with the tensile strength of Onix HP Carbon (7050mpa) significantly increased the strength,stiffness & performance of the products and is one of the many things that makes Onix stand out"

this frame isn't a monocoque frame for a start off! The price isn't right - £600 -£700 quid max for this frameset - £1100 they are charging. If you ride this frame you realise that actually it's ok and for £500 quid it's not a bad buy but these guys are taking the piss out of everyone by not being upfront about these frames and claiming stuff that is total bullshit. If you start a new bike brand you have to start somewhere but claiming stuff that most people don't understand in the hope you get away with it isn't the way to go about it. I'm now feeling very sorry for the guys who have already paid well over the odd's the this bike.

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
2nd June 2011 - 16:10


just changing tack a bit but has anyone got one of those hong fu frames, any good? Thinking

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1097 posts]
2nd June 2011 - 21:30


Blimey - £1649 for Tiagra? I was about to wade in saying it's perfectly acceptable to expect a mark up when you take into account building the things, marketing etc, but that does seem like a lot of cash.

There seems a lot of companies popping up doing very similar things, and none seem to have any real USP, which makes me wonder how sustainable they all are as businesses.

Interesting that Comtat now seem to have abandoned Asian frames for Italian Carbon - no doubt trying to differentiate themselves from the competition (although they are a fair bit pricier, and whether Italian carbon is really any better than chinese carbon is a whole other debate!). I guess in the end the market will decide who knows best.

posted by chris75018 [101 posts]
3rd June 2011 - 11:10


So out of the number of more recent 'UK bike companies' e.g Planet-X, Charge, Genesis, Enigma, Sabbath...must be others out there - who is actually designing their frames rather than rebadging?

I've got a couple of Kinesis 'UK' frames, no idea how much actual work goes into them over here before the Taiwan factory churns them out, or if they differ significantly from the generic frames that Kinesis make for rebadging. Still, good value for money, hype or not.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
3rd June 2011 - 13:15


leaving aside what's discussed above ... Onix's website is awful! looks like a teenage bike fan's personal webpage from 2001...

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
3rd June 2011 - 13:27


yeah it's not great, big bevelled buttons etc. Lord help them if the punctuation police have a look too...

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
3rd June 2011 - 13:36


Marketing 101 Fail! There's 67 pages on Chinese carbon frames over on RBR if folks want more info. It says a lot about this outfit if they think that the buying public would be so ignorant, especially as they're only up the road from Ribble and somehow can command a price premium with a direct to market model Thinking

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [433 posts]
3rd June 2011 - 18:39


Q - "So out of the number of more recent 'UK bike companies' e.g Planet-X, Charge, Genesis, Enigma, Sabbath...must be others out there - who is actually designing their frames rather than rebadging?"

A - ask them! Smile I'm confident that they all design their own when it comes to alu and steel. Carbon is the only regularly re-badged frame type out there and mold costs vs sales volume is the main reason. If you can't design your own alu or steel frame you shouldn't be called a 'bike company'.

posted by james-o [229 posts]
3rd June 2011 - 20:06


[warning partial knowledge alert]

re joemmo's question, i thought most carbon frames are designed by said companies in the UK but making carbon molds is an expensive business so they can't afford to keep the exclusive rights to their designs (or we their customers wouldn't pay the necessary retail prices) so the Taiwanese factories agree to charge the companies less but then keep their designs in their catalogues.

posted by eddie11 [103 posts]
3rd June 2011 - 22:28


The Sherlock Holmes of cycling blog. Thoroughly entertaining and educational Smile

HK phooey no.1 super

redthing's picture

posted by redthing [26 posts]
4th June 2011 - 0:24


The Hong Fu FM001 has been around for years, it's nothing new so it's not a matter of this particular company designing the frame and cutting costs by allowing the factory to sell it. They picked the frame from a catalogue, wrote some advertising copy, stuck some graphics on it and have been buttering up Harmon and other cycling journos with freebies no doubt supported by the premium you pay for having the name Onix on your bike.

Like I said I'm all for companies setting up and offering products like this as long as there's no marketing bulls**t and they don't try to play the bike buying public for fools. If he'd passed on at least some of the saving to the customer I'd be more supportive but this is gouging. Even if he has to buy the parts to build the frames at retail there's no need for such a massive markup, especially when he claims "cutting out the middle man allows us to offer better prices to you".

Another thing I really resent is dishonest & underhand marketing. I caught whoever operates their Twitter account commenting at a guy who'd recently purchased a Ribble bike. (and I quote) "Not a bad choice but we could have offered you much higher quality for your money". That approach just about sums them up I think.

Although it almost inspires me to start a company selling plain hong fu frames with a really good build, calling them something obscure & expensive sounding and undercutting this lot. Just to prove the point.

Rant over. Sorry folks.

posted by Velo_Alex [71 posts]
4th June 2011 - 2:39


@Velo_Alex I can assure you there has been no 'buttering up of journos' with freebies around here! Although I'm sure you're not saying that - this piece is simply a 'Just in' us opening the box, taking some pics and saying what the manufacturers claims for the product are. Our evaluation of those claims will come in the test. Yes, we raised half an eyebrow on the T1000, but only half - it's decent stuff but these days far from being the ultimate in CF - that said there are plenty of top end bikes made from it.

We see a lot of bikes, but given the almost infinite variety of possibilities on offer from off the shelf moulds, it's asking a lot to expect us to spot that in a straight from the box product news story rather than the test - not that I'm saying you are expecting us to. We've got nothing against open mould frames either, quite the reverse, and most manufacturers are up front about whether their frames are open mould or not - what we are mostly interested in is the combination of ride quality and value for money.

Just going back to the 'buttering up journos with freebies' bit, I'd have to say in my experience this doesn't work - not necessarily cos bike journos are whiter than white - though again in my experience we're a pretty honest bunch, but simply because most bike journos have a constant stream of bike kit at their disposal as a part of their job some more free stuff is just more on the pile - more time off with the wife/gf, kids,time to ride their bikes - that might grab their attention, but that is outside the gift of bike industry marketing departments. You do get the occasional hoarder but they nearly always tend to hoard products from big established brands - not newcomers, ironically they don't usually test that stuff either.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
4th June 2011 - 10:45


Ribble did not design the 'sportive' neither do planet x design their models but they have the purchasing power to ensure a UK exclusive on those models as they are buying 500 frames plus. You will find the sportive and planet x frames in other countries badged up differently. Onix are doing exactly the same as ribble and planet x but they were short sighted with the price and the blurb on their website which is all incorrect. To put the record straight even very large brands leave the development of the frame design to the factories especially on entry level models but buy in such big quantities that they command a world exclusive.

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
4th June 2011 - 10:54


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.

Craig Middleton.

Onix Bikes's picture

posted by Onix Bikes [3 posts]
5th June 2011 - 11:41


I've ridden a quite a few bikes since i started racing as an 11 year old back in 1984 - Steel, Alu', Carbon and Ti'. I bought a very cheap frame from china in december which was an open mould 'Pinerello type' frame. To cut a long story short it lasted about 400 miles before it started to come apart around the BB. This was not the same frame as used by the Sky team or sold by Pinerello. I knew it wasn't before I bought it, I was interested to see what the quality was like. I found my answer within 400 miles and it didn't feel great riding it either. Just because a frame may look like another it isn't the same!

Its a very simplistic way of evaluating something purely on looks. The content of the frame the (carbon + resin) and the manufacturing process is the important part and will dictate how the frame actually rides in real life and feels on the road.

I bought an Onix last week, the build quality of the frame is excellent. Dan Patten got his first Pro win
in Belguim at the weekend on an Onix, I'm looking forward to riding it, thats where the truth is; on the road, not in heresay by anonimous 'experts' in forums!

Rick Robson

posted by Rick Robson [11 posts]
6th June 2011 - 9:10


Wow there are some ill informed mis judged comments on this thread.

As Rick Robson says just because it looks the same doesnt mean it is the same.
Most of the bike companys in this country use open moulds because the cost of unique moulds is so expensive.

I decided to ring Onix first and ask them about there process before jumping to conclusions.
Onix do use open moulds but produce there frames using there own carbon and have control over that.They also get the frames professionally tested before picking which mould to use based on performance rather than just pick one out of a catalogue as suggested above.

I found the owner to be an extremely approachable bloke and very honest.Isuggest everyone who reads this thread should read this and I challenge you not to have respect and admiration for what he is trying to do.

posted by Trekmad one [3 posts]
7th June 2011 - 9:20


I've got a watch that looks like a rolex.

It's not a rolex though

judging bikes by looking at them and saying they look like other bikes is kind of pointless, no? I look forward to the review.

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [233 posts]
7th June 2011 - 9:44


I had an interesting chat with Craig last night regarding my comments and the bikes. Firstly I'd like to say he's a very likeable chap and I appreciate him taking the time to talk with me about the Company, the process behind the bikes and where things are going.

Craig readily admits to using open molds for the frames but insists that Hong Fu have nothing to do with their construction. Instead I'm informed that the Onix frames are built in a separate facility using different techniques to the Hong Fu frames that combined with a change to the resin gives the results we see claimed in the marketing (which has been re-written to reduce the 'designed by us' angle, thanks Craig).

I've not ridden an Onix (and no, I'm not pitching for a test ride) or a Hong Fu so can't testify to the difference between the frames but the person I am told is responsible for the testing of the frames knows his stuff so I won't bicker over that point.

As I said at the very start my biggest problem with this exercise was the taking of a frame that's available to anyone and marketing it as something completely different. Given the way the frames were being pitched I don't think my arrival at the conclusion that this was a simple re-badge is that surprising, especially considering that the USP seemed to be the use of Toray carbon, something that Hong Fu also claim for their frames.

With the change to the marketing materials I appreciate that Craig is trying to do the best he can in an expensive business with limited resources and got slightly carried away with the sales copy, as did I with my rebuttal. Now I understand the relationship between Craig & David Harmon a little better I apologise without reservation for my buttering up comment.

Was I frustrated? Very. Was I wrong? Not completely, but I did definitely overreact. However, I am glad to have had the chance to talk with Craig and get a better understanding of who he is and what's going on. Craig does have big hopes for the brand and it sounds like there are some good things coming in the near future.

To Tony Farrelly, my buttering up comment wasn't directed at you or this site, it was in relation to the interaction with David Harmon. But I appreciate you taking the time to make such a detailed response.

posted by Velo_Alex [71 posts]
7th June 2011 - 13:41


Cheers for posting that VA. Websites can be a bit anonymous – even this lovely friendly one – so credit to you for taking the time to talk to Craig in person.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7855 posts]
7th June 2011 - 15:35


Hong Fu use Toray T700, by the way, whereas Onix use Toray T1000.

Review to follow shortly.

posted by Mat Brett [2196 posts]
7th June 2011 - 15:52


Full marks here on 2 accounts.

Firstly to Velo Alex for being prepared to accept he may have got things wrong and listen to the other side of the story.


to Onix as well for being approachable and to join the debate in such a dignified manner.
Ive seen via there twitter feed that you can ride with Onix and meet the owner Craig on a free ride in the Lakes at the end of June, Now that is approachable!!

CHAPEAU to both as Harmon would say Wink

posted by Trekmad one [3 posts]
7th June 2011 - 19:00