Inspired by this week’s Monday Mystery Pic, I wondered: what was onZa’s best product?  Working at a bike shop in the mid-90s, we saw loads of onZa HO pedals, sold a ton of Porcipaws grips, and paired a lot of Porcupine front tires with Panaracer Smokes out back.  After a long absence from the US and a couple of ownership changes, the brand is coming back to the states with a number of new tires.  Hit the jump for a few suggestions from the first time around- and feel free to weigh in with your experiences…

I remember balls of purple goo being stuck to my gloves after rides... but what's cooler than thin purple grips with porcupines on them?
Remember cable hangers? I'm embarrassed to say that--after cantis were dead-I glued a purple pair into the end of some carbon bars as reinforcements. (from
How about some HO titanium cranks? They never went into production, so never failed in the way that so many high end cranks of that era did.. (from
If you've never set up cheap cantis, you have no idea how much nicer the HO brakes were... (from


  1. Easy – White Onza Porcs! I remember a shot of Jo Burt (i think) in MBUK where it looked like he had done a big skid with his white porcs, but there was a big white chalk line on the ground leading up to his tyre. Funny! Least back then it were…

  2. Those HO brakes work fairly well for cross. I should know I have a bag full of em! Only changed em out when I found a pair of Mafacs for cheap up in Idyllwild.

    I still have at least one Chill Pill somewhere. Not the purple tho. Never did purple.

    Sold a bunch of Porcupine tires but never ran one myself.

    Now, who has some Brew Jugs they want to sell?!


  3. the smoke/dart tire combo worked great.

    @gummee, you should contact brew directly. he may still have some floating around.

  4. Elastomers in the pedals were very temperature sensitive so you never knew what type of release you were getting!! Not good!! Brakes were very easy to adjust.

  5. By far the cranks because they were so protoype, titanium and had just glimpses of them in the magazines of the day to make you drool. Nothing these days really does that for me anymore. From memory they were out just before Magic Motorcycle blew the world away withere crank concepts.
    Onza was a great company, its a shame they are no more. Close second product were gum coloured porcupines!!

  6. Easy – their crazy C.R.S. (Cantilevered Rigid Suspension) frame and fork (both steel) with the Swiss-cheesed dropouts featured in a MBA spread 21(?) summers ago. I wish I could find a picture of it. But I also loved those vaporware cranks, the H.O. pedals (although I never had a pair), the Mongo II headset, the H.O. brakes, and the Ti bar ends. I still have a NIB pair of the Ti bar ends with the polished CWA clamps.

  7. The H.O.’s were my first clipless pedals. Same with all my friends back in the summer of ’95 (?). I made the grand decision a couple years after that to get upgrade to the KORE G.A.S.S pedals, mostly because they were available in blue powderocat.

    This discussion would be absolutely impossible on Pinkbike…

  8. The Ti cranks had to be their best product seeing as they never reached production resulting in a steller zero dissapointment rating. Most, if not all of their products worked best while staying idle in show cases. I did love how the porcupine grips shed so much weight from the bike while adding callus weight to your hands. BUT THEN, there were the H.O.X. pedals. An amazingly futile attempt at a convertable “light weight” downhill pedal; or just remove the cage for slightly less mud clogged impossible to release (yes, even compared to early Shimano) sensation. AAAANNNNNNNDDDD their having another go at it?

  9. Nobody is mentioning the stainless buzz saw rings ! I found them a revolution ( at the time 😉 ). Thank god that we have surley now.
    And what about those stems with the funky asymetrical rollers ? They were fun ! You could set up your canti,s so they woud brake with only one finger.

  10. Their best product was definitely the cool little porcupine stickers. Only thing they made that worked consistently!

  11. The pedals were either love or hate. I happened to love them. The brakes were the BOMB though. Almost nothing before or since was so easily adjustable. I recently did a review of some Onza tires on

  12. @john klinkenberg…

    somehow that didn’t seem right. I’m beginning to question whether I had anything Onza at all…


  13. @Gummie! Wanna sell me a pair of HO’s. Mail me (yellow_squash(at)yahoo(dot you know what)

    The most happiness from an Onza product was probably the Porcs. And yes with a smoke in the rear

    The pedal were a great idea but poor execution.

  14. Wow. This takes me back. I was the General Manager of onZa from 1991 to 1993 and then ran onZa Europe til they went bankrupt in 1996. Lent them the money to get started in 1989. Trust me folks, it was THE coolest company and we tried to make every single product THE most innovative and work the best. And just to set the record straight, the Smoke and Dart tires from Panaracer came directly from Dave and Dan at onZa. I was there at Panaracer in Japan when Dan came up with the first “directional” tire, the Dart. Slashing away on the chalk board, erasing, and then slashing away again, came the design. But that was how it was with all onZa product development. Go for the fences. Hit the homerun. And ALL were completely tested by the top pros of the day. In production, some came out better than others. But it was a one of a kind company and I am very glad I was a big part of it. Now Shut Up and Ride!!!!!

  15. Racing Porcs (tires) – preferably in the soft white compound (although I did like my purple anodized bar ends an awful lot)

    I actually liked the pedals, but at the time I: a) worked in a shop that carried cannondale (who spec’d them on their new bikes), so I had a steady stream of takeoffs with good elastomers; and b) lived in the southwest, and so didn’t have to deal with winter temperatures freezing the bumpers solid

  16. I still have some of those pedals in a parts bin somewhere, and they_ blow_goats. I can’t count how many times I got stuck in those things…but options were limited in the early days – those or Shimano’s.

    Actually, none of it was very good. Even considering the OK stuff, like grips, there was something else I would have rather had.

    I guess that explains why they disappeared.

  17. As I’ve said before, the porcupine sticker is the best Onza product I’ve owned. I still have a new one – never been stuck. I worked in a shop in the Onza heyday – tried a lot of their stuff. The barends seem to be the popular Onza favorites – I loved ski-bend Control Stix, so I never tried Onza’s – maybe I missed out. I’d like to find a set of the ti ones.

    Another thing I never used were Chill Pills. First Flight/MOMBAT in Statesville, NC has hundreds if not thousands of NOS sets in stock. Enough to keep EBay stocked for years.

    Of the parts I did use:

    Porcupine grips – had a few pair of these. They got gummy and gooey in the heat and tore pretty easily.

    HO Pedals – had the ones with the flexy ti spindles. Haven’t run ti spindles on anything since. The disdain for these pedals seems to be regional. Frozen elastomers wouldn’t release. I live in the South – hot elastomers jettisoned on a hair-trigger.

    HO Brakes (or “breaks”) The Onza HO brake setup guide: Slips (tighten), slips (tighten), still slips (another nudge), CRACK.

    Porcupine tires: Had several, including a white one. The fact that Greg Herbold was winning downhills and dual slaloms on this tire is a solid testament to the H-Ball legend. Porcs had the tread profile of Tomac’s flat top buzz cut – nothing angular on the sides – everything pointed up. Too much lean in a hard pack corner and the tire would tip over. The round tread nubs had the braking grab of a pencil eraser. The wirebead tires had such thick sidewalls they barely need air – stiff as a car tire. The folding porcs were much more forgiving, but still lacked grab. They were the first tire that really shed mud pretty well, but then again, they didn’t grip much in mud either. Herbold’s a hero for hangin’ it out on these things.

    Onza’s contribution to the industry may have been valuable lessons in marketing, hype, and “don’t do it this way”. Maybe some of the crappy stuff lead others to a better design. To be fair, I broke a lot of other high zoot CNC’d parts in the 90’s too – it wasn’t just Onza.

  18. It is definetly the Onza bar end that Onza is best known for because they made them popular and saved a lot of mountain bikers from Cyclist Palsy, Ulnar Neuropathy, Handle Bar Palsy. Hopefully with Onza’s return to the US market Bar Ends will become popular again and cyclists will once again have happy hands.

  19. I think I had an anodized canti yoke from Onza. Had some neat adjustment trick that I cannot recall at the moment. Looked trick, too…

  20. @Gregg Westmoreland – The Dart was a fantastic front tire, maybe the first fantastic front tire, for all the reasons the Porcupine wasn’t. It cornered, it gripped, and it stopped better than anything else at the time.
    We all tried Porcs because the alternatives (FJ Cousins, Ground Controls) loaded up with mud – Porcs solved that problem, but kinda sucked otherwise because of those mud-averse round knobs. If that tire lead to the Dart, I’m glad I bought my fair share of Porcs to keep you guys going in the right direction.

  21. @Hugh Jass – I also still have my RockHopper Comp with it’s purple Onza stickers on the frame.

    The only Onza parts on it are the barends – I have the longer versions.

    Wore out a Dart, a Smoke, and a Porcupine.

    Have street tires on it now – and a Haro Beasley 650B 1x9er for trails…. so make some 650B tires, Onza!

  22. The Ti bar ends were pretty nice and sort of a status symbol back in the day. Grips were good and small diameter. The Buzz Saw chainrings worked. Steel and heavy but they never wore out. I only ran the middle ring but I did put on a custom 53 for the Kamikaze. That thing must have weighed 2 lbs.

What do you think?