by Wil Barrett
September 6, 2016
Have Onza hit the Jackpot with their latest 27.5in steel hardtail? We put one to the test. See our full review within of this British mud-plugger.
Rewind to Issue #104 of Singletrack Magazine for our review of the Onza Jackpot from the Hardcore Hardtails grouptest.
The Onza name is now 25 years old. That means it was around practically all the way back at the beginning of the sport and probably makes the old guys among us get all dewy-eyed and start digging out old pairs of grips, purple bar ends or tyres. The name disappeared for a bit, but now it’s back with a pair of new bikes – a 29er called the Payoff and this one, the 27.5in-wheeled Jackpot.
The brand is curated by the folk at Moore Large these days and the bike has been designed from the ground up by British trail riders who know what we look for in a bike to use for 90% of UK riding, whether winter woods riding or epic Lakeland slogs.
The frame is a double-butted 4130 cromoly steel job with “progressive geometry” (which I think means ‘lots of fun’), a tapered headtube, 12mm thru-axle rear dropouts which are modular so you can swap for 135mm or replace if needed, a PF30 press-fit BB shell, a rather serious-looking forged chainstay yoke that looks very roomy, even with 2.35in tyres fitted and stealth routing for a dropper post.
The frame is also electroplated internally in order to resist rust, which could be a handy feature in the UK where it seems to rain every day. There’s also rumoured to be an eccentric BB in the pipeline in case you want to run the bike as a singlespeed. I’m not convinced a 150mm travel fork on a singlespeed is a particularly good idea, but each to their own.
You can have this bike in a nice shade of subtle black or a sparkly bronze colour like this one – or if you’re after a frame-only you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s ‘tank green’. The frame detailing and finish is perfect.
Incidentally, this is the only bike in the Hardcore Hardtails group test that was supplied with a dropper post (a Reverb) and it made a big difference to the fun factor, as you can probably imagine. Sat atop the Reverb is a ‘so comfortable I might go out and buy one’ Fizik Gobi.
Up front, there’s the almost-always-brilliant 150mm travel RockShox Revelation air fork – tapered steerer and 15mm thru-axle, naturally.
As well as frames, Onza has a range of components that are showcased here. The own-brand bars, Ules grips and stem are wide, comfy and short respectively, but the most interesting bit is the Onza chainset – a nice black pair of arms with a 32-tooth thick/thin chainring.
Gears are 1×10 with Deore shifter, cassette and chain and an SLX clutch rear mech – all dependable, no-nonsense kit that works well, won’t break in a hurry and helps keep the overall cost of the bike down. It also means that if (when) you break something gear-related while getting all rad and stuff, you won’t be too upset.
Brakes are the quite frankly brilliant Shimano Deores with a nice big rotor at the front. Great brakes make you go faster, remember?
This is the least-expensive bike here, but it’s in no way a cheap ride. Granted it’s not super light – the weighty, unbranded (Weinmann XC180) wheels might be your first upgrade for a start – and the front end gets a bit wandery on steep climbs, but the fast-rolling and more than capable Kenda tyres are perfect for this bike, the fork is brilliant and the rear end is more than composed when things start to get bumpy.
As mentioned earlier, the inclusion of a dropper post in the standard ‘off the peg’ spec shows that Onza is thinking about the things that really contribute most to the amount of fun you can have on this bike without really trying. In spite of the weight (it’s about 30lbs) it doesn’t feel like a lump of dead weight that’s been hampered by budget parts and it responds brilliantly to rider input. It encourages yobbish behaviour, and trail obstacles that might normally be ridden around get launched off.
Onza has taken a great deal of care over the build quality of this bike’s frame and the specification of the parts attached to it so that it can offer a bike that’s great value and a barrel-load of laughs straight out of the box. The inclusion of a truly great fork, good tyres and a good quality dropper post as standard means that you wouldn’t really need to swap anything immediately, and unless you were after a money-no-object, dream-spec bike, the only thing that could possibly make this bike much better than it is already is would be to upgrade the wheels. Perhaps upgrading the fork to a model that lets you reduce the travel to combat some of the wandery-ness on steep climbs would also help, but maybe you should just shift your bum to the nose of the saddle instead.
- Frame // Onza double butted flawless Cro-Mo 4130
- Fork // Rock Shox Revelation Solo Air 150mm
- Hubs // Weinmann XC180 Disc
- Rims // Weinmann
- Tyres // Kenda Honey Badger/Nevegal X Sport 27.5 x 2.35
- Chainset // Onza 1x with Buzz Saw thick/thin ring
- Rear Mech // Shimano SLX Shadow
- Shifters // SLX
- Brakes // Shimano BR447
- Stem // Onza 60mm
- Bars // Onza 760mm
- Grips // Onza Ules Lock-on
- Seatpost // RockShox Reverb
- Saddle // Fizik Gobi
- Size Tested // 17in
- Sizes available // 17in, 19in
- Weight // 30.5lb