There are plenty of athlete-endorsed models that have, let’s be real, zero actual input from the athlete whose name graces the product. According to Onza marketing manager, Hector Martinez, that’s not the case with the tire Aaron Gwin is co-designing with Onza’s engineering staff.
|Aaron had his say on everything: knob shaping, spacing, alignment - absolutely everything on down to the siping - is a result of what he wants in a tire. He takes it incredibly serious. - Hector Martinez, Onza marketing|
Gwin is a detail guy. “Fastidious” doesn’t even begin to capture the degree to which he sweats the minutia of his gear. When Gwin began riding Onza tires, he went through the entire line, including the Ibex and Citius and wound up gravitating towards the Citius, but he wasn’t entirely satisfied with that model either. Braking traction and cornering performance were good, but for World Cup racing, he needed something that rolled faster. It's no secret, Gwin has been riding blacked out Maxxis tires of late. But that'll change in the future. Which is why Onza’s brought their engineers to Gwin—along with a heaping pile of their competitors’ tires—and started from scratch with a new design. The end result is a tire that gets a heavy dose of Gwin’s input.
The new model will be called the Aquila and, if these early photos are any indication, it'll bear a strong resemblance to the Maxxis Minion DHR. The siping on the Aquila is obviously different, as are the exact shape of the shoulder and crown knobs, but the similarity is striking. When asked about the resemblance, Martinez stated, "Aaron has had the unique opportunity to race and report on most of the top tires in this market. His experience has led him to believe that they all had something to be improved upon. This tire is the product of those experiences and his collaboration with Swiss innovation."
The Aquila will likely be available in Spring of 2017. I say “likely” because the tire is still very much in development. We only learned about this Gwin model after bumping into Martinez at Crankworx Whistler and prying the details from him on the spot—it wasn’t what you’d call a “press launch”. It’s unclear as to whether Onza will be showing the Aquila at Eurobike this week or at Interbike, later in September. Photos of the final product don’t even exist as we go to press (Martinez had images of these early versions kicking around his iPhone).
What we do know is that Onza plans to introduce the Aquila as a 27.5x2.4, with a downhill casing and wire beads. We’re guessing, though, that Onza will probably release a lighter, trail/all-mountain version of the Aquila somewhere later on down the line.