Eminent’s design uses a floating brake mount to decouple suspension movement and braking force to eliminate brake jack, and, again, optimize traction. Its leverage curve is designed to be progressive but straight, offering small-bump sensitivity, as well as support deeper into the travel.
I definitely felt these characteristics, but it took me a couple of rides to find the sag sweet spot to achieve that ideal suspension feel. At 30 percent, I sank too low into the travel on seated climbs, even with the blue switch on the Fox DPS Performance Elite shock toggled all the way to the firmest ‘Climb’ setting. At 25 percent, riding higher in the travel, I felt enough support to climb in the middle ‘Traction’ mode while seated, and was still able to use every bit of available travel on descents. When climbing required more effort, standing up and upping my power input to the pedals was rewarded with rear-wheel traction over techy bits. The Onset felt plenty efficient and laterally stiff—perhaps not earning rocketship-status like the Yeti SB115, but a nice, supportive pedaling platform. That, coupled with the appropriately modern 76-degree seat angle, and the cassette range and crisp shifting of Shimano’s 12-speed XT drivetrain, and the Onset was a perfectly pleasant climbing companion on southern California’s signature steep, loose, dusty, exposed fire roads.
The Onset looks the part of a short-travel brawler, with wide bars (810 millimeters; if it were my own bike, I’d cut ‘em by at least 30 mil), a 203-millimeter front brake rotor, bomber aluminum rims, a downtube protector, an integrated chainguide, and certainly seemed up to throwing a few punches on the descents. This is a bike that gives back what you put into it, and comes more alive the more you step on the gas. It behaves predictably with a goes-where-you-point-it personality, and motors through rock gardens with delight. It doesn’t have the hover-bike feel of an Ibis Ripley in those situations, but it requires less line precision than stiffer, racier short-travel bikes like the aforementioned SB 115; its overall demeanor is more laidback than that bike, but more serious than the poppy, playful Evil Following. The Following begs to turn every trail into a playground, while the Onset has a more stable, planted feel, likely due to its longish 442-millimeter chainstays. That’s not to say it has the unwieldy, barge-like qualities of early 29ers, the Onset just waits a little longer to reveal its livelier side, like in successive berms or fast, smooth, snaking lines when it responds instantly to how you maneuver the bike.