Since I’m so good at whining, I guess I’ll start with a little bit of that. I had been looking forward to getting my new HobGoblin for a good while, and during that time things had been slow at work allowing me plenty of free time to do as I pleased. As soon as the bike showed up, that situation changed immediately.
Not that it changed in a bad way, I just didn’t have many chances to get out and play on my new bike as I would have liked. First of all, I was on call for jury duty. That left me unable to plan further than one day in advance for anything. Next, our full time employee and my good friend Joe at Pearl Izumi took a management position at another store in another state. Then we had friends from out of state visit us for five days. Again, not for bad reasons, but I did miss a few days that would have otherwise been spent on the bike.
There is no way to beat the efficiency and weight of a hardtail, but I was having too much fun on the HobGoblin to think about anything like that. I also felt much less beat up after an hour of riding rocky trails than I would have on my hardtail.
To get an idea of how well the HobGoblin’s modified twin link rear suspension design works, I did some riding on the road. I tried a variety of different pedaling styles and found that the HobGoblin didn’t waste any noticeable energy at all from pedaling force. It’s really impressive. I did some hard seated efforts and the rear suspension stayed firm. Good rear suspension doesn’t react to pedaling force, and that’s exactly what the HobGoblin does.
The component spec has already proven its ability on Airborne’s hardtail 29er, theGoblin, and there are a few design choices that are worth mentioning. The first thing I was excited to see is the internal cable routing. I have a thing about nice clean cable routing, and it’s better yet when I can’t see the cables at all. They are also fully housed front to back, so they will stay clean and smooth for a long time. I also like the pressfit bottom bracket. The threadless headset has proven its worth, and I think bottom brackets will be the same. For complete specs check it out at http://www.airbornebicycles.com/products/123-hobgoblin.aspx
Of course with Airborne the price is one of the most impressive features of the bike. You just can’t find a bike of this caliber without paying hundreds more elsewhere. I think what Airborne is doing is such a great thing because they provide more people the opportunity to enjoy the sport we love by making great bikes affordable. If you are a skeptic, believe me when I say there isn’t a weak spot in this bike. All the parts are the same quality bits from Sram/Avid/Rockshox you would get on other bikes costing much more, and the frame is 7000 series aluminum with hydroformed tubing and a great suspension design. The wheelset is solid too with KT sealed bearing hubs, WTB rims, and Geax AKA tires.
Riding the HobGoblin is an absolute blast! It seems like it can roll over anything, and I find myself looking for rocks and logs to ride over instead of looking for the smoothest way around. I am looking forward to warmer weather when the trails open on the mountain so I can do some enduro style rides. The HobGoblin will be a great bike for enduro racing, which has become a very popular in recent years. And speaking of racing, Airborne makes the HobGoblin XO which is a lighter weight version with a higher end part spec throughout. Drool…
I need some more time on the bike to get a more complete feel, but the first impression has definately been good. The HobGoblin geometry is similar to the Goblin with a slightly taller head tube, so the cockpit, steering, etc. feels like home to me already. The suspension feels balanced front to rear, and like I said before, the rear suspension design is a winner. I have owned bikes costing a couple thousand dollars more that were not superior in the suspension department.
Well done, Airborne! And thanks for such a great ride! Your bikes have proven to be solid and dependable in my experience, and have held up well to technical riding in the rocks and mountains of central Oregon.