First Impression: Airborne Goblin

By Adam Newman

It’s not easy being green. (There, we got that stupid cliche out of the way). It’s also not easy being Airborne. The company has bounced around more than basketball since its founding in 1997. In its current incarnation, it’s owned by Huffy, and makes use of its shipping and warehouse facilities, but is allowed to operate independently, selling bikes directly to consumers through its web site.

The Goblin 29er I’m testing now (Green Goblin? Get it?) is one of three new models Airborne showed us back in January when they stopped by Dirt Rag HQ for a visit. By benchmarking competitors’ bikes and trying to build a similar package, Airborne can offer consumers an extremely competitive bike for the price. In this case, Airborne cites the Trek X-Caliber and Specialized Rockhopper 29er Pro as comparisons, but significantly underscores them on price. What does a Goblin go for? $1,199.95, plus shipping and assembly.

Aaaaah, yes, shipping and assembly. The former might not be much, but if you’re not mechanically inclined, or don’t trust your safety to your own wrench-turning skills, it behooves you to let your local bike shop take care of the latter.

The parts spec is straightforward, but more than capable: SRAM X7 2X10 drivetrain, RockShox Reba RL fork, Avid Elixr R hydraulic brakes and WTB rims laced to sealed bearing hubs. If there is a weak spot, it’s the heavy wheels, pushing the stock weight to nearly 28 pounds. A wheel upgrade is often a racer’s first move, and the Goblin begs for one.

And race you can, as the Gobin’s handling is tight and fast, with quick steering and narrow factory bars. The aluminum frame is more than stiff enough for putting the power down. Now if only my technical skills could keep up…

Update: Things being what they are, Airborne has been forced to raise the price of the Goblin for 2012. It is now $1,299.95.

Read the review

Keep an eye out in Dirt Rag Issue #158 for a complete review, and order a subscription to get all our reviews as soon as they’re published.


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