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  1. #1
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    Airborne Goblin Unboxing/Build and Review

    So I had been debating between a Specialized Carve and the Airborne Goblin for a few weeks. I could get the Carve at a pretty good price since I ride for a team with the Specialized grassroots sponsorship, but the Goblin was still cheaper and seemed spec'd competitively. I had test-ridden the Carve and really liked it and the Goblin's geometry was very close to that of the Carve so I decided to just bite the bullet and go with the Goblin.

    As soon as the bike arrived today, I took it to the basement to get it unboxed and built up.


    As I opened the box, everything looked very well packaged. On top was a piece of foam. Next were the wheels that were zip-tied together securely. Then another piece of foam.


    Below all of that was a whole bunch of cardboard and bubble wrap encasing the frame, fork, handlebars, seat/seatpost, etc. I began cutting all the zip-ties and removing all the wrappings.


    Unfortunately I do not have a repair stand, or the bike build would have been significantly easier. Every time I think about buying one, I think of other things I'd rather spend my money on like a wheelset or some other bike component, so oh well. I untwisted the bars and mounted them somewhat loosely in the stem for the time being, then attached the rear derailleur/hangar. After that, I threw the included skewers onto the wheels and put them on the bike. Next I put the seatpost on and tightened it down to what I figured was about right for me. I spent a couple of minutes removing the reflectors from the wheels, seatpost, and handlebars (thank you lawyers and silly local statutes).

    The stem came with a lot of spacers underneath angled up. I left it like that for the time being, just to get a feel for things. I put some old egg beaters on and rode up and down the street to bed in the brakes according to the recommendations from Avid. After doing this, the brakes seemed to be rubbing quite a bit so I loosened the calipers, squeezed the brakes tight, and re-tightened the calipers to center them up. I gave the wheels a spin and they were pretty much rub-free. The front wheel was a bit out of true straight out of the box and I'll have to address that tomorrow before I ride some more. I do all my own wrenching and have built 4 out of my 5 bikes, so these issues aren't a big deal to me (though I really could use that repair stand!). After my break bed-in, I slammed the stem, but kept it angled up. I also threw on some green and black Specialized BG Contour XCT Grips, which match the bike and feel pretty comfy.



    I had planned on racing the local training crit series on the road bike, but unfortunately I ran out of time between building this bike, running to the lbs for a couple things, and the girlfriend stopping by after work. I decided I'd just take the Goblin out for an extended test ride on the road to see how it did. The training crit is about 13 miles from my house and some of the guys usually ride back toward my neck of the woods after the race so I figured I'd ride toward them and turn around to ride with them on their way home. I rode out and noticed that I needed to raise the seatpost some more and that the stem was still a bit high for my liking. Also, the saddle wasn't quite level so I had to address that issue. Unfortunately I somehow forgot to take a multi-tool with me so I just sucked it up and decided to deal with it all when I got back home.

    Turns out that most of the guys from the crit rode a different way home, and I met up with the one guy that rode the normal ride home. I guess Brady Kappius raced the training crit so I was a little bit bummed I missed it, but oh well. The guy I rode back home with complimented me on the bike and thought it was a pretty sweet deal. I don't know if the green was his thing or not, but I certainly like it and it matches my team's kit so that's a plus. I made it back home and ended up with just under 19 miles on the new bike. The shifting was crisp (especially the front, which is a bit shocking coming from SRAM groups on my road bikes) and the bike was fairly quick considering it's not exactly light. I originally wanted Shimano shifters on whatever bike I decided to get, but figured I'd make due with SRAM since the price was right. After riding a little on the X7 shifters, I like them alright, but really am not a fan of having to use my thumb to shift in both directions. My old 2000 Stumpjumper has old XT shifters on it and I prefer those honestly. Since the new Shimano stuff allows you to shift with your thumb or index finger, it seemed like the best of both worlds. I may end up swapping out the X7 shifters and RD for Shimano stuff, but I'll give it some more time.

    The wheels are HEAVY. This is my first 29er, but wow, talk about hard to accelerate. I am anxious to see how my times are on the local trails, but I think with lighter wheels I'd be much happier/faster. I hear 29ers feel slower than they are so who knows. Climbing on the road was a bit of a chore. My friend I was riding with is very strong on the road (top 10 CX Masters Nationals) and it was pretty tough keeping up with him as he casually spun up some of the little hills we climbed. Again, I think the heavy wheels and overall weight of the bike were hurting the performance here. Also, I can't expect it to climb like my road bikes do. The real test will be once I get the bike on the trails. The stem is now slammed/flipped and the seatpost is dialed in to the right height. Shifting is crisp and dialed in and the brakes are working as advertised (I was nervous about Avid brakes and am hoping I have good luck with them). The bike doesn't feel quite as quick as the Specialized Carve did when I test rode it, but I may be wrong. It looks good, the price was great, the components are pretty good, and it's a great candidate for some significant upgrades.

    More tomorrow after I get some trail riding in. And here's some more pics in case anybody cares.










  2. #2
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    Excellent stuff! Thanks. Very, very nice bike.

    Stuff of dreams getting a box like that delivered. How long did it take for assembly?

    Congrats and enjoy and let us know how it rides.
    G

  3. #3
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    Nice and shiny!!

  4. #4
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    Heading out in a few minutes. Assembly took maybe an hour or an hour and a half if you count unpacking everything. Getting the derailleurs adjusted without a repair stand is a much slower process than I like, but oh well.

  5. #5
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    maybe go tubeless conversion

  6. #6
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    I might, but if I'm going to get new wheels soon anyway, I may just wait and not spend any money going tubeless on these wheels yet.

  7. #7
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    How do you ride for a Specy grassroots-sponsered team and not ride a Specy? Just curious.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

  8. #8
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    Their deal they give us on bikes isn't good enough for me to ride them and I'm not required to. Honestly I wanted to but my finances wouldn't allow it. I do have my old Stumpy that I ride, but when I race road it's on a Felt or Cannondale. I race cross on a Nashbar frame. Specialized gets their big S on our kits in a few spots and I ride a lot of their components so they get some exposure anyway.

  9. #9
    keeptrollintrollintrollin
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    Those grips... so sexy, I want!

    I am going Tubeless on the WTB rims on my goblin with a set of Nobby Nic's... I will let ya know how it feels compared to stock.
    Last edited by codyh12345; 05-23-2012 at 07:26 PM.

  10. #10
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    good looking bike and that's great packaging. better than any bike i've unboxed.

  11. #11
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    That stem looks really long for some reason..especially with the seat so low.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

  12. #12
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    Well, I took it on the trails today. I didn't actually push it all that hard, but didn't go easy either. It was just a moderate effort ride. The bike performed well. I need to really dial in the tire pressure and get the fork dialed in a little better before I write a complete review, but it was a good ride.

    I'll start with the complaints. I must ride with my hands fairly narrow on the bars because my hands kept bumping the SRAM shifters and I accidentally shifted about 10 times during the ride just from bumping the shifters with the knuckle on my thumb. It was really annoying because it kept happening at inopportune times on the trail. I clipped my pedal/crank a bit more than I normally would on the 26" bike, but I expected that and I'm sure I'll adjust to it eventually. The rails on the saddle bent, but I did have it clamped a bit far forward on the rails so that's mostly my own fault I guess. My other mtn bike saddle has had the same thing happen and it was clamped appropriately. Maybe I spend too much time in the saddle when going over rough stuff.

    Another thing I noticed about the bike when I was building it up was that it seemed like none of the bolts or anything had any assembly lube/grease on them at all from the factory. Any part that I put together got a good bit of grease on it, but there weren't that many bolts that I had to put together. After a half an hour or so on the trails, things were creaking a bit and I'm fairly sure it's the headset just being installed completely dry. Honestly, if they're not going to treat any of these bolts, I'd rather they just send the bike completely disassembled and I'll do it. It's more work to have to disassemble it, lube it, and put it back together.

    The cables/housings are all a bit too long and are rubbing on the fork. I'll shorten them tomorrow probably and can't complain because I'd rather have too much cable/housing than too little so that's cool. I don't have a bleed kit for the brakes yet so I can't shorten those hoses yet. The spokes were pinging and complaining the entire ride, but the wheels seemed to hold up alright for the most part. The bike seemed hard to accelerate and I attribute that to the weight of the wheels.

    Now for the good parts. The trails I rode were a combination of flowy singletrack with a lot of technical stuff mixed in. The bike absolutely flew through the flowy stuff and just felt like it wanted to fly even faster. The big wheels really roll nice on this kind of stuff. I climbed pretty well on the bike and any smallish bumps were soaked up easily. I started with my tire pressure a bit too high. Once I lowered it, things seemed to calm down some. The bike cleared all the normal obstacles I clear on my 26" bike and I was able to lift the rear end over obstacles easier than I thought I would be able to, considering the weight. The front shifting is flawless. I think I can honestly say this is the best shifting bike I've had in the front so that's awesome.

    I bottomed out the fork repeatedly so I'm going to need to convert it to 100mm of travel pretty quickly. I would say this bike is awesome when it comes to riding that is not too technical, but I'll choose my 26" bike for technical days in the future. I do think that when it comes to fast flowy singletrack, this is the bike to have. It seriously hauls balls on that stuff. I'm still deciding whether to convert these wheels to tubeless right now or if I should wait until I get some Stans wheels to replace the WTB anchors. I think the ride would be very different with a lighter wheelset.

    So, overall opinions are that I really like the bike. It does some things very well and some other things just ok. If there could be one bike to handle every situation, we'd all own that bike, but it's not the way it is. I cannot wait to get this bike onto some faster flowy trails and really open it up. I have my first mtn bike race this weekend and I've heard there's very little technical stuff in it so I'm considering the Goblin for the race. Overall I'm happy with the bike, but tentatively so. I will continue to review it further as I make some adjustments and ride it on some different terrain.

    As for my 1st mtn bike race, I'm a bit torn on what to do. I'm a Cat 3 on the road and was thinking about doing the Cat 2 Sport race this weekend on the mtn bike. Do you guys think I should do that or stick to the beginner race? I don't want to sandbag, but I don't want to be in everybody's way in the race either. Any pointers are welcome.

  13. #13
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    What you mentioned about the grease on the bolts is common to all new bikes; this is part of what a shop should take care of during assembly (at least we did where I worked). Same with the cables, often you have to trim them from the factory.

    It sounds like your shifters need to be adjusted inward toward the stem. And on the seat..saddle rails shouldn't bend on the first ride!

    If you are bottoming the fork, you need to look at the set up; seems like you don't have enough air in it. Do you have a fork pump?

    First mountainbike race, go beginner. If you do really well, then move up for your next one.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

  14. #14
    Airborne Product Dude
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    Definitely move the shifters and brake levers inboard more. That's a personal thing and everyone likes to run them a bit different. I like mine pushed in so that no part of the shifter triggers overlap the grip surface, with the brake levers at a 45 degree angle.

    The fork needs to be tuned for your body weight and riding style. Bottoming it out isn't a function of the amount of travel necessarily. Even at 100mm it will bottom out if not set up right.

    The brake/shifter cable housings are a different length for each frame size, and the the lengths were set so that someone could put a long stem at the top of the stack in an upward rise and have enough cable for that set-up. We don't want cable length to keep someone from setting the bike up in a way that fits them.

    Glad you like the bike so far!
    Airborne Dude.

  15. #15
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    Nice bike, looks great, but ditch the grips - see comment below. Sounds like you need to go over then tire bike and do some tuning and don't forget the wheels in this - a properly built/tensioned and de-tensioned set of wheels should make no noise at all. All in all though sounds like you got a bike for your budget which you like, although with that said and the money you'll be spending on wheels and other small upgrades you might have been better off buying a frame only and building it up.


    If you ride in the wet/rain, then I'd highly advise against these, they have no grip when wet AND they have no real sort of support, the wings are super soft compared to Ergons.

    Quote Originally Posted by codyh12345 View Post
    Those grips... so sexy, I want!.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  16. #16
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    Who rides in the wet/rain? Maybe racers but its not allowed here... does too much damage to the trails we work so hard to keep maintained.

  17. #17
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    Like I said, I wasn't complaining about the cable/housing length. It was just something I needed to take care of today. I do have a fork pump and the fork actually had slightly more air in it than it should for my weight because I knew I'd be on some rougher trails and was hoping not to bottom it out. I think this is the first bike I've bought that I didn't build from scratch so I'm a little surprised by the lack of grease on everything. Again, none of this stuff is an actual problem, just things I noticed and am reporting.

    I will move the shifters/brake levers around some and find a position that's right for me. Dialing in a mtn bike is more of a progressive thing since you don't notice a lot of the "problems" until you're out on the trail pushing it. It's going to take a few days to get things just right.

    As for the grips, I guess I'll run them for a while until I don't like them. I agree that they don't have a ton of support. First wet ride with them should be...interesting. They were pretty cheap so oh well.

  18. #18
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    I/We do all the time, get caught in it probably 8-9 months of the year, if we didn't we wouldn't ride any trails, pretty much the same for England and other such European countries as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by codyh12345 View Post
    Who rides in the wet/rain? Maybe racers but its not allowed here... does too much damage to the trails we work so hard to keep maintained.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by codyh12345 View Post
    Who rides in the wet/rain? Maybe racers but its not allowed here... does too much damage to the trails we work so hard to keep maintained.
    I ride in the rain all winter. Our forest is used to being wet and drains quickly. There is no significant trail damage.

    The last place I lived I wouldn't ride in the wet as it would damage the trails.

    Different approaches for different places...
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  20. #20
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    I like the green paint job. Snazzy....
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  21. #21
    keeptrollintrollintrollin
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    I ride in the rain all winter. Our forest is used to being wet and drains quickly. There is no significant trail damage.

    The last place I lived I wouldn't ride in the wet as it would damage the trails.

    Different approaches for different places...
    Good point. We usually have to wait 3-4 days after a good rain to ride again. They gate off the trailheads so access is a nogo.

  22. #22
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    So I found this part rolling around in the box and I'm stumped as to what it is. I could use a little help from you more experienced mtn bike guys. For all I know it's not part of the bike and I dropped it in there on accident, but it seems awfully shiny and new.


  23. #23
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    I'm about 99.9% sure that's not a bike part.

    It looks like it's a stopper or something with that o-ring on the neck.
    www.teamnavycycling.org
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  24. #24
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    I fingered it out. Nothing a little googling couldn't solve.

    http://i399.photobucket.com/albums/p...ion-fork06.jpg

  25. #25
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    Huh. Nice job.

    Looks bigger in your picture.
    www.teamnavycycling.org
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