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  1. #1
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    Lil help for First MTB: Windsor Cliff 29R Comp vs Airborne Guardian

    About to buy my first bike! I've really learned a lot from the forums so far and I'm looking for some final advice.

    I'm 6'2, 225, 36yo and have not had a bike since I was a kid. I play tennis and golf and live about 5 miles from a great MTB trail at our local State Park. The idea behind getting a bike is to road commute the 5 miles to the Park to hit the trails, hit some range balls or play tennis. Nothing heavy yet, but who knows where MTBing will take me.

    I live near 4 great LBS's that all offer great quality bikes from Giant, Specialized, Trek, Marin, Felt, Cannondale, etc. I have spent about a month running around testing bikes and gathering info. All of my LBSs offer the first tuneup free only.

    I set my eyes on the $650-$700 range and tested the Giant Talon 2, Trek Marlin, Felt Nine Trail, Marin Bolinas Ridge, Specialized Hardrock which all felt about the same to me.

    The more I researched, the more I became interested in hydralic brakes and RockShox forks to be able to lockout while riding. So, I tested the Trek Mamba and kinda fell in love with it, but it was out of my price range and just made me want the Cobia.

    I have come to the conclusion that I'll get get a direct mail bike that will allow me to get the components I want at the price I can afford.

    I spoke with several LBS guys that never had anything bad to say about the direct mail bikes (I thought they would) and said they never heard anything bad about them and actually would service them too.

    I have decided to choose between the Windsor Cliff 29R Comp or the Airborne Guardian. These two have all the components I'm looking for and are in my price range.

    Windsor Cliff 29R:
    Save up to 60% Off 29ER Mountain Bikes - MTB - Windsor Cliff 29RComp

    Airborne Guardian:
    Airborne Bicycles. Guardian


    I plan on having the LBS that was the most knowledable, service this bike regularly, which should eliminate the service advantage of buying a LBS bike. I do not plan on thrashing this bike heavily on the trails.

    With all this in mind, my questions are,

    1) Is there anything I need to know about direct mail bikes before making this decision. Any horror stories I haven't heard?

    2) Would you consider these direct mail bikes with the better components an advantage over brands like Trek, Specialized, etc. if LBS service was not an issue for this price range.

    3) Between these two bikes, which looks the best component wise and which brand has the brightest future in your opinion?

    Feel free to add any better bike in this price range if you know some.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by druethe; 03-14-2012 at 08:30 AM.

  2. #2
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    Anyone own either one of these brands? Pros? Cons? Anything?

  3. #3
    AZ
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  4. #4
    FKA Malibu412
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    I don't have either one of these but I would try the Airborne. They are both spec'd about the same with the slight edge going to the Guardian with hydraulic brakes over the Cliff cable BB5s, a 34 tooth cassette (better for 29ers, imo) and the fork doesn't say "Dart" even though they are very similar internally. The chain stay lengths and geometries are quite similar with the Cliff being slightly more slack.

    The Guardian simply looks more "put together" to me, like the design and appearance were more thought out. It looks higher end. Not too many Airbornes out there on the trails, either, so you would have something more unique.
    "I love the bike. It's my meditation. I think I'm bike-sexual." -Robin Williams

  5. #5
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    Thanks, required that I have 10 posts...I tried

  6. #6
    FKA Malibu412
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    Another BD offering is this one for $549. It's spec'd very close to the Guardian but has a 10sp rear 11-36 cassette. Even better for 29ers, I'd say and looks pretty good in orange.



    Save up to 60% Off 29ER Mountain Bikes - MTB - Windsor Cliff 29RComp
    "I love the bike. It's my meditation. I think I'm bike-sexual." -Robin Williams

  7. #7
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    Thanks for that, that was actually the one I was trying to compare to the Guardian. I just couldn't link yet because of post count.

  8. #8
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    I can't speak to the Windsor, but as a member of the Airborne Flight Crew, I have been riding an Airborne Goblin for a year which has the same frame as the Guardian. I find the geometry spot on for trail riding (I also race mine) and I like the handling of the frame. Being made of aluminum, it is stiff, but not severely so. The tektro brakes are actually pretty decent. Good feel, okay power and reach adjustment. I would expect the drivetrain on either bike to perform fine when properly adjusted. The handlebar and seatpost are Airborne branded pieces and work like they should. As far as the saddle, it's really too personal to make a meaningful comment on. I'd expect the wheels to be workman like if not heavy, but at this pricepoint that's to be expected. What I can't comment on is the fork. I've never ridden that fork so, I won't pretend like I know anything about it's performance.

    Good luck on you bike choice and I hope you have a blast riding.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by poontank View Post
    I can't speak to the Windsor, but as a member of the Airborne Flight Crew, I have been riding an Airborne Goblin for a year which has the same frame as the Guardian. I find the geometry spot on for trail riding (I also race mine) and I like the handling of the frame. Being made of aluminum, it is stiff, but not severely so. The tektro brakes are actually pretty decent. Good feel, okay power and reach adjustment. I would expect the drivetrain on either bike to perform fine when properly adjusted. The handlebar and seatpost are Airborne branded pieces and work like they should. As far as the saddle, it's really too personal to make a meaningful comment on. I'd expect the wheels to be workman like if not heavy, but at this pricepoint that's to be expected. What I can't comment on is the fork. I've never ridden that fork so, I won't pretend like I know anything about it's performance.

    Good luck on you bike choice and I hope you have a blast riding.
    Thanks for the response and information on the Goblin. Since you have been riding it for a year, if you threw out all of the outside components, how would you stack up the Airborne framework against Trek, Giant, Specialized, etc in the same price range?

    As in, Is the difference in pricing solely based on the savings from the direct mail system? Or do the other brands have high quality framework with lesser components where as the Airborne has lower quality framework but better components?

    I'd love to go with one of these direct mail bikes, but afraid of the "lemon" risk without being able to ride it first.

    Any Windsor users out there?

  10. #10
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    Of course your Treks, Giants, Specializeds and Airbornes are going to have their own frame designs which all have different qualities and characteristics. But I wouldn't expect a widespread durability issue from any of them that they wouldn't stand behind. Of course, as a member of the flight crew, I've received excellent customer service from Airborne, but everything I've read online about Eric, the Airborne CS guy, is that he provides top notch CS (with one irrational exception).

    Not only does Airborne save money by offering bikes direct to consumer, they also have very little overhead compared to the bigger companies. And that's nothing against the big companies, they just have to build certain cost into their prices. For example, they have to support their dealership networks and their pro racing teams. That costs a lot of money that has to come from somewhere. Contrast that with Airborne which has no dealership network and is basically a 2 man operation with 10 brand ambassadors.
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  11. #11
    Airborne Product Dude
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    Quote Originally Posted by poontank View Post
    The tektro brakes are actually pretty decent. Good feel, okay power and reach adjustment.
    Did your Goblin come with non-stock brakes? It should have had Elixir R's on it...........

    EDIT: Nevermind, I figured out you were talking about the Auriga Comps on the Guardian. Sorry!
    Airborne Dude.

  12. #12
    burnedthetoast
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    Poontank - How do you like the Elixir Rs? And how do they fit into the Avid brake lineup??
    Ride to Work, Work to Live, Live to Ride

  13. #13
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    Airborne's customer support rocks, go with them...

  14. #14
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    I don't have either one of these but I would try the Airborne.

  15. #15
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    Hello Druethe did you choose one? If yes which one and why.? Thanks

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRealKTrain View Post
    Airborne's customer support rocks, go with them...
    If he researched well enough he would go for the one with the lifetime warranty
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aabid View Post
    Hello Druethe did you choose one? If yes which one and why.? Thanks
    Hey Aabid, I ended up buying the Windsor Cliff 29R in Black. The specs were just too good to bypass for $550 with ship and tax included. I never wanted to really pay over $650 for a bike, which made this an easy decision. I had a local bike shop put it together because it wasn't as easy to piece together as I thought it would be. I paid $50 and he assembled it and gave me two free tune ups. He was pretty impressed with it for that price as well.

    I've had it for almost three weeks now and I really love it. I'm doing a lot of commuting and trail riding, so the lockout fork was important. I didn't realize it, but it has a lockout lever on the handles which makes it even better.

    I'll say, I'm new to riding and have no experience with other name brand bikes except for my test rides, but I think I gambled with the unknown and it paid off. The bike has everything I want and so far I have zero complaints.

    I'll try to post some pictures soon.

  18. #18
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    Hello Druethe. Thanks for reply. Sounds a good deal. I hope you enjoy it. How much does it weigh?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by druethe View Post
    Hey Aabid, I ended up buying the Windsor Cliff 29R in Black. The specs were just too good to bypass for $550 with ship and tax included. I never wanted to really pay over $650 for a bike, which made this an easy decision. I had a local bike shop put it together because it wasn't as easy to piece together as I thought it would be. I paid $50 and he assembled it and gave me two free tune ups. He was pretty impressed with it for that price as well.

    I've had it for almost three weeks now and I really love it. I'm doing a lot of commuting and trail riding, so the lockout fork was important. I didn't realize it, but it has a lockout lever on the handles which makes it even better.

    I'll say, I'm new to riding and have no experience with other name brand bikes except for my test rides, but I think I gambled with the unknown and it paid off. The bike has everything I want and so far I have zero complaints.

    I'll try to post some pictures soon.
    druethe- How's your Windsor doing after a couple months of riding? Anything stand out as really good or realy bad?

  20. #20
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    I was teetering between the Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29 and the Airborne Guardian. Ordered the Airborne Guardian last Friday. Hope I made the right decision.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swager View Post
    I was teetering between the Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29 and the Airborne Guardian. Ordered the Airborne Guardian last Friday. Hope I made the right decision.
    Hey! How's the Guardian so far? I wanted to get the Goblin... but after tax and shipping it comes out to 1350 with the cheaper pedals too... :O

  22. #22
    SSolo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swager View Post
    I was teetering between the Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29 and the Airborne Guardian. Ordered the Airborne Guardian last Friday. Hope I made the right decision.
    Looks like good decision, how's it riding? Pics?
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son...

  23. #23
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    I just received my Guardian today, had it put together and riding down the street in 45 minutes. excellent quality! lifetime to original owner warranty on the frame. cant wait to tune the shift and go ride some laps around the lake!

    I would not hesitate a second to buy another Airborne!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by zukrider View Post
    I just received my Guardian today, had it put together and riding down the street in 45 minutes. excellent quality! lifetime to original owner warranty on the frame. cant wait to tune the shift and go ride some laps around the lake!

    I would not hesitate a second to buy another Airborne!
    Good to hear!

  25. #25
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    Im glad to hear that I am ordering my Guardian next week!!! im so excited to start riding.

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