Very early impressions of new Goblin
A few observations after my first 3 rides, and please keep in mind I am coming from a 2002 Schwinn Moab HT that is/was actually a very nice bike and that was very well sorted and dialed in to my preferences.
The Goblin has been on 3 rides: 1) 5-6 mile paved trail ride that was basically used to dial in the RD, the seat height, and for me to figure out how everything else worked 2) 10-12 mile paved, crushed gravel, and hard pack dirt ride, and 3) 20+ mile sometimes technical and tight single track on a mix of hard pack, sandy surface, and occasional rocks and roots. My wife was with me on her new Guardian the last 2 rides and could not say enough good things about her new ride, especially after I put a slightly more compliant seat on it (Sefas RX from my Specialized Allez Comp road bike).
Good - This bike brakes better, climbs more efficiently (especially in a straight line), descends more smoothly with less drama, and generally feels more stable and more capable overall than my 26er. The words "smooth" and "confident" kept coming to mind. Also, all shifts were spot on and trouble free, and this will improve as I get more comfortable with the SRAM system as I have been a Shimano rapid fire trigger shift guy for a very long time. The front fork performed very well even though I could not get it pumped up to the desired psi (for my 215lb weight) with my compressor, and my regular home pump will not fit on it. I will get a dedicated pump or proper adapter for my regular pump to address this. I only bottomed it out once on a particularly hard hit at the bottom of a decsent. This is my first 29er, and also first introduction to SRAM components and disc brakes.
Bad -The seat is pretty rock hard and non-compliant, although I noticed this less while riding the single track because my butt was off the seat or hovering just above it almost as much as it was on it. I have not decided for sure if I will swap this out yet or not. Also, it could just be perception, but the seat post "feels" heavy to me. Not so much that I would pay to swap it for Ti or carbon or some such, but just an observation.
Indifferent but worthy of consideration - I am not sure whether this is attributable the the wheel size, tire type, or just the fact that this is a new bike that I still need to get used to and I was very comfortable on my Moab, BUT..... on the single track I noticed that I would frequently find myself riding wide of my desired line and then when I would correct, the bike (and rider) seemed to react a half second slower than what I thought it should which would cause me to then overcorrect. This would start a vicsous circle on certain parts of the trail in which I was never really riding the line I wanted to ride and was having to be more active (steering input wise) with my Goblin than with my Moab.
Also, I laid the bike down twice (pretty gracefully I might add) after the front end washed out while attempting to take a couple fairly fast paced corners in which the bike was leaned over at a decent angle. My old bike would not have done this, so this could be an air pressure or tire type thing. I run a fairly aggressive 2.3 WTB knobby on the front of my Moab, so maybe it just digs better when tossed hard into a fast corner. The Geax AKAs look decidedly less aggressive with more numerous and smaller knobs. I will say that they do roll with much less resistance when riding straight and level. I'm not ready to replace the tire(s), but I will experiment with tire pressures to see if if I can find a sweet spot. I do plan to ride on the stock tires for at least the rest of this season for sure, and I never had an issue with the rear breaking loose or with traction while climbing. I live in north Texas and the Goblin will get introduced to some trails in and around Taos, NM and Estes Park, CO later this summer, so we'll see. If anyone is running a front tire or F-R combo they really like, please let me know.
And a few others: Some have mentioned that they think the handlebars are too narrow. I will tell you that I could not comfortably ride some of the singletrack I currently ride without fear of hitting trees if the bars were even one inch wider. If I were riding more wide open areas more often, then yes, I would prefer a slightly wider bar. I have pretty large hands and the stock grips feel small to me, so I plan to move the brakes and shifters slightly inboard to make room for longer and beefier grips.
Overall, a very nice and high quality ride, and I look forward to many years with it after getting it dialed in to my feel, riding style and preferences.
I do appologize for the long post, but I thought I'd share my impressions with anyone who was curious and hopefully receive some constructive feedback from anyone who cares to share.
Sounds like the change in handling could be attributed in part to the switch to 29er? I'm not familiar with the Schwinn model you mentioned, but I found my Guardian to be a little sluggish when I first switched from a 26er. I eventually compensated for this by putting the stem lower and flipping it. Eventually, I got a 70 mm stem that fit me a little better and gave me back the control I had been craving. Not a design flaw at all, but just my personal preference. After you do some similar adjusting, I bet you'll love the changes.
I also came from a 26er with really aggressive traction and found the small blocks to be lacking on tight singletrack. But they did their job and rolled well. One way I compensated for that was keeping my weight centered during corners instead of leaning "with the bike." But yeah, nothing can take the place of a quality aggressive "big block" type tire. I don't do much racing, so that type of tires works well for me.
It's cool to read others first impressions, thanks for sharing!
Your experience is similar to my first few 29er rides. You'll get the overall handling down after a bit more time in saddle - it's just a different beast!
I had the same experience with basic handling; always seemed to bobble off line on certain trails, like I was half asleep or dreaming or something. Just hang in there, after a few more rides you'll get used to the geometry difference and you're reaction times will match up better. I'm not sure if I ride with my gaze further ahead when on a 29er or not, but it might help to try next time out. Its possible you are approaching turns/line choices a little faster than what you are used to...
As far as washing out in the turns - it will take a bit of getting used to and experimenting with where your center of gravity is on the bike - I agree with Barheet - staying centered with the bike in turns will help, and over time you can learn where that point of no return is, for when you really want to push it. (I sometimes still wash out in turns when switching between my 26er and 29er!)
The AKAs: For sure not as aggressive as a big block tire, but there's an advantage to how fast they roll. You might give up a little traction in the tighter turns, but they will let you go much faster, much quicker than the more burly tires.
You sound like a pretty solid rider; you easily recognize the differences between the two wheel sizes - just takes a little time getting acclimated. Be sure to post an update after a few more weeks on the bike, let us know what/if anything changes.
Airborne Flight Crew
Jerry Hazard – website
DO NOT use an air compressor or floor pump on your fork!!! You need a dedicated suspension pump ( your LBS should have them for less than 50 bucks, or may let you use it to get the correct pressure setting) Any other way, is just asking for trouble. The quick burst of air from a compressor can cause damage to the seals.
Originally Posted by ddblu
Appreciate the heads up on the fork. I really had no idea.
Originally Posted by dhpeteinsc
Thanks for taking the time do do such a nice write up!
Yep, you'll need a shock pump. This one is very popular and works great:
Spin Doctor Aftershock Suspension Pump - Shock Pumps
I think some of your handling differences are due to riding a different bike than what you are used to, and the difference between 26 and 29. There's a little bit of a learning currve that shouldn't take you long. It took me about 8-10 rides before I had adjusted and could whip the 29er around like my 26, and with the way the 29er flies over small obstacles and descends my lap times actually went down with the 29er.
Saddles are so personal, it's tough to spec something on there that everyone likes, looks good, and keeps costs down. Since we can't accomplish all three things, we picked a saddle that looks good and somewhat keeps costs down, and in the end most folks just put their own personal preference saddle on there. My favorite is the Selle Italia Flite Gel, but no one specs a $200 saddle on their bikes so no bike is spec'd with what I personally like!
Glad you like your bike! You should write for a bike magazine!
Thanks Jeremy. At 43 years old and about 15 lbs over my fighting weight, I think my writing skills may be more advanced than my riding skills!
I used to ride motocross when I was much younger, and my confidence level was always higher than my skill level. That led to more than a few broken bones. With about 20 years of mountain biking experience behind me, one broken elbow is not a bad showing for the effort, exercise, fun, and adventure.
I'll ride it a few more times and report back anything interesting. I am going to fight the urge to do anything with the front tire until I ride it for a while longer, but right now I do miss the perceived confidence and real world traction of looking down and seeing a 2.3 WTB Weirwolf out front. Like I said, the decreased rolling resistance of the AKAs is noticeable, and with no traction issues at all from the back tire, this could be more of a rider issue than a bike/tire issue.
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