1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Just Ordered My First 29er: The Airborn Guardian

    After doing lots of research, I finally ordered my first 29er: the Airborne Guardian, for $675 delivered. I really wanted something with better specs, but I didn't want to fork out the extra cash, and the more I researched, the more good things I found out about the Guardian. Here is an article from Mountain Bike Tales Magazine that really impressed me and influenced my decision:

    Bike Review: Airborne Guardian 29er | Mountain Bike Review

    From what I've read, Airborne is a really good company that listens to their customers, and is owned and operated by avid mountain bikers. They don't BS you with inflated MSRPs, and they actually do their own research and development when considering frame design. One thing that stood out to me about the Mountain Bike Tales article was that the Guardian's frame design has excellent weight distribution and did a lot of things surprisingly well on the trail.

    The Guardian comes with hydraulic disc brakes, and while I would have preferred Shimano, the Sram X-5 setup should do the trick. The Rockshox XC 28 fork is not the best, but at this pricepoint, its very hard to find a 29er with a fork that doesn't say Suntour, so I'd say the Guardian is very well priced. It also looks pretty darn cool too!

    From what I can tell, you would be hard pressed to find a better 29er on the market for the pricepoint, and would have to spend around $900 locally to find a 29er hardtail with the same specs, and that is probably going to be a 2012 model on sale. In a few months down the road, when the weather gets nicer and I'm in better shape, I'll do some time trials on the local mountain bike trail to see how the Guardian stacks up speedwise against the 26ers I used to own. I'll post some photos when it arrives, but for now, here is a photo for those who are not familiar with the Airborne Guardian:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Just Ordered My First 29er: The Airborn Guardian-airborne_guardian.jpg  

    Last edited by getagrip; 01-04-2013 at 09:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    Out of the 2 mountain bike I have owned I actually preferred the SRAM setup over the shimano I have now. But thats just how I feel. Otherwise that bike should be pretty good.

  3. #3
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    Wow, that is a great bike for that price, congradulations.
    "Ideal bikes are not bought, they evolve beneath you"

  4. #4
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    That is a solid bike for developing skills on easy to difficult trails.
    Here's a couple vids to help out-
    .Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Hey Coach! Ep. 1 - Cornering on Vimeo

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    That is a solid bike for developing skills on easy to difficult trails.
    Here's a couple vids to help out-
    .Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Hey Coach! Ep. 1 - Cornering on Vimeo
    Thanks! I've actually been riding off road for a year and a half, but I've got almost ZERO technique, which is what I plan to focus on a lot more on this upcoming season.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    That is a solid bike for developing skills on easy to difficult trails.
    Here's a couple vids to help out-
    .Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Hey Coach! Ep. 1 - Cornering on Vimeo
    eb, those are some good vids and I've watched the first two when you linked them in another post. I have to ask though...why are you pimping them every chance you get? Does Fabien pay you or something?

  7. #7
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    Probably the same reason I always post the same couple of links on fit and maintenance from Peter White, Park Tool and Sheldon Brown.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodninja View Post
    eb, those are some good vids and I've watched the first two when you linked them in another post. I have to ask though...why are you pimping them every chance you get? Does Fabien pay you or something?
    Maybe he will let me in his ride class in the Alps if he runs another one this year.

    For the first on riding with heels low, no one gets this basic info from bike manufacturers or lbs. Guys go out on the trail and start getting bounced off their pedals. Technique is the real answer instead of feeling the only course is buying clipless pedals and shoes.

    I've added another cornering video to show the two methods. The second highlights the hip turning technique. But grass hill practice is the quickest way to get confidence in keeping speed in single track cornering.

    I think you can see a positive difference in your riding with these two video subjects in a major way immediately.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodninja View Post
    I have to ask though...why are you pimping them every chance you get? Does Fabien pay you or something?
    Same reason I was shocked he wasn't the first responder on an Airborne Guardian thread; eb is very enthusiastic about things that he likes. I suppose that's not such a bad thing, really.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodninja View Post
    eb, those are some good vids and I've watched the first two when you linked them in another post. I have to ask though...why are you pimping them every chance you get? Does Fabien pay you or something?
    Because sharing good information is a good thing... +1 rep for eb1888!


    101 posts!!!
    "Faster, Faster until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death." - Hunter S. Thompson

  11. #11
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    Nice bike. Enjoy!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    I think you can see a positive difference in your riding with these two video subjects in a major way immediately.
    Fair enough man, sorry for questioning you. They are good vids and I appreciate that you brought them to my attention.

  13. #13
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    Smile

    Today my Guardian finally arrived! And let me tell you, this bike rocks!

    Because of the melting snow on the ground after a rain storm here in Nebraska, I wasn't able to take it out on the trails, but I was very impressed on the first ride around the neighborhood. In fact, this bike exceeded my expectations in almost every way. I thought the bike was going to handle like a truck, and I had heard that the bike gets "snappier" if you put the handlebar down a few spacers, but I did not need to do this at all.

    While I wasn't able to ride it on dirt, I did my best to simulate trail riding conditions by making sharp turns from the street to driveway entrances and back, going around trees in the local park, and riding around lightpost islands in a church parking lot. The bike turned on a dime, but did not feel "twitchy" like the $1,100 Rock Hopper Comp I test rode a day or two before I ordered the Guardian. In fact, I think it felt more like a 26er, not too much different than the Breezer I had test ridden a few weeks ago. At lower speeds, it did feel sluggish when I rode it on the snow and rain soaked grass, but as I read not long ago, the bike accelerated very quickly as I spun the pedals faster to build momentum.

    The bike felt very stable. On my previous mountain bikes, it felt very odd for me when I 'stood up" on the pedals to climb up a hill, but on the Guardian, it felt like home. As other 29er riders have reported, this bike climbed like a goat. At first I was like, "wow, this is amazing", but after about 10 or 15 seconds of the first hill, my out of shape lungs kicked in and I was not able to go very fast up hill. However, about 20 minutes into the ride, I was able to move relatively quickly up a hill, perhaps even faster than on my cyclocross, but I will admit I started to climb this particular hill from a side street, about half way up. Still, the Guardian performed extremely well in this area.

    While time will tell how this bike performs on dirt and "real" singletrack conditions, I have no doubt I will beat all of my speed records fairly easily from the time trials I did on my 26ers, and I think I'll be able to do that even if I'm in half as good a shape as I was then. While all of my twist and turns were in the street or grass, it should be noted that I was being a little cautions, because I was clipped into the bike and didn't want to take a spill on the ice in the street, which leads me to believe that this bike will have an edge cornering on dirt. In other words, I'm pretty sure I could have pushed the envelope a lot more, had there not been snow and ice on the roads!

    At first I wasn't so sure about the cockpit, and felt the same way about the 9ish degree backsweep on the handlebars, but after about 10 or 15 minutes of riding, I was already used to it. I was a little bit surprised about how high I had to raise the seat to make it feel right, but after I figured that little puzzle out, the fit was ON.

    Unlike my last 26er, the rear end of the bike felt heavier than the front end, but I think that might help with overall weight distribution, and that might explain while I felt more comfortable than I usually do in the standing position. Despite the long top tube, the bike felt surprisingly upright, which I'm ok with because of my lower back problems. I did realize later on, however, that this might be perhaps because I had not adjusted the seat, which was a tad more forward than I usually ride, and because the backsweep of the handlebar shortens the cockpit.

    Before I installed the seatpost and seat, while attached together, these items weighed a ton, and I'm pretty sure the handlebars are heavy too. The seatpost clamp did not have a quick release, so these are obviously areas that Airborne cut cost on, but I have no problem with that at all, because like I said in the beginning, this bike rocks!

    I was hoping for one finger breaking, but had to apply more pressure on the brakes than I thought I would. That being said, I'm 90% sure that this was probably because I did not set them up correctly. Based on the setup I did do, I'd say these brakes are similar to Avid BB7s. On that note, I had a heck of a time getting the brakes adjusted properly so that there was no "shimming" noise coming from the rotors when the wheels were turning. It took me about an hour and a half just to get that part of it right, and I didn't even bleed them. In fact, I'm planning to create a thread about how to get the basic adjustment right so there is no shimming noise, but I'm pretty sure my technique is flawed. If you are experienced in that area, please feel free to chime in on that thread after I create it because I don't want to give BAD advice (Cat). I'll post a link to it here after I write it, probably this weekend.

    Shifting was excellent, and I didn't even bother to adjust the derailleurs, so I suppose someone may have dialed this bike in prior to shipping it. I did experience a couple incidences of chain suck, but that may have been because I was shifting with the wrong gear combinations between the front and rear derailleurs. There was an extremely annoying noise when coasting, almost like a screeching sound. Still not sure what that was about, but I noticed it more when I was setting up the bike and stopped turning the crank (while the bike was in "freewheel mode", so to speak) than I did while riding. The noise also seemed to go away when in the lower gears (bigger cogs) on the cassette.

    I haven't yet played with the rebound adjustment on the fork, but the Rockshox XC28 seemed to perform quite well, at least on pavement, in spite of the fact that I weighed in at a hefty 229 pounds (OUCH) at the doctor's office on Monday. Not to go too much into this, but my weight is at an all time high (I was about 200 pounds in June after riding 355 miles of BRAN), but once the weather warms up, it will be extremely easy to jump on this bike and go for lots of rides to burn excess calories. The Guardian is really fun to ride, and I wasn't even on dirt! The point I want to make here is that if this bike performed this well at my current weight, I'm stoked to think how well this bike might perform when I get back down to 185ish!

    If I had waited until today, I could have purchased the better equipped Airborne Goblin for $600 more, but I'm extremely pleased with the way the Guardian performed, and I'm also glad I'm not stressing out about finances because of the extra investment. I'm turning 41 on Sunday (well, 41 going on 25), and while I haven''t yet found the right girl (not counting my ex girlfriend who can't make up her mind about me, who I still go on mountain bike rides with), I think I can honestly say I've found the perfect bike!

    One more thing I'll say. The guys at Airborne really have their "shyte" together. These guys really know what they are doing. I've ordered from other mail order bike companies, which had well equipped bikes for the money, but the difference in frame design is noticeable with the Airborne. I've heard that subtle changes in geometry can make a major difference in your ride, and now I understand why. The Airborne research and development team got the geometry RIGHT! Previously in this thread, I estimated that the Guardian is a $900 bike store bike. I take that back. That might have been true a few years ago when bike prices were lower, but I'll put the Guardian up against any $1,100ish bike store bike! Sure, Airborne had to cut a few corners to get the cost down to $600, but crap, where the bike lacks in fancy parts, it makes up in frame design and handling!
    '
    By the way, I'm 5'7.5" tall on a good day, and the 16" frame feels great!
    Last edited by getagrip; 01-12-2013 at 12:23 AM.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the review, I have a buddy looking at that bike. I'm hoping he gets it because it looks like a sweet bike and every review I've read has been a thumbs up!

  15. #15
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    Finally rode my bike today on some dirt while on vacation here in Santa New Mexico. I'm going to ride one more day here before heading to Sedona, Arizona. Its kind of hard to say how well the bike performs on dirt out of the box, because I've upgraded some of the parts, including the fork, handlebar, stem, seatpost clamp, grips, platform pedals (for my trip), and seat. Also, I'm way out of shape, the altitude I rode at today is about a mile higher than what I'm used to (and I've only ridden about 40 miles of pavement since I picked up the bike). Above and beyond that, I'm not in familiar territory, so its hard to compare to other bikes I've owned. I still plan to do a time trial, to see how if my Guardian is faster than my old 26ers, but that is probably at least a few weeks away, assuming the trails in Omaha are dry. Having said all of that, here are some thoughts I had while on the trail:

    1. The bike handles great. There were some tight turns that I was able to go through without any problems. I'm sticking to my original statement that this bike handles like a 26er.

    2. The bike feels a little sluggish at times. This could be due, in part, to my physical condition and the altitude change. Oddly, however, there were a couple of times when I thought I was going up a slight incline, but it felt like I was riding downhill, so I'm not sure what to think of that. Maybe the wind had something to do with it? Some time trials will shed more light on this.

    3. The bike likes to go downhill. Enough said.

    4. Shifting is pretty good. I still haven't made any adjustments to the derailleurs since taking it out of the box, but I'm going to have to before I ride tomorrow, because my chain fell off the largest cog in the back several times today. I did take off that annoying plastic thing off, but adjusting the low stop should take care of that. My front derailleur cage is slightly bent (I haven't tried to straighten it with the plyers yet), but I didn't have any problems today on the trails.

    5. There might be some rear hub issues. The hub make an annoying noise when I'm not pedaling, which sometimes goes away for a while, then comes back. My friend just got a Skyhawk, and I think her bike seems to have the same problem, so I'm waiting to see if that goes away with time. I did buy a lighter wheelset, so its kind of a moot point (haven't done the swap yet because of some unexpected compatibility issues I overlooked before ordering), but I did let Airborne know about the problem, and I know they would take care of me if the problem persists, but well see if it goes away after it gets broken in.

    6. The bike climbs well. I was huffing and puffing a lot today, and probably will be tomorrow, but I think climbs would have been tougher on my old 26er.

    7. The brakes are awesome. Yes, they are Tektros, but they are also hydraulic, and they work pretty darn well.

    8. The front tire may need to go. I came very close to crashing several times today, I think when cornering. At least one time was my fault, but I'm a little more hesitant than I want to be on corners. Some of this could be due to the somewhat loose sand I came across today.

    In some ways I was kind of bummed I didn't wait a few weeks and get the better equipped Goblin, but at the same time, that's freed up some cash to upgrade some other things. Overall, this is a very solid bike for the price, and it seems to do well on the trails. While I'm having fun in the high desert, and expect to have more fun in the days to come (even if I'm huffing and puffing most of the time) I'm looking forward to taking this bike to the Nebraska trails and see what this bike can do!

    Oh, and here are a few photos. I'm including the original and post upgrades!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Just Ordered My First 29er: The Airborn Guardian-img_0835.jpg  

    Just Ordered My First 29er: The Airborn Guardian-img_0855.jpg  

    Just Ordered My First 29er: The Airborn Guardian-img_0856.jpg  

    Just Ordered My First 29er: The Airborn Guardian-img_0857.jpg  


  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by getagrip View Post
    My front derailleur cage is slightly bent (I haven't tried to straighten it with the plyers yet), but I didn't have any problems today on the trails.
    Easy there... are you sure you know what you're doing? The cage will have bends in it from the factory, what exactly are you trying to fix? Pliers are certainly not the right tool to be working on a brand new bike with.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Easy there... are you sure you know what you're doing? The cage will have bends in it from the factory, what exactly are you trying to fix? Pliers are certainly not the right tool to be working on a brand new bike with.
    Its the cage. There is a photo of it in the thread below, the 4th post down. I've got a Deore M591 that I picked up for $10 if I need to replace it, but I'd rather just stick with the original if I can. But no, usually with bike stuff, I don't know what I'm doing. LOL

    Should I upgrade my Guardian fork to the Recon?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by getagrip View Post
    Its the cage. There is a photo of it in the thread below, the 4th post down. I've got a Deore M591 that I picked up for $10 if I need to replace it, but I'd rather just stick with the original if I can. But no, usually with bike stuff, I don't know what I'm doing. LOL

    Should I upgrade my Guardian fork to the Recon?
    What the hell did you do to that thing?

    Pro tip: use a big ass screwdriver and pry it back open. Just watch what you pry against because you don't want to knock off any teeth on your rings.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  19. #19
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    I hope you've secured that front brake line since taking those photos. There should be a little fixture to zip tie it to your fork. The line just swinging around like that is an accident waiting to happen.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zuarte View Post
    I hope you've secured that front brake line since taking those photos. There should be a little fixture to zip tie it to your fork. The line just swinging around like that is an accident waiting to happen.
    agree...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zuarte View Post
    I hope you've secured that front brake line since taking those photos. There should be a little fixture to zip tie it to your fork. The line just swinging around like that is an accident waiting to happen.
    Thanks. I had a feeling someone would point that out to me! I was in kind of a rush to leave Omaha due to a hectic week, and had not even put on any of the upgrades until I got to New Mexico, except the fork and saddle, so I didn't get the bike as ready as it should have been. Before today's ride, a local bike shop in Santa Fe gave me one while dialing my shifting, so everything is good to go, except for that annoying hub noise 2 bike store mechanics have not been able to figure out!
    Last edited by getagrip; 03-05-2013 at 09:00 PM.

  22. #22
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    During today's ride in Sedona, Arizona, I had a couple of more thoughts about the Guardian, mainly that it enabled me to ride through and over obstacles that I never thought I'd be able to. I was kind of shocked that I could go right through and over rock gardens. In some cases, I thought for sure I wasn't going to make it, but I was able to power through it.

    There were many times where I didn't make it, of course, but I think I could have made it if I was in better shape. I'm not so sure how well the bike would have done with its original fork (upgraded from a Rockshox XC28 to a Manitou Tower Expert), but I was still pretty amazed at what I could do on the bike! I do think 29er wheels made a big difference...not sure if would even have attempted some of the stuff I rode today on a 26er hardtail!

    On the down side, I wished shifting was a bit faster. At times, it seemed there was a split second delay shifting from gear to gear with the current X-3/X-5 setup, so I guess you could say I now understand a bit better why people ride X-9 and X-0! There were a couple of times today when I wished I was riding a $2500 full suspension bike, but the Guardian got the job done!

    Check out photos from my trip! I'll be updating it daily after each ride.

    My mountain biking vacation!

  23. #23
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    Alternatively, you can learn to tune your derailleurs.

    See parktool.com. Great articles.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  24. #24
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    Looks good. Gratz on ur new bike BTW.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Alternatively, you can learn to tune your derailleurs.
    Very true. I can to a certain extent, but when you are on a trip to a place like Arizona and New Mexico, you have a guy who knows what he's doing do your derailleurs for you. On second thought, the one thing the bike store guy did mention was that the cable tension seemed a little loose, but he said that since it was shifting well, he opted to leave the tension alone. Maybe that was the reason for the split second delay, so perhaps that was a bad call on his part. He also mentioned the derailleur hanger was slightly bent. Anyway, shifting could be better, but it gets the job done. I plan to ride it the way it is for a season then upgrade my whole drive train next year.

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