In all it’s pretty tough to argue with Airborne’s formula for success here. The fact that they sidestep the middleman (the bike shop) in dealing factory direct results in savings that can be immediately felt by the consumer- regardless of skill level. Reviews like this always put us in a bad position because supporting this method of business is akin to turning our back on the shops who help us in more ways than we can highlight here but at the same time, there will always be riders looking for the absolute best bang for their hard earned bucks and there’s no denying that you’re getting strong specs for the price here.
Of course on the flipside there are two downsides to going factory direct: One is that you have to take a leap of faith on the sizing chart. In a perfect world you would know someone with a few Airbornes and you could demo theirs to determine precisely what you need before ordering. However, considering the difficulty we had just tracking down one for this review, that’s wishful thinking at best. More likely you’ll have to do as much online research/ sizing chart studying as possible and hoping for the best. There’s some adjustability between stem and seatpost but there’s no correcting for ordering the wrong size frame.
Secondly there is the assembly factor. To date we’ve yet to encounter a do-it-yourself bike that arrived as user friendly as the now defunct Ibex. Granted in the case of the Guardian, little more than locking the front wheel into place and some fine-tuning of the front brake pads and cables was in order, the potential for a bike in need of some mechanical know-how is definitely there. Sure you could ask your local shop to do you a favor and build/ set it up for you for a few bucks but we know that some shop owners consider it an insult to buy elsewhere than expect their mechanics to service it.
However, all told with a bit of mechanical savvy, a strong grasp of your bodily dimensions/ sizing needs and a very short budget, Airborne has probably got the bike you’ve been waiting for ready to be shipped to your front door.
This review has been brought to you by Mountain Bike Tales magazine.