The Airborne HobGoblin is a solid handling bike that offers a surprisingly plush ride for 100mm of travel (naturally, the 29 inch wheels help). The rear suspension design is very active, so you will want to be sure to lock out the shock for extended climbs. Standing up and hammering also accentuates the need to use the lock out. There is no bar mounted lockout lever (for either the fork or shock), so you have to reach down to switch on the lockout. At 30.46 lbs, you won’t want to use this for your local XC race, but the HobGoblin carries it’s weight well. And of course, the 29″ wheels climb great once up to speed.
On the downhills, the HobGoblin soaked up the bumps quite well, so much so that we would have liked to try a 120mm fork on the front. It was stable and tracked solid at speed. As a 29er, it isn’t the most nimble handler when it comes to quick side-to-side transitions, which you will notice even more if you are coming from riding 26″ wheels. That said, we were surprised that the HobGoblin actually jumped well with good in-air stability and nice, soft landings. We attribute a large part of this handling characteristic to the low center of gravity that this kind of suspension design offers (with the shock mounted low, near the BB). This doesn’t mean you should go and whip it off your favorite big hit drop, but for aggressive trail riding the bike performs well. We encountered no binding of the rear shock and we tested this by removing all the air out of the shock. Since we ran low pressure in the rear shock (to get the most out of every millimeter of the 100 available, we ran about 30% sag), we did occasionally strike the pedals a few times and bottomed on g-outs every now and then. However, when we emptied the shock we also checked for bottom out clearance and it was fine.
Although the Airborne HobGoblin is listed under Cross Country on their website, the bike is more suited towards all around trail riding. The number one thing this bike offers is a good value without cutting corners on fun. Like most good values there is a penalty and in this case it is weight. However, if you aren’t a gram counter or an XC racer, the HobGoblin carries its weight well and offers a solid big-wheeled ride. Swap out the bars and tires and you’re set. It is an all around nice trail bike for the money.
4/5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
“More oriented towards trail riding than XC, the HobGoblin provides a stable ride that will provide miles of faithful service to the budget-minded rider.”
5/5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
“Consumer direct and a smart part spec create a great value.”
Official Product Description from the Manufacturer
“The HobGoblin. A 29er XC/Trail beast with 100mm of smooth travel thanks to its modified twin-link suspension. A RockShox Reba RL up front coupled with a Monarch RL out back handle the suspension and tuning duties, and both can be locked out when on the fly when needed. Plenty of mud clearance and oversized sealed bearings means it will take a beating and keep performing for years.”
For more information: www.airbornebicycles.com