Review: Airborne Hob Goblin

A direct to consumer 110mm carbon 29er

29er Cross Country Pro Reviews

As one of the early adopters of the direct to consumer sales strategy, Ohio-based Airborne Bicycles has been creating a mix of budget-friendly mountain bikes to suit any riding style since 1997. Offering a full line of mountain bikes with price tags less than $4,000, Airborne is pushing the consumer-direct market with free shipping and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Coming in at $3,299, the Hob Goblin is Airborne’s carbon-framed, 110mm travel, XC 29er and comes spec’d with a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Level T Brakes, RockShox Reba RL 120mm fork, and RaceFace cockpit items. Our test bike came without a dropper post, but it is available as an optional addition at the time of purchase. Designed around a modern XC geometry, the Hob Goblin offers a mix of XC efficiency with comfortable angles and subtle yet thoughtful design characteristics.

Airborne Hob Goblin Highlights 

Airborne branded hubs and rims help to keep the price point low while SRAM NX Eagle offers up an attractive build package.

With the progressive trend of longer and slacker geometries and increasing versatility in the trail bike genre, the XC market seems to receive far less exposure than their longer travel brethren. But from my experience, the 100mm-120mm travel 29er is one of the more versatile and widely accepted options for many mountain bikers around the country. Sure, it’s great to smash down a technical trail on a modern, slack 140-160mm trail bike, but in many areas those bikes are overkill. For most of my daily riding, the Hob Goblin seems to fit the bill nicely and has drawn me toward longer rides with more climbing and more exploration.

Airborne hit a home run with the sleek aesthetics of the Hob Goblin carbon frame.

Out of the box, the Hob Goblin comes partially assembled from the company’s Dayton, OH headquarters. From a consumer standpoint, the build is relatively straightforward with basic technical knowledge, but if you’re a new rider or have limited technical experience, we’d recommend taking your Airborne in for professional assembly at your local shop. Although this seems like an added expenditure and Airborne offers assembly instructions on their site, it’s worth knowing your bike was assembled properly and supporting your local shop can also open up great connections.

Airborne Hob Goblin geometry.

Airborne Hob Goblin geometry.

Once assembled, my first ride aboard the Hob Goblin consisted of an 18-mile XC ride with 3k feet of climbing with a mix of fire road, singletrack, and a bit of high-speed technical descending. Usually tackled aboard my daily driver, a 140mm travel 29er, I was pleased with the Hob Goblin’s climbing efficiency and comfortable positioning. I opted for a large frame, as it’s what I ride in many of the modern trail bike, but found the Hob Goblin to fit a bit larger in both the reach and stack measurements.

Stout frame linkage makes for a laterally stiff frame.

After my first ride, I opted for a shorter stem to shorten up the reach from the stock 60mm stem. At 5’10” I often fit right between medium and large frames and have trended toward large frames but with the Hob Goblin I’d prefer to drop to a medium. Dropping down to a 45mm stem, I was able to get the fit of the large to fit comfortably and found the bike to be quite confidence-inspiring in most trail situations even with the bikes XC build, for a bit more confidence, a wide profile tire and wheel combo would definitely up its game.

Internal cable routing adds to the sleek aesthetic of the Hob Goblin while also reducing cable rattle.

The more time I spent aboard the Hob Goblin, the more capable it felt. On the climbs, the bike felt planted and showed little unwanted suspension movement. Once the trail tipped downward, the Hob Goblin offered good stability with a surprisingly spry and playful feel. Despite the lack of a dropper post, smooth fast descents were a blast aboard the Hob Goblin as I sought out all the optional drops and jumps.

Though it loves to climb, the Hob Goblin offered up a playful feel on the descents and felt surprisingly capable.

Verdict

With it’s XC-focused design and geometry, the Hob Goblin is a great bike for riders looking for a fun yet efficient full suspension bike. It loves to go fast both up and down and, with a few small adjustments, its playful nature really comes alive. If you want a shorter-travel bike that can hold its own in cross-country races while also being a blast to rip with your friends on smoother trails, the Hob Goblin is a great choice.


About the author: Jordan Carr

Having spent more than half his life riding all types of bikes at almost every type of cycling event, Carr loves the freedom two-wheeled travel has brought to his life. Having spent many years behind the stand at a bike shop, he’s tested mountain bike products for a number of publications. Follow Carr's adventures as they travel the country promoting trails and mountain biking on Facebook and Instagram.



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