I’ve managed to get a couple of rides in on the Goblin now, and can give some preliminary feedback on it. Here is Airborne’s take on what they intended the bike to be.
The Goblin is built to compete head-to-head with a couple of bikes we really respect: Trek’s base X-Caliber, and the Specialized RockHopper Pro 29er series. The Goblin’s geometry is nimble enough to pick singletrack lines, but plenty stable for hi-speed descents. And although the larger wheels let you roll over stuff you’d avoid on a 26er, the front end is very precise, even while climbing. Hydroformed and hand-welded 6061 alloy frame with a full SRAM X7 2×10 drivetrain.
I would have to say they they were successful in balancing the geometry for nimbleness on single-track with down-hill stability. At uber-high speeds it can get a little squirrelly, but that’s the nature of a hard-tail with skinnier tires. For better or worse depending on your preference, it does tend to have a point & shoot characteristic. Get it pointed in the direction you want to go and you will get there. The goblin is definitely not weight-weenie race bike light, but you get a lot of bike for the price-point. It is a very stiff frame, and does not give back too much on the chatter for the stiffness. The weight came out to just over 28lbs as shown in the pic below with pedals and bottle cages.
I would assume partly because the of higher weight this frame likes to stay on the ground. It wasn’t light enough to throw around and flick off every little drop and turn, but liked to roll off things and keep a more consistent line. The longer stock stem ended up being a bit much for me and I switched it out to a 90mm one. And what a difference that made! Previously to the switch I felt my weight was too far over the front wheel, but the shorter stem fixed that problem. The handling on the Goblin is quick and reasonably agile, but not twitchy. Overall it left me with a just stable enough feeling. The down-tube is nicely hydro-formed and has an interesting joint to the BB getting very flat and wide. The paint has held up well so far, and is without complaint. Much better actually than my other 29er HT.
The frame is reasonable stiff and and didn’t notice any significant flex. It is also fairly forgiving for being aluminum. While I didn’t feel overly rattled to death by trail chatter, It’s still an aluminum hard-tail and has the limits of such. One thing I do not quite understand it the larger diameter seat-post (30.6, I believe). It is my understanding that for HT’s the smaller diameter seat-tube is preferable for designed “flex” or give and yields a smoother ride, while the for AM bikes need to larger diameter for stiffness. I don’t think I could handle an all day epic without at least making a change to the saddle.
With a retail price of $1,200.00 the Goblin comes well equipped with a good spec for the price, and leading that charge is a 2×10 drive-train from with SRAM X.7 parts and AVID brakes, and supported a Reba 80mm fork. Every time I ride the new 2×10 platform, it just confirms that I would never invest in a three-ring cranks again. I am totally of fan and sold on the the 2×10.
The Avid brakes took a few miles to bed in, and I am told this is normal for this line. Once they were bedded they preformed admirably and had a few good feel. Both front and rear rotors are 160mm. I’ve been told this is not usually enough for the front wheel on a 29er, but I have yet to have any issues.
The small block 8′s from Kenda are performing great and only start to fall apart in loose trail conditions.
Come race day, probably the only modification I’m going to make is just to put on some lighter wheels. But you have to keep costs in mind here as well in that the wheels I’m planning to use also are about the same price as the entire Goblin build. It’s a good thing I don’t have a full blown case of upgradeitis…
Summary: The Goblin has a great build for the price with solid components. It is not race light, but on the other hand it never claims that as a goal. My only suggestion for Airborne on how to improve it is just to find ways to shave some weight off the frame. The geometry and handling feels good and with this as a starting point Airborne can only improve on what it already has. I look forward to getting more trail time on the Goblin and pushing this bike to its limits.