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. The 7000 series Aluminum frame is double-butted with a lot of new touches that we haven't used before: internal cable routing, direct-mount FD, and a PressFitGXP BB. We've spec'd-out the rest of the HobGoblin with a spec similar to our well-liked Goblin: complete SRAM X7 2x10 drivetrain, WTB wheelset, Airborne handlebar/stem/seatpost, and Selle San Marco Ponza saddle. Braking duties are handled by Avid Elixir 3's. Geax AKA 2.2 inch tires offer plenty of grip yet still roll fast.
Strengths: Value, Geomotry, setup, rides great. Climbs better then my scott scale did. Fun bike just flip the stem so its facing down otherwise it feels like a beach cruiser.
Weaknesses: Wheels (My rear axle cracked in half after one month) wheels are heavy and flimze. Nothing wrong with the bike. THE TIRES SUCK!!! my back one is out of tread after 3 weeks. Yes they role fast but because the tall tiny nobs flex around it floats around on the trail. By far the worst tires ever.
Strengths: Price, hands down - difficult to find anything with this spec close to this price.
Airborne customer service. Second to none. While you can't try one out at a local shop, if you give them a call they'll do everything in their power to make sure you are getting the appropriate size and/or model that suits you best. They will even ask you for your measurements - height, inseam, reach, to make sure you're getting the best fit.
Assembly. The Hobgoblin comes 90% assembled, and the other 10% almost any person can complete with just a couple tools. Personally, I think it encourages people to try a hand wrenching on their bike at little to no consequence, and I don't think you can put a price on being familiar enough with your bike to be able to fix it.
The Hobgoblin will go about anywhere you want to take it. No, it's not an "AM" or "trail" or "enduro" bike - and it does not fare as well in those more extreme conditions, but short of that - this bike is unstoppable.
Weaknesses: As it stands, there are...none? Anything I list will be a nit-pick, as it rides great out of the box. Things I may have changed: Wider bars. Bolt on grips. QR seat post clamp. Again, all subjective.
Some may consider that not being able to ride it first, like you can at a bike shop, is a "minus". However, Airborne has a strong presence in the mtbr forums, and are prompt to answer any questions. Also, they have gained a reputation for excellent customer service - if you have questions on anything - sizing, parts, warranty - Airborne will work with you to make you get your answers and the size that suits you best.
Weight? Its not really that heavy to begin with, and then you also have to factor in the incredible value you are getting on this bike. Besides, after ten pedal strokes, the last thing you'll be thinking about is if this bike should be a pound lighter....
Its not an "AM/Enduro" bike. I'm only half joking. Sometimes people tend to overbuild a bike for purpose other than what it was intended for. While that is possible with the Hobgoblin, its not ideal. The geometry and frame construction are decidedly "Cross Country". IF it had two more inches of travel, then maybe. But it really performs best at it intended purpose. Ridden/raced as an XC bike, I can't really see any weaknesses.
Must disclose: I am a member of the Airborne Flight Crew. As such, I am provided a bicycle (at no cost to me) in order to evaluate, test, and review over a period of time. However, I do my best to be as objective and up front as I can. Also, I've also PURCHASED this bike for my wife, who was more anxious than I was for it the box to arrive.
I've been riding the Hobgoblin since December 2012, in a variety of conditions and terrain.
The Hobgoblin is an affordable entry in to the world of cross country full suspension 29ers. The component spec is very nice; 7000 series aluminum frame, REBA fork, X7 drive train, WTB wheels, Geax AKA tires. I won't go in to the plus minuses of each, but rather how the bike operates as a whole.
The cockpit is comfortable, with the rider in a slightly forward "XC stance" while still remaining centered in the bike. Pedaling the Hobgoblin - power is pretty direct from pedal to ground, not much lost to suspension movement, if any. This is great on cruiser trails where you really want to hammer it and keep your momentum going.
Navigating through swoopy turns at speed is a blast, and the xc geometry of the Hobgoblin is subdued just the slightest bit (a good thing at speed!) by the 29er wheels, so this keeps it stable, but responsive. As your speed wanes a bit and the trail gets twisty, the centered rider position and xc geometry keep things fairly nimble as you weave in, out and around the trail. Switchbacks are no problem either, again with the centered stance it's easy to maneuver around and apply the proper amount of body English were needed.
As the trail points up, there is a lockout on the rear shock - I dare people NOT to use it except on the most smooth of trails. The active rear suspension is very responsive; from small chatter to bigger hits and small drops. It feels like much more travel than 100mm. Again, if you are on climb that is anything but smooth, leave the lockout and let the suspension do its work, this bike will climbs things that will surprise you. As the chain stays are close to "normal" in length, it can be challenging to manual the Hobgoblin, but those stays also work to keep the back end planted in steeper or techy-er climbs, which is a bit more important being that its an XC rig, haha.
Descending is not a problem on the Hobgoblin either. The Reba does its job and keeps the front wheel planted and pointed where you need it, while the rear end soaks up all the small to medium sized chatter - this bike will rail very fast and stable at eye watering speeds. Larger hits will require a bit more rider input to keep the bike in line, but it doesn't require a lot of muscling the bike,(remember, its only 100mm travel - not 160). The suspesion really works it out for you - and you'd have to really work hard to get this bike into a situation that was "uncomfortable".
So, 9 months on this bike, riding from high desert to apline trails and a lot inbetween. Much of the time I'm cruising singletrack, but other times I've pushed this bike probably beyond its limits and really tested the integrity of the frame and components. Its held up great, and so far I've only really had to re-tighten pivot bolts on the rear end, and true wheels. No equipment failures, no warranty issues.
Parts to change out? That's too subjective/personal for a hard/fast rule. I like wider bars, however my wife kept her stock bars. Tubeless may save you a couple lbs, and well, it is the 21st century after all! Tires might be on the heavy side, however - I like the grip and they are pretty durable.
The Hobgoblin is a great handling bike. A confident climber and almost hyper fast single track blaster. Its an affordable entry in the worlds of full suspension, 29ers - or both. Please note/remember, the Hobgoblin is intended as an XC bike. Its not an "AM" or "Enduro" set up. It would likely survive such abuse, but the geometry and components are not conducive to style of riding. But as a full suspension XC bike, it covers all the bases, as fast as you care to round them.
Wassup, guys and gals!
Wondering your opinions on how the hobgoblin rates in terms of fit, feel, geometry of some other FS 29ers out there. My thoughts are that this bike is sweet! But, I'd like to actually ride it or something comparable before dropping the coin on it. I can demo/rent/get my gru ... Read More »
I'm coming from a Gary Fisher Roscoe, which I love, but would like to move to a 29'er bike. I love the quick handling of my Roscoe since its a 26.
I demoed a Trek Fuel EX 8 yesterday, but it feel really slooooow in its handling. Rolled nice, but slow handling. I'm wondering if anyone has bo ... Read More »
When i ride i like to ride light carrying only my phone wallet and car keys. i cannot find a bag that fits the HobGoblin frame that is not cumbersome, either the top tube and downtube are too fat or the rear suspension gets in the way for any of my current bags. i have thick thighs so fr ... Read More »
Help! My two week old hobgoblin has a knock in it somewhere. The bike was professionally assembled. I have personally gone through everything I can think of to torque or tighten except bottom bracket. I really can't isolate the noise. It sounds like it is lower on the bike. Any others out the ... Read More »