The Paka-Wallup, Airborne’s new soft tail deign has over 2" of rear wheel travel, giving riders the control of dual suspension but with the weight and comfort of Titanium. Built with our own 3Al/2.5V aerospace-grade, cold-worked, tapered and size-specific titanium. Includes NEW Integrated disc brake mount. (Four sizes available in High Lust Polish: small, medium, and large)
Strengths: Ride was incredible. Just the right amount of suspension to make traction awesome, yet climbing... awesome. This bike rides truly incredible.
Weaknesses: My frame also broke. From the sounds of the previous poster, my frame broke the same way. I was climbing up a hill. I came to a stop, and the chain stay near the disc snapped and the bike lurched back. Keep in mind I'm a 130 pound rider.
The frame handles great but apparently it has a design flaw where the disc brake mount can't handle any force pushing the back backwards (not even my own body weight). I'm not as lucky as the other guy though:
Airborne is no more in the US. Another company is handling their warranty work. My options are as follows: They'll repair it for free (but clearly this is a common issue, I have no doubt it will just re-break until this new company stops honoring airborne warranties). The other option is a store credit from the new company, although they make no cross country full suspension bikes. The 3rd option is that they can sell me some aluminum full suspension bike that was an airborne bike that never got released. Its a completely different design and it totally sucks. So I'm really kind of screwed here. I got the frame at a significant discount so I'm hoping I can sell the repaired frame and at least break even.
a Cross Country Rider
from Washington, DC
Date Reviewed: September 29, 2004
Strengths: Great bike, plush, good looking
It is a very nice bike, but at that price range the left chainstay should not break off! It happened suddenly. I had just come to a halt after riding uphill for almost an hour (I was not bombing downhill...not my type or riding). The chainstay broke off close to the discbrake mount.
Airborne took care of it, but it was hassle having to deal with it.
Similar Products Used: TI hardtails, Santa Cruz Blur
Bike Setup: XT, Crossmax
a Cross Country Rider
from concord, CA
Date Reviewed: September 28, 2003
Strengths: Sooo Plush - the smoothest ride ever, tracking like greyhound.
I will check back in after some real milage, but so far, this thing is the sickest! I am riding my old loops and dramatically faster times, and i feel no wear-and-tear on my old body. I can ride every day, no soreness (except maybe my legs). If you want it, get it - you will love it too!
Similar Products Used: Ti hardtail for 12 years...
Bike Setup: Paka, King Hubs/Head, Hope Minis, SRAM 8-speed drive w/XTR 8 - front, Fox Float 100RLC, and oh yeah - Next LP cranks.
a Cross Country Rider
from Alberta, Canada
Date Reviewed: September 19, 2003
Strengths: ti feel, beautiful ti look, respectable weight, rear wheel tracks perfectly, optimal amount of rear wheel travel for blazing fast cross country riding.
Weaknesses: Had I purchased this new (I bought a demo) I would say cost, but if you decide to go ti this isn't usually your biggest concern. However cost is very reasonable compared to other titainium soft tails(eg. Seven Teres) especially since you get a design with more travel - 2 inches is much more functional than one. don't expect much service buying a demo bike, they're pretty curt with you on the phone.
I had previously been a hard tail guy with a nice light stumpjumper, and had a "toy" squish bike I rode infrequently. I was weary of adding 6 pounds to my ride (old bike ~20, new ~26).
This was foolish logic - this bike is much faster on everything a cross country rider faces. 2" is enough to smooth out the bulk of roots, rocks, gravel, grass clumps, etc. The traction provided on hills is absolutely unbelievable. I took off on my first ride looking at the Hutchinson pythons with some disdain. I after the first few steep gravel climbing switchbacks I was absolutely shocked that I was still on 2 wheels, no rear wheel slippage at all. I started doing foolish weight balancing, pushing pedals unevenly just to see if the traction ever failed, never did until i was riding like a total moron. I've been attempting to find the climbing limit of this bike - I'm having trouble on a hill nearby that requires you to hang your ass out way over the back seat on the descent. Bottom like, climbs like nothing else I've ever ridden/seen people ride uphill. The only downside to this is you may start loosing friends when you begin riding up impossible hills till your lungs explode.
On the flats it just cruises. You never feel like the suspension is taking energy from you, but you look down and it is always moving. Mine has lockout but you don't need it. Turning it on doesn't feel faster, but you notice reduced traction. The combination of ti and the rear shock whisper one message to you constantly while riding: faster, faster. Plus fatigue is so much lower - torso isn't jolted around, seat fatigue is extended by hours for sure. You don't realize this until taking a spin on a hardtail again - it is constantly saving your ass, more than you'd ever guess for 2".
Descending while standing you definitely notice much less leg fatigue. This is by no means a "bomber" bike, but a skilled rider on this bike can descend just as fast as many people on big bikes who don't have any clue how to ride other than just pointing the bike downhill and smashing into stuff until something breaks. I can ride downhill trails, ride the skinnies, do most everything when I go freeride at a ski area other than hucking off big drops. Obviously this isn't the intended use, but if you find yourself at the top of a killer freeride trail, the bike doesn't hold you back too much as long as you have some decent finesse on two wheels. The cable avids have more stopping power than the pythons have bite, so no complaint there. Frame handles well, not jittery. Have done some 2-3 foot drops, shock bottoms out but nothing feels like it is going to break. If that's what you do all day, this isn't what you should be looking to ride, but having said that this isn't a bike you have to dismount and walk around obstacles you find on the trail for fear of it being too fragile. Grippier tires useful for Canadian Rockies terrain but the pythons are manageable until they wear out.
It does take some monkeying to get the rear shock dialed right. I'm surprised Airborne can't help in this regard. They say to call rock shox cause its their shock, but obviously every frame design utilizes a shock differently so ultimately the framebuilder should help in my opinion. I'm about 50/60lbs under body weight and it seems fine, if not a bit hard - i do the occasional drop (try to limit to about 2 feet on this bike) and don't like bottoming it out.
bottom line. for a cross country rider this is a rocket. feels awesome, performs better than expected/advertised. without a doubt 5 chili performer for xc riding. however does not strictly limit you to xc, capable of much more. I with a 4-5" fork this thing is awesome all around until you start getting to big downhill styles (+ i perceive it as being much more durable than Scalpel). I gave it 5 chilis for value mostly because I got an '03 demo that was indistinguishable from new other than a wonky front disc. I got into a phase where I ended up owning 4 mountain bikes for various purposes. I wanted to simplify to a more "do all" machine. This is an XC superstar that is capable of venturing outside that specific use.
Similar Products Used: closest for design is Scalpel.
Bike Setup: old XT/XTR. avid cable pull discs are plenty powerful for current hutchinson python tires, bontrager superstock rims. did put on a marzocchi bomber which i don't regret at all vs. a sid or something else as light. crank bros pedals.
Weaknesses: You've got to be joking---at this price you should KNOW what you're buying. If you find something you don't like---look for another bike.
This is an unbelievable ride. The suspension is so perfect I can't stop gushing over it. It works perfectly. Not too much in the rear but you can feel it saving your butt/back/body on the trail. It definitely soaks up the bumps and roots and smoothes out the down hills. Climbing is as good as my old hard tail.
The geometry is perfect for xc / single track / racing.
The bike exudes class, inspires confidence, and simply out performs any bike I've ever ridden.
I looked long and hard at several bikes before buying the 'Wallup including a Trek Fuel, Cannondale Scalpel, Fisher Sugar, and SC Superlight.
Strengths: Light. Strong. Stiff. Responseive. Excellent handler. Costs significantly less than competing softtail designs. Does everything as advertised. Superior customer service.
Weaknesses: Expensive (see strenghts)...but what quality product isn't?
I have now had this bike for two years (yes, I know, it is a 2003 model...I was fortunate to get the first one sold in 2001 before they were generally available...and, no, I don't work for Airborne). Here is an email I sent to Airborne shortly after receiving the bike:
----- I took it out today, probably one of the muddiest days of the year. My wife and I were into the trail about 1 1/2 miles, just finishing warming up and were stretching. I'll recount the conversation we had. She asked me, "So how do you like it?"
I said, "Um."
"That's not good...'Um.'"
I said, "I think I have the shock pressure to high," but was thinking, "This thing sucks, it's just like a hard tail except what traction I had with a hard tail I lose with this thing and it's kicking me in the butt every time I go over a twig." I took a look at the shock and leaned on the seat to check the compression. It was then I realized my moronish mistake; I had left the shock locked out from the night before when I was toying with it.
I unlocked the shock and we pressed on. Three words, night and day. I was thoroughly impressed with the bike; the rear wheel tracked as advertised and then some. I think it is actually stiffer than my [Airborne Lucky Strike]. -----
My opinion of the bike has not changed. It truly is a night and day difference between any other HT or FS bike I've ridden. I thought it would flex at the BB as most soft tails do (although, the Trek STP is pretty stiff as well) but Airborne's suspension brace is perfect. Even with the added weight of the brace I was happy to find that the frame only weighed 4.17 lbs. which is comparably light for a ST. As for the suspension itself, it truly feels as though there is more back there than advertised. I never feel it sapping my strength but it is always there, taking the shock out of the trail, both climbing and descending. It is great in the single track arena as well. I've pushed it as far as I'd like on descents and I've found my fear is slowing me down long before the bike is (too many broken and dislocated bones).
How can I say enough good things about this bike? Airborne's R&D has hit a homerun out of the park, over the parking lot and across the highway. Certainly, this is not some divine creation delivered by angels on high, it is only a bike...but as far as bikes go, I've never ridden better.
Similar Products Used: YBB and MANY other HT and FS bikes.
Bike Setup: SID XC fork. Stratos Pro XC shock. Hayes Superlight hubs w/ Velocity VXC rims. Titec Pork Rinds on an Easton CT2 bar. Titec Fat-Head Ti Stem. ST bar ends. American Classic ISIS BB. American Classic Ultra-Light Headset. Terry Dragonfly Saddle. Truvativ Stylo Team cranks w/ Speedplay Frogs. Avid Mech. brakes. Panaracer Fire XC Pro tires. XT derailleurs and cogset.
a Cross Country Rider
from Park City, Utah
Date Reviewed: April 1, 2003
Strengths: Light, Ti feel, Value, Responsive
Weaknesses: Can't use V Brakes in the rear - minor
This is great value for such high performance. Compare this frame in everyway against the expensive Ti competitors and unless you have some sort of loyality or bias you'll agree. I've owned a Lucky Strike hard tail since 1998 and felt the same about that bike. Since I decided that I wanted a soft-tail, it wasn't difficult to decide on going with Airborne again. They deliver the performance and value. I've had very good experience with the service as well. The bike is light, smooth and snappy (especially with lock-outs engaged). I just love the feel and it seems to be as quick and climb as well as my hard tail. Also, it appears that the welds and workmanship look a bit smoother and cleaner than the earlier frame I owned. Not that this every mattered to me in anyway. Both frames are great.
Bike Setup: XTR everything, SID SL 2003 Mavic UST Crossmax
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 6, 2003
Strengths: design, looks, build quality, name.
Weaknesses: nothing yet
This bike is truely amazing. I've only been able to put about 200 miles on it thus far, I will post again in a few months. For now I wanted to give you my initial impressions.
Let me start by saying this bike is fantastic. The ride is nearly un-describable. Here's why, it is definatley not a full suspension bike. I have my rear shock set to 50 & 60 lbs under my body weight and the bike "seems" stiff while riding (not HT stiff but still stiff). While riding, it's very hard for me to actually feel the suspension at all, until I finish a section and look back at what I just rode through. I am always amazed that the ride wasn't bucking me more. And the 'O-ring' on the rear shock has usually been compressed a considerable distance.
I would definately call it active suspension but much more 'under the radar' active because you don't know it's working, even though it is.
That being said it is definately a softer ride than my Titanium GT hardtail. No question about it. After an hour of riding the GT through technical trails my body feels beatup. Not so with the Paka.
I can also say there is no comparing my Paka and my STP. The STP is infinately more stiff in the rear (think HT stiff) But hey, if you want that you can put more pressure in the rear of the Paka.
The bike is very tunable. Like I said, I ride w/ about 50 and 60 lbs below my body weight and love the feel of the ride. I tried it at 20 and 40 pounds under my weight and thought the bike was too stiff. Much more like my STP.
To summarize. Softtail is a great word to describe this bike. It works. It's tunable. It truely takes the edge off. Very Active but quiet suspension. The design is saving your butt (and back, and body) but you probably won't realize it.
Maybe this bike should have been called "Passive Agressive"
I'll update again in a few months. For now I'm definately 5 thumbs up.
Similar Products Used: Trek STP, GT Lightning, GT Idrive
Bike Setup: Deore mix and Duke XC upfront.
a Weekend Warrior
from South Bend
Date Reviewed: February 19, 2003
Strengths: Titanium frame. R&D by Airborne. Customer Service/Support. Weight. Ammount of travel.
Weaknesses: none yet
Excellent bike---the travel ammount really does feel like more than 2 inches. I can't say enough about the R&D Airborne must have put into this bike. It is clearly unique AND completely functional. It's an "active" travel when you're in technical terrain and very responsive when called into action. The addition of a pivot point (in my completely un-professional engineering mind) at the bottom of the seat stays really helps coax more free travel out of the bike.
A truely wonderful ride that feels like 4 inches of travel.
It's hard for me to accurately describe the ride, three words? Active, tunable, perfect.
Strengths: Ti. Weight. Suspension design. Looks. Rear shock. Strength. You name it.
Weaknesses: Nothing yet. Not a SINGLE THING. When I find something, I'll post it. Maybe the fact that V's are NOT an option. But I'm happy with the disks so this is not a big issue to me.
I don't know where to begin. This bike is just awesome. I've riden a few "soft-tails" before. (Ripley, and STP 300). This thing blows them away. It's the first "Softtail" I've ridden that actually FEELS like a full suspension. I would have to say the suspension works MUCH more like a full suspension system then a traditional ST. You can feel it working. The bike sticks to the ground and eats up both large and small bumps.
The rear end is unbelievably tune-able. You want it STIFF? Set it up w/ more pressure. You want it to eat the smaller stuff too? Set it up w/ less pressure. You want to LOCK IT OUT?? Get the lock out option when you buy the frame BUT---I WILL TELL YOU FROM A PERSONAL STAND POINT---GIVEN THE WAY THIS BIKE PERFORMS I DO NOT SEE THE NEED FOR A LOCKOUT.
I have mine set up w/ body weigh minus 30lbs and body weight minus 50lbs in the rear shock. I can't begin to describe the ride quality. It easily makes use of ALL 2" of rear wheel travel. Trust me---it FEELS like more than 2". I also own a k2 Razorback and (personally) I think the suspension characteristics are similar. The difference is in the build quality and TI frame.
Airborne customer support is 2nd to NONE.
I use my bike for xc racing and single track. There is NO question in my mind that this is the nicest bike I've ever owned.
I'm happy with the Deore Disk brakes ($39 a pop at supergo) but would like to upgrade to Avid or Hydros at some time in the future.
The Geometry is perfect. This bike truely performs like a full suspension rig.
Another personal suggestion: given the COST---I would suggest buying the frame only and purchasing a "build kit" from another vendor. If you know what you're looking and how to wrench it all together this can really keep the total cost of ownership down.
Reguardless of wether you buy the bike complete OR peice it together this thing is AN EXCEPTIONAL BIKE. I've owned at LEAST a dozen other bikes and never been so happy. 5+ and 5+ from me.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the Paka.
I had one of these in the past. Great ride till I broke a chain stay, older version. Got a black widow in exchange. What I have is a low use Rock Shox SID dual air, lockout, shock off this bike. Also have some bearings for the swing arm also. $50. Help reduce my paperwight collection.Read More »
I'm attempting to post out thoughts from Alaska on the Airborne 29er Soft tail, so let me know if this doesn't work. More to follow soon.
[url]http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?p=187219#post187219[/url]Read More »
Well boys, the fun will be here Monday. Airborne is sending us the 18" 29er soft-tail for testing/critiques. Basically we'll decide if they should pursue the project, or focus more on the full sus version already in the works. The softie has 2" of travel, which you know is alot for a soft-tail. It's ... Read More »