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I stopped into another LBS to take a look around. Told them I was thinking about the Airborne Goblin or the GT zaskar comp and they showed me the Crave. Not bad at all. I really like the components on this bike, but I'm not sure that they are so much better as to justify the additional $300 cost.

Anyone have this bike that can give some pro/con impressions? What have you changed about it and why?
 

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I have not owned or ridden a Crave Comp, but generally, wheels/hubs tend to be the weak sister on the lower end models, especially for bigger guys. The stock Hi-Lo rear hub bodies explode, a lot, and wheel/hub upgrades are common at my local shop.

Speaking of local shop, that is one benefit of the Crave over the Goblin as far as warranty support, plus whatever tuning freebies and gear discounts they may throw in at time of purchase. Worth the extra cash? For you to decide. Airborne warranty help is very good for an on-line seller but dealing through phone calls/emails and shipping may not be as convenient.

Then it may boil down to how a bike fits and feels under you. Again, easier to do at a shop v. online or waiting for someone like Performance to ship a Zaskar in your size.

Final thought is I think the Crave is a lighter gauge, higher quality tubing than the Goblin so it's easier to build a lighter Crave. I have a Goblin frame set in which the bare XL frame weighed a little over 4.5 lbs and the final build with medium grade bits is at 27lbs with tubeless.
 

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Don't have any experience with the '14 Crave comp, but I do have a '13 Carve (which was renamed the Crave for '14). I know some subtle changes were made for '14, but can't imagine they are night & day differences. With that said, my '13 Carve Comp is a fun bike. I use it primarily as my training bike, so I spend a fair amount of time in the saddle.

It's a stiff hardtail, so don't plan on plush ride. It accelerates quickly despite the subpar wheelset. Speaking of the wheels, they require truing roughly every 5-10 rides. I've been tempted to loctite the spokes/nipples. My local trail definitely tests the equipment though, as more trails are rock-strewn! The fork is satisfactory, but quite capable. I've only upgraded the cassette, as I happened to have an extra.

Bike is fun and stable! Like I said, frame is stiff, but with lighter components, it could easily be raced. If you tend to do a lot of seated climbing on rough trails, your lower back will be tested. I tend to alternate seated efforts with standing for short bursts to keep things loose. A carbon seatpost may go a long way to improve "seated" comfort!

Not familiar with the other bikes you listed, but I can certainly endorse the Carve/Crave. Given the choice, I would gladly buy it again!
 
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