Airborne Hobgoblin FS 29″er: Final Review- by Guitar Ted
It has come time to wrap up the Airborne Hobgoblin test. For a review of my First Impressions, go here. The plan had been to post a Mid-Term, but with the consistency of the Hobgoblin over the past testing period, I found no reason to delay a Final Review. So- here it is!
The Airborne Hobgoblin is sort of an “old school” 29″er with it’s steeper head angle, longer chain stays, and higher bottom bracket. The long-ish stem is a throw back to older geometry as well, so does all of that make this bike a poor handler? Not at all. I kept being surprised by its climbing strengths, which are basically due to the active suspension and longer stays. Stay seated, click down into a proper gear, and churn away and the Hobgoblin does the rest by keeping that rear tire biting. Getting out of the saddle isn’t a deal breaker, but you do induce some suspension bob if you try to mash up a steep. However; I did some standing climbing at times, and I wasn’t put off by the slight suspension movements.
The front end gets around corners well, but the longish back end gets hung up sometimes, and I can’t help but wonder what a 17.5″ long stay would do for this bike. I bet that cornering would improve a bit. That said, I could power away out of a corner, feel little to no flex in the chassis, and the suspension was ready and willing to not sag too far into its travel, but spring me out of that corner with authority. This worked going up, down, or in flat corners. It is one of the traits of this bike I liked the most. Accelerating anywhere was always met with a scoot forward that was impressive for a full susser.
Conclusions: The Hobgoblin scores very high in climbing, descending, torsional and lateral stiffness, and suspension feel, (if you like your suspension active). In these areas, the Hobgoblin has no peer that I have ridden in full suspension bikes.
I credit this to the funky rear suspension which worked really well to keep bobbing to a minimum, but was always very active, smooth, and was stiff where it needed to be. The damper here…..I am not totally sold on it. I think the Hobgoblin rear suspension has a lot of potential here and it could be unlocked with a more featured damper. (But….that would cost more money!)
Where I feel this bike is compromised is in total weight, (31+lbs), the geometry, ( a hair steepish), and with the longer chain stays than are the norm in 2013/14. But weight could be lessened easily with a simple tire swap and going tubeless. The geometry is “okay” if you dig fast, tight, buff single track. If your cup of tea has playful, aggressive, and big moves in it, the Hobgoblin will show its warts more. This bike plays into the hand of a rider that likes stability, great climbing traits, and a steady hand. Long days in the saddle will be rewarded with a less beat up body due to the active nature of the suspension. Maybe an endurance rig or a plunking around bike?
The Hobgoblin has a quirky layout but it will reward the right rider with a stout chassis and a unique rear suspension that is active and works well for what it is. It is worth mentioning a lighter, higher spec version is also available, as well as a frame set, so choices exist in this design which may suit someone better. As this sits I find it to be an interesting bike that maybe isn’t for the aggressive, playful rider, but may suit those who crave a stable dance partner. If you can live with its geometry layout and deal with the weight, I would say it is well worth a hard look.
Note: Airborne sent over the Hobgoblin for test and review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.