Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Flight Crew Update

This is the first update in what will become a weekly series of updates on how my experience riding the Airborne Zeppelin Elite is progressing.  As I mentioned in this "First Impressions" review, the bike rode great during my 20+ mile ride at Sea Otter.  But to really know what I bike is capable of withstanding, it needs to be ridden through punishing terrain over and over and over again.  That's what I intend to do with it here in North Georgia.

Now, on to what the Zepp's been up to lately:

The Zeppelin Elite Meets Singletrack
After riding about 20-30 miles of gravel roads, the Zeppelin Elite finally met singletrack on Turner Creek.  The video of that ride, which I also posted on the Airborne Facebook page, is embedded below:

Yes, my batteries died half way down, but I added in footage of the remaining section of singletrack that I had taken a couple of months ago on my old bike.

I was pleasantly surprised with how the stock tires performed ripping down Turner Creek. Admittedly, the soil was nice and tacky after a rain 2 days before, but they hooked up much, much better than they had out in California.  Although, anything may have cornered well on that tacky soil.  What I can say with some confidence is that I did not appreciate having those 2.1" tires on the sandy hard pack of Ford Ord.

Yesterday, I installed a brand new pair of beefy 2.35" Intense tires which sport some seriously over sized knobs.

I took the Zep out bright and early this morning, and these bad boys cornered like nobody's business!  I felt like I could lay it over in just about anything and these could plow right through.  The trail conditions this morning where pretty dry, and felt rather loose on top of the clay for North Georgia.  It will be interesting to see how these perform in damper conditions, but today they were absolutely rocking the dry hardpack and climbing the rooty singletrack with ease.

I personally prefer to ride fatter tires like these. Maybe it's just a holdover from all of the time I spent living and riding in the west, but I personally think that having these big, gnarly tires has/will improve the handling on this bike significantly.

Rear Bolt Kit
As I mentioned on Monday, I got a new bolt kit in the mail from the Airborne guys and had it installed by my LBS, which fixed the clunk in the rear end.  Well this morning, after riding less than 10 miles on that new bolt kit, I noticed this:

The bolt kit had snapped/sheared right in half.  That my friends should not happen with a brand new part. I emailed the Airborne guys, and they're shipping me a new kit ASAP. I jokingly commented that they should send me a prototype of every one of their bikes so I can rally it on North Georgia singletrack before it goes into production. (Yes, I like free bikes, especially when they ride well!)  The Zeppelin had been riding like a dream up until this point. I really have no idea what could have caused that to happen, although my local mechanic commented that it's probably due to "shoddy" materials.

What strikes me as odd is that none of the other Flight Crew members have mentioned issues with these bolts.  Ah well, that's life.  I should have a new kit soon, and we'll go from there!

Your Turn: 
I'd like to hear your opinions on tire selection.  I'm not one of those guys that is super into the tiny details of what makes one tire good for certain conditions VS. another. I like wide tires with big knobs, and have found 2.35's to be great for my type of all mountain riding.  So give me your thoughts on tires below!

And if you want to weigh in on the broken bolt, feel free.


Loving the Bike June 26, 2010 at 1:05 AM  

I love coming over to your site to see what's up in the MTB world. As always, I wasn't disappointed. You've got a lot of energy in your posts, man and it really fires me up. If reading your posts does this, I can only imagine what going out for a ride with you would be like. Keep it up, my man.


Airborne Tank June 26, 2010 at 12:34 PM  

I'm a big fan of big knobby tires. I run 2.35's tubeless on all my bikes and really like the feel and grip they provide. That's with the exception of the Taka of course which has 2.5 Maxxis's on it.

Greg Heil June 27, 2010 at 8:00 AM  

@ Darryl, Thanks for the kind words man! I'm glad my writing has "energy"... sounds like a good thing!

@ Tank, I bet the knobbies on the Taka rip! I've toyed with the idea of running 2.5's on my AM bikes, but thought it might be overkill.

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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Mountain biking, plain and simple. Trail reviews, ride reports, and philosophical musings induced by delirium from grinding up way too many vertical feet.

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