HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Building the bike: Out of the box we had to install the bars,
stem and front brake caliper, but aside from that we didn’t have to
do much. The shifting was pretty well dialed in, but we did have to
make some adjustments to the cable tension after a few rides. If
you aren’t comfortable making minor adjustments, your local shop
will be able to take care of it.
Suspension setup: Dialing in the suspension on the Griffin
was fairly straightforward, especially considering that we didn’t
have a shock to worry about. We started our rides with 15-percent
sag on the Manitou Magnum fork, but settled on 20 percent for
some of the smoother, groomed cross-country trails.
Moving out: The Griffin’s cockpit has more of a cross-country
feel, with 740-millimeter bars and an 80-millimeter-long stem. The
setup put our testers in a fairly aggressive position.
Cornering: Plus-size tires are known for their amazing traction and ability to be pushed hard in tight corners. The Griffin felt
comfortable being leaned over in corners, and the Vee Trax Fatty
tires hooked up well in loose sections. Our test bike came with a
3.25-inch-wide front tire that tended to want to stand up in corners a little more than a 2.8-inch tire would. This didn’t hinder the
cornering too much, but was more noticeable in tighter corners.
Climbing: The cross-country geometry of the Griffin allowed
our testers to shift their weight forward and climb with a certain
level of efficiency. Between the extra traction and 30-tooth front
chainring, the Griffin wasn’t super quick up hills, but with a steady
rhythm we motored up singletrack and fire-road climbs. Out of the
saddle the frame felt fairly stiff and responsive. With the right tire
pressures, we didn’t experience any unwanted spin-outs on steeper sections of trail.
Descending: Our test riders had plenty of fun ripping the
Griffin down the trail. The mid-fat tires gripped like a raccoon
reaching into a butter churn, and the 120-millimeter Manitou fork
worked effectively over smooth sections. Over harsher terrain the
Griffin had its limitations but handled moderately rocky sections
TRICKS, TIPS AND UPGRADES?
The Airborne has a decent spec for the price, but there are a
few items we would recommend swapping soon after the purchase. We didn’t have any issues with the traction of the Vee tires,
but we would have preferred a matched and narrower 3.0, or even
2. 8, for the front and rear. The slightly narrower tires would give
One for the money: The Griffin came stock with a SRAM GX
drivetrain that offered consistent shifting during our testing.
Our testers would have liked a little faster gear than the stock
30-tooth front ring at times, though.
Quite the handful: Hayes brakes
have been on the trail for years, and
during our testing our testers felt
confident with their performance.
Something fun for the trail: The Airborne
Griffin is an aluminum hardtail with plus-sized tires aimed at cross-country and
entry-level trail riders. Our test bike gave
us a fun ride and comfortable geometry.