The Airborne Thunderbolt excels in delivering incredible performance at a low price. The semi-compact frame design, combined with the strength, stiffness and lightweight qualities of double-butted 7005 aluminum combine to create a package that sprints and climbs better than aluminum frames at twice the price. Combine these great qualities with the same customizable component choices available on our other frames, and you have a great bike that is certain to set the bar for others to compare to.
Strengths: Stiffness. Compact frame design results on a very rigid, solid frame. Light weight, great craftmanship, looks, and now: A COLLECTOR'S ITEM!!
Weaknesses: No warranty support; however I have never needed it, and hope I never do. Airborne it's no longer in business.
Follow up to my previous review. Coming up to 3000 miles now, and still like new. A few improvements have been incorporated, either due to wear, or to make it lighter. At least two centuries, and quite a few tough climbs, have been enjoyed on board this beauty. Handles very well, climbs even better. On the size 50 I got, it feels VERY solid. I love it. Finish is still perfect. BB housing has no rust, all remains clean.
Strengths: Geometry, Airborne.com Fit Guide & Customer Service, Phenomenal power transfer, Design, Graphics.
Weaknesses: None Yet
Keep in mind when reading this review, that I've been riding a 1996 Jamis until I put this bike together about three months ago. I'm around 200lbs. and I have found out that that bike was very flexy for me. I have also found out that the geometry of this bike was not meant for me. With that being said, when I ride this bike, I feel like I'm riding on a pro tem and this bike was built specifically for me. A lot of that has has to do with the Fit Guide on Airborne.com. The frame itself has awesome geometry to do about anything you want to do. I've completed a Century and two Crits on this bad boy and it performed stellar. I was comfy on the Century and you can hammer this fram like there is no tomorrow. The quality and workmanship is second to none. Airborne actually took time to smooth out all the welds, something you won't find on a $300 frame. All in all if you are a budget racer like me, I can't see how you could find a better deal. The only problem is I no longer have the excuse of my equipment holding me back.
Strengths: For the money this would be a hard deal to beat. The Ultegra group is smooth and the bike sings fairly well...
The frame itself is stiffer than most of the bikes you could build at this price range, by far, but it is not the stiffest thing I have ridden. I am not sure this is good or bad. But if you really stomp in the sprints, this will flex.
With the smaller size of the frame, it climbs fairly well. I feel a bit of nervousness on decents, but that is not an altogether bad thing. It responds nicely!
The frame is well put together, the front welds are not brazed smooth, but sanded, so don't be misled.
Weaknesses: It does have some chainstay flex, so for an Alu bike it is not going to be the stiffest thing going. It masks the flex, but it is there. With 120 psi in the tires it feels twitchy on some mountain descents (around 40mph).
I spec'd it with a triple, reasoning that I live in CO and climb mountain roads daily. This was probably a mistake on my part (not having ridden road bikes much since I was younger and that was in Chicago). I don't use the inner ring and I do find that I have had alot of chainline issues, despite many adjustments.
Out of the box, the front derailler was not setup right. It was so far off that adjusting the limit screws would not fix the shifting (I had to adjust the cable, not via the barrell index). I don't know if this was the packing or the builders fault, but for the price it could have been horrible and I would not complain.
First, I was not a roadie when I bought the bike. I have been doing DH/FR for a few years after getting bored with XC riding. With that in mind, I had not been on a road bike since I used to borrow my dad's racing bike years ago.
I know there are better bikes out there, but I had been waiting to get into road biking for a while. Airborne had these on sale, the whole pacakge for the price of the component group alone.
For the past month I have ridden 150 miles a week trying to get a good feel for the bike. As my odo ticks over 630, these are my insights.
Overall, it is such a good deal (if they have any left) that if you are looking for a bike, you will not come close to this build for the same amount of money.
It is not perfect, and you shouldn't expect a $400 frame to be as good as a $3000 frame.
Similar Products Used: Not alot in recent years, an Allez and an S works E5. The E5 is alot stiffer, but it costs more and the fork is only so-so.
Bike Setup: The deal was with Bontrager wheels, Ultegra group (2005), easton stem, Bontrager parts (seatpost, handlebars, tires), Reynolds Ouzo carbon integrated (full carbon), etc.
I crashed doing 28 and busted off one of the top caps on the shifters, but that has no bearing on the frame. I am using Look 227 pedals, slime tubes (I hate flats while training), and I put on white tape after my wreck (which ripped off the tape it came with).
Strengths: Stiffness in the rear with compliance over chattery pothols and rough road. Price definitely. I chased the threads and all came out clean.
Weaknesses: The only thing I can think of would be the seat collar... It's a little sketchy and I won't be surprised if it strips over the course of the season... but it was 4 bucks
Stable, stiff and light. I was on a Kona Haole before the Thunderbolt and I was expecting at least the same kind of ride as I had on the Haole. It outperformed the Kona by far. Handling was more stable at speed, the rear end seems stiffer yet didn't chatter as much over Seattle's potholes and it weighs about the same. I would definitely recommed that anyone purchasing a Thunderbolt go for the carbon steerered fork to soak up the bumps a bit and take the edge off. Climbs really well especially when seated. The Airborne bars, stem, and cables included in the package are top notch. Sales and shipping was executed perfectly. I ordered the bike on Tues and got it that Friday... I wasn't supposed to recieve it until the following Thurs or Fri. Nice work Airborne... the bike and it's Thunderbolt graphics scheme are top notch.
Strengths: Good company, fast shipping, great bike
Weaknesses: I'll let you know when I find any.
What a great bike! I had been eyeing this bike for a while but had reservations about buying a bike over the internet. You know buying a bike is almost like finding your spouse...it is a big decision. Anyhow, my wife went ahead and bought the bike for me and surprised me with it just about a year ago. The bike has a little over 2500 miles on it and not a single problem.
The ride is smooth and confident,it likes the hills and knows how to go. I would recommend this bike to anyone.