The growing popularity of jump bikes, based more closely on conventional 26-inch-wheeled mountain bikes than 20-inch-wheeled BMX bikes, has been paralleled by another growth trend—their cost. Jump bikes were once thought of as disposable—use ’em, abuse ’em, recycle ’em. These bikes were often built using tough components on used frames. Now, it is not uncommon for a jump bike to be priced well in excess of $1000.
, a company that sells its bikes directly to riders, wants to reverse this price trend with a $1000-plus jump bike that sells for $800.
On your six: The Wingman is flickable with an ultra-low standover clearance. Knees and shins don’t make unwanted contact with the frame during stunts. Airborne again packs in the value.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Airborne Wingman is intended for dirt jumping and urban session riding. It is also an ideal pump-track bike and could be pressed into service for dual-slalom and 4-Cross events. By spec’ing front and rear hydraulic disc brakes, Airborne gives the Wingman rider the option of using the bike for commutes to school or the store. And heck, you could probably trail ride the Wingman too.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Wingman gets a beefy, hydroformed, 6061 aluminum frame. The only gusset is an open-ended design at the downtube/head tube junction. The bike sports an integrated headset. The aluminum-cast dropouts are the wildest design and offer plenty of wheelbase adjustment. The Wingman is currently available in only one size.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Most jump bikes are delivered without a front brake, so the Wingman’s front stopper stands out. The Marzocchi Bomber DJ-3 fork is what you would expect to find on a $1000 dirt jumper, so it is a pleasant surprise to find it on the Wingman. Airborne uses Funn cockpit components, including a stem, handlebar, lock-on-style grips, seatpost and saddle.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
As with any jump bike, setup is contrary to everything you already know. The saddle height is slammed. The coil-sprung fork offers a preload setting under a removable rubber cap on top of the right fork leg. Jumpers do not subscribe to the 20-percent-sag-for-the-fork theory. They are willing to give up comfort in favor of conserving momentum when hitting the face of a take-off.
The bike is flickable, with an ultra-low standover clearance. Knees and shins don’t make unwanted contact with the frame during stunts. The bike makes a lot of chain-on-frame noise when landing, which can be felt through the pedals if the chain is not spot-on adjusted for tightness. The super-low tire clearance to the chainstays will cause tire-to-chainstay rub on hard landings.
The short chainstays and rigid frame make getting up to speed a flex-free experience. The gearing is on the tall side, but the frame, cranks and wheels do a fine job of providing a laterally rigid experience so your leg effort goes toward forward momentum.
No problem here. The rear wheel is tucked in nicely, and lifting the front wheel is almost a subconscious decision. Although a manual is a “trick” in itself, it’s also the prerequisite for almost any other maneuver.
The Wingman has a steep front end that allows you to carve up a berm and make line changes at will. The fork uses a 9-millimeter front axle, so you don’t get that bulldog rigidity of a thru-axle. The smooth-rolling Kenda tires provide plenty of confidence in the corners, and they work just as well on pavement.
Expensive feel: There is nothing cheap-feeling about the Wingman. A great frame, solid components and a proven fork make this bike an under-budget rager.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The chain passes ultra close to the chainstay and contacts it on landings, when pumping whoops or even on bumps if the chain isn’t perfectly tight. The stay is too fat for most chainstay protectors to fit. Wrapping it in an old inner tube or using some type of stick-on pad will take care of the noise.
There is very little tire clearance because the frame’s chainstays are so narrow. We were able to make tire contact on hard landings. Going for a narrower tire is not a great option because we liked the stock tires so much. We would not be surprised if the chainstay issue is addressed in future models.Our cranks came loose almost immediately; keep an eye on them for your first few rides. Finally, most riders will find the handlebar a bit narrow.
Airborne delivers a lot of bike for the buck by cutting out the middleman—your local bike shop. This arrangement isn’t for everyone. Expect to pay top dollar for any service performed at a bike shop that might have done the same service gratis for a customer who purchased the bike from them. If you are handy with tools, you will not be disappointed. There is nothing about the Wingman that feels cheap. Just don’t tell your buddies how much you paid for it. q
| Flying parts: Keep an eye on the crank hardware. Sweet
stopping power and a wild adjustable dropout.
Country of origin
Bottom bracket height
Top tube length
Head tube angle
Seat tube angle
Marzocchi Bomber DJ-3
Kenda K-Rad (2.3")
Quanta Sealed Bearing
Tektro Auriga Comp Hydraulic
BFC-II Chromoly Tubular
Funn Fatboy (28.5")
14.1 feet (per crank revolution)
14.1 feet (per crank revolution)
Wellgo Alloy Flat