Alignment of Stars in the Universe
Linda Briggs fell in love with the Airborne Corsair, but it wasn’t her own. She was riding with a friend who had one and the friend said to try it out. Linda threw a leg over the saddle and it fit her perfectly, rode beautifully and looked so good…and it was titanium. She walked away happy for the ride but without thinking she’d ever own one.
That evening, out of curiosity, she typed the name of the bike into Ebay and there it was, basically the same as the one her friend rode. She says she wasn’t Ebay savvy, but decided to give it a shot and put in a number that fit her budget, then thought no more of it. A while later she got an email message saying she’d won. She now owned the Corsair of her dreams.
That was a few years ago, but she still loves the bike. Linda may not take to the trails as much as she did in the past, but this bike is great for dirt road riding as well.
The titanum Airborne, though built around the turn of this century, is different than the Airborne of today. Back in 1999, Jan-Williem Sintnicolaas of Holland distributed the Airborne brand. It was mostly an online retailer selling a relatively low cost titanium alternative to higher priced titanium frames at other companies. Some time in the mid-aughts, JW began his own company named Van Nicholas (a play on his last name), that continues the titanium tradition, and eventually the Airborne brand was taken over by a group who moved from titanium to aluminum. Van Nicholas frames are closer relatives to the Airborne owned by Linda than current aluminum Airbornes.
Corsairs, historically, were independent sailing contractors (privateers) from about the 16th to 18th centuries working for the King of France against his enemies. But my impression is that the logo for this bike is more aligned with the dashing Corsair fighter plane built by the U.S. Navy during WWII that can travel at 446 mph and fly as high as 41,500 feet. It’s a great image for a bike meant to attack the trails and the distinctive tiger logo, cursive lettering, and single-star A add to the aura. There are even bomb images lined along the top tube that, I imagine, represent others who have lost the battle with this bike.
That I know of, Linda’s not an attacker on her rides, but she loves this bike for all kinds of reasons, not least of which are the clean lines and tasteful somewhat retro logos. She rides a bike to be out with friends and roll quietly along the back roads.
This bike has all she needs for a great ride. The titanium frame is corrosion resistant and forgiving, with just enough flex to give her a smooth ride. The components are mostly Shimano XT, which has a long and venerable track record for durability and is only a step down from top-of-the line XTR. The headset is Chris King, which will last more lifetimes than most of us care to think about.
I’m not sure exactly why the world works the way it does. But I do wonder why such a wonderful concept for a bike design and series of logos is part of a business with such a short life span. I think Airborne got a lot of things right in this case. It has a classy, retro-yet-modern look that few bike companies pull off when they set out to brand their image.
Disc brakes have taken over much of the mountain bike market due to their ability to stop in wet, mucky conditions, but these XT V-brakes still do the job. And the color matches the frame!
Frame: 3AL/2.5V Titanium
Fork: Rock Shox SID, 3.15″ travel
Gruppo: Shimano XT
Brakes: Shimano XT
Pedals: Shimano SPD clipless
Wheels: 26″ mtb
Tires: Specialized Borough 26 x 1.75
Standard 1-1/8″ threadless headtube
Bottom Bracket: Shimano BB-M952
Bottom bracket shell: English 68mm
Chain Rings: 24/36/46
Rear Cog: 9-speed, 12-34 tooth
Saddle: Bassano Modulart (beloved, but disintegrating)
Color: Raw bead-blasted titanium
Linda owns them. She has a titanium Litespeed road bike as well and she loves that one, too. One satisfied titaniumite!
I couldn’t convince her to covet something else. Contentment…hmm…I wonder what that’s like?