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  1. #1
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    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review

    I've had my Yelli built up for over a week now and I thought I would post a build/initial ride review.

    Small things that impressed me off the bat were how well the frame was packaged. I work on more expensive bikes that could take some notes here.

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-img_1207-medium-.jpg

    The build started smoothly with headset cups pressing in nicely. I selected my local favorite flavor - Cane Creek 110 in black, with the lower over sized external cup to accommodate the tapered steerer on my Rock Shox SID 120. The head tube was faced and the inside was smooth. There was a slight amount of black 'paint' that was easily removed with a fine grit sand paper, no frame prep tools needed here.

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-img_1208-medium-.jpg

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-img_1209-medium-.jpg

    The BB shell was equally clean, no need for chasing or facing tools. A quick wipe down of the threads and some nice grease was all that was needed for a trouble free BB installation. In a world with crappy press fit bottom brackets, Canfield gets kudos for giving it's customers something tried and true - a threaded BB shell, thank you! It should be noted here and every where else that chain ring clearance is an issue with this frame. Research accordingly - in a perfect scenario this bike should be built with a single chain ring drive train, although that doesn't work for a lot of people. Luckily front derailleur free drive trains are getting better with wider ranges for bikes like the Yelli. So far I've been successful at fitting a 38/26 XT crank on my Yelli with no rubbing so far, but it's close. A 36t big ring would allow a lot more room between the chain ring and chain stay. There is maybe 2mm of clearance here currently. I'm considering a bash guard or different chain ring for a longer term solution.

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-img_1210-medium-.jpg

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    The rest of the build was un-eventful and since I knew going into the project that the crank fitment would be the biggest issue I tried to resolve that first. (2) 2.5 spacers on the drive side BB cup is what was needed to move the big 38t chain ring far enough from the frame. Again, so far... so good (knock on wood) - luckily the frame and crank are pretty darn stiff so there's little flex in that area!

    As far as small gripes, nit picking, what ever... I'd like two usable bottle cages, it's a hard tail after all. I found the cable routing a little too minimal, and an extra set of cable guides would be useful and bring me ultimately to my next point - the bike absolutely cries out for an adjustable seat post, so there's plenty of zip ties, upon zip ties on my final build that includes a remote style adjustable post. The first day I had the bike I was using a rigid seat post and was put off by the amount of seat post showing. At 5'10" I do have longer legs for my height but with the amount of stand over on the frame - there's a huge amount of leverage there. Ultimately this may prove to be an aesthetic issue alone - once I installed my KS LEV seat post this really calmed the appearance of a very long exposed seat post. That's all I can think of, and I have to be clear: these are SMALL points to an other wise exceptional machine.

    Completed the bike with a full XT build (XTR shadow + rear derailleur) Bontrager RXL bars and stem, I need to swap to a shorter Thomson stem soon. I hand built some Chris King hubs laced to Stan's Flow rims and I'm currently using Schwalbe Hans Danpf 2.35 front and rear. They're OK, and better suited for looser conditions. I plan on swapping them for a Ardent 2.4 in front and a Minion 2.3 in the rear for my current trail conditions.

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6621.jpg

    I've taken it out on several rides now. A couple of short lunch break rides revealed some handling attributes I was looking for in a 29er. A longer and more substantial solo ride showcased the Yelli's true abilities - firstly no one talks much about this and I guess it's obvious but the bike climbs like a goat. A hard tail 29er should though, and that's of course not the impressive part. It came alive on the descents, and most importantly the corners. The bike handles so well that it only took me a few minutes to feel at home on it.

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6628.jpg

    Esoteric commenting time. The bike feels like a 26" wheeled bike. It steers with the rider, not against it like most 29" wheel bikes do. It's shorter than a lot of 26" full suspension bikes and it corners as good, if not better than smaller wheeled rigs. I feel like I'm sitting in, not ON the bike - even with an aggressive XC climbing position with no dropper post, I still fell like I have complete control of the bike, not the other way around. It encourages wheelies, manuals, bunny hopping, rear wheel play, and it loves to be in the air. Most importantly of course is that the bike is an absolute JOY to ride. I think some where in the mix we can some times forget about this: mountain biking is supposed to be fun, really fun - the kind of fun where you get to the bottom and maybe yell, scream, or like me, you just kind of laugh hysterically for no good reason other than the fact that you realize you just went down your favorite trail faster than ever before...

    I can't wait to spend more time on this bike. I want to thank the Canfield crew and specifically Sean for taking the time to help me with my order and answer all my geeky tech questions. This is easily in my top 3 favorite bikes of all time and I have a feeling that left with a little more trail time it could easily be #1. Believe the hype - Canfield has nailed 29er geometry. I'm a LONG time 29" hold out and this has proven to me that the big wheels finally have a place in my stable...

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    My one says BRAP!

  2. #2
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    Excellent writeup, nicely articulated. Your review has answered some questions I had regarding a possible move into the 29er world. Keep your thoughts coming!
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcrs View Post
    Excellent writeup, nicely articulated. Your review has answered some questions I had regarding a possible move into the 29er world. Keep your thoughts coming!
    Thank you. I hope to get some more solid trail time on it soon. I'm curious to see what a 20+ minute descent feels like on this bike.
    My one says BRAP!

  4. #4
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    Great Write-up. I struggle to put into words how awesome this bike is. The more I ride it the more I love it. Climbs, Descents, Corners, it's all fun on this bike!!

  5. #5
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    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review

    Quote Originally Posted by cbd5600 View Post
    it's all fun on this bike!!
    +1 for sure

  6. #6
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    new shoes

    New shoes and a sponge bath after this AM's ride prompted a couple more pics of the new rig. Still in love. Today's ride took me on some trails that are unlike any thing that we typically ride in western NC... no extended descents or climbs, just twisty New England style mountain biking. True single track, almost too narrow! I think a hard tail is actually faster in this kind of terrain where you're shifting constantly and never doing one thing for longer than say 30 seconds.

    Our typical trails encompass climbing for 10 - 20 minutes (at least) and descending for 1/3 of that time, followed by more climbing... you get the idea. Whereas the trails I rode today are really just classic north east style stuff, nothing too extreme but there's no settling into a climb or descent either because the terrain is so undulating. Corner after corner the Yelli RIPPED it... after one unplanned and poorly executed descent followed by an abrupt and steep uphill corner the bike just did what I needed it to do, amazing. Little rider input needed to facilitate bike movement.

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6699-medium-.jpg2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6695-medium-.jpg2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6696-medium-.jpg2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6697-medium-.jpg

    The new tires were a bit of a disappointment today as I was hoping for a wider, tubeless specific, and less aggressive side knob option. I opted for an Ardent 2.4 EXO in the front and a new Minion DHR 2.3 tubeless ready for the rear. They were both NARROW to a fault. I have not ridden on these yet and looks can be deceiving but I'm not holding a lot of hope for either tire. I'm looking for high volume, short knob, tubeless specific tire option (2.5 Minions are too wide/heavy!). Haven't found any thing I like yet. Those Schwalbes Hans Dampf are good loose condition tires for the front. I dislike them entirely as a rear tire (too squirmy). Any opinion is appreciated.

    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6692-medium-.jpg
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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2013 Black Yelli Build / Review-dscn6698-medium-.jpg  

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    My one says BRAP!

  7. #7
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    2013 Black Yelli Build / Review

    From what I've been reading about them, I'm going to try an Ikon 2.35 EXO as a fast-rolling rear tire (with a High Roller II in front) when I build a lighter wheelset later this summer. Might be one to consider. I've also read good reports about the X King 2.4. And I really like the CG XC 2.25 as a rear on my Yelli.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  8. #8
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    I feel the same way about the Yelli as you do. In fact, it may be my favorite bike of all time. Since I got mine in December (all XT with a Fox Float 34 reduced to 120mm of travel), I hardly ride my Ibis Mojo HD anymore.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bareiss View Post
    I feel the same way about the Yelli as you do. In fact, it may be my favorite bike of all time. Since I got mine in December (all XT with a Fox Float 34 reduced to 120mm of travel), I hardly ride my Ibis Mojo HD anymore.
    Wow that's pretty funny because if my wife and I didn't get pregnant this year I was going to splurge on a Mojo HD. As it is I couldn't justify spending that much on a bike right now so I swapped a parts kit from a hard tail I wasn't enjoying onto the Yelli. Since you've ridden both and I know the Yelli... how much are you giving up on the descents when you ride the Yelli over the HD? I'd love a comparison of the two bikes.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    From what I've been reading about them, I'm going to try an Ikon 2.35 EXO as a fast-rolling rear tire (with a High Roller II in front) when I build a lighter wheelset later this summer. Might be one to consider. I've also read good reports about the X King 2.4. And I really like the CG XC 2.25 as a rear on my Yelli.
    I used a 26" version of the X King, I think they were narrower but I didn't care for them. A wider version of the Ikon I was running would be ok.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by plume View Post
    Wow that's pretty funny because if my wife and I didn't get pregnant this year I was going to splurge on a Mojo HD. As it is I couldn't justify spending that much on a bike right now so I swapped a parts kit from a hard tail I wasn't enjoying onto the Yelli. Since you've ridden both and I know the Yelli... how much are you giving up on the descents when you ride the Yelli over the HD? I'd love a comparison of the two bikes.
    The Mojo HD was my main bike when I lived in the South Bay. I've recently moved to Austin Texas, where I bought the Yelli. The Yelli handles tight "flowy" trails amazingly well and that's where I really prefer it over the HD; even though it's a 29er, it feels more responsive. The Yelli also handles the ledgy trails here (which are a lot like riding down stairs) very well, and I don't feel the need for all of the HD's suspension. That all said, if I wanted to ride more gnarly stuff (which, to be honest, I don't anymore), I'd want the HD. So I guess, the real answer is that my choice of bikes is more about changes to where and what I'm riding than anything else.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bareiss View Post
    The Mojo HD was my main bike when I lived in the South Bay. I've recently moved to Austin Texas, where I bought the Yelli. The Yelli handles tight "flowy" trails amazingly well and that's where I really prefer it over the HD; even though it's a 29er, it feels more responsive. The Yelli also handles the ledgy trails here (which are a lot like riding down stairs) very well, and I don't feel the need for all of the HD's suspension. That all said, if I wanted to ride more gnarly stuff (which, to be honest, I don't anymore), I'd want the HD. So I guess, the real answer is that my choice of bikes is more about changes to where and what I'm riding than anything else.
    Good. I was able to get the Yelli out on some of the local "chunder" trails this weekend and yes, it's still a hard tail, lest ye forget! That said, it's still a very capable descender and I think with absolutely fresh DH legs (I didn't have them on this ride) I could be almost as fast as my 5" bike is some situations, in others not really.

    You're echoing my thoughts almost to a T as I seem to be leaning towards riding the flow style trails more on this bike. I've found my rear rim many times since riding a hardtail on the "big" trails so far. Good thing I can build wheels. I'm definitely not as fast on the Yelli as I was on my old trusty 5" bike on the fast open and steep sections - but I'd agree with your sentiments as well that the Yelli actually corners better than any 26" wheeled bike I've ever owned. In the flat out steep, technical, loose, rocky, oops I might die sections the 29" wheels and 120mm fork have kept me out of trouble albeit at a little slower pace. On certain less technical terrain, and on trails with tons of burmed corners I'm definitely faster on the Yelli!
    My one says BRAP!

  13. #13
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    I had a few more thoughts about the bike and where it sits in the industry today:

    I don't think it's possible or fair to compare this bike to a 5" travel bike as it does nice things as all 29" hard tails do but not things that full suspension bikes do, right? Although 29" wheels are NOT magic and I still laugh at riders who think they are it's this particular bikes geometry that's obviously the selling point.

    There have been a few occasions when I forgot how quickly this bike moves around (in a good way) and have been surprised when I thought I would need to put a foot down because of my own poor form, however coming out of a sketchy rocky section that required pedaling force I was able to just hop up and over a large boulder with that barely enough pedal force just to get over the top. I've often left situations like that thinking, "wow, the bike just covered up my lack of skill there..." and it's not in a way that riding a f/s bike does this on fast rocky sections, it's usually a place that requires some some of bike maneuvering, it just goes where it needs to.

    I'm still getting used to the bike and having options in this industry is a great thing. While this rig can't and won't replace the crazy amounts of full suspension super bikes coming out, it's fair to say that in most cases, it will hang with them. The biggest reason I could never fall in love with a 29er until now was the fact that they just handled like **** - specifically in a real corner, they just feel like they're fighting you every step of the way. The fact that most of them are too long makes getting through a switch back unbearable and yet I couldn't deny the benefits of big hoops either, in a straight line, they're always faster. So you find a 29er that can corner, and actually corner better than most 26" bikes? That's why fools like me just go on and on about this frame design I think. I'm still astounded by how good the bike handles because we're all so used to riding crap geometry bikes! I have to admit I was skeptical about the bikes head angle too, I come from a XC back ground and think any thing more than 69 degree will equal sluggish handling in the front - I couldn't have been more wrong. The bike was made for my 120mm fork.
    My one says BRAP!

  14. #14
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    Got onto the steepest trail that I know of in my area and I actually had to walk a bit of it... way steep with off camber switchbacks. Been awhile since I've been forced off the bike going downhill.

    I couldn't get comfortable getting behind the saddle even with my adj post. I'm still on the silly 90mm stem which is what I've always known. Should I just stop it and grab a 50mm stem and wider bars? This will help with getting my weight further back and behind the tire where my butt needs to go. I need to stop it with the front brake too!

    I'm determined to clean this trail!!!
    My one says BRAP!

  15. #15
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    I know a few posts ago, you were looking for a tire, give the On-One tires a try. Since the local ski-resort opened up their lifts to mountain bikers, I switched to using the Chunky Monkey 2.4 front and rear since I'll be pointed down most of the time. I have used them once on a XC oriented trail system and they are not the fastest pedaling tire out there, but for the amount of grip and confidence on the downs its worth it atm. But when the lifts stop running, I'll switch to an Ikon 2.35 when I need to pedal my ass back up hills.

    Btw, the tires mounted on Stans' Flow rim @30psi, measure: Carcass 2.27 and 2.37 at the outer knobs.

  16. #16
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    I had no idea they made tires, I will look into this thanks!
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    hey plume,

    quick question regarding your xt cranks. I also ended up using 2 spacers on the drive side with my xt cranks. As a result, I was unable to push the "stopper plate" into the closed position on the non-drive crank arm. I wasn't sure if it would be better to remove it completely or leave it as is in the open position.

    What did you do with your stopper plate?

  18. #18
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    Plume, you get a chance to change out your bars and stem? What size frame are you on? I'm 5'10" as well on a large Yelli with 700mm flat bars and 50mm stem. I've only been on the bike for a week but I find the combination to work well so far if it helps.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdwhitey View Post
    hey plume,

    quick question regarding your xt cranks. I also ended up using 2 spacers on the drive side with my xt cranks. As a result, I was unable to push the "stopper plate" into the closed position on the non-drive crank arm. I wasn't sure if it would be better to remove it completely or leave it as is in the open position.

    What did you do with your stopper plate?
    I was able to get the stopper plate to close - barely. There is a *metal wing nut* version of the Shimano "button" tool that allows you to add a touch more pre-load to your crank/BB and allowed me to get what I call the warm and fuzzies for crank installation. As I understand it that plate is really for a tolerance check more than a safety feature, but if it doesn't go in place after my "trick" you might want to face the BB shell just a bit. I would only do that if absolutely necessary. I did play around with different spacers for awhile but at the end of the day it seemed like the 2 2.5 spacers on the BB were the way to go.
    My one says BRAP!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDragonX View Post
    Plume, you get a chance to change out your bars and stem? What size frame are you on? I'm 5'10" as well on a large Yelli with 700mm flat bars and 50mm stem. I've only been on the bike for a week but I find the combination to work well so far if it helps.

    Yes. I'm on a large frame. Got a set of Race Face Next 720 mm bars and an Atlas 50 mm stem. I only have had the chance to do one ride so far. I'm looking forward to trying it on more technical terrain - read: STEEP stuff... taking me a bit to get used to I think as I have a very XC back ground with long stems for endurance racing... The bike corners even faster now though... I can't wait to see what it's like on a steep trail.
    My one says BRAP!

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    One thing I noticed since I got a 29er Karate Monkey is a lack of trail feel that my 26er has, mainly when it comes to pumping and working trail undulations, it seems a little lifeless. How does the Yelli Screamy feel in that respect?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGrr View Post
    One thing I noticed since I got a 29er Karate Monkey is a lack of trail feel that my 26er has, mainly when it comes to pumping and working trail undulations, it seems a little lifeless. How does the Yelli Screamy feel in that respect?
    I've never ridden a Karate Monkey but I can compare it to what I call standard Niner Geometry which is very likely what the Surly is (I don't have time to research this now). The Yelli rides a lot like my favorite 26" hardtail - the Jamis Dragon, only better. I judge most bikes on how they handle, specifically in the corners and the Yelli corners better than any other bike I've ever owned. The biggest problem I have with standard Niner geometry is that they're sluggish and way too tall making any advantages with roll over moot since the bike handles like ****. I'm actually able to enjoy the advantages of the bigger wheels since this bike handles like it's on rails. The only limiting factor in this case is the rider!

    To better answer your question in a very un-scientific manner, I think pump and flow trails is actually where the bike shines the best. It is still a hard tail after all. That said 90% of my riding is on steep technical terrain and it's a little slower (for me) in the rough but that's to be expected...
    My one says BRAP!

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