I've wanted a Yeti since I started mountain biking in the late 80s. When I was racing rigid bikes, the ARC was the quintessential race frame...that I couldn't afford. As a second lieutenant in the Army, money was tight and spending more on a frame than both my bike and my wife's full bikes cost didn't make sense.
When I got to the point in my life where I could afford any bike I wanted, I stopped riding and gained a ton of weight. 8 years and 70 pounds lost later, it's time for my Yeti. Specifically, it's time for my dream bike: An ASR-5. Having ridden nothing but hardtails and rigid bikes my whole life, I think the ASR-5 is the perfect bike.
I think the Yeti gods agree. I called a LBS Yeti dealer and asked about demoing an ASR-5. As luck would have it, they have one demo...in a small...just right!
In 40 degree temps in the Atlanta suburbs, I took a 25 lbs. ASR-5C XT build through the paces at Big Creek.
This is just not fair.
I expected a great ride. New bikes ride better than old bikes and I knew this bike would ride better than my '05 HT. But it shouldn't ride THIS much better.
- The most amazing thing about this bike, surprisingly, was how well it climbs. It climbs FAR better than my HT. I thought climbing would be a compromise but it's a major improvement. WOW. I love climbing and this is, without a doubt, a climbing bike. I rarely climb out of the saddle on my HT but this bike dared me to stand up on the rooted and rocky stuff and it handled it with ease and power.
- The fit. At 5' 6" tall with about a 28-29" inseam, the small is absolutely perfect. I was comfortable the minute I clipped in. The effective top tube is a bit longer than my current bike but with a 50mm stem, the reach was fine. In fact, I'd probably go a little longer.
- Small bump absorption. I'm not a jumper or dropper. I like both tires on the ground. But my local trails are all very rooted and rocky and very tough on a hardtail. I assumed a FS bike would be more designed for big hits and wouldn't make much of a difference on the small stuff. Oh how wrong I was. Absorbing all those roots and rocks is what this bike seemed to do best.
- I won't rave about how it descends. Coming from a HT, I really have no true point of reference. There were three times on this ride where I thought I was crashing. I didn't know this trail and carried too much speed through some techical sections. The ASR-5C laughed at it...and laughed at my caution.
- The weight: 25 lbs with pedals. Really? I think my HT is about that weight.
- The looks. This is, without a doubt the second best looking bike I've ever seen. The ARC being the first.
- The drivetrain is great. It was equipped with the 2013 XT and was snappy and quick. It was 3x10 but I'd probably spec 2x10.
- Head tube length: I like my saddle right at about handlebar height. With a 120mm fork and different geometry, I assumed my saddle would be way below my bars. Nope...right at bar height and there was even a 1/2" spacer under the stem.
- I need some serious tweaking of the cockpit. As mentioned above, even with a longish top tube, I felt a bit too upright and would consider extending the stem a bit. The guys at the shop think I'm crazy (the trend is shorter stems, apparently) but I like more of an XC position.
- Wide bars. MY GOD this thing has some wide bars! They are Easton Haven Carbon and 28" wide. TWENTY EIGHT INCHES! My bike has 22" wide bars. Trees hit = 6. Maybe I'd get used to wide bars but MAN these things were wide.
- XT Brakes. I was extremely unimpressed with the XT brakes. Which shocked me considering everyone on these boards raves about them. I could not lock up the rear wheel...not even close. One tree hit was due partially to the wide bars and partially due to not being able to emergency stop. After returning to the shop, they tested them and said that this is not normal.
- The slacker HTA was definitely noticeable. Not necessarily worse, just noticeable. Strangely, I had trouble getting the front wheel up on some small jumps and ended up nosing into the landing. The bike handled it fine, I just thought the slacker HTA would make it easier, not harder, to get the front wheel up.
So while I'm not officially in the Tribe yet, I think I will be soon.
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