Allan's Yeti ASR5 review, the story so far...
So I've promised this for a while now & some people have been pressing me for it. I think in a broader sense, people prefer a "straight from the horse's mouth" way of someone reviewing a bike? So when you read this, please take into consideration that it's not sanitised for publication or written with any bias. It's just my opinion on the bike & components that I paid for with my own money.
So it's been roughly 5 months since a bought this & it's had a few changes along the way, some due to personal preference & some due to necessity. To be clear, I'm not someone who covets things much or needs to have the latest stuff, but I do look after my gear, I use it a lot and I like it to be as "sorted" as it can be within my means, so anything I changed was to make the bike better (for me)
If you've read my past write ups on the first few months I had the bike, then you'll already know that I love it, but as with all works of genius, it's not without its faults. But I think I'll start with the changes I've made since I built the bike up in December.
I bought the frame only & if the specification looks a bit odd, that's because 2 months previous (when we were not a Yeti stockist) I had just bought a 2013 140mm Specialized (SBC) Stumpjumper (SJ) to fill my trail bike gap. As good as this bike was, when the opportunity of owning a bike from the stable of a lifelong favorite brand came along, the decision was quite quick & the change was made with a fair degree of haste.
So what was did I HAVE to change? The basics of the two bikes were very similar but with some small changes as follows:
- Front mech: The Yeti uses an old school traditional down pull front mech whereas the SJ used a proprietary bolt on model.
- The headset: Both bikes are step down 1,1/8-1.5 but the SJ was integrated, the Yeti external.
- Bottom bracket & Chainset: The SJ was a press fit SRAM/Specialized affair & the Yeti a Traditional 72mnm
The most annoying change were the wheels, the front was no issue, as I used the 140mm Fox RL from the SJ, so no problems, but when it came to the rear the problems started. The SJ also has a bolt through 142mm rear, but it is SBC specific & screws directly into the non drive side chainstay with no adaptors & the threads are tapped into the actual bike, so the axle/skewer setup can only really be used on compatible SBC bikes.
The Yeti is a little more sophisticated as it allows the rider to choose from either a 135mm QR setup (which comes as standard) or a Yeti specific replacement "chip" for fitting a 142mm bolt through, but this affair costs (get ready & sit down) almost £100. Most of us know enough to realise that the 142mm is the way to go from every perspective, so I bought the kit and with the rear wheel from the SBC being standard, in it went.
Another thing (that won't really affect anyone reading this) with the rear wheel is that there was a recall on some of the Roval (SBC wheel brand) freewheels that led Specialized to authorise dealers to change out the rear hubs, so a shiny new DT-Swiss 340 slotted into place nicely. As for the absolute minimum I had to do to get a rolling, working bike, that was really it.
Of course you may be reading this with your "well he works in a bike shop" staff discount head on, but even at that, the whole spend on putting these things right was not insignificant, so watch out if you're doing a frame swap as these things can sneak up on you and ruin your week! So after that, (Gore) cables were fitted & I was off!
I rode the bike for a good month kitted out like this & it wasn't long before I had to change a few things. First to go were the 720mm SBC bars. They were heavy with the sweep & rise pointing in the wrong directions for me. These were substituted for a set of perfectly proportioned Easton EC70 CTN 685mm carbon riser bars. They fitted my shoulders much better & offer far more comfort & a bit of vibration damping without sacrificing steering response.
I also like something to get hold of (oh, err) so some thick Lizard Skins north Shore lock-on grips were fitted. Despite the cheesy old hat "North Shore" tag on these "Extreme" model grips, they are VERY good & i would recommend them to anyone who needs a bit more meat on the bars.
There are only 2 "issues" I am having with on this bike, so I'll get them out of the way, they're not "negatives" just speed bumps on the quest for perfection. They are unfortunately intrinsically linked but I'll start with the most fundamental one; the bottom bracket height. It's around 13" which is neither here nor there as its subjective to your own bike setup & how you abide by the manufacturers guidelines on fork length etc, it just feels a little low for me (140mm fork) I have had more pedal strikes on this bike than any other I've ever owned or ridden, resulting in a very unfortunate bending of an SPD mechanism making the ride home a royal pain in the rump.
I'm currently running 140mm up front, which to be honest is probably 10mm too much as the bike does not feel like it needs all the travel & tends to pop the front wheel up if you don't set up for climbs with a bit of forethought. It's getting like second nature now, but it is still a noticeable trait but not as annoying or detrimental as I once thought it might have been? The benefit of this however is that the centre of gravity is pretty low & it really shows in the handling.
The other "issue" is the wheelie factor I get on really difficult sit down climbs. Running a140mm fork on this bike & with the lazy 68 degree head angle, it feels quite a handful on the sit down & grunt climbs that I come across on my regular trails. This is not however as much of a problem as I thought at first, as I have gradually just stood up on these parts of the trail using the bikes supreme grip to overcome the gradient. Besides, I'd hate to be without that slack head angle when it came to the fun stuff as the combined two "problems" above (low BB, high-ish steering) are an absolute joy on faster singletrack & groomed trails.
So I'm going to stop right here, and here's for why!
You may have noticed that the photo's in this blog don't quite match the equipment that I've been talking about? As solid as the information above is in the context of my experience it should hopefully offer people an insight into this amazing bike, but the game has changed this past week or so.
I have been standing back & looking at this bike for months & thinking that I am just not doing it justice with old OE bits from a Stumpjumper hanging off it, so action HAD to be taken. To decrease the weight, improve functionality & make the bike all it could be I decided that a full XT groupset, 34 Kashima forks & some tasty Stan's wheels to cook up recipe for trail riding success. It's only been together for a week in this form & already the difference is staggering.
Hope this write up held you long enough to reach this point & I'll be back again after the summer to give the lowdown specifically on the ride of the newly XT equipped 2013 Yeti ASR5. Next time I promise some proper riding pictures & some chat on the way the bike actually rides with a short video to accompany it.
Thanks to Scott Bannister & Pete Clegg at Silverfish UK for the support & advice whilst I was building the bike, and remember folks, Dales Cycles is Glasgow's ONLY authorised Yeti dealer & stockist.
P.S. The new ARC Carbon frame is ready to ship in medium & small sizes now.