Monday, May 2, 2016

Yeti Test Ride!

    I recently had a chance to head down to Golden, CO and check out the Yeti factory. I went with a riding friend who is in the market for a new bike and deciding between two Yeti models. I tagged along interested in comparing the Yeti full suspension XC bike to my Scalpel.
   The Yeti set up is pretty cool. They have a great collection of their older model bikes:

Museum of bikes

Race winning bikes

Super weird bikes

   As well as a display of the newest offerings:

Line of SB models

   After the super friendly staff set us up with a couple bikes, we hit the road for Apex, a fun, technical trail a short ride from their offices. This is a trail I have not been on, but I loved it. Technical, steep, swoopy - this trail has it all.

Apex trail Strava

   It was a good trail to test bikes on since it had a nice mix of everything, including some daunting climbs. 

Bill vs a hill

   I was riding the ASRC, a single pivot full suspension, full carbon, 4" travel XC bike:


   Bill was riding the SB4.5, a 29er with a little more travel than the ASRC, with a more complicated linkage rear suspension system. Bill will end up with the SB4.5 I'm sure, and I'll be sure to give the details on that, but for now we're going to focus on comparing the ASRC to my Scalpel. First, here's the from-the-manufacturer marketing pitch for each bike:

ASRC marketing:
   "The ASRc is a cross-country race machine with an enduro alter-ego. We have optimized every part of the frame to achieve an incredibly lightweight frame (4.2 lbs), so it rockets efficiently uphill. Point it down and it’s all enduro."

Scalpel marketing:
"Rock solid, feather light and razor sharp, the Scalpel 29 is the ultimate in XC speed."

   Without going any further, you can probably predict the differences between these bikes. On is sold as a race rig, made for going fast and the other as a race bike capable of larger hits and fast descents.  Here are the measurements for the two frames in XL:

Yeti ASRC 
A. Head tube angle: 69 degrees
B. Wheelbase: 1182mm
C. BB Height: 331mm
D. Chainstay: 445mm
E. Reach: 462mm (horizontal center steer tube - center BB)
F. Stack: 635mm (vertical center bb to top of headset)

Cannondale Scalpel
A. Head Tube: 71.4 degrees
B. Wheelbase: 1143mm
C. BB Height: 332mm
D. Chainstay: 444mm
E. Reach: 459mm
F. Stack: 615mm

What do these letters mean?

   Here is a simplification of the two frames lined up. Yeti in green, C-dale in white.
Geometry comparison

   You get the idea - the Yeti is an all around 'slacker' bike. All the lengths and angles favor more all-mountain type riding, while the Scalpel is sharper, sacrificing comfort for efficiency. I knew this coming in so was a little biased when we started out. My observations of the Yeti were:

- The front wheel seemed farther out, probably due to the slacker steering angle and longer fork.
- The front wheel came up a lot easier, probably due to the short stem and tall stack.
- The whole frame felt tighter, it didn't have as much side to side play, which added to confidence leaving the ground. I usually try to stay grounded on my Scalpel.
- Turning while climbing a technical climb required a lot more input, but it wasn't effort, just more conscious that I was swinging the bars around. The Scalpel seems to respond to steering more easily.
- The Fox Shock really felt locked out on the climb setting. Really stiff.
- The Fox Fork didn't feel as smooth as my Lefty, especially in fast, tight corners.
- Wider bars were neat, but I miss my Ergon grips.
- The Yeti was set up with an Easton bar with about a 20mm rise, making the front that much taller.
- SRAM Guide brakes felt fine, not as confident in them as I am in my XT brakes.
- 1x11 is great! No chain slap, crisp shifting, solid performance.
Odd indeed

   I am really happy I test rode the Yeti. It is a great bike and one I'll consider when I re-up. I am also really happy with my Scalpel. My wonderful wife did say if I loved the Yeti we could make that happen, but the Cannondale is still the right tool for me (for now). Parting shot of sad Bill returning the bike to the shop:

So happy to be riding

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