By Justin Steiner
Yeti is without a doubt one of the most iconic of the long-standing U.S. bike brands. I’ve always been impressed with, if not a bit puzzled by, the loyal cult following surrounding Yeti—known as the Yeti Tribe. After all, how many other bike companies have fan pages (www.yetifan.com)? Given the opportunity to test the redesigned 575, I jumped at the chance to drink the Kool-Aid.
Yeti originally introduced the 575 back in 2004, revised the bike in 2008, and again redesigned the 575 for model year 2011. Technology has evolved quite a bit during the 575’s lifespan, and the basic formula for trail/all mountain bikes has evolved correspondingly: becoming faster, burlier, and generally more aggressive.
Redesign inspiration came directly from Yeti employees, as Yeti produced a run of custom 575s, giving employees a chance to customize their bikes as they saw fit. From these custom bikes, Yeti pulled the best of the reoccurring custom features and incorporated them in the redesigned model—pretty effective redesign by committee, if you ask me.
The 2011 575 boasts a host of improvements, both the concepts inspired by Yeti staff and changes designed to stiffen the chassis. Yeti went with a tapered 1-1/8” to 1-1/2” head tube to increase front-end stiffness, while the top and down tubes carry over from the old model. The new swingarm’s main pivot now mounts to a substantial hydroformed main pivot junction via two double-row bearings, which necessitates the use of a direct-mount front derailleur bolted to the swingarm. Said swingarm is a design borrowed from the 7”-travel AS-R 7, butted to a thinner profile to keep weight down. Replaceable rear dropouts in the form of Yeti’s “chip system” are available for both 142x12mm thru-axle, and 135x10mm traditional configurations. Gone is the bonded carbon-aluminum chainstay found on the old 575, while the FlexPivot carbon seatstay remains. Other frame updates include ISCG 05 chain guide tabs, and cable stops for height-adjustable seatposts.
In addition to the structural changes, the 575 also received a slightly slacker head tube (68°) and lower BB (13.3”) to give the bike a touch more high-speed stability and improve cornering.
The 575’s suspension design classifies as a linkage-tuned single pivot, similar to the Orbea Rallon I tested in Issue #153. Despite similar design theory, the Yeti delivers an entirely different ride characteristic due to the rear suspension’s tuning. Yeti’s Dogbone (their pet name for the rocker link) provides suspension leverage ratio tuning through the shock’s stroke. Said leverage ratio is low in the initial stroke to provide a firm pedaling platform, increases through the mid-stroke to eagerly absorb moderate to larger hits, then decreases at the end of the stroke to provide bottom-out resistance. Additionally, compression damping has been increased for 2011 to firm up the mid-stroke performance through G-outs and when railing berms.
Models are available both by the frame, and frame with complete build kits. My test bike was spec’d with the middle of the road “Race” kit, retailing for $3,900. Frames with Fox’s Float RP23 shock retail for $1,900, while other build kit options range from $2,900 to $5,500. It’s worth noting all kits come with 150mm Fox FIT RLC forks with 15QR dropouts. The “Race” kit consists of 10-speed XT, DT Swiss wheels, Thomson stem and seatpost, Easton EC70 bars, and Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25” tires. Overall, an impressively solid and reliable parts package for the price. Everything worked as it should, and I’m really coming to appreciate the 36t cog on the 10-speed cassettes.
Setting up the 575 was simple: I set both the fork and shock to their recommended pressures and hit the trail.
Yeti takes pride in producing products they want to ride, which is why each of their bikes has a heavy dose of Colorado— typically characterized by extended climbs and long, fast, and rough descents—in their handling dynamics. According to Yeti, designing for this type of terrain dictates slightly longer and lower geometries compared to bikes designed for the east or west coasts; 68° headtube, 13.3” unsagged BB (11.75” sagged @ 30%), 16.9” chainstay, and 44.5” wheelbase in this case.
The 575 provides admirable climbing performance, as the front wheel does not wander excessively due to the not-too-slack geometry and the neutral riding position. Despite the plush suspension, this 27.5lb. bike climbs plenty well enough for this pilot. I raced the 575 in a couple of XC events and found the it to be a good partner for my style: not terribly fast up the climbs, but hang it out and make up time on the descents. As good as the 575 climbs, the descending performance is even better. This bike simply encourages you to ride it like you stole it—push the limits and hit every jump, drop and kicker you can find along the way. It expertly toes the line between stability and playfulness at any speed.
The 575 may deliver 146mm of travel, but feels as though it delivers another inch or more on the trail. This bike is eager to use a big portion of its mid-stroke travel on a regular basis, while delivering a bottomless end of stroke and remaining responsive to rider input. Shock tuning and spring curve definitely fall on the plush side of the equation, so it’s no surprise the bike pedals best with the Fox rear shock’s ProPedal turned on. In fact, Yeti actually recommends you spend most of the time with the ProPedal in the middle setting, #2. As such, the ProPedal offered a livelier, more responsive ride, while switching the ProPedal off turned the 575 into a plush bomber of descents.
This bike has many strong suits, but cornering is one of the stronger; weight the outside pedal, crank the bike over and feel the suspension settle into the mid-stroke while railing through moto-style yelling “brrrraaaaappp!”
From the first ride, I felt very in tune with the 575 because it’s just so cohesive, both in terms of handling and suspension performance. The plush and playful nature of this bike encourages you to take risks and have fun at every opportunity. Not surprisingly, this bike will excel in mountainous terrain with long, gnarly descents, whether they’re rough and tumble or smooth and flowy—either way, they’ll be fast aboard the 575.
In a lot of ways this is a trail bike with the soul of a bigger bike, as the ride feel surpasses the actual 146mm of travel. Riders coming from longer travel bikes will find little to complain about in the 575, while those looking for maximum pedaling performance from a 5”+ travel bike might be better off considering a bike like the AS-R 5.
Simply put, this is one of the most all-around fun bikes I’ve ridden, period. Needless to say, I’m no longer puzzled by Yeti’s eager following as I’m coming ever closer to sympathizing with The Tribe.
You can read Justin Steiner’s first impressions of the 575 here.
- Country of Origin: Taiwan
- Price: $3900
- Weight: 27.5lbs. (w/o pedals)
- Sizes Available: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL
- Contact: www.yeticycles.com
- Rider: Justin Steiner
- Age: 28
- Height: 5’7"
- Weight: 165lbs.
- Inseam: 31"