By Mike Cushionbury
Yeti Cycles held a special off-site ride day to introduce its two newest carbon offerings: The SB95 Carbon and the ARC Carbon. Both are based on the iconic brands successful aluminum versions of the same names.
Yeti president Chris Conroy readily admits it took his brand a long while to come out with its interpretation of a long-travel 29er so as such, it began with an aluminum frame, the successful 5-inch travel SB95. According to Conroy, reports of riders saying, “If you make this in carbon it will be my favorite bike” left them with little reason to not take the plunge for 2013.
Following the design elements of the original ARS5, the platform has a slack head tube, low bottom bracket and long top tube (a concept Yeti incorporated in 2001.) This new carbon frame weighs 5.7lbs, shedding a whopping two pounds from the aluminum SB95 frame. Goals for using carbon are obvious: optimize stiffness, loose weight and maximize ride quality, a feat Yeti easily achieved.
During our short stint aboard the new bike we had little to complain about. Some of that came from the frame’s instant response, light weight and chatter muting characteristics but we also we can’t deny that the Switch technology suspension played a major role as well. This single pivot suspension design uses an eccentric lower pivot. When the suspension compresses, the eccentric initially rotates counter-clockwise. Then about halfway through the travel it reverses direction and rotates clockwise. This subtly changes chain stay length to counteract pedaling forces. On the trail it essentially eliminates pedal bob by pushing the rear wheel into the ground for maximum traction, small bump compliance and zero harshness under braking, making it one of the most effective designs available for all types of trail riding.
The test loop aboard the new carbon consisting of a long, steep climb and ripping singletrack descent reconfirmed just how great the long travel SB95 platform climbs. With the carbon bike’s two-pound weight savings and noticeably stiffer frame it rocketed up the incline (with the FOX CTD shock set in Trail mode) more in tune with a shorter travel 29er. Though test time was limited, the Yeti provided initial sensations of good stability at speed and great responsiveness in tight, twisty switchbacks and serpentine singletrack. The suspension was tender off the top in Descend mode to comfortably absorb smaller hits on our smooth-ish test loop without sacrificing square edge ability at higher speeds. Though just an initial test, results were highly positive.
Yeti has also reintroduced its legendary ARC in carbon. Conroy was blunt by saying, “It’s one of the most iconic bikes in history so we can’t screw it up.” One of the most storied frames ever made, the Yeti ARC was the very first Easton aluminum Taperwall frame ever made (the Easton logos were bigger then the Yeti logos Conroy recalled) and it was ridden to victory by such greats as Missy Giove, Juli Furtado and John Tomac, who rode one of the first ever carbon framed bikes, the ARC C26. “We had to live up to the legacy of the ARC name,” Conroy said. While that original aluminum frame weighed about 3.1 pounds, this new carbon wonder hits a feathery 2.6 pounds.
The loop chainstays remain but what’s new besides carbon are 29-inch wheels for sizes M-XL while XS and S use 27.5-inch hoops to better fit smaller riders. By doing this engineers were also able to make handling consistent across the size range—a huge plus of riders who fall at either height extreme. Yeticycles.com
- Enduro $4,700
- Race: $5,800
- Pro: $8,000
- Frame: $3,200
- Enduro: $ 3,400
- Race: $4,400
- Pro $6,400
- Frame: $2,000