9-13-07 // Previewed: Yeti Cycle’s New 2008 Bikes

Yeti Cycles took over the small resort mountain of Solvista in Granby, Colorado, last week to bring its dealers out for a few days of lift-accessed and XC riding and to bring them up to speed on where the company is going and what to expect for 2008. We squeezed in a Colorado trip at the last minute to check out what Yeti's R&D department has been up to and to ride a few of the new bikes.

First impressions: The boys at Yeti have been busy. Since releasing their 303 downhill bike a couple years back, Yeti has stuck to its guns, selling lots of its 575 XC/Trail bike and pouring loads of effort into their race program.

In addition to maintaining a world-class race team, two years ago the company purchased Colorado's Mountain States Cup race series, which apparently drew bigger crowds than Nationals this year. Yeti also has a big hand in producing the G3 Gravity Series, a three-race downhill/super D stage race series.

But amid all that racing there has been a lot of development going on behind the scenes. Notably, Yeti is adding a carbon version of its popular AS-R bike, and it also has gone back in and tweaked the standard AS-R platform to shed weight and increase stiffness by a claimed 6 percent. The AS-R Carbon, on the other hand, is said to have increased stiffness over last year's AS-R by closer to 50 percent, "and the AS-R was not a bike that people complained about stiffness on," points out Yeti co-owner and frontman, Chris Conroy.

The first thing you'll notice about the carbon AS-R is it's tall carbon seat mast—the latest frontier in trimming XC frame weight (think: Scott, Look, etc.) Bikes will ship with a special cutting guide so owners can dial in their seat height position. Bikes also will ship with a special clamp to accommodate standard work stands.

Another key feature of the carbon AS-R is its 92-millilmeter bottom bracket shell, which uses special Shimano bearings much like an integrated headset to increase stiffness at the cranks without compromising chainline.

Move on up the line to Yeti's "hands-down biggest seller," the 575, and Yeti fans are in for some more welcome changes. Squint, and you might just think it's a Santa Cruz Nomad, but unless you're colorblind there's no mistaking that trademark Yeti green.

In addition to some fairly radical tube shaping and hydroforming, the new 575 sports an optional shaped carbon seat stay for added rear end stiffness and weight savings of about a half pound. Overall the new frame is said to be 30 percent stiffer than last year's.

The 575 also got a few small geometry updates. "We were early to the game in the lightweight/long-travel market," says Conroy, and because forks have gotten bigger since the 575 made its debut Yeti wanted to go back in and tweak the geometry to bring the bottom bracket back down (3/8" lower than last year) while still maintaining a 68.5-degree head tube angle.

All 575s (as well as AS-Rs) come with full Ti-hardware kits. And the bike can be built into either a sub 25-pound XC bike or a go-anywhere yet-still-sub-30-pound trail bike, with a fork like a Fox 36 up front and a DHX shock in the rear. Sunday I got a chance to borrow a 575 with a mostly XC build (Shimano XT, Fox RP23 and Fox 32 fork) for a morning of riding the lifts at Keystone, and the thing pedals as well up as it does down. Look for a full-on thrash test in an upcoming issue of Bike.