Yeti AS-R 7

Yeti AS-R 7

Yeti AS-R 7

Price: $4,330; frame $2,000

Price Range:: $4,150- 4,630

Weight: 32 lbs, frame 7.5 lbs with RP23

Component highlights:

+ Thomson stem and seatpost
+ Chris King headset
+ SLX double-ring crank

Today's all-mountain bikes have a lot of pressure on them. We want them to descend like a bobsled, but climb like a rocket. No other machines are tasked with such opposing demands, except maybe for the rocket-powered bobsled. But thankfully manufacturers like Yeti have stepped up to the challenge.

At 32 pounds, the AS-R 7 was one of the lightest aluminum all-mountain bikes in the test. The parts were spot-on—good ol' XT and SLX components, Thomson stem and seatpost, and a gold Chris King headset. But a few of us missed a travel-adjust fork, and the rear shock setup got a little trying for the heavier riders.

Once it was tuned, the AS-R's straightforward suspension linkage climbed well. It stayed active in the rough stuff (hence the A in AS-R), but we used the ProPedal lever on the smoother climbs. On otherwise grueling steeps, the bike was light enough that we forgot it was such a capable downhiller negotiating everything from swoopy singletrack to steep rooty puzzles with the occasional 3-foot rock stabber.

We were able to throw the Yeti around like an oversized BMX bike on the downhills, especially in the air. And thanks to a 12-by-135-millimeter rear end and tapered headtube, the stiff single pivot design railed corners as hard as we could lay them down. The stock RP23 worked great for our middleweight riders, but our 200-plus-pound testers needed a DHX RC4 upgrade to keep the bike from wallowing.

This is a boutique-quality, handmade frame that's not just light and pretty, but offers an exceptional ride.

Bottom line: A well-balanced ride that sneaks 7 inches of suspension up climbs