by Tom dB
June 30, 2011
Tom dB's been tweaking his Yeti with new wheels, a single ring setup and new brakes...
Spring has sprung and I’ve done a lot of riding since the last writeup.
Let’s start with what’s changed; firstly the correct Black Flag front wheel has arrived, compatible with 9mm, 15mm (tested), and 20mm. Golden in colour and as pimp looking as can be they are as true as they day I got them. 24 Wheelsmith spokes and brass nipples connect the sealed cartridge bearing hubs to the Stan’s NoTubes™ rims. The rear hub has an audible click – louder than a Shimano, quieter than a Hope – satisfying as you cruise along. If you’re not cool enough to pull off the gold (?! Ed) they are also available in black. Weight is 1725 grams for the pair.
The rims are tubeless compatible, sporting an airtight rimstrip and come with a Stan’s tubeless kit in the box. My previous tires had been very tight fitting and I’d inadvertently punctured the rimstrip trying to get them on. When swapping to Schwalbe Fat Alberts there was a slow leak out of the nipple holes in the rear rim. Three times the recommended sealant managed to keep it inflated … eventually. At some point I’ll strip it down and put a new rim strip on but that’s one of those jobs I can’t ever see myself being in the mood for.
After the last weigh in I wanted to shed some weight. So as well as running the tires tubeless I also replaced the MRP chain guide with a Superstar single ring guide. It’s been flawless and at £16 is a very good deal.
Renthal are back in the mountain bike game and make some very svelte chainrings – a 32 tooth on the front for my 1×9 setup. A lovely piece of kit that looks heavier than it is and the long teeth keep your chain where it needs to be. It’s also exactly the right width so you don’t need any spacers on your bolts. I’m very pleased with this chainring.
After a small crash I broke the KSi950 adjustable seatpost lever so I’ve gone back to a standard Syncros seatpost that I’ve had for some time. The KS is fixable and also in need of a service after the harsh winter – it has stopped being as free in it’s release and would often require a jolt to get moving again. As it stands I’m not overly missing the instant adjustability, which I’m surprised about because I did use it a lot during a ride. I’ll probably swap back on forth depending on my mood. The main reason for this is that I like simplicity on the bars – one of the reasons for having just one shifter (though singlespeed is not for me). I like to get on with the ride, not weigh up a plethora of knobs and levers and worry myself that I haven’t achieved the optimal combination available to me at any one moment.
The most recent change has been the brakes. The previous XTs have had a long life and I’ve placed them into the nursing home that is the bits box. Sparkly new Magura RaceLines take their place. Although now discontinued to be replaced with the Magura MT8 they have a lovely feel to them. Lots of modulation and a good shape to the lever and as a bonus lighter than what they replaced. It’s amazing how much more confident, and faster, you are when you trust your brakes completely.
The frame is still very happily doing its job although starting to show a few battle scars here and there; mainly on the rear triangle. I had a 2.4″ Fat Albert (which is a BIG 2.4) in there for a while, and while it did fit, the lack of room caused a few scratches and when leaning into corners I’d hear the occasional rub on the seatstay. I’ve since replaced it with a 2.25″ and those problems are gone.
The weight? Well, all those changes have reduced the weight from 29lbs to 26.5lbs. I’m completely happy with that as there is nothing on the bike that compromises strength for low weight. It’s extremely nimble and can climb up anything you’ve got the skill and strength to attempt, at the same time having enough to maintain a good line through rough downhills; aided by the stiff front and rear triangles.
Having had the bike for a good 8 months now I’ve spent some time experimenting with the pressures on the rear shock and fork. With the rear in particular I’ve found my sweet spot of just under 1/3rd of sag when fully laden. Finding that sweet spot made a big difference. Downhill sections suddenly became more flowing. It wasn’t bad before, but it was excellent after.
When you’ve been riding a bike for a while you can start to get a little complacent in the way it rides. It all becomes a bit too familiar and you take it for granted. So I took my hardtail out for a ride. I was blown away by how much more difficult downhills, climbs, pretty much everything, was. You don’t know what you’ve til it’s gone. It was at this moment I realised this is the most favourite bike I’ve ever owned. I’m a critical person and if anything isn’t just so it will give me sleepless nights – so that statement is not to be taken lightly.
Moving forward there’s nothing I would change on the bike. Most likely I’ll move to 1×10 as the gearing wears out and needs replacing but up until then I’m completely satiated. Well, it would be nice to try the 142mm bolt through rear dropout setup but that would require a wheel rethink, the Black Flag rear hub being quick release only.
If you’re after an all round bike that can handle anything trail riding, and even a bit of lighter downhill, can throw at you then the Yeti ASR5 should be on your shortlist. The only thing I would ask for is the removable chain guide mount as found on the SB66 and a direct mount front mech hanger (even though I wouldn’t use it).
Superstar Single Ring Guide – £16.00 (Superstar Components)
Syncros AM1 2014 Seat post – £59.99 (Jungle Products)
Sun/ Ringle Black Flag Expert – £369.99 (Hotlines)
Renthal SR4 Chainring – £39.99 (Renthal)
Magura Marta RaceLine – £245.99 (each) (Magura)
Schwalbe Fat Albert – £21 – £42 depending on model (Schwalbe UK)