The Cycle Life

Yeti ASR Carbon

The author tested the new Yeti ASR Carbon on some 150 miles of New Mexican and Coloradoan trails. Photo: Aaron Gulley

Yeti ASR Carbon

Though it’s a cross-country racer by the numbers, this lightweight machine rides more like a trail bike.

After a hiatus from the full-suspension cross-country bike market, Yeti has released a fully revised race bike, the ASR Carbon.

But as we’ve come to expect from the Golden, Colorado-based bike manufacturer, the new model is not just another cookie-cutter XC machine. With a slack 69.1-degree head tube and a five-inch front end paired to a four-inch rear, this 29er finds a nice medium between XC and trail ride.

It’s not entirely accurate to call the ASR C a 29er either. The three largest models (medium, large, and extra large) are built around bigger hoops, but the size small and extra small frames use 27.5-inch wheels. While 29ers generally rule the terrain in the XC category, Yeti decided that it wanted to give smaller riders a more comfortable, agile ride; hence, the smaller wheels.

We received a size medium a few weeks prior to the bike’s official release, and we were immediately taken with the ASR C’s clean-looking linkage, swoopy shaped carbon tubing, and kicked-back-feeling ride position. Our bike came equipped with the lowest-end build, which is still an excellent spec: Kashima coated Fox Float CTD shock and fork, SRAM XO1 1x11 drivetrain, Shimano XT brakes, Stan’s Crest wheels, Maxxis Ikon tires, and a mix of Thomson and Easton carbon cockpit bits and pieces.

  Photo: Aaron Gulley

As always with Yeti spec choice, there’s nothing on this bike not to like. It weighs just 23.1 pounds—the more expensive builds lop a pound off that—which makes this competitive with pretty much every other XC bike on the market. It isn’t cheap at $5,800, but that price is also right in line with comparable bikes.

We’ve spent three straight weekends pedaling the ASR C and have logged some 150 miles on singletrack in New Mexico and Colorado. And though it’s taken a little time, the bike is growing on us.

It is an extremely firm suspension design, race-tuned like a sports car. The CTD function in the rear doesn’t seem to change the feel of the bike much, which is fine by us, really, because we prefer a bike you can put into trail or descend mode and leave it there without a lot of fuss.

The bike climbs just fine and feels quick on long ascents (we’ve knocked down a few Strava KOMs so far) but also nimble on uphill rocks and tech. It basically ascends as well as any other XC bike we’ve tried, though of course dropping a pound with the pricier spec would make it that much better.

Downhill is where the bike really shows its personality. Unlike other XC racers, which generally have head tubes a couple degrees steeper, the ASR C feels stable at speed and less twitchy in rougher terrain. It descends more like a five-inch trail bike than a race machine, which is a good thing.

The only drawback is that, because it’s only four inches in the rear, we found the bike feeling a little rugged and underpowered on rough terrain. We’ve combatted that with a softer tune on the rear shock, which surprisingly hasn’t affected the pedaling efficiency much. Still, the ASR C is a bit like the mythological Chimera, with the front half of a trail bike fused to a XC rear end. That’s not a bad thing: It just takes a bit of getting used to.

Coming straight on the heels of the release of the Switch Infinity suspension design a few weeks ago, the ASR C helps complete Yeti’s line of bikes. And judging by our ride tests so far, the company continues to carve out an interesting niche and personality with a stable of bikes for the harder-riding, trail-oriented crowd.


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