Legendary mountain bikes have been rolling off the Yeti factory in Golden, Colorado for over 15 years. Their reputation for race-bred DH bikes, winning riders and cutting-edge technology sits at the core of what Yeti’s General Manager, Chris Conroy sees as the future of Yeti Cycles. In a world of mass-production and overseas outsourcing, Yeti still acts like a small, rider-owned company by continuing to hand building several of their bike frames here in the States. Continuing Yeti’s innovative streak, Yeti introduced a freeride machine in 2002, the Yeti AS-X, the Yeti 575 long travel trailbike in 2004 and the groundbreaking 303 downhill frameset in 2005.
About the Yeti AS-R 575 Enduro
The Yeti 575 is derived from Yeti’s proven XC race machine, the AS-R. The AS-R has been one of the top XC race frames for years. With the recent push towards long-travel trailbikes, Yeti realized that the AS-R frame could be tweaked to achieve nearly 6 inches of travel. With the trademark bent knuckle top tube, the Yeti 575 offers excellent standover height and a sturdy build for its 6.2 lb. weight.
The front triangle on our test bike was black anodized ($50 upcharge) for extra durability and good looks. The suspension design is basically a modified single pivot design with carbon fiber flex stays on the seat stays in place of bushings or bearings. The 575’s chain stays are asymmetrical to ensure rigidity under heavy pedaling. Handling the suspension duties is the all-new Fox Float RP3 3-way adjustable Air shock. This shock is easily adjusted on the fly for rebound and pedal platform using the dial and switch. Pre-load compression is set using the air valve. The result is a simple suspension design with a solid rear triangle that’s built for years of abuse.
As the 575 suggests, it has 5.75 inches of rear travel. This puts it right on par with other bikes in the epic trailbike category like the Cannondale Prophet, Giant Reign and Turner 5-Spot.
With the Enduro build kit, the 575 comes in at $2399 retail–a good value in all-mountain trailbikes. The rest of the package includes the Fox Vanilla RL 130mm fork, a mixture of Shimano Deore LX and XT shifting, Hayes HFX-9 disc brakes, RaceFace Evolve XC two piece cranks, Race Face Next carbon riser bars, Evolve stem, Maxxis Minion FR 2.35 tires and Mavic XM 317 disc rims mated to a Shimano Deore rear hub and house-brand ARC front hub. All in all the enduro kit is a good mix of quality, durable parts.
On The Trail
After building up the 575, I was anxious to get it out on the trails. The suspension design felt solid and smooth in the parking lot tests and the bike felt extremely lively and nimble overall. I did think that the cockpit was a bit stretched out for my taste, so the bars and stem were replaced with a more comfortable 75mm Titec El Norte stem and 2″ El Norte riser bars, which are wider and slightly taller than the stock RaceFace bars. ODI lock-on grips also got the nod over the standard Yeti grips. Since pedals are such a personal preference also, Yeti chose not to spec the 575 with pedals. As usual, my pedals of choice are the Mallet C’s from Crank Brothers. Once dialed in, the 575 was a immediately comfortable and ready for any trail.
The Yeti 575 provides enough travel to be a near-freeride bike, but the 130mm Fox Vanilla RL fork holds it back from rock gardens and larger drops. An adjustable travel 150mm fork would be optimal on the 575 and is available with the pricier Enduro 20 build kit, which has the awesome Fox 36 fork.
On steep, rocky climbs, the 575 climbs well with only minimal front end wander. This wandering may be even limited with the standard longer cockpit items, but isn’t any more or less than other bikes in this category. If equipped with an adjustable travel fork, the head angle would be steeper and ensure straight climbs. The rear wheel stays steadily planted in both Utah hardpack and soft, spongy Idaho high mountain soil thanks to the wide Maxxis tires. It’s easy to keep enough bob-free momentum with the 575 to change pedal cadence or location at any time. A quick pause or backspin to avoid rocks or change directions is easily accomplished without losing speed. Quick sprints out of the saddle are met with a strong pedal platform–thanks to the Fox Float RP3 shock. I also noticed that the 575 always stayed nimble enough for the occasional wheelie up roots and rocks while climbing.
I ditched all air shocks 3-4 years ago in favor of more supple coil shocks. Since that time, air shock technology has been greatly improved. The latest air shocks from Fox, Progressive and Manitou provide a supple ride with enough squish to handle the occasional large drop. Shock technology in general has changed a lot in the past couple of years and is a topic that can be discussed at length another time. Just trust me on this… the new air shocks are vastly different from their progenitors.
Once at the top of any climb, the downhill abilities of the 575 begin to appear. Though it’s not a “bust through boulders and rock gardens, then huck off 8 foot drops” kind of bike, the 575 is well mannered going down. The rear suspension is consistently smooth through all conditions and the full travel seems bottomless. And, the 575’s suspension design and shock don’t hinder your hopping ability like some suspension designs. If you encounter a log or need to hop off a rock drop, the 575 reacts predictably without absorbing your energy. I would say that on extreme hardpack or rocky terrain, the Fox fork seemed under matched, but on softer, loamy soil, the Fox did just fine.
Some people would say that the wider 2.35 Maxxis Minion tires have too much rolling resistance and are overkill for a bike like this. I would beg to differ brothers and sisters! The Minion’s are some of the finest trail tires on the market today. And, once I dropped the saddle, I could lean the 575 hard in the corners with confidence… the Minions hooked up consistently and provided excellent traction when pushed hard in all conditions. On buffed-out singletrack, the 575 hooks up as good as any bike I’ve ridden. The suspension smooths out most terrain variations and makes for some fun descents!
One of the best things about the 575 is that it’s extremely well balanced overall. It’s easy to creep around tight switchbacks or pause momentarily before nailing a line. This mountain goat-like balance allowed me to survey the lines, then hit the right one with confidence. It’s kind of like a wind-up toy… just wait, wind up and let ‘er rip all in one split-second.
Unfortunately, not everything is peachy about the Yeti 575 Enduro kit. My major beefs are with the outdated Shimano drivetrain and flexy wheelset. Shimano’s RapidFire shifters are showing their age and should all be replaced in favor of SRAM’s superior X.9 triggers and derailleur. In head-to-head comparisons, the SRAM-equipped bikes simply shift more crisply and are more intuitive to use. Also, the wheelset should be stiffer for a 6 inch travel bike. At high speed on hardpack, I would notice an unnerving amount of wheel deflection both front and back. This is common for entry-level wheelsets and could be improved with stiffer hubs and rims.
The Bottom Line on the Yeti 575
2005 is the year of the all-mountain trailbike, and the Yeti 575 is on my shortlist of great bikes to consider. Though nothing stands out as either surprising or shocking about the 575, it quietly pedals up anything you can find and descends with the sure-footed abilities of a mountain goat. After some minor cockpit tweaks, the 575 became a predictable and comfortable steed. If you can only have one bike in your quiver, the 575 could happily be that one bike.
Visit JensonUSA.com to purchase a Yeti 575 Enduro complete bike.