Yeti ASR 7 Review

by Brian Mullin on August 5, 2010

I tested a Demo Yeti ASR 7 this past winter for five weeks that was built with their Freeride Part kit, and I was amazed how comfortable, controlled and useful it was for climbing and riding steep, rocky and technical terrain. This bike liked to fly! The suspension just soaks up ugly terrain, and it softly flows down a trail like it’s floating on air. When climbing steep and/or rocky terrain, the rear end sticks like glue, and it climbs like a cross country bike, and not a 32 lb behemoth with 7 inches of suspension. The ASR 7 is a cross country bike pretending to be an All Mountain, and vice versa.


Yeti ASR 7
ASR stands for Active Suspension Racing, and the 7 is obviously for 178mm (7″) of travel. The Yeti ASR 7 comes in 4 sizes, small, medium, large and extra large and three colors, Black, Turquoise, and White. The aluminum frame uses an E-type front derailer, a 30.9mm seatpost, a tapered headtube, and has a 73mm bottom bracket. It comes standard with the Fox RP23 rear air shock, but can be upgraded to a DHX RC4, and can be purchased as a frameset or their Freeride kit.

Yeti saw the how the bike world was evolving a couple of years ago, and with their Colorado roots, a 7″ suspension bike that could be pedaled up and ripped down made perfect sense. The bike was originally created with various carbon rear triangles, including an asymmetric single chainstay, but things didn’t work out as they wanted, so they scrapped the carbon plans and went with aluminum.

Components
The ASR 7 frame is made with a hydroformed 7005 aluminum tubeset. The tubes are huge with massive welds, making it a monstrous, stout and durable beast. In tube hydroforming (THF), the aluminum tubing is placed into a negative mold or die, and then under extremely high pressure, hydraulic fluid is pushed into the tubing, causing the aluminum to be pushed into the mold giving it the design specific shape and thickness. The two piece rear aluminum triangle, is comprised of a CNC-machined chainstay yoke and a seatstay bridge (with a cool Yeti name etched into it), which are connected together at the dropout pivot. Like the main frame, the welds are beefy, and the chainstays are pretty substantial (think Stonehenge). The rear axle is the typical All Mountain 135x12mm, which provides plenty of rigidity to the rear end.

The tapered headtube (1.125 to 1.5 inches) can be used with 160-180mm single crown forks, and was tested with the Fox 36 TALAS RC2 (160mm) fork. It uses a trick Carbon fiber Dog Bone link, which is attached to the top tube, and then in turn to the rear triangle and the Fox RP23 shock (2.5″ x 8.5″ size). The Dog Bone helps with side-to-side flex on the swingarm, side loading onto the rear shock and is an integral part of the leverage ratio curve for the rear suspension system. Titanium hardware is used for most pivots, and the large cartridge bearings at the main pivot help with stiffness and stabilization of the suspension platform.

An E-type front derailer is used, and in a very innovative manner it’s attached directly to the swingarm, which aids greatly in more precise and efficient shifts, especially when considering it’s dealing with 7 inches of travel. There is a small cutout in the seat tube just above the bottom bracket for the front derailer to roll into when the suspension deepens.

The ASR 7 Freeride kit’s drivetrain consists of a useful 2×9 system, which synergistically works with the front derailer. The bike was equipped with an entire Shimano group, including both derailers, cranks, cassette, brakes and shifters.

Freeride Kit (as tested):

  • Fork Fox 36 TALAS RC2 Tapered (an upgrade?)
  • Rear Shock Fox RP23
  • Headset Chris King (an upgrade)
  • Crankset Shimano SLX 22/36/Bash
  • Front Der Shimano SLX e-type
  • Rear Der Shimano XTR Shadow
  • Shifters Shimano XT
  • Cassette Shimano SLX 11-34
  • Chain Shimano
  • Wheels Mavic CrossLine
  • Tires Schwalbe Fat Albert 2.4
  • Brakes Shimano XT
  • Handlebar Easton Monkey Lite DH
  • Stem Thomson X.4 70mm
  • Grips Yeti Lockon
  • Saddle SDG Ti Fly C
  • Seatpost Thomson Elite

Geometry
The basic geometry has 16.9 inch chainstays, 13.8 inch bottom bracket height and a 67 degree head angle, which is much more along the lines of a cross country bike than a DH one. It also features an ISCG ’05 mount for a chainguide. The top tube length and wheelbase are long, and the standover is tall, especially in direct comparison to its competition.

Note: picture courtesy of Yeti

Impressions
The frame is well built, stout and tough, albeit it is slightly heavy. I never felt any sort of issue with the strength nor rigidity of the frame, as it just plowed through things like a jeep on steroids. I was very enamored with the rigidity of the rear end, and how stout it was, without any hint of flex, greatly aided by the stiff 12mm axle.

What is most amazing is how exceptional this bike climbs, something a 7 inch suspension beast usually doesn’t do well, it’s like a cross country bike had it genes injected into the All Mountain ASR 7. It spins great on fire roads and flat undulating singletrack, and climbs like a demon on rough terrain, such as rock gardens, ledges, stair steps, and anything that is mildly ugly. Where it dogs down a bit, is when it’s a grunt fest up on long steep smooth terrain. The ASR 7 sort of sluggishly plods along (to be expected), and it was easy to tell this just wasn’t a place it was comfortable in. A combination of the 31.9 lb weight and the 7 inches of suspension, conspired to make it feel slow and not much of a spinner, but it still was tolerable. Get it up on a fire road, and rolling along in the big gears it became a different beast, and it spun with a lot more grace and ease. Place the ASR 7 into anything remotely rocky, rooty and nefarious and it shined on climbs.

I got a great cross comparison of how it climbs when I did my favorite local trail appropriately named ‘Mule’ on the ASR 7 one day, and on my Ibis Mojo (5.5″) the next. On the long unrelenting climbs that were smooth, the 4 lb lighter Mojo just made me expend a lot less energy, due to the weight difference, and a bit less suspension wallowing. Whenever I encountered rough or jarring terrain, the Mojo would get bounced around and would lose momentum, and I had to wrestle the bike around losing energy, while the ASR 7 sort of breezed through things with without a whimper. On the smooth steeps the Mojo won by a mile, but if gnarly terrain was tossed in on a climb, the ASR 7 became the nicer partner, and the more ugly the terrain became, the better it performed. When it was time to go downhill, the ASR 7 was a pure champion, it was faster, smoother and a heck of a lot of fun.

Anytime you got into tight switchbacks on the ASR 7, you had to roll the front end around a bit more, and finesse it with more body English. The long wheel base and slow steering made it feel a lot more like 29er in the tight stuff. It was a tad more work and required more attentiveness, but I got used to it after a while, and I anticipated how to maneuver the bike. It was not a svelte princess in tight spots, but the oodles of suspension and uncompromising stability let you plow your way through things.

One glaring issue I had was the spacing in the rear chainstay yoke and seatstay for tires. It will not fit a 2.5 tire (even though Yeti states such on their website), since my fat Continental 2.4 Rubber Queen’s (2.43″ wide x 2.38″ tall) barely squeeze in. I think they need to revisit the engineering blueprints, and add a bit more space for the rear tire. It doesn’t make much sense to have an All Mountain bike that can barely fit a fat 2.4″ tire? The first time I got it into mud, it got a bit clogged up, and the debris wore through my preplaced tape protection.

Another issue is that the Fox RP23 rear shock with the High Volume sleeve bottoms out too easily when I run the sag that fits my riding style (I like it squishy). To alleviate the bottoming out, you need to run some pretty hefty pressures (body weight x 30% = 190-200psi), and unfortunately it firms up the ride slightly and the shortens then sag. In my opinion, Fox and Rock Shox, need additional design work on their lightweight air shocks to work properly with the longer travel bikes.

Using the RP23 ProPedal really helps on fire roads, or anywhere you don’t want the rear suspension to wallow as much. It sometimes helps in technical and rocky terrain when climbing and maneuvering, since it stiffens up the shock and gives you some platform to work off. Consider the ProPedal a sort of traction control?

The bottom bracket height is a bit low, so you are going to hit  pedals on occasion, but the lower BB really helps when running the berms, swooping through turns and general maneuverability. The long top tube is a bit of an old school layout, but I think it  helps it climb better, and can offer a good deal of leverage, as does the tall standover height (a deft touch with your leg does wonders for control). The medium frame that I tested felt a bit more like a medium/large frame (which no one makes any more), so it worked quite nicely for my 5’9″ stature, and of course my own personal taste. Caveat Emptor, it’s a big frame, and for some, a smaller than a normal size might work?

I took it to the Lake Pueblo South Shore trails, which consists of short steep gullies and chutes, a perfect place for an All Mountain bike and big Huevos, and that is where it shined like a diamond. I could fly off mini jumps, which I usually scurry around and miss, and the bike did really well going off ledges, and drop offs. This bike screams (ok it didn’t really do that) for an adjustable seat post, and in fact, it already has a built in cable stop! I went down a trail that I really like (Lower Dog), and the ASR 7 made it seem so easy that I felt like I was cheating. It was easy to track stand, and did surprisingly well in trial type maneuvers, though it did lack the laser like steering that my Mojo exemplifies (I am spoiled).

On steep descents when you really pulled hard on the brakes you got some mild brake jack (the XT brakes were part of the culprit), but it was minor and somewhat rare. The ASR 7 was pretty sweet on downhills, through rock gardens, and rocky technical terrain. The stability and composure the bike displayed on the down, along with the plushness of the ride, made it a pleasure to ride, especially considering that it could be used to climb back up. I have taken the bike on some pretty long rides, that have a lot of steep grunt fests, and even though the weight can be felt on occasion, the ability it has to battle its way through chossy and heinous conditions that are met on entertaining singletrack overcomes that deficient. It works perfect in Colorado, where the up are steep, long and rough, as are the down portions.

Do some slammin’ and you’ll be jammin’

The brakes were fine (wasn’t a fan of the XT’s), but I think a 203/180 set for the speeds you start to get on the bike would suit it nicely. This bike likes to roll up to Mach One speeds quickly, so it gets blazingly fast fairly regularly. The rear end of the bike is a stout puppy, and I could discern to slop nor flex. The beefy chainstays, large Carbon Dog Bone link and the 12mm x 135mm hub really holds the entire unit together. It keeps the the bike stable, composed and stuck to the tarmac, except when it is flying through the air.

I never felt any flex nor weakness from the Mavic Crossline Wheelset, but they’re greatly aided by the stout 12mm rear, along with the 36mm fork legs and front 20mm thru axle. Although the Yeti saddle seemed soft when prodded with a fingertip, I found it rather uncomfortable, especially along the nose section.

I was able easily tune the RP23 to my liking (except for it bottoming out), and it gave an extremely plush ride, along with the full amount of travel. The TALAS took some effort to tune, but once I lowered the pressure and tweaked the high and low compression it started to provide better plushness. I still got a tad of fork dive (compensated with body English), and I was never able extract all the travel, but it still provided deep amounts of usable suspension. I started to use the adjustable travel (160-130-100) on the TALAS, and it was an excellent feature for climbing and doing technical moves. I did notice that I would sometimes forget to take it back out of the lowered position when I turned around to descend. Oops!

I liked the ASR 7 enough, that I purchased a frameset, and built it with a more eclectic part set!

Bottom Line
I have really enjoyed my outings with the ASR 7. It likes it steep, either up and down, the rockier and uglier the better. This bike floats down rocky terrain, ledges and just about anything you point it on. Get the bike onto the smoother single track climbs, and it has some character flaws, but on double tracks, fire roads, or anywhere you can rip it open and get it hauling, it redeems itself. This bike likes to fly, and I was hucking (ok mild stuff) stuff I had never even thought of going off, and I also noticed that my speed was increasing to a great degree, especially after getting more comfortable on the bike. It climbs steep and ugly terrain like a demon, and has excellent traction control, sometimes aided by the engagement of ProPedal. The steering is a tad sluggish, and it needs some room to turn in tight quarters. It does have a long wheelbase and top tube, and tall standover, but I think those attributes add greatly to its functionality. With the proper sag set, the bottom bracket sits low and pedal strikes can be frequent, especially in rocky terrain, but that lowness benefits cornering. The spacing for rear tires is not wide enough, and anything more than a fat 2.4″ will not fit.

I love a bike that can climb (ok I am a climber), and the ASR 7 is an All Mountain bike that think’s it’s a cross country bike!

Strengths
– Climbing demon: the uglier the terrain the better
– Stiff, rigid and flex free frameset
– Plush meister
– Nice fire road spinner
– Corners well
– Long top tube

Weaknesses
– Spacing for rear not wide enough
– RP23 bottoms out easily
– Heavy frame
– Long top tube and tall standover may not suit everyone
– Tough maneuvering in tight spots (switchbacks)

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

MSRP $4150 (+180 Chris King) – Frame with Freeride Kit
$2000 (frameset w/ RP23)

Yeti ASR 7 url: http://www.yeticycles.com/#/bikes/ASR7/1/

Freeride Kit:

  • Fork Fox 36 TALAS RC2 Tapered
  • Rear Shock Fox RP23
  • Headset Chris King
  • Crankset Shimano SLX 22/36/Bash
  • Front Der Shimano SLX e-type
  • Rear Der Shimano XTR Shadow
  • Shifters Shimano XT
  • Cassette Shimano SLX 11-34
  • Chain Shimano
  • Wheels Mavic CrossLine
  • Tires Schwalbe Fat Albert 2.4
  • Brakes Shimano XT
  • Handlebar Easton Monkey Lite DH
  • Stem Thomson X.4 70mm
  • Grips Yeti Lockon
  • Saddle SDG Ti Fly C
  • Seatpost Thomson Elite

Frame Specs:

  • Travel: 7.0″
  • Weight (Med): 7.50 lbs
  • Colors: Ano. Black, Turquoise, White
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Rear Shock: Fox RP23 or DHX Air 5.0 – 2.5″ stroke, 8.5″ eye-to-eye
  • Bottom Bracket: 73mm shell, 113mm spindle
  • Rear Wheel: 135mm x 12mm
  • Front Derailleur: E-Type Front Derailleur Compatible
  • Seatpost: 30.9mm

Frame Features:

  • Custom hydroformed 7005 alloy tube set
  • Replaceable derailleur hanger
  • Tapered 1.5 to 1.125″ Head Tube
  • Carbon Dog bone link
  • 160-203mm rotors
  • Cablestop for seat dropper
  • ISCG 05 mounts
  • Titanium hardware
  • Custom bolt-on cables guides to run full housing

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous August 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Brian, Thanks for the very detailed review of the Seven, very useful information.

Wondering how the Seven or Mojo compares to the 575. I could not find a current review of this bike.

Have you reviewed the 575 recently?

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet August 28, 2010 at 4:40 am

The Mojo and the 575 are pretty close, Mojo is light and flickable, the 575 is stout, slight edge to climbing to the Mojo, while the 575 excels down and in the ugly stuff (up or down), the 7 is closer to the 575 then the Mojo, haven't had enough time on the Mojo HD to make a comparison, but I would think the same sort of things apply between the Ibis line and Yeti line (HD vs 7)

Reply

Anonymous November 29, 2010 at 3:47 am

Are you still riding the ASR 7?
Any issues?
Seems like a fun bike. With the long geo will a med fit a 6'1" rider or should I look for a large?

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet December 3, 2010 at 6:55 am

I am still riding the ASR 7 (6 months now) and it's still a great bike. I think a large would suit you best.

Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm

hi brian –

had a mojo SL for two year – liked it – never fully viscerally bonded, coming off a turner – thinking getting an asr5c – have you had any experience w that? thoughts?

simon

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet February 1, 2011 at 7:59 am

Simon,

I think you'd like the ASR 5C a lot, it's a very nice bike, and seems to get power to the ground really well, and soaks up bumps nicely (better than a stiff carbon based 5 inch suspension bike should?). I did a impressions at Interbike 2009 on one, refer to http://www.gramslightbikes.com/2009/09/interbike-2009-outdoor-demo-day-1.html

Reply

Varaxis June 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

How light did you get your ASR7? I'm picking one up and was wondering if you could recommend any upgrades. It's basically coming with full XT kit, 36 TALAS, DHX Air 5.0, EX1750 wheels, and has the Thomson 70mm stem and seatpost. I'm thinking dropper post for sure (unsure of which brand, likely a 0 setback one with 100-125mm adjust).

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet June 24, 2011 at 6:28 am

Varaxis, I sold the ASR7 and I am using a Mojo HD currently. I got the ASR 7 down to 29.5 w/o a adjustable seatpost, and around 30 with one. I highly recommend getting a 125mm post if you get one, and the Specialized and Rock Shox are my two faves

Reply

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