I’ve always had a soft spot for Yeti bikes. I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s simply the brand’s dedication to racing, and the exclusivity that filters through to its bikes as a result. Whatever it is, for many years I would get a tingling feeling in my nether regions every time I glimpsed the trademark yellow and turquoise paint job or spotted the no bullshit acronym FRO (for racing only).
Yeti marked its twenty-fifth year of racing and building bikes in 2010. To celebrate, the company released a limited number of anniversary edition bikes. Two models were chosen to represent this milestone: the 303 DH (their flagship downhill race bike), and the 575. The 575 has been around for a few years now, and has proven to be a popular, capable bike—capable of legging it with the best on the climbs and capable of killing it on the downs. The limited edition 575 is treated to the traditional livery and old school decals. Under the skin there have been some changes too. These changes will now be standard on all production 575s and include: a tapered head tube, an ISCG chain guide mount, a stiffened rear triangle, a lowered bottom bracket, and some tweaks to the rate of the rear shock. Our test bike was the premium of three build kits available in New Zealand and came fitted with a full complement of XTR parts, a spattering of Chris King and Thompson, and a custom painted Fox 32 150 RLC FIT fork. Nice.
Ten years ago I would have been a quivering mess had I been handed a limited edition Yeti to ride. I would have been inclined to hang it on the wall rather than risk tarnishing its infamous paint job. Stupid really, because you have to ride a Yeti to appreciate it, and this new 575 is no exception. It climbs very well, pedalling efficiently both with and without the aid of ProPedal, while maintaining plenty of traction over rough, steep sections.
It also tackles the descents decently too, favouring trails that are fast and flowy. On very rough trails the rear suspension occasionally felt as if it was blowing through its travel too easily, exposing the complexities of having to tune a shock to provide small bump compliance, pedalling efficiency and plushness while accommodating a very low bottom bracket. Rougher trails also illustrated that, although improvements have been made, there is still some discernible flex in the rear end. But on the majority of trails the 575 inspired confidence, handled all it was dealt, and elicited frequent expressions of delight.
There were three aspects that stood out in particular. First up was fit. I don’t know what it is about the Yeti fit but every one I’ve ridden instantly feels comfortable. They just feel right, both while climbing and descending. Next up is cornering. This bike absolutely rails corners. I’d put this down to: a) riding position, b) bottom bracket height, and c) tyres. Finally, the XTR groupset not only performed flawlessly but was also a pleasure to use; shifting was crisp and quick, and the brakes provided outstanding power and modulation.
Although I think there are still further improvements that could be made to the 575, the changes that have been made have added to what was already a very good bike and stepped it up another notch. You might never have the opportunity to own one of these limited edition 575s, but you should definitely consider the standard 575 from 2011. You’ll miss out on the retro paint job and sticker of authenticity, but still enjoy a great ride. LEIF ROY
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