Took the yeti to MD for 2 laps. Of notable equipment change is the 70mm stem (down from 90mm) and the 2.4 xking tyres up front and 2.2 xking tyres rear.
Firstly for the tyres they seem like a step in the right direction. The squirmy feel that my old race kings had is all but gone. Overall the squirmy feeling didn’t really effect me riding but it always felt like the bike was twisting in odd ways. Sometimes you know how the back of your tyre just rolls over a root and it has that tendency to slide off the root? Usually the twisting feeling is most noticeable at times like this but now it feels like the tyre just steps off the root instead of twists/rolls off the root sideways if i am explaining myself properly. Secondly they roll decently. Not much difference from the old combo. Thirdly grip has definitely gone up on the rear. Simple look at the thread pattern will explain that without much debating. Fourthly (is there a fourthly?) the front end grip is improved slightly. The difference more noticeable is how the grip is more progressive. More predicatable in the way it grips. I always found the mountain king to have nice grip but it was slightly unpredictable depending on which angle you lean in on due to the thread pattern it had.
The stem is pretty interesting change. I was happy with a 90mm stem on the yeti and i reckon i still will be happy with one but it is good to change for the sake of changing just to try different things and find differences. Most learned pros suggest riding with a shorter stem. They say shorter stem = more brap but i never understood why. The new school bikes like the asr5-c is a perfect candidate for short stems because of the relatively long top tube. Because the top tube is long, you will still have a nice open chest to breath from even running shorter than normal xc stems.
The first impression i had riding the 70mm stem was the fact that it wasn’t a huge difference. It actually took me the second lap to find some of the interesting aspects of running a shorter stem. They are very subtle differences but i did notice them.
1. You have to use more body language in corners and in general. You can’t just sit back as much as and “drive” the bike through the corner. Really have to get your weight to work with the bike. For the first lap i didn’t and the steering was pretty lazy. Not a good feeling
2. Shorter stem = more range of motion for your upper body. I think for me this is the biggest difference. It allowed my upper body to be more involved in controlling the bike. This in turn makes the bike more playful. You have a bigger range of motion to control your bike.
3. Better with jumps in pretty much all respects due to natural weight bias.
4. A lot of people say you can work around shorter stems and their tendency to wander on steep climbs and that is absolutely true. You can work around anything just like you can work around riding a hardtail rigid. Still, it doesn’t mean the effects aren’t there. For the first lap i didn’t notice the wandering one bit. My body positioning accounted for it 100%. Towards the end of the 2nd lap i noticed the wandering start to show a little. Basically, if you are in tip top condition, you can pretty much notice no difference with climbing. However, once you start getting tired ie last 20km of your 100km dirtworks i reckon it will rear its ugly head and you will definitely notice it and consequently spend more energy to compensate for it.
Summary is this. For 99% of my rides i see the advantages of the 70mm stem for sure. I felt like i was having more fun on the bike for sure. It wasn’t a huge difference but something you can notice. If i was however to start racing the yeti on steep firetrails i might swap the 90mm stem back on.
edit :: i think the two fox forks are in need of some lube. I am noticing some mousey squeeky sound coming from the fox f120’s on the yeti. The other day i also noticed some black rubbing marks from stanchions. They rubbed off with difficulty but they looked like it was some rubber residue left by the seals. What puzzles me is the fact i have not seen a drop of oil on the stanchions at all. Usually after using the forks for this long i would expect the stanchions to be covered in oil from time to time. Not these two forks. Not a drop of oil. Hmmmmmm