Actually – I was more than comfortable. It didn’t matter how much time had passed between rides, every time I threw a leg over my Yeti ARC, I was right back at home. I knew its quirks, its capabilities, and where I could get away with pushing it past its limits and where I knew I’d be shedding some skin if I went any further. We had some grand adventures, too.
Long weekends in Telluride, post-work rides in Boulder, a rip down the 401 in Crested Butte. This bike was even ridden on both coasts of the United States. From sandy, fast trails in Florida to the loamy hero dirt of Oregon, the Yeti ARC had seen it all.
After a late season trip that took me through Idaho, Utah, and Oregon, the ARC was starting to show its age. The 9-speed SRAM X.0 derailleur was arthritic and shifts weren’t as crisp. Even after an oil and seal change the Fox Float was losing its suppleness. But it wasn’t just the bike giving up.
I had given up figuring out how to get rid of the creaks. Where I used to wax the frame and put touch up paint over chips, I now let them show and didn’t even think twice about hearing rocks slam into the downtube on a technical descent.
Even with all of that, I figured some much needed maintenance would get it back in shape. After installing a fresh set of brake pads and bleeding the lines, my deepest fears realized. That creak, that I blamed on the stiff crankshaft bolt, was not actually the crankshaft bolt. It was a hairline fracture along the weld where the top-tube meets the seat-tube.
The Yeti ARC was finally done.
I discovered the crack in October of last year. Five months have passed since I’ve ridden a mountain bike. At some point, it’s time to move on.
Meeting the Yeti SB4.5c
The Yeti SB4.5c is so foreign to me. It’s 7 years of technology that I haven’t been a part of, experienced all at once. Between its 29” wheels are molded carbon, 12 gears out back, a dropper post, and a ridiculously efficient suspension design.
My Yeti ARC was like watching VH1’s I Love the 90s. It was a rocket ship of nostalgia. Who cares if it wasn’t the best, the feelings it gave you of good times past were hard to let go.
Riding, hell even just looking at the Yeti SB4.5c, is the exact opposite. It’s like reading the latest Elon Musk headline. It’s the kind of bike that comes from someone saying ‘screw it – I’m going to build it the way I want to’ and conjures up images of exploration in far off lands.
It has 140mm of suspension travel in the front, but 114mm in the back. It’s headtube angle is 67.4 degrees (the ARC was at 71!). Mix that together with the roll-over capabilities of 29” wheels and you’ve got yourself a supercar that you can drive to the supermarket.
Riding the Yeti SB4.5c for the First Time
My first ride on the Yeti SB4.5c was a little awkward. I mean, after seven years with one bike, it’s not that easy being with something new. But the spark was there. And rather than focusing on the awkwardness and the fumbling and not knowing where to put my hands (no front shifter?!), I embraced this feeling of discovery. The larger wheels made it move in a different way. The slack headtube and longer travel put me in a completely different riding position. On descents, I used to use my saddle for stability, but with the dropper post, it was gone out of the way and my legs had to do all the heavy lifting.
During the second outing, things began to come together and I started to figure out how this bike was meant to be ridden. Before, I would ride technical lines like I used to on my hardtail. Scrub speed, pick a line, and correct along the way. Now, I just pointed it straight, unweighted, and rolled over it all.
On the climbs I was able to clear sections of trail I have attempted and always failed at. Out of the saddle, crank it over a few times, and there I was – on the other side of a staircase rock section.
The Yeti SB4.5c mellows out the trail, but not in a bad way by any means. Where before I rode delicately and with intent, the SB4.5c can be ridden with reckless abandon. The SB4.5c is the devil on your shoulder that tells you to quit your job, buy a convertible, and drive until you hit the salty air of the California coast.
Want to hit that rock garden at full speed? Go for it. Want to jump over that chicane instead of navigating through it? Do it. Feel the need to hang off the back over a root laden descent? Why not. Live a little, it says.
Looking Forward to What’s Next
It’s hard to sum up 7 years with a bike. It’s equally just as hard to see that frame sitting on my bedroom floor, never to be ridden again, all of its parts sold off to lowballers on eBay. If only they knew the highs and lows I experienced staring at my handlebar for hours on a horrendous climb, or tactfully threading my wheels through a maze of rocks without once touching them with a tire.
There’s an odd feeling of sadness and optimism starting up a climb on the 4.5c that I used to ride on the ARC. But I think I can learn to love again. And even if I don’t end up with it, the Yeti SB4.5c has shown me how.
Many thanks to Elevation Cycles in Downtown Denver for letting me take the Yeti SB4.5c out for the weekend. They have an awesome demo program, so if you’re in the market for a new bike, or just want to try something new, go see Chris, Greg, Phillip, Chad or any of the guys there.
I rode the Yeti SB4.5c on trails in both Morrison and Boulder, Colorado. In Morrison I rode Mt. Falcon and connected to Lair o’ the Bear, before looping back to the main trailhead. In Boulder, I took it out on the Walker Ranch loop just outside of town.