*Thanks to Jon Yaseen, Trevor Martin, and Telluride Gravity Works for the great review!
We hear it every visit to the bike shop: “this thing climbs like a trail bike and roosts like a DH rig!”
Can a 32-pound bike with tall, unconventional geometry, and tons of travel really live up to the claim? With a healthy bit of skepticism, we gave the Yeti AS-R 7 two chances to win us over by testing a size Small and a Medium, two days in a row. One look at the AS-R 7 gives the impression of mini-downhill bike: tall, slack, big travel, aggressive stance, and everything you don’t expect in a trail bike. Our first ride immediately changed these impressions.
Two things caught our attention with the AS-R 7. First, it truly does climb like a 5-inch trail bike. 32 pounds may seem hefty, but the bike can climb! Smashing up Prospect Trail was just as fast, and much more playful than most trail bikes. In terms of pedaling, this link-activated single pivot bike didn’t miss a beat. Small bump sensitivity is spot on, and the with the Fox Pro-Pedal feature, efficiency was never an afterthought. Secondly, yes, with seven inches of travel, the AS-R 7 does feel a lot like a downhill rig—she rails corners with the best of them, gobbles up trail, and wants to push you into the fastest lines.
All of which is to be expected out of anything stamped “Yeti,” and boasting so much travel. But what catches our attention is not how similar to a downhill bike the AS-R 7 can ride, but the agility. With so much travel I would expect this bike to eat up the trail, wanting to stay glued to the ground and excel in fast, wide-open, rocky terrain. While it does all those things, we found that to be especially true of the Size Medium bike. Yet a 5’10” and 5’7” rider found the Small AS-R 7 wanting to boost natural terrain, dive into corners, and leave the trail underneath you! The only thing that makes us hesitant to compare the poppy personality to a BMX is slightly long chain stays, which requires some effort and technique to manual. Shorter chainstays could make for the perfect descender, but at the expense of seriously impressive climbing performance. As she is, this bike is very balanced.
Rather than creating a burly cross country bike that can descend, Yeti inverted the approach by making something of a light-duty downhill bike that can climb. Not quite DH, not quite a trail bike: this is a serious all mountain ride that climbs and descends with the best, and all the while surprises with a snappy, poppy, playfulness of a BMX bike.
Here we have a new kind of trail bike. While most of the competition offers different materials, travel and geometry adjustements, etc, the AS-R 7 stands out as simple, straightforward, and capable of everything. Considering the weight in comparison to other trail bikes, and considering a lack of travel adjustment fork, this may not be the ideal all day epic, but it absolutely is your go-to shred around bike that can climb with the best of trail bikes, and will keep you grinning in free ride bliss.