[Editor’s Note: When our reviewers aren’t out testing various frames and forks and whatnot, what do their own personal builds look like? Our Reviewers’ Rides series asks some of our riders to detail their setups, and explain why they’ve chosen these particular frames and components.]
Noah Bodman, 5’9”, 155 lbs
2011 Canfield Yelli Screamy, size Medium
I’ve been on the Yelli for quite a while now, and over the last few years, it’s the only trail bike that I’ve held on to. Pretty much everything I said in my review three years ago still holds true. I just really, really like this bike.
I’ll start with the obvious: it’s a hardtail. So it’s relatively easy to maintain, and it goes uphill efficiently.
But as I said in my review, the noteworthy thing about the Yelli isn’t that it’s a hardtail (with all the typical benefits of one), it’s that the Yelli will rally the piss out of pretty much any trail. It’s fun almost everywhere. It’s not a crutch on steep technical trails. I send the Yelli off of decent sized drops and jumps on a regular basis, and it’s actually fun for that.
But I can also turn around and ride it in a cross country race the next day (albeit to a poor result, but that’s mostly my fault).
Obviously it’s not a replacement for a squishy bike, and I still probably spend more time on longer travel “enduro” type bikes, but the Yelli is a boatload of fun even on trails where a full suspension bike is the “better” choice.
Particularly in the spring and fall when bigger rides in the area are under snow, the Yelli is my go-to bike. It’s an easier bike to keep running when things are muddy, and it’s more fun on some of the mellower valley trails that don’t really necessitate a bunch of suspension.
The Build (with links to reviews):
Fork – 2012 Rockshox Revelation XX, 140mm travel
Drivetrain – XX1 / X01 mixed, except with XT cranks
Brakes – FSA Afterburner, 180mm rotor front, 160mm rotor rear
Seatpost – Gravity Dropper Turbo
Saddle – WTB Silverado
Stem – Thomson, 70mm
Handlebar – Sunline V1 flat, 762mm wide
Grips – ODI Ruffian
I had the Yelli set up 1×10 for a while, but I made the leap to 1×11 last year to make climbing steep stuff slightly less horrible. While 1×11 is an expensive proposition, it’s really, really nice. As I said in my X1 review, I won’t be buying anything with a front derailleur in the foreseeable future.
The tires on this bike get swapped out fairly often, mostly for the purposes of reviewing different options. I had the CST Ouster on there recently, but I preferred the WTB Trail Boss, at least when it’s not muddy out.
I’m generally a fan of bigger, knobbier tires, but especially on the hardtail, a faster rolling tire is nice. I’ve been liking the Trail Boss as it splits the difference between traction and rolling resistance pretty well. I have noticed that they get a little squirrely under hard braking after they’ve worn a bit, though. The Nicotine on the front is pretty similar to a 2.5 Maxxis DHF, which is entirely overkill for this bike, but it’s what I had lying around.
The Gravity Dropper post has been kicking around for quite a while. It’s kind of ugly, it has a bunch of fore-aft slop in it, and it only has three positions. But it’s super easy to rebuild and it just won’t die. It’s outlasted several other posts I’ve had, and it’s showing no signs of giving up. The only thing I’ve had to do to it is replace the rubber booty.
The main thing I’d probably change on this bike at the moment is the fork. It’s from the prior generation of Revelations, which means its pretty flexy and the damping is underwhelming. It has a handlebar mounted lockout that I almost never use, and it has a travel adjust feature … that I also never use.
In the past, I’ve had forks at 100mm, 120mm, and now 140mm travel on this frame, and I’ve concluded that 120mm is the sweet spot for the Yelli. While the 140mm fork is nice in that it slacks out the head angle a bit and provides a bit more cush on larger drops, I find that it raises the bottom bracket too much and the bike doesn’t lay into corners quite as nicely. I’ll probably be switching back to a 120mm fork in the near future.
I’ve been hemming and hawing over whether to switch to a fork with a 51mm offset (the current fork is 46mm); the larger offset would speed up the handling a bit, but probably at the cost of stability. When I first started spending a bunch of time on a 29er, I complained about the slow steering. But now I’ve gotten used to that slow-ish steering, and I’m not entirely sure that I want to make the bike twitchier. I’ve filed this under “First World Problems.”
The biggest issue I’ve had with this bike came a couple years ago when I broke my wrist while falling off a different bike. I was out of commission for a month or two, and my wife decided that since I wasn’t riding my bike, she was going to ride it for me. She fairly quickly concluded that she also needed a Yelli, and demanded that I accommodate. So I ended up having to pay for a bunch of x-rays of my wrist, and a second Yelli Screamy to hang in the garage.
That pretty much sums up my experience with the Yelli: there have been quite a few friends that have ridden mine, and then gone out and bought one for themselves (or something similar, like a Kona Honzo). It’s just a really easy bike to have fun on, and ultimately that’s all that counts.