Reviewers’ Rides – 2015


Sram 11spd: I have had nothing but great results with the Sram 11spd group. I am running the Sram X1 chain and X01 cassette to save a few bucks, and the XX1 shifter and derailleur. The shifter and derailleur are still the original bits from my First Look review several years ago, and have yet to see any wear beyond some scuffs.

Race Face Next SL cranks:The Race Face Next SL cranks are the lightest production cranks on the market, have held up to 800 miles of riding so far without issue, and I have yet to drop a chain off the 30t narrow-wide direct mount chainring. The bottom bracket bearings, however, seem to only last about 500 miles or so, but they are inexpensive and easily replaced.

TIME XC8 Pedals: I rode Shimano pedals for a long time, but started riding bikes on TIME ATAC pedals back in the late 90s. After a few frustrations with the Shimano pedals, I decided to toss my 15 year old TIMEs back on, loved the way they rode—they are a bit quicker in and out—and have a touch of float without floating all over the place. I was inspired to order a modern set. I am now fully converted back to TIME.


Race Face SIXC bars, Turbine Stem: I run 35mm clamp diameter SIXC bars, uncut at 800mm and in the 20mm rise configuration. I pair them with the 35mm clamp, 60mm long Race Face Turbine stem. The package is super comfortable, and the 35mm oversized clamp is notably stiffer than 31.8mm bars and stems when I yank on them.

Marshal Olson Reviewers' Ride, Blister Gear Review
Marshal Olson on his Yeti ASR-C 29

Thomson Stealth Post: The Thomson post comes across as a very high-quality item. I am not nuts about internally routed anything, but the quality of this post suggests that I am not going to need to be screwing around with it much.

SDG Falcon Ti Seat: After riding a bunch of saddles last summer, I finally settled on the SDG Falcon TI. My tender bits like it, simple as that.

ESI Racer’s Edge Grips: These silicon grips might only last 20-30 rides, but they don’t slip around, they dramatically reduce hand pump, and are super quick and easy to pop on and off. I love them, and I’m OK with spending $15 every month or two on grips.


Sram XO Hubs: These things roll fast like a high end ceramic bearing hub; have plenty of engagement (54 points of engagement, ~6.7 degrees between points); are weight competitive compared to DT, King, Hadley, etc.; and come in a little less expensive as well. The XO hubs build up nice, and have treated me really well thus far.

Sapim Laser Spokes: They are light, cheap, and have held up very well to the first 400 miles. I have not retouched the initial wheel build, and the wheel remains straight. Not sure what’s not to like about them so far.

WTB KOM i23 Rims: Like the spokes and hubs, these were an experiment. They have held up very well, and combined with the Sapim Laser spokes, give a bit more forgiving ride to the short travel rig than carbon wheels. The total wheelset is 1590g, has been plenty durable over 400 miles, and comes in around $650 retail.

WTB Trailboss 2.4 Tires: This is yet another experiment that I have been pretty pleased with. At 200+lbs, I’ve found that I just can’t ride tires lighter than 800 grams without cutting them constantly on rocks. And coming from a gravity background means I push pretty hard on the corner knobs coming out of a turn. I wouldn’t mind a bit more grip at high lean angles while pushing hard, but the tires are super predictable, roll pretty fast for what they are, are not sketchy at speed on the loose-over-hardpack that is so prevalent in Utah, and have a nice engaged braking surface for when the trail gets a bit more rowdy.

All in all, I am really digging this setup. It is quite versatile on singletrack that ranges from flat, smooth, and buff trails, to fast, rough, and technical rides.

While this bike is quick and responsive, it is not particularly forgiving, especially when just cruising around rather than riding completely focused. On the local trails that I spend 95% of my time riding, I have yet to feel like I was riding too little bike. I really enjoy feeling fresher after a long day in the saddle, and being able to cover a little more ground when I am riding with time constraints.

7 comments on “Reviewers’ Rides – 2015”

  1. Marshal,

    You’re a big dude (relative to many cyclists)…any other frames you particularly liked (or disliked). And why? (sizing/flex/etc).


    • Hey Shawn,

      Great question. I have had some frame flex issues with older titanium hard tails, and super light steel bikes, but these days when there is a little more frame flex than I might like I just make it up with wheels.

      Coming from heavy and very stiff alloy DH bikes, The enduro 29er I rode most of last season was not particularly stiff laterally, but moving away from alloy wheels and switching to wide carbon rims made all the difference and really helped that bike.

      The wheels on the Yeti here are super light (1590g @ 29er), but ride great. The overall frame/wheel setup is just a shade less stiff than the enduro with 200g heavier carbon wheels.

      I could easily bump the spokes on my current wheelset to alpines and the rims to something like the DT Ex571 and exceed the overall stiffness of the Enduro 29 with carbon wheels. I just have yet to convince myself that it’s worth it at this point.

    • I am sorry, just re-reading your question, it looks like I incorporated a reply for the lower question into yours, sorry!

      for me it’s been a constant progression of bikes since the late 90’s. Some haven’t worked out the way I hoped (ex. moots ybb), and some have very fond memories (m2 sworks, yo eddy). Up until about 2004, I just rode xc bikes, and predominately singlespeeds, and even then I rode the widest handlebars (710mm) and about the shortest stem (100mm) that was available back then. I did learn pretty quick that titanium and marshal were not very compatible due to flex. But steel was great, as was fat chance geometry.

      From 2004 to 2011 I rode predominately gravity rigs, and the geo, suspension and handling of bikes changed radically in that window.

      It took a couple summers of dropping from 170mm to 160mm to 140mm to finally get comfortable with how insanely capable modern trail bike are, and how irrelevant the actual wheel travel is.

      At this point, I feel pretty well settled on a geometry framework that blends a descending oriented background with all day pedaling comfort, but it took a ton of experimentation, and is really only since mid summer last year that I really feel dialed on a trail bike again.

      Anyhow, hope that answers your question?

  2. I currently ride a very similar setup on the Northern Colorado Front Range, and I’m looking to upgrade from a 2010 Ellsworth Evolve (alloy) to the 2015 Yeti ASRC. Have you experienced much frame flex? As I’ve started the research, I only came across one warning about bigger riders on this particular bike. I’m 6”4″ and 212 with a pack and probably not as aggressive a descender as yourself (although part of this bike’s allure is its slackened head tube). Thanks for any insight you can offer.

  3. Hi Creighton,

    I would be concerned about the stock Stan’s Crest wheels on the ASR build.

    As a big guy I would suggest swapping to something like i9 trails or nice hand built wheels.

    The frame itself is plenty stiff for how one would ride the bike. It is not stiff enough to slap burms all day, but it’s not for that.

    Hope that helps

  4. Hi Marshal,
    As a big guy (6’3 215) I always appreciate your comments and reviews, especially this article and your comments in another article on bike fit in relation to reach, chainstays and head angle. Was wondering if you had a chance to ride or had any opinions regarding the Yeti SB4.5c and the Pivot 429trail? Any insights you may have would be appreciated. I’m in Northern California and ride a mixed bag of trails here. Currently on a Cannondale Jekyll 26er

  5. I have a new ASRc on the way and I’m going to set it up with a Monarch RT3. My question for you is did you find what tune is recommended for the Monarch when paired with the ASRc? I see that several stock settings are available and want the best performance for the ASRc. Thanks!


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