Karl Withers’ fast and furious Yeti ARC
Karl Withers is a regular on the Brisbane cross-country and marathon race scene: his glorious red afro makes him kind-of hard to miss. A university student studying Engineering at Queensland University of Technology, Karl has also raced at a World Champs level for mountainbike orienteering, where he picked up a memento, the neat Czech cycling jersey he models here.
When Karl’s Trek Superfly got stolen during his European travels after last years’ MTBO World Champs race, he decided to have a change of brands and only had eyes for the latest cross-country hardtail from iconic brand Yeti: the ARC Carbon (ARC-C), their carbon 29-inch frame.
Working at the local bike shop, Karl had plenty of scope to access some custom spec for his new rig, which is certainly unconventional by industry standards, but makes for a light, fast, enjoyable and reliable rig.
Initially Karl loved the look of the black carbon ARC-C Frame, reckoning that “it looks pretty sharp”. The frame itself is full of character that the iconic brand bleeds, with touches like the Yeti motif on the top tube, badge on the seat tubs and graphics.
Karl thinks that the frame’s slacker-than-usual head angle (70 degrees on medium and large-framed ARCs) is “noticeable bombing sketchy stuff and fast trails and it has a lower than normal bottom bracket, which took a bit of getting used to but helps when cornering”; a departure from the steep angles of conventional cross-country rigs, but one that can pay dividends in more technical races and trail riding. Karl runs the rear brake cable through the internal routing, where the front derailleur cable would usually go, keeping the lines nice and tidy.
Karl was previously running a 1x10 set-up but was only able to run a 36T on the front, which was limiting with Brisbane North’s plethora of steep climbs when paired with a 11-36T cassette. With the Yeti, he mashed up a set of SRAM XO 32T cranks and says: “whenever I spin out now I figure I am going fast enough to pump and enjoy the track”.
Karl has gotten a little crazy on the drivetrain spec matching up the XO cranks with Shimano Zee rear deraileur and Shimano XTR shifters and brakes for “the crisp shifting feel and skill points” in addition to reliability and ease of service. Despite mashing two models together in one drivetrain, Karl says that it’s totally compatible and he hasn’t had any problems with it .
Karl also runs some funkylooking rotors from Superstar Components, which he rates as they look cool while being cheap; every cycling university student’s dream for bike components.
Karl was pretty keen to try out a Lefty fork on his bike, and used a Project321 adaptor to make it happen on the Yeti.
“I had never really ridden a Lefty before” he says, “but winged it because other people that have them always seem to rate them. Comparing it to normal forks it feels a lot smoother and active through the rough corners, pretty noticeable!”
Karl rates the Maxxis Ardent Race and Ikon Tyres for reliability, speed and for the trails in southeast Queensland where he usually rides.
He has got a set of stealthblack Project321 hubs laced to Stan’s Crest rims, which feature 120 points of engagement for instant acceleration. Karl says they “sound awesome” and are really helpful through slow technical trails and through rock-gardens.