Karl Withers’ fast and fu­ri­ous Yeti ARC

Australian Mountain Bike - - Thehub My Ride - WORDS AND PHO­TOS Anna Beck

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.

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