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Pro bikes, November 28, 2005

Jared Graves' Yeti 303

Photos ©: Steve Medcroft
The Yeti comes spec'd with a Fox 40 fork.
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This prototype SRAM X.0 trigger
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The Yeti 303 rear triangle
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Graves' runs SRAM's X.0
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DT Swiss Downhill rims
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To make the bike lighter
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Fox DHX 5.0 Coil Shock.
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A close shot of the rails
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The back side
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The man and the machine
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Downhilling on rails

By Steve Medcroft

Jared Graves had a hell of a season. He capped off his NORBA Nationals campaign in Mount Snow, Vermont (Aug 26-28) by winning the Downhill and Mountain Cross series.' He even performed well enough in the four Dual Slalom events that had there been a DS series winner, he would have taken that as well. We caught the twenty two year old Aussie from Toowoomba rolling his Yeti 303 through the pits between qualifying and finals the week before at Snowshoe and had to get a closer look at his team-issued Yeti 303.

Graves started by telling us about the frame. Custom made in Yeti's Golden, Colorado factory from Reynolds 7005 (front triangle) and 6061 (rear triangle) aluminium tubing, Graves says he's had a lot of input in the 303's geometry. "I wasn't too picky; I just needed a comfortable cockpit length, a forty five-inch wheelbase, a sixty five-degree head angle and a fourteen inch high bottom bracket; give or take a millimeter or two."

What's most unique about Yeti's design is not the geometry though - it's the way they integrate the suspension. Yeti says they studied video of their downhill racers to help create a design using rails instead of traditional pivots; a design that tightly controls the wheel path for maximum efficiency.

Yeti says they wanted the wheel to first move backwards during suspension compression - to clear the object that was causing the compression in the first place - then travel straight up and down to avoid impacting drive train and braking forces. "The rails are like hardened steel," Graves says about the design. "The cartridges, which are all ball bearings, seals and self lubricating material, just slide over the rails. The rear end then has to follow where the rails take it. If it doesn't go backwards first, it gets caught on the object you hit and slows you down. It's something you really notice when it gets fast and rough."

Graves and the team provide weekly feedback to the Yeti factory. "This is probably the third 303 I've gotten," he says. "We're constantly making changes to tweak the geometry and get the bikes lighter. The great thing about Yeti is that they make everything in house so they can whip out a new frame super quick with the changes we want."

The current incarnation of the 303 allows for nine inches of travel but Graves says he runs his a bit lower. "I like a low handlebar so I run the fork (Fox 40) at seven and half inches." Besides the amount of travel, Graves says he pretty much leaves the fork alone. "I fiddle with the high and low speed compression knob for different courses but apart from that, I pretty much always run the same rebound and same preload."

He takes the same leave-it-alone approach to the rear suspension as well. "I fiddle with the rebound a little bit and if the course is really pedaly, I put a bit of pro pedal in it - just to make it pedal a little better even though it's not as responsive over small bumps."

As for the rest of the bike, Graves says he sticks with a stock downhill setup. "We use DT Swiss 6.1 D rims, they're standard downhill rims. Maxxis Swamp Things because of this course. The Hayes hydraulic brakes are the standard downhill setup."

SRAM provides drive train components. "We run the X.O's instead of the stock X.9's because they're a little lighter and just as tough. And maybe a little stiffer." The XO trigger shifter on Graves' 303 is a prototype. "You can adjust the position of the thumb shifter," he says. "Before, the thumb shifter was up high so you had to get your thumb up to get to it. I have it adjusted with the shifter really low."

The other notable customization to Graves' 303 are the words "Just Pin it Ya Fairy" written in permanent marker on the top tube. "That's a message to myself," Graves explains. "It's good to look down in the start gate and remind yourself that it doesn't really matter how the race goes, just have fun." Graves says he added the note after a bad crash at World Cup finals in 2003. "The next year, I said to myself that I didn't want to crash at all. I rode way too conservative and I was annoyed after the race; I would rather have crashed than ridden like a girl. So the note is a reminder that when I'm about to race to give it a good go and don't worry about anything. If you crash, you crash. Everyone has their bad days so no worries."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Steve Medcroft

Full specification

Frame: Yeti 303 7005 Aluminum front triangle, 6061 Aluminum rear triangle, and suspension rails instead of pivots. 11 lbs. Available in turquoise.
Fork: Fox 40
Rear shock: Fox DHX 5.0 Coil Shock

Cranks: Race Face Atlas, 38-tooth single chainring
Chain: SRAM 9-Speed
Chain Guide: E.Thirteen Single Ring Security
Rear derailleur: SRAM X.0
Brakes: Hayes Mag HD hydraulic
Levers: Hayes Mag HD hydraulic
Rear sprockets: SRAM 9-Speed 12-26


Wheels: DT Swiss 6.1D Rim, DT Hugi FR hubs, DT Swiss spokes
Tires: Maxxis High Roller

Bar: Race Face Diablos
Stem: Race Face Diablos
Headset: Chris King

Pedals: Shimano PD-M545

Seat post: Race Face Next Carbon
Saddle: WTB Laser V Team DH