First Look: Yeti ARC Carbon is a Fast, Agile 29er

This summer we tested carbon hardtail race bikes looking for the fastest on the planet. The Yeti ARC Carbon is the one that makes us feel the most like a kid again. Its BMX-like handling and rock solid feel instils the confidence to absolutely rip on tight singletrack.

At $4,300, the ARC Carbon is a big investment but on par with pro-level carbon builds from several brands. The bike can likely be found for less than retail price and is well engineered and built.

The test 2014 Yeti ARC Carbon

The Ride: 2014 Yeti ARC Carbon

Price: Approximately $4300

Available: Fall 2013

Who’s It For: Cross-country racers, singletrack fiends or any rider looking for a fast 29er that handles like a BMX bike on steroids.

Boring But Important: The looped rear triangle features a massive 12×142 through-axle, which makes the back end of this bike ultra-strong.

Stout 12×142 rear through-axel

Important Specs: Weight on the scale was 23lbs, 14 oz with pedals, and there are still tubes in this demo bike.

Killer! The new Shimano XT brakes are the best brakes we’ve ever tested.

Flaw: No bar-mounted fork lockout. We spend money to ensure that our bike is as stiff and efficient as possible, because that makes us faster. So, give us the bar-mounted ability to lock out the fork, to stiffen up the front end during a climb or a sprint.

Frame Made In: Taiwan

Ride Impressions: The frame has a compact geometry and a low stand-over height that leads to the BMX-ish handling I liked. Add superb brakes, stiff DT Swiss wheels and light weight on the scale and I’m grinning ear to ear. Although ~24lbs is not über-feathery, it feels lighter because the build is stiff and snappy. Other than converting the tires to tubeless, there’s not much to upgrade on this machine.

You May Notice: Yeti specs wide bars. Those who are a bit old school will spend some time getting used to the trend of going wide. We like the leverage and control they provide the rider.

Wide bars on the 2014 Yeti ARC Carbon

Bottom Line: This is a stout, stiff, wide-gripped hammering machine with big acceleration and big stopping power. Yeti has been in the game for a long time. We can tell they ride, test and tweak until things are done the way they like it. For their ARC Carbon, great handling mixes well with strength. We like it.

Contact Brand/More Beta: Yeti Cycles.

—Contributor Thomas Puzak lives in Bloomington, Minn. He is an athlete on Team GearJunkie.

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.