Yeti's 303 WC may be a new machine, but it is very clearly just an evolutionary step away from some of their previous designs. The new bike features a number of changes, including the addition of fork bumpers that are integrated into the frame and a tweaked rear suspension configuration - more on that below - but the gram counters will be jumping for joy to learn that Yeti has managed to remove nearly two pounds of material from the frame compared to the 303 RDH - a whopping number. How did they do it? The answer lies in the 303 WC's frame tubing that is drastically lighter than what Yeti has used for their past downhill bikes. All this means that Yeti will be discontinuing their well liked 303 RDH in favour of the new WC, a bike that has been in development for two full seasons now. Yeti 303 WC details:
• Replaces the 303 RDH for 2012
• Rear wheel travel: 8.25"
• More linear, but steeper, shock rate for better small bump compliance and heavier bottom out resistance
• Vertical wheel path (303 RDH had curved path
) via the single upright rail
• Frame weight: 9.9 lbs (303 RDH weighed 11.5 lbs
• Scheduled for February production
• MSRP: $3000 USD
Unlike the 303 RDH, who's horizontal rail controlled the suspension rate and a single main pivot determined the bike's wheel path, the 303 WC makes use of a vertical rail that dictates its axle path. The swingarm is mounted to a shuttle (left
) that travels up and down on the rail as the bike goes through its travel, making for a vertical axle path that differs greatly from the 303 RDH's curved trajectory. Notice the shuttle's grease nipple that allows you to purge the bearings of any contaminates and fill it with new lubricant. The rail is bolted to the front of the bike's square shaped seat tube (right
) via two bolts. While Yeti made no reference to it, they could conceivably use rails that are set at different angles to the seat tube in order to alter the 303 WC's wheel path, adding yet another tuning element to the bike.
The bike's suspension uses two different design elements - the vertical rail and the linkage activated shock - that Yeti says allows them to tune the wheel path (controlled by the rail
) and the suspension rate (controlled by the linkage
) separately from each other. Yeti no longer mounts the Fox DHX RC4 to the upper link as seen on previous designs, with the rearward shock mount connected via a CNC'd extension on the new 303 WC. This piece effectively lengthens the shock, allowing it to be bolted in place where it would have otherwise been difficult to do, and helps to create a more linear and progressive stroke as per the team rider's requests. On the trail this translates to both more small bump compliance added bottom out resistance.
Yeti has built this nifty main pivot cover on the non-drive side of the 303 WC that not only makes for smooth lines, but also keeps the mud buildup to a minimum and protects the bearing from the elements. The is the pivot that attaches the swingarm to the rail mounted shuttle, allowing it to both rotate on the sealed bearing pivot and also travel up and down vertically on the rail.
The 303 WC frame and shock weigh in nearly two pounds lighter than what the 303 RDH was sitting at, 9.9 lbs versus 11.5 lbs. This difference certainly brings the new WC more in line on the scales with some of its competition, and it shouldn't be too difficult to have a completely built 303 WC sitting well under 40 lbs without having to resort to a questionable build. No, weight isn't everything, but there is no denying that it is a bonus to be able to put together a reasonably light bike that you know will last and stand up to some abuse throughout the season.
Yeti has decided to make the smart move of using integrated fork bumpers on the new bike. This means that, unlike standard bumpers that are on the fork's stanchion tubes, these will always be in the correct position to protect the frame when the worst does happen, as well as making it easier for mechanics to slide the fork tubes out of the crowns without having to deal with troublesome bumpers. The front of the bike also sees a change to accept integrated headsets within its tapered head tube, letting you get those bars as low as you desire.
There is a lot going on with the new 303 WC, but you can't forget about its iconic head tube badge.
Visit the Yeti website
to see their entire lineup.