In the 303R-DH preview
we gave you all of the information and facts about the 303R-DH, however we left you hanging when it came to information on how it rides. Looks and technology only come into play so much when you're looking into purchasing a bike, and most riders will find themselves asking other riders what they think of this bike or that bike. In order to skip you having to talk to your best friend's, sister's, boyfriend's dad who has an old Yeti
, I am going to tell you exactly what my impressions of the Yeti 303R-DH were.Video and details inside
,In my time spent on the 303R-DH I have had more people ask me what I thought about it, what I think about the rail, and how I afforded this machine than any other test bike that I have had the opportunity to ride. My answer for the first question is simple, I never got a chance to ride the 303-DH, but Yeti's Zero Loss Technology seems really effective, and unique compared to other suspension systems. I'd go further to explain its cornering abilities, and how the eccentric shock mount allows me to adjust angles as well as lengths, and not affect the suspension's motion at all. A 'tunable beast out of a box' is what I would refer to it as, and finish by letting them know I've enjoyed every minute.
When I first saw the 303R-DH I was excited with the fact I finally got to ride a Yeti. The rail suspension design is something that always struck me as different, but still very effective at providing a fixed shock rate. I always wondered what it would be like to ride, with such a 'high tech' design for such a 'low tech' machine, the bicycle. Don't get me wrong we have come a long way, but Yeti always struck me as slightly ahead of the game in the technology department. That being said when I first slung a leg over the 303R-DH I was pleasantly surprised by how at home it felt. The high single pivot design has proven itself effective in the aid of pedal bob in the past, and with sealed cartridge bearings at all the pivots, the suspension's motion felt flawless, and was accented by the Fox RC4 rear shock. My 303R-DH came pre-built in the 64.5 degree head tube option, the setting I wanted to try it in first. Once the seat height was adjusted correctly I felt comfortable right off the bat. The standover height was sufficient at 29.5 inches for my medium, wheelbase was slightly shorter at roughly 45.5 inches for that 'nimble' feeling, and the top tube length was spot on at 23.5 inches. After some minor tweaks component wise it was time to hit the trails.
The first ride on the 303R-DH for me was at one of the most physically demanding hills around, Whistler Bike Park. Now you may laugh, but doing run after run, jump after jump, stutter bumped out berm after another, your body gets beat, and your bike gets beat. But it's an awesome place to do testing, and tweaking due to its lift access, and vast trail network. After a couple setup runs I had the Fox 40 RC2 fork and the RC4 rear shock dialed in, and ready to roll. I like my suspension served light on the low speed compression, and medium on the high speed. I like my rebound medium, and my pre-load to be minor. The adjustability, and sensitivity of both dampers was effective in adjusting my suspension to exactly what I wanted. After getting my suspension setup the bike felt fast, and active. Yeti works a fair amount in conjunction with Fox Suspension and I honestly could tell. The 303R-DH performed flawlessly with the Fox RC4 rear shock, and the Fox 40 RC2 front fork. The Zero Loss system was effective at providing good ground contact, and control at speed, and it added a level of confidence. Whistler's notorious stutter bumps were eliminated by the minimal low speed compression, while the larger bumps, jumps, and drops were dampened well by the high speed compression. Everything felt inline, and dialed in, which is a nice feeling to have your first time on a bike. After a day of trail riding fun I left Whistler with a smile on my face.
Once I was back home and riding more often, more and more characteristics of the 303R-DH became evident. As stated earlier its high single pivot design helped it pedal well, and the adjustability of the suspension allowed me to adjust to a more pedal friendly setting if need be. It was noticeable that the 303R-DH was really good at cornering as well, and the tires accented its abilities. Its smaller wheelbase, and central weight design helps it tuck into corners well, and get good pop out of them. The Minion DH tires proved to be very effective in dry, and wet conditions. The Maxxis Minion tires have been known to be really effective tires in any condition and this test period gave them a chance to touch down on some varied terrain styles. The compound used on the Minion tire allowed me to run excessive pressure for the conditions, while the Super Tacky compound helped me stay rubber side down.
Along the way many fellow riders brought up a good note, how does the rail work in muddy, or dust conditions? The rail system is constantly lubricated using a grease carriage, however grease is a great substance for dust to stick to, and mud tends to get everywhere. Not once during my whole test on the Yeti 303R-DH did I feel any restriction, or resistance from the rail system, period. With its central location on the frame, the rail was hidden from the elements for the most part. I never caught my pants, or even touched it with my body, or any garment that I could tell. It's compact and effective design kept the dirt out, the rail lubed, and the Yeti running perfect.
Through out my time spent on the 303R-DH it saw dry, wet, rocky, loamy, fast, and tight trails. It saw blown out berms, railed berms, raked berms, ladder jumps, dirt jumps, no jumps, and make shift jumps. During this time I tried as a rider to put myself in awkward situations, and put the bike in as many dodgy lines as possible too. This meant a couple good crashes, a couple close calls, but a whole lot of good memories. No matter where I took the Yeti it felt right at home, it felt like you were in control as a rider. The bike felt low slung and fast, but not too low to the ground. With the correct amount of sag adjusted you could be quick on the gun to pedal, or pumping as hard as you can into the same corner, and both situations would feel natural and effect you in a positive way.
I allowed a couple fellow testers to ride the 303R-DH to get a second opinion and many common thoughts were shared. First off, the Zero Loss Suspension System worked very well in conjunction with the shocks that were spec'd on the bike. Second, the eccentric shock mount proved to be very functional, and the bike rode great in all 3 settings, 64, 64.5, and 65. Each setting adjusted bottom bracket height accordingly as well, with a range of 13.85 to 14.35 inches. The last comment was usually more of a question, "Why does it have a steer tube mounted stem?". Many riders felt as Yeti is known to be a "racer's bike", it should have been spec'd with a direct mount stem. I was on the fence about this, as the steer tube option allowed for an amount of adjustment for bar height, however I cannot deny the fact that direct mount stems are nice, and it would have been my choice in this case.
The paint scheme on the 303R-DH looks fast, and bold. The paint is high gloss and deep, but not so resistant to scratches (we covered the frame in 3M). The rear triangle was coated in a black matte paint that was textured to the touch and tended to have a dirty appearance. It isn't the kind of paint you can wipe dirt off of, you really have to wash it. The bold Yeti graphics are prominent, but not oversized in relation to the top, and down tubes, and a subtle "Hand Built - Race Bred" decal is placed on the down tube for added flare. Nice touches in the graphics department include the single arrow on the lower paint split, and the Yeti man on the top tube.
There are a few things I want to note about my time spent on the 303R-DH before I wrap things up. When I got handed the bike a rule was made, no tail gate shuttles (this was the Editor's rule, not Yeti or Calgary Cycle). The 303R-DH has cables routed on the down tube portion of the bike, meaning that they could potentially get wrecked during a shuttle run. Would like to have seen different cable routing. The Fox RC4 rear shock was awesome, and performed flawlessly, however its high speed compression adjustment required you to use an Allen key to adjust it - tough if you are not rocking a pack on rides. And last but not least, on the drive side of the bike, where the seat stay portion of the rear triangle connects with the swing arm, the bolt wanted to back out. I tried lock tite, but it seemed to rattle loose during hard rides.
All the questions that I had in my head about how a Yeti rail bike rode, and how their unique suspension system worked have been answered in the time I spent on the 303R-DH. I was very pleased with the overall construction, appearance, and ride that it provided me with, and I would highly suggest the 303R-DH to anyone in the market for an active, adjustable, and reliable DH race bike. With a Canadian MSRP of $6300 the price tag is a little high, but I feel that the ride, and the overall construction and build of the 303R-DH
is worth the money. For more information check out Yeti Cycles.com
In Canada, check out Calgary Cycle.com
for more info on all things Yeti. We'd like to thank them for providing the 303R-DH for this long term test.