Back in January I took delivery of a new YT Jeffsy AL; basically YT’s
bottom of the range entry-level 29er trail bike. Since then I’ve not had much opportunity to ride it, initially over a squeamishness to get the bike ‘blooded’ with the Surrey B*st*rd Glue Mud, then more recently through incapacity thanks to my collarbone injury.
Now I’m pretty well recovered and have managed to commute to work once or twice over the past few couple of weeks. That has coincided with what can only be described as perfect trail conditions which has resulted in me notching a total of about 70 miles on the Jeffsy. So this can only be a few initial thoughts on how the bike rides.
I guess I should start off with a note about what I’ve been riding until now. I’ve had the 2007 Orange Five as my principal trail bike for nearly ten years, interspersed with slightly more modern machinery now and again – a 2011 Kona Big Unit in both geared and singlespeed guises, a Marin Pine Mountain semi-fat rigid bike and in all honesty, not a lot else. So my experience with riding a modern trail bike is quite limited; it’s one of the reasons I’ve written fewer reviews – I’ve nothing to review and not a lot to say!
Anyway, much like my switch to disc brakes was prompted by a realisation I couldn’t keep up with my mates without them, slowly my bikes have fallen behind the curve. For the past couple of years I’ve not really been feeling the MTB love and one of the reasons has been the Five. I’ve continuously maintained it, kept it up to date with dropper posts and 1x drivetrains and oval rings and decent tyres and new shock and so on, but it just wasn’t working for me. Probably it’s best configuration was actually a 3x drivetrain and stiffer wheels, but that’s long way behind it now.
So the first thing to note on spending time on the Jeffsy is what a massive step forward over the Five the YT actually is. I feel like I’ve been missing a lot over the past few years. The most notable improvement is in the cockpit, which feels much more spacious than the Five. It’s longer but also stiffer, with the 35mm bars and short tapered headtube making everything much more precise. The net result is the Jeffsy is much more predictable to steer and control and takes far less effort to do so.
Geometry is also a factor – it’s a far longer wheelbase than the Five and those big wheels with 2.4 rubber really provide a totally different riding experience. So far I’m running it in the higher setting I think but it can go half a degree or so slacker as well which I will experiment with in due course.
Suspension-wise, I wonder if I need to play with the ‘bottomless’ tokens and pressures a bit, the bike is supple to begin with but ramps up quickly and was a bit pattery over rough surfaces until I turned the rebound down a couple of clicks – there’s more to come there I think, but it already feels better. It’s nice to have genuine platform to push against rather than the Five’s shock-based solution, but a couple of times I’ve wondered if there’s a hint of flex in the YT on cornering.
The most likely culprits are the cheapish DT Swiss wheels which could be wider and lighter and might not be as stiff as they could be. Again, more time is needed and possibly a switch of rubber. The Onza Ibex tyres might also be a factor as there is a gap between the centre tread and the side knobs as you lean them over. They are fine on the hard trails at the moment but a couple of patches of clay have me feeling a little wary of them and I’ve not yet set them up tubeless. They feel to be holding the bike back a little but would be ideal for a UK trail centre and I’ll live with them for now.
Another unexpected discovery is I quite like the 2×10 set up. Having singlespeeded for a long time and run a 1x set up for a good 1000 miles or so on the Five, I’m still not convinced it suits me, although the Five didn’t have a big enough cassette to be fair. The thing is though, I’m more of a spinner than a grinder and as such the closer ratios of the 2×10 set-up is great. I thought I’d be in a rush to switch but actually I will stick with this arrangement for now – 1x gear jumps are a bit large for me.
So far, first impressions are very positive and my main concern – the bike’s 14.2kg weight – isn’t an issue at all. It really covers ground rather well but feels very stable when pointing downhill – as a Tankslapper PR showed. So I’m looking forward to putting a lot more miles on this bike!