Jared Graves has taken a sharp focus on the XCO National Championships - and his Yeti ARC looks to be the perfect weapon.
Jared Graves is one of Australia's most accomplished, and most versatile mountain bikers. Having raced, and suceeded, in just about every discipline of cycling, the rider who is currently signed with an international Enduro World Series (EWS) Team has shifted his focus beyond racing for Yeti at the EWS over the past 12 months.
With his international season cut short days before stepping onto a plane for a team camp in 2020, Graves was quick to fuel his competitive instincts, and find new goals closer to home. That saw the Queenslander set his sights on The Epic marathon race at Grandchester (he won) along with racing plenty of XCO (he wins a lot) and the Queensland Road Series (which he mostly rules with an iron fist).
It's clear that when he sets himself a goal, Graves sets about achieving it, doing the work required to be number one. That same mentality for doing precise preparation spreads to his bikes, and his Yeti ARC hardtail is the ideal example. The ARC has had a rejig of late as a trail hardtail to pair with the SB115 – but Graves has taken a scalpel to his ARC to make it a race rig for the climbing heavy XCO course in Maydena.
“Climbing is a big portion of the loop, with about 350m of climbing. Dropping to a 100mm Fox 32 XC fork instead of the 120mm 34 SC is ideal for the long climbs.” Graves has been training on this setup for months, so he's completely comfortable with the bike.
“The descent has a very small technical element, so the ARC was a clear choice as a bike that was suitable for the climbing.”
The whole rig weighs in at 8.9kg in a medium – and that's with the race number and the Garmin mount.
Gearing is a 32t chain ring on 175mm Shimano XTR cranks, with the 12-speed 10-45t cassette on the back. Graves admits that even dropping 10g from the 34t chain ring is appealling. Add in a shorter chain, lighter cassette and shorter cage rear mech and you can see the combined appeal of the 10-45t cassette.
Interestingly, Graves doesn't run a power meter on the bike - in part due to clearance, but also as he finds a power meter more useful for training on his road bike, given the variable environment and terrain off road.
Wheels DT Swiss. The carbon rims are not a matching pair, with a 25mm internal front and 30mm internal rear. Tyres are 2.2" with reinforced sidewalls, and no rim strips. Both ends have 20psi in them.
Brakes are Shimano M9100 levers with the M9100 two-pot front brake, but the 4-pot Trail rear brake. Graves admits that given how steep it is he would happily have the 4-pot front - but overall he likes the strength of the rear brake, while having a front brake that doesn't bight too much. The pads are stock Shimano organic compound. Rotors are both 160mm
The bars are a carbon flat bar, cut to 700mm, 31.8mm clamp and with a 90mm -25mm stem right on top of the bearing preload spacer.
"I have said that you never need a stem longer than 70mm, but with so much climbing on this course it helps being a little longer. Besides, at this angle it's only real 75mm or 80mm long."
The Fox 32 SC fork at 100mm has three volume spacers, and is at 87psi - a sign of how hard Graves pushes this poor bike. He doesn't run remote lock out, and believes that if you're pedalling properly, you don't need it.
The dropper post is 80mm, and when you look at the bike, you can see that every bolt has been swapped from stock to alloy or Ti - every gram counts when you're trying to shed them, and as someone reminded me this week, Jared Graves doesn't enter races to come second. He is here to win, and his bike shows it.