Factory Visit: Find Out What Pushes Yeti Cycles Forward
Sometimes a funny feeling overtakes you, when entering a building with history. Maybe it’s the Louvre in Paris, the Alamo in Texas, or, with a much more recent history, Yeti headquarters in Golden, CO.
Throughout the years, Yeti has been at the front of mt bike racing and bringing new bike technology to the market. Of interest to us, the 575 really kicked off a new era of “trail” bikes. And Yeti continues to push bike design, with their “Switch” technology, with the market leading SB-66 and other bikes.
Upon entering Yeti, you’re greeted with bikes. With lots of cool stories to be shared between them. The giant chainring on Curly’s bike, the drop bars on Tomac’s ride, or the 4X World Championship winning frame of Jared Graves. Yeti definitely has a special place in mt bike history, that’s for sure. But they’re doing everything they can, to NOT rest on their laurels. Yeti is going for it, and they want to design the best bikes out there.
One of the ways they achieve that goal is with the daily lunch ride. Just as it sounds, every day around lunch time, the Yeti crew (owners and employees) heads out for a 1 hour ride on the local trails. And what local trails they have to choose from (Apex and Dakota Ridge, among others), from their front door. Yeti is strategically, and very purposefully, placed between 5 trailheads in the foothills of the great Rocky Mts. With a very temperate climate in the area, riding can realistically happen 9 or more months of the year.
Chris Conroy, Yeti owner and President, tells me about the Tribe mentality, which pulses through Yeti employees on the lunch ride, and Yeti bike owners world wide. “Plain and simple. We’re passionate about riding.” He further explains the mt biking runs deep to the core of each and every person associated with Yeti. Maybe it’s Ross Milan, “Crusher”, who caringly puts your bike together in the back. And oh yeah, he raced World Cup 4X. Or maybe its the guy at the campfire, handing you a beer at the annual Tribe gathering, who shyly explains that he owns 15 Yetis and wouldn’t miss this event “over my dead body!”
Furthermore, “We design and make bikes that we feel good about, bikes we believe in.” The guys and gals at Yeti like to ride bikes, that’s what it’s all about. They like having fun and you quickly find out, through the mud and sweat on their faces after a ride, with a prideful smile, glancing between you and the Yeti you just rode, “Whatch-ya think?”
While touring the building, taking photos and generally seeing cool bits of Yeti history everywhere, I politely asked if a couple of the sales guys wouldn’t mind posing for me at the foosball table. Before you know it, two guys jump up, are playing semi-pro level foosball, all the while taunting each other with rowdy jokes. Then a third guy jumps up, just to heckle the other two, reminding who beat who last week and whose turn it is to buy beer. These were sales professionals only seconds before, and now they’re out for blood.
And this feeling runs through Yeti. They like to do well. They like to build amazing products. And they like to win. But I don’t really think it’s a win at all costs sort of situation. I think it’s more of a, “win, because we’re living it to the fullest, and we have passion for life” sort of deal. It’s very tangible at Yeti. And fun to be around.
Yeti is certainly on pace for a very exciting summer. They have an incredible cast of characters set to race on the international and domestic race circuits, and they can barely keep bikes in the hands of their dealers, that’s how fast they fly off the shelves. And then there’s the new gear coming to market. Conroy will only smile and coyly remark, “We have some really cool stuff coming down the line.” He refused to give any timeline. We prodded a little more. After much harassing, he says this, which I believe is another core belief at Yeti, “I would rather do less product…better.” Yeti doesn’t have a huge product line, but they do have an awesome product line.
Not only does Yeti seem to be in a very good place right now, but they also seem happy with that place. Many things are going their way. Jared Graves will probably kick ass again this summer on the Enduro World Series race scene. But with a partner, Richie Rude, current DH Jr. World Champion. And they’ll both have full factory support, as Yeti recently announced plans to shift focus of support from World Cup downhill racing to looking after their all-star squad on the EWS.
From the lunch ride, to the Tribe gathering, to building products they believe in, to riding mt bikes that make a lot of people smile, Yeti is right on track. Check them out, and maybe call ahead and join a daily ride. It’s an open invite for cool people. And discover the fire and passion that pushes Yeti forward.
Words: Daniel Dunn Photos: Robin Schmitt, Daniel Dunn
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