Right off the bat, let me say this will be a long term review of the SB5 over the next three months of riding, or so. The initial assessment is about what you’d think for a bike of this caliber and cost: pretty dang impressive. The focal point is of course is the rear suspension linkage, Switch Infinity, which takes a little to wrap your head around. The way it makes sense to me is to think of it as a car on rails which changes direction about three-quarters of the way through the travel, going from up to down. All of that allows the engineers to design the position of the lower linkage pivot point, in turn dialing in small bump compliance in the early part of the stroke, and big hit plushness towards the end. Blah, blah, blah. But what’s it ride like?
At 26 lbs., it’s no slouch at all in the weight department, although I wouldn’t consider it a flyweight either, but the uphill pedaling platform was faultlessly firm with no noticeable bob while pedaling seated. As for the flats and rollers, the SB5 was playful, rewarding efforts with a point-and-shoot ability. It ate up choppy stuff, and was a blast to slalom through repeated turns. And downhills were repeated rushes: the bike delightfully gripped, and predictably launched.
The Devil is in the Details
I set the sag at the usual 25%, but the rear suspension seems to ride high in its travel. Yeti has suggested that the eccentric pivot of the previous Switch platform used to load up on small, repeated hits. I’m happy to report there’s no such load up on the SB5. In fact, this bike has an almost unnoticeable rebound to it, giving it the feel of ample travel almost always at your disposal. Up front the Fox Factory 34 fork is plush, and there is now an upgrade option for a 36 with 150mm of travel.
One of the more noticeable features of the bike is the grip. The Maxxis Ardent (front) and Ikon (rear) tires encouraged me to go lower and lower in the corners, although they did feel a little heavy. I was curious how much of that grip was due to the tires, and how much was due to the suspension, so I swapped out the Maxxis (what’s the plural of Maxxis?) for some more familiar Schwalbes, and I’m here to tell you the SB5 just stays glued no matter what it’s shod with.
I’ve done a few other nice upgrades that I’ll cover in another article, because, frankly, all this writing about the Yeti SB5 makes me want to gear up and go for a ride in search of some bar-dragging nirvana. See you out on the trails.