It would be a big understatement to say that Golden, CO bike company Yeti has been on a roll lately. Starting with the enduro-destroying SB6 and following up with more superb carbon models like the SB5c, any new bike has a lot to live up to. What will Yeti bring to the plus-size game? And can the lauded Switch Infinity rear end be adapted to big, cushy rubber?
First things first, Yeti's bringing the 5in (127mm) full carbon SB5+ to the plus-size arena. The SB5+ is offered in two carbon layups called TURQ and Carbon. While they share the same geometry, stiffness, and strength, the higher-end TURQ version I rode weighs roughly 275g less, or a bit more than half a pound. The other major note is that Yeti has built this bike specifically for 27.5+ wheels and tires, and is not offering any adjustments for use with 29in wheels like many of its competition.
Yeti SB5+ spec overview
- Switch Infinity patented suspension
- High modulus carbon fiber main frame and swing arm
- Wide rear tire clearance for up to 3.0in tires
- Collet axle system on pivots reduces bearing wear
- Integrated ISCG-05 mounts
- Tapered inset head tube (44MM/56MM)
- Enduro Max sealed bearings
- Internal cable routing
- Integrated axle and derailleur hanger system
- TURQ Series: 5.34lbs / 2.42kg
- Carbon Series: 5.58lbs / 2.67kg
Yeti SB5+ first ride impression
Here the answers aren't as straightforward. Yeti's Switch Infinity rear suspension is widely regarded as one of the best in this fickle industry. As with any bike running plus-size meat, tire pressure is vital.
My test ride had 18/19psi front and rear, which seem to be the go-to numbers with the current crop of lighter weight plus tires that are available. Suspension rebound was slowed a bit as well to help maximize traction and negate the bounciness inherent to the large air volume in the tires.
My test rides were in the Vail bike park, and consisted of roughly 2,000 feet of descending with some climbing mixed in here and there. The big, medium-knobbed Maxxis Recon tires wrapped around stiff DT Swiss XM551 rims definitely helped with the dry, loose conditions. I dug the Fox 34's wide Boost stance, especially with the 150mm of squish. The Shimano XT kit performed as expected, meaning spot-on perfect (we're so lucky nowadays!).
The ride didn't blow me away though, to be honest. I've ridden nearly every Yeti in the past three years and am continually amazed at how stiff, how capable, and how much fun each bike is, so it hurts my brain to say the SB5+ didn't seem to have the magic. Honestly, it's a bit of shame that the big tires mask the rear end's impeccable action.
Possibly my expectations were too high based on my previous experiences, maybe either the suspension settings or some other set-up variable was off, but the ride seemed less dynamic, less performance-driven than I was hoping for on the descents. I was missing the controlled suspension action that the Switch Infinity rear end produces beautifully.
Climbing was better, Yeti's rear end delivers a bike that scoots up climbs admirably, plus-size tires have loads of traction, and the 74 degree seat angle encourages ascending quickly. All together, the limiting factor is rarely ever going to be the equipment, it's typically the motor.
I want (almost to the point of need) to spend more time with the SB5+, to wring it out on my local test loops. I do not believe Yeti made a dud, we just need to spend more quality time together. Fingers crossed.
Yeti SB5+ pricing and availability
Along with the two carbon layups, five build kits are offered: XT/SLX, XT, Eagle, X01 Eagle, and XX1 Eagle. Pricing starts at $4,699 (UK and AU not available) and skyrockets up from there. Like all Yetis, demand is high so availability varies.
Yeti SB5+ vs. the competition
High-performance trail bikes are a huge segment for almost every mountain bike brand. Since plus-size tires are the newest trend, competition is only going to get more heated. With that in mind, Yeti's track record of waiting until they have the frame almost perfect has proven to be a successful plan. The obvious comparisons are Santa Cruz's Hightower, Intense's ACV, Specialized Stumpjumper 6Fattie and Pivot's Switchblade.