I’m not saying you should take out a second mortgage to buy this bike. And I’m not the kind of guy to tell you your kid doesn’t really need a college fund that badly. I’m just saying, if you happen to be able to afford it, this is the pinnacle of trail bikes, period. It’s rare to say a bike this expensive is worth every penny, but it applies here.
It all comes back to Yeti’s Switch Infinity, a suspension component that allows for greater tunability of the suspension kinematics. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s firm on the climbs and responsive on the descents, all the way through the suspension travel. The Switch Infinity lives just above the bottom bracket shell and works in conjunction with Fox’s Float Factory shock. Both are nearly infinitely tunable, but it was easy to find a sweet spot pretty quickly for the kind of riding I do.
Climbing is a remarkable experience: there’s nearly no noticeable bob, even when standing or pushing through a steep section. The mid-stroke feels supportive but smooth, and the bottom end feels endless, yet it doesn’t fall off into the abyss. Instead, it feels like you always have just a few more millimeters, so why not go a bit bigger? Absent too is that late-stroke buck. Whatever magic Yeti has done to make the end of the stroke sit in that sublime area between too soft and too harsh, they should keep doing it. A lot of trail bikes make claims about climbing like an XC race bike and descending like an enduro bike. The SB5c actually delivers.
The 2017 geometry updates have made the SB5c slightly more zippy and stable on fast descents, with shorter 437-millimeter chain stays and a slacker 66.5-degree head tube angle. That means you can throw it around and pick creative lines, or just straight-line it for as much speed as you can handle, and then some. With 150 millimeters of travel up front and 130 millimeters in the rear, you’ll want to take this on trails you usually reserve for longer-travel bikes.
Our test bike came with Yeti’s top of the line Turq carbon and a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, both of which lived up to lofty expectations. The DT Swiss 350 W/XM421 wheels were capable if not unglamorous, and they were wrapped in Maxxis Ardent rubber, which was ideal for the rocky, dry conditions here on the Front Range of Colorado. The Race Face Turbine dropper post is smooth as butter, but it needed to be topped off with air fairly frequently. That involves removing your saddle to access the Schrader valve beneath the seat clamp. It’s not an ideal setup, though it wouldn’t be much more than an annoyance if the post held air better.