The second best thing about selling really nice bikes is when the new seasons demo bikes start coming in, and you know, someone has to bed them in! We can’t be sending people out on new brakes can we? That would just be dangerous. Yeah. That’s it. Safety.
The BEST thing about selling really nice bikes is when people come in and tell us how much fun they’ve been having, how much they like the bike or even sharing ride pictures with us online, so get posting!
Anyway, back to the new bikes. The Yeti SB5c is one of the most hotly anticipated bikes of 2015, following a huge launch back in July, with a raft of glowing reviews it was a little hard to take in. I mean, are they all just drinking Yetis new bike cool aide? Hush hush controlled conditions reviews in sunny Colorado drinking beer with the owners (OK so I have never been to a bike launch but I bet there IS beer), perfect for showing your bike off in the best way possible. So everyone loved it, we liked the look of it, and with more bikes about to be released (we now know them as the SB6c and ASR Carbon) we took a bit of a gamble and decided to bring Yeti into the shop for 2015. This was the first time we have taken on a brand without riding one first (well, discounting SB66s etc) so was it worth it? Do they live up to our expectations? Hopefully I can tell you..
The Switch Infinity Link:
I just wanted to say a little about the new link before we get onto the bike riding. For anyone that doesn’t get it yet – it isn’t another shock. It is simply a couple of sliders, two bushings and some seals. How does it feel? Smooth. How will it last in UK conditions? No one knows yet. How do we think it will last? Very well. It is covered by a two year warranty, and the assembly is cheaper and easier to service than the previous Switch link, so longer term we don’t see any issues. It was one of the driving forces behind our interest in Yeti, we are mechanics, and to us it makes sense. We also know a lot of people are put off by it, so we are going out of our way to ride it through the worst of the Scottish winter, give it some good jet washing and see how it holds up. Watch this space…
Firstly, a bit of an admission. This isn’t really a secret to anyone I have chatted bikes with – I ride 29ers. I love 29ers. Simple as that. After a bit of a eureka moment with our 2012 Transition Bandit 29er demo bike where first ride out prepared to hate it, I instead fell in love and spent most of the year riding it instead of any bikes that actually belonged to me. Since then I have been on a Bandit 29, Kinesis FF29, Kinesis Sync Ti, and now a Banshee Phantom 29er.
Safe to say getting back on some ‘small wheels’ (27.5″) felt a little weird. Not weird bad, just… weird!
I am 5 foot 9ish, and for me our Medium felt right at home. The standard build comes with a 70mm stem which is a bit longer than I am used to, but it felt really nice all the same. I could easily size up to a large, put a 35 or 50mm stem on and still have room for a 125mm dropper post and possibly even a 150. Climbing the cockpit felt roomy enough to breathe without being so XC long it compromises handling through the techy stuff.
The bike pedals fantastically, putting the power down in a very direct manner every ounce of effort sending you forward with ease. I mean, it helps that it’s 27lbs as built! A lot of the reviewers have commented about leaving the shock fully open for climbing, and you could if you REALLY wanted. Perhaps coming off a lot of hardtails I like things taught, but I spent a lot of the day in the middle middle setting, tune two of trail mode, opening it up for some longer and rougher downhills. On rough climbs the rear end tracks the ground perfectly, maintaining grip where other bikes might skitter or squat.
For the locals the ride was at Glentress – mixed red climb with a bit of jumping and berms on the way, then the Ho Chi Min EWS route in full, a little more Janets Brae fun and Blue Velvet down to Falla Brae via the blues to finish. A good mix of everything, some loam, some mud, some jumps, some steeps and some sprints.
The jumps stood out for me, the bike felt really balanced in the air and I was getting higher/further than usual with less effort. Could this be the only place I prefer the smaller wheels? It could well be!
On the swoopy trail centre style downhills it felt great, very rewarding to throw around really testing the available grip. I missed a little of the ’29er contact patch’ confidence, but nowhere near as much as I feared I might. On the steeper more testing trails the suspension system was spot on. The new 2015 Fox 34’s are a vast improvement, very much like my Pikes in the support in cornering and heavy braking keeping the front end nice and high ready for the next hit. When the hits start coming they deal with them without missing a beat. They are a little louder on compression and rebound than my Pikes, but this seemed to reduce as they bedded in.
Within fifteen minutes I felt right at home and totally forgot I was on a demo bike even with the smaller wheels.
What’s it good for?
Everything really! If you are looking for a one bike to do it all, a ‘quiver killer’ shall we say (oh god), this is it. Light enough to ride all day, strong enough to take the hits, slack enough to deal with the tech, steep enough to make the mellow trails more fun. The SB6 might be faster over all out enduro races, but for 90% of people this will get you to the top AND bottom of the hill quicker, and with a bigger grin on your face.
Did I like it? Oh yes. It is one of the best bikes I have ever ridden, without question. Even just a couple of years ago the thought of something being available that is this fast uphill, then so confident and composed on the way back down would have been unthinkable. The future is here, and I like it.
Is it enough to make me give up the wagon wheels? Na. I am just going to pester Yeti until they make a 120/130mm travel Switch Infinity 29er…
We have added the new bikes to our web shop – Check them out!