by Jorji Frederiksen
July 17, 2014
As riders, team trucks and swathes of spectators descended on Valloire for the third round of the EWS in late June…at a secret location, a few miles out of town – Yeti quietly unveiled their gorgeous new trail bike to a handful of lucky bike journos.
And we’ve all had to keep schtum about it since, until now that is! (Yeti didn’t want to create a rush for a product that wasn’t quite ready). But anyhow, without further ado – here it is folks; the gorgeous, the sexy, the all new Yeti SB5c.
A full carbon, five inched travel, aggressive trail, beaut of a bike – incorporating their revolutionary new Switch Infinity™ technology, developed in partnership with Fox. Also featuring Yeti’s renowned traits of progressive geometry, slack head angle, low bottom bracket and a longer top tube – all built around 27.5 wheels.
With three solid years in development and ten worldwide patents, the Switch Infinity™ system is supposed to offer superior pedalling performance and unprecedented rear suspension characteristics. With kinematics micro-controlled to the nth degree, the system is claimed to be super sensitive to the smaller bumps – with progressive ultra plush handling of the bigger hits – whilst maintaining a mega stable pedalling platform.
Hmmm, a tall order – but neatly tucked away, joining the rear triangle to the main frame – is a nifty little dual stanchioned switch mechanism, which has a central pivot that changes direction as the bike moves through its travel. At the beginning of travel, the pivot moves upwards creating a rearward wheel path. It’s this movement which minimises pedal bob and smooths out the smaller trail bumps associated with climbing/gentle trail riding. As the travel continues deeper through the mechanism, the system reaches its inflection point (around 50-60% travel) and the pivot then begins to move downwards. This downward movement deals with the bigger hits – to give the system its ultra-plush, bottomless feel. The linear path of the patented Switch Infinity™ system is smooth and unresisted as it moves through its travel, allowing the system to achieve the seemingly contradictory characteristics.
So yes, in words this is all very difficult to explain, and whilst pictures tell a thousand words – videos, well…they explain all. So have a wee schoofty at this one!!
An extra lump of metal must surely add weight you say. Well no – actually the switch mechanism is super light and comes in a fair bit lighter (100g) than the original Switch Technology of the SB-66.
An extra moving part will never withstand the harshest of the UK’s wintery condtions you say. Well no – as it’s been developed in partnership with Fox, the mechanism has had three years of brutal testing by the suspension experts. Dirt was even flown in from various locations across the States to replicate the far extremes of riding conditions in their test lab. This hardcore testing protocol, together with Kashima coated stanchions, seals and bushings from Fox’s off-road racing division and a lightweight forged translating pivot – have all earned the Switch Infinity™ the official “Enabled by Fox” stamp. And so confident are they in the longevity of their system – it even comes with a five year warranty.
Switch Infinity™ is a versatile system easily adaptable to different travel platforms – and it’s likely Yeti will be rolling it out across other bikes in their range in the coming years.
“Yeti has always been ride-driven brand, and the new Switch Infinity technology has been in development and testing for nearly three years.” said Yeti President and coowner Chris Conroy. “We worked closely with Fox to apply what we’ve learned from our linear rail and Switch Technologies to produce a suspension platform that will work across a wide spectrum of terrain, disciplines, and riding styles.”
But all marketing blurb aside, it’s only when you jump on a bike and have a wee play – that you can really see what it can do. And as we’re riding these bikes near Valloire – the climbs are crazy long and steep – which happily means the descents are similarly so.
While suspension is all Fox CTD, we’re encouraged to leave it wide open on our test ride – so we can fully experience Switch Infinity™. I’m often one for forgetting to adjust my suspension anyhow – so having a system which fully works in descend mode immediately sparks my interest. And indeed – as we start to climb out of the valley the anti-squat of the wide open suspension is impressive. The ride is butter smooth over a gently rocky climb and traverse – and I frequently have to double check that the shock is still deployed in descend mode. So yes, top marks for climbing agility – but can this be replicated on the downs?
Oooh yes. Yeti excels in making gravity orientated bikes, and the SB5c – with its 140mm travel – happily fits in along its longer travelled brethren. Indeed its 140mm travel feels to be far more, and it’s beautifully progressive as we race the bikes down the back (rough) side of the Col du Calibier; down the glacier, scree slopes and twisty singletrack. The carbon frame is incredibly lively and fun – and the whole bike skips around on the trails, with steering being agile and precise. Yet as soon as we hit anything slightly terrifying, the SB5c turns on the aggression and with it’s slighter longer wheelbase – safely takes you down through the rough stuff.
Here at Singletrack, we get to test the best, the latest and the most gorgeous bikes. This bike however, was a bit different for me. With two full days riding bagged – as we made our way back to the airport – I was calculating how I could get one in my life and which of my old bikes I needed to sell! The SB5c is a spectacular bike – get yourself a test ride when you can.
The SB5c will be available in the UK as a complete bike with SRAM’s X01 Build Kit, and will hit our shores very soon. Complete SB5c bikes will weigh in at 26.2lbs with a Thomson Elite Dropper seatpost. Price will be £5,799.
Yeti SB5c Spec Sheet: X01 Build Kit
Fork: Fox Float 34 140 Factory Custom Yeti Decals
Headset: Cane Creek 40
Crankset: SRAM X1 (32T)
Rear Der: SRAM X01 11spd
Shifters: SRAM X01 11spd
Cassette: SRAM XG1195 11spd
Chain: SRAM XX1 11spd
Wheels: Custom DT Swiss 350 Hub w/ XM 401 Rim (Option: Enve M60/240)
Tyres: F: Maxxis Ardent 2.4 / R: Maxxis Ikon 2.2
Brakes: Shimano XT
Rotors: Shimano IceTech 180 F / 160 R
Handlebar: Easton Haven Carbon 740mm
Stem: Thomson Elite 70mm
Grips: Yeti Lock-on
Saddle:Yeti WTB Volt Custom
Seatpost: TThomson Elite Covert Dropper
A little bit about Yeti
Yeti Cycles is a rider-owned high-end mountain bike company, based in Golden, Colorado that has crafted race-bred and hand-built bicycles since 1985. The company has over twenty-five years of racing experience and focuses its product development on making racers go faster. If you visit their offices at noon, they won’t be there – they’ll be out riding. yeticycles.com.