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May

24

2016

Yeti SB5.5c

Time tested gear from our 2016 Fat Tire Test.

MtnBike-Yeti-SB5.5c

What it does well: Yeti says the SB5.5 is where trail bikes and gravity bikes intersect. That’s another no BS claim. This is a newer release so we didn’t have a go at it in Carbondale, but we did ride it on Colorado’s Front Range (also home to Yeti). We’ve raved about the efficiency of the brand’s switch technology since inception—the bike “knows” when you’re climbing or descending and responds accordingly. There’s no bobbing on the climb, and coming down it’s like you’re on a different bike. The “Super Bike” 5.5c is just the latest iteration of the impressive SB line. Here too, wide and stiff Boost hubs allow you to run ridiculously fat (2.5-inch up front) aggressive rubber with no lateral slop—even in the 29-inch wheels. On one memorable ride, we took it on the boniest of our local trails. It’s a fast network—but with countless curb-size blocks of sandstone that you hit at speed, plus washy high-speed corners. The day we tested, it was pouring out. The testament? The 5.5c is so efficient that while climbing, you forget you’re riding a downhill rocket ship. The suspension stays active enough to absorb small chunder and get you up and over blocks comfortably. When you turn around up top, it’s like you just swapped bikes with a friend. That’s when the Switch technology kicks in and the suspension opens up—but only if you get it up to speed first. The combination of 5.5-inches of travel and stiff 29-inch wheels only lets the bike consume rough trail at top speed. And it should be noted that a 2.5-inch wide tire on a 29er offers a massive contact patch—almost that of a plus bike.

What it does poorly: Don’t confuse efficient with super lightweight. You never bog down in the midstroke on the 5.5c, but there is a noticeable weight penalty on extended climbs. The SB bikes aren’t squishy trail bikes either: The tradeoff for that efficient pedaling is a loss of some slow-speed comfort.    

So who’s it for? Without getting too prescriptive, this is just a tremendous mountain bike, but it’s made for a specific mindset. The bike works best when pushed through backcountry terrain—opening up the Switch tech and settling into the suspension. If you ride it easy you’re missing the point. 28.1 lbs.

Yeti SB5.5c

$6,999 in XO1 build kit

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