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Though almost every other model in Yeti Cycles' Super Bike line falls into a very specific use category, our (admittedly limited) time aboard the brand new SB5.5 Carbon X01 Complete Mountain Bike has left us stumped. If you judge based on travel alone, surely the SB5.5 is an aggressive trail and enduro sled. But the short stays and 29in wheels tell a different story, one that features big watts on long climbs. And then there's the surprisingly compact wheelbase, which lends the SB5.5 a decidedly non-29er ability to dice techy terrain. All told, the SB5.5 is an efficient cruise missile whose 140mm of rear travel drop in like a 140 kiloton enduro bomb that's been field tested by the likes of Yeti's all-mountain bully, Mr. Rude himself.
We've already seen Yeti impose its Super Bike philosophy on the wagon wheel category with the SB4.5, but the SB5.5's additional inch of rear travel rewards the more adventurous rider with a machine that flattens big hits with the same aggression that it cleans long climbs. By "more adventurous," we don't mean plodding bikepacking trips with 70lb of gear lashed about your person and frame. We mean aggressive. Not afraid to take the steppier line. Testing bikes on terrain they may or may not be able to handle. Instead of "more adventurous," some might write "reckless." Whatever. We'll leave those people with their overly restrictive, discipline-specific cycling while we take the SB5.5 across all the ups, downs, ins, and outs of true all-mountain riding.
Yeti's Switch Infinity suspension is the lynchpin of the SB5.5's seemingly limitless capabilities. Its linear travel hits the sweet spot of anti-squat to keep pedaling sharp across rocky climbs, and it also erases the momentary harshness that its predecessor, the Switch Link design, would display when pushed to the absolute limit. Go ahead and ride the shock open; it'll still claw up anything without sacrificing on big hits and deep rollovers.
Like the rest of Yeti's Super Bikes, the SB5.5 rolls out with the Switch Infinity suspension design. The key difference between Switch Infinity and the Switch Link design it replaced is that the older model exhibits a momentary harshness when rapidly successive hits kept it hovering above the 30% stroke point. To address this, Switch Infinity replaces the Link's sinuous travel arc with a linear plane of motion, so the eccentric link changes direction without getting caught in the minute dead spot that produces that harshness. Of course, 95% of all riders won't ever push the Switch Link hard enough to experience this dead spot, but Yeti (being Yeti) went ahead and fixed it anyway.
Other than those two changes, veteran tribesmen will be relieved to learn that the suspension systems are fairly similar. Like the Switch Link, the Switch Infinity slider travels upward under the first phase of compression, when the SB5.5 is settling into its sag point. As the rear end compresses deeper, the direction changes, and the DH-inspired slider travels down toward the bottom bracket shell to maintain a steady pedaling platform. This change of direction is smoother, without the above-mentioned dead space, but the effect is the same. Deep in the stroke, it works in conjunction with the upper pivot to produce a vertical wheel path that flattens big hits. You'll be tempting faster, straighter lines across the chunky stuff, because the SB5.5 is just about the perfect trail buddy, effectively tidying up sloppy, questionable lines and sweeping rider errors under the rug.
The frame itself is actually built to Yeti’s Gravity spec, so it can handle everything from shuttle loops to lapping big lines in the bike park. Like the overly ambitious kid in the buffet line, we've got big eyes and even bigger appetites, but the lines we size up are often bigger than our bellies can handle. Fortunately, SB5.5's got an uncanny knack for smashing through questionable decisions. This starts with the FOX 36 Factory fork, which feels more like the 34 Factory on Yeti's SB4.5 while you're navigating rocky climbs or lifting it over step-ups. But the bigger model's 160mm of ass-saving travel are more than welcome here, since the SB5.5's geometry and Switch Infinity suspension encourage you to stay off the brakes and hold on. It does mean the bars sit a bit higher than the SB4.5, but the SB5.5 is capable of doing things that would make its little brother soil his hand-me-down overalls.
Despite its DH pedigree, the SB5.5 is remarkably similar to the SB4.5 on fast singletrack and climbs. When it comes to the fluid world of off-road bikes, the "best in class" label should only be applied with a delicate touch and a healthy dose of caveats, and that lofty qualifier should definitely never be applied while still basking in the smells-like-recess afterglow of your first experience on the machine in question. But we can't help it. The SB5.5 exhibits what may well be best-in-class pedaling, feeling more like the SB4.5. In addition to the high-modulus carbon lay-up and Switch Infinity suspension, we suspect that the Boost axle standard plays a role here. For starters, Boost is just stiffer. Wider bracing angles for the stays and the spokes make for less wag and more efficiency. That's bike physics 101. The wider spacing of Boost also let Yeti's engineers slam the rear wheel up, so the SB5.5 enjoys the same efficient, agile chainstay length as the 4.5.
The build kit leads with SRAM's X01 group, which has quickly become a staple for the one-by enthusiasts around the Competitive office. If you've ridden it, you know why; if you haven't, well, buckle up. The X01 is supplemented with a Reverb dropper post, a Race Face Turbine crankset, and the reassuring familiarity of DT Swiss wheels. Finally, we've written a bit about the burgeoning trend of not-quite-plus tires, but it bears repeating as often as possible: we think the 2.3 and 2.5in tires on this build signpost the future of off-road rubber, and the SB5.5 provides plenty of clearance for them. They're big enough to reap traction and cushion benefits nearly on par with 3in tires, but they're not so huge that that cushion turns sloppy, so they preserve the SB5.5's surprising nimbleness at lower speeds or during emergency maneuvers while descending.
- Item #YTI005A
- Q & A
Plowability Factor is Through the Roof
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Yeti continues to adapt along with the rest of the mountain bike industry to the Boost hub revolution and the SB5.5 is the crown jewel in my opinion. I had a chance to ride this bike at a recent Yeti demo and was extremely skeptical going in. The Santa Cruz Hightower had been my favorite bike of the summer but let's just say that was before ripping on the SB5.5.
There are a couple key differences between the Hightower and SB5.5. The SB5.5 has a slightly steeper head tube angle (66.5 degrees), slightly higher BB height and longer wheel base. But truth be told the key for me is that a Large Yeti just fits me better than a Large Santa Cruz. I am 6'1" with pretty long arms and for whatever reason I have always felt that Large Santa Cruz bikes are too small (and XL too big). But the Yeti SB5.5 in a Large was built just for me.
I rode this bike on some shuttle laps at Park City and also at the Trailside Bike Park. I was most impressed with how easily it plowed over everything put in front of it. If there was a plowability rating I would give it 5 stars. It handled steep, technical terrain with ease and cornered surprisingly well for a 29er considering the added lateral stiffness from the wider Boost hubs. This bike had solid pop off of jumps and was smooth in the air which I did not expect but should not be surprising considering the tech behind the Switch Infinity Link.
If you are looking for a new super bike and are considering the Yeti SB5.5 do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. I would be glad to help you build this bike from the frame up or get you set up with this stock X01 build.
Kyle Livingston - Expert Gearhead
firstname.lastname@example.org - 801-736-4337
I think to be called a XO1 bike, should come with the crankset as well, no just the derailleur and shifter.
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
So I've been on my new 5.5c for 3 weeks and 100+ miless and all I can say is it is EVERYTHING I was hoping for and more in a 1 bike solution.
I'm coming off a 2015 Nomad which I rode for a year and 1k miles. It saw everything from buffed XC trails to bike park laps at Snow Summit and Mammoth. That bike was great and inspired soooo much confidence pointed down rocky and steep trails. But at slower trail speeds it sucked the fun out of riding. It pedaled good for what it was but I wouldn't call it sprightly. That bike demands to be ridden at 100% all the time to get maximum fun.
In comparison my new Yeti pedals MUCH better and makes trail riding fun again. The Switch Infinity linkage system is the real deal. Thrown down chunky stuff it isn't as plush as my Nomad but it is really close. The Nomad also had a Fox X2 on it so that's saying something. It doesn't turn over as quick or as easy as my previous 650b bikes but the difference is almost negligible. This ain't your grandaddy's 29'er!
So it pedals fantastic, takes on gnar unflinchingly and makes trail rides fun...what are you waiting for?
For size reference, I'm 5'10" and ride a size LARGE...same size with my past Nomad as well. I prefer to size up for stability on fast descents.
BIgger. Faster. Stronger.
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
I had the pleasure of spending a pre-launch weekend in Moab aboard the SB5.5. If I could have brought the bike home with me, I would have, but I'd also need to bring all the rocks home as well. The SB5.5 only further blurs the line of a bikes capability along the trail/all-mountain/enduro spectrum.
Full disclosure, I'm a Yeti guy, the ASR, ASR-5c, SB95c, SB5c, ASRc have all spent time in my garage, and the SB4.5c presently is tenured there.
Forget all you preconceived notions about a "long travel" 29er. "A 160mm fork will feel too raked out and wander up climbs" - wrong. "The wheelbase will be too long and hamper maneuverability" - wrong. "29ers are dumb" - wrong again.
I'm 5'7", and rode a medium SB5.5 with ease and comfort. The Switch Infinity heart of the 5.5 stays true, and will claw its way up anything as long as you keep the pedals turning. Going up the Amasa Back jeep road, and Hymasa trail, the 5.5 felt similar to my 4.5. Efficiency wasn't an issue with the additional inch of rear travel, and the 160mm Fox 36 could be pulled up steeps and step-ups with the ease of my 140mm Fox 34. Where the 5.5 separates itself from its shorter travel sibling, as it should, is once you point it downhill. It'd been 3 years since I'd last descended Porcupine Rim on my then ASR5c, the SB5.5 made 2013 feel like the dark ages. The Fox 36 came to life will all of its 160mm of "keep your teeth in your head" travel. The Infinity link feels supple and bottomless; a coworker took the 5.5 off a 6 ft drop; all he was asking for at the bottom was another bottomless token for the fork. This bikes wants the A lines, and the faster the better.
As Yeti puts it, this is a purpose built bike, and the spec follows suit. No plus-size tire shenanigans on this machine. A meaty 2.5 Minion DHF tire breaks the trail, and aesthetically brings proportion to the Boost 110 Fox 36 fork. The Float X Factory DPS shock sits in back, and will leave you asking "What happened to that rocky section?" A Reverb dropper is stock on all complete offerings, and all come in at less than 29lbs.
Geometrically, the SB5.5 proves form equals function. The medium frame has the same 90mm headtube length as my small 4.5 to keep things balanced, standover is lower too. The wheelbase for a medium is 1168mm, 20mm shorter than a medium SB6, and only 3mm longer than the SC Hightower that uses a 140mm fork. The 66.5 head angle keeps things stable at speed, but the paired 73.6 seat angle makes that fork feel shorter on the climbs.
If you have any other questions about the SB5.5c, or any of Yeti's offerings, don't hesitate to give me a shout. My direct contact line is 801-736-6396 x4378, e-mail is email@example.com