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So you’ve decided to buy a Yeti. The reviews have been read, the switch infinity link has been proven, you’ll be getting a great lightweight, stiff and efficient climber that shreds downhill. Great choice. As a Yeti dealer with a stocked rental fleet, we get asked one very repetitive question. Which one should I get?
In an effort to help answer that question, here is the first of our mini reviews to help compare and describe the different ride characteristics of the Yeti SB series models. We’ll kick it off with the venerable, short travelled whip; the SB4.5.
Feature image by Coast Mountain Photography – Top of the World trail, Whistler Bike Park, Whistler BC. Article images by Shaun Fry.
A few terms come to mind when I’m trying to describe the SB4.5. “Weapon”, “Shredder”, “Trail-Ninja” to name a few… but definitely not “Lycra”. This short travel whippet boasts big wheels and 114mm travel with the Switch Infinity linkage, blended with a 140mm fork upfront. On paper, this bike fills the role as a cross-county trail bike. In reality, this bike is anything but. Coupled with a stiff and responsive pedaling platform, it results in handling far from a traditional XC/Trail rig, and not unlike Yetis famous DJ and 4x slalom bikes.
The fit of the SB4.5 is low and long, with a roomy top tube, and great standover for a 29er; almost identical in fit to the current SB6. My personal setup at 5’11”, with an aggressive descending style; is a large frame, 35mm length stem, and 760mm wide bars. This results in a bike with predictable, stable handling – with enough room to stretch out on long climbs and all day epics. The climbing style of the SB4.5 is impressive, with an aggressive pedaling platform (running Yeti’s trail tune shock), the bike feels like it spurts ahead with every pedal stroke. Even more impressive, I’ve never felt a need to touch the shock on climbs; preferring to leave it in open mode all the time. This little 29er seems to grab traction from anywhere, making its way up and over technical root climbs with ease; even with questionable tire choices for the terrain.
“You’ll find yourself quickly steering away from your usual routes and exploring some more adventurous options.”
The short travel of the SB4.5 should not be seen as a disadvantage when it comes to pointing it downhill; instead it keeps the bike lively and fun, with a tendency to jump and skim over obstacles instead of plowing through them. With the range of ability and confidence that the 4.5 has, coupled with the 140mm fork up front; you’ll find yourself quickly steering away from your usual routes and exploring some more adventurous options. The little bike handles high speed terrain well, even shredding bike park flow trails with ease.
Where the trust started to waver was in steep, technical terrain. We’re not talking your typical alpine ripping; high speed flow or steep and fast trails. We’re talking Whistler steep: Enduro World Series; janky root fest style terrain. So let’s put this out there. This bike is not designed and was never intended for this style terrain. Does it love it? No. Does it handle it? Yes, surprisingly well. You’ll quickly find it’s limit on harsh and very steep terrain, which will put the short travel and small shock out of it’s league, though the slack geometry and wheelbase lengthening switch link keep the bike stable and predictable even at full bottom out.
I am constantly impressed with the abilities of the 4.5, and the amount of traction it finds on trails. The 4.5 has quickly become my go-to bike for most trail adventures.
SB4.5 Key factors;
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