A redesigned Yeti SB5 for 2017! How could Yeti improve on such an awesome all-around trail bike? To start, they gave the frame a sleek refined look, taking out the triangle joining the top tube and seat tube, and making it look more inline with the other bikes in Yeti’s bike range. Also immediately noticeable is the use of internal cable routing which is a first on the SB5. The cable routing looks great, and set-up is hassle-free as it has dedicated internal guide tubing and has a small opening between the downtube/seat tube to access the dropper post cable. This is an awesome feature, looks clean, and will make home mechanics or your shop mechanic happy to route the dropper post.
Comparing the 2016 SB5c geometry to the new 2017 SB5, there are some noticeable tweaks Yeti has made. Starting at the front, pushing the head tube angle out .5 of a degree from 67 degrees to now a 66.5 degree, may seem like a small change -- but when riding the 2016 to 2017 and getting into steeper terrain, the handling is improved.
Also helping with that is the slightly longer top tube length and reach. On our medium test bike, a 4mm change in top tube length has been made to the 2017 along with a 9mm extension in reach. Seat tube angle has been made steeper by .85 of a degree on the 2017, resulting in a better pedaling position. The chainstay length has also been shortened (2016 was a 442mm, the 2017 is at 437mm).
The last major change in geometry is a longer overall wheelbase - on our size medium this was a 13mm change. This was not as noticeable as some of the other changes made to the 2017. Metric shocks seem to be a new standard and Yeti jumped on board here as well, spec'ing the 2017 bike with this new style of shock which gives it more volume while retaining the same travel as before.
Our test bike is a TURQ build with X01 Eagle, Fox factory suspension and DT Swiss XM421 wheels - a great build for the everyday rider. The new 2017 Fox 34 fork got some small tweaks, and they all feel great so far. The rear “metric” EVOL shock is tuned for the bike with what Yeti says has some “secrets.” Whatever those are, it feels great and in no way needs any further attention. 12-speed is the new “must have,” and Yeti has 3 builds for the SB5 that are equipped with the new 12-speed Sram Eagle drivetrain. The huge range can give riders that little extra for the climbs. I like the extra range to run a larger chainring up front. Either way, the SRAM Eagle 12-speed is a solid choice for this bike and is very beneficial for riders of every skill level.
My first ride on this new rig did not let me down by any means. As the previous SB5c design was a shop favorite, everyone was curious to see if the improvements really made a difference. Immediately I could feel the steeper seat tube angle on my 5 minute ride to the trailhead, and having some XC background, I did not complain about this better pedaling position. The loop starts with some steep switchbacks, sometimes tight enough to cause trouble on some longer 29ers, but the SB5 had no problem climbing and getting around these smoothly and quickly. The middle of the ride was up and down rollers, which were fun on a bike that can both pedal and corner well like this one. Keeping up with some other locals was no issue, and immediately my confidence in the new bike was confirmed.
The SB5 does a great job balancing the playfulness you would expect in a modern 27.5 trail bike, yet still keeps the planted & controlled aspects that Yeti bikes have. Ending the ride I chose to take some of the steeper shoots and hit the few jumps that were on the trail. In no way did the bike or I have any problems with this rougher terrain. This also created confidence and begged for more jumps and shoots than the trail had to offer.
Improving on a favorite isn't always the easiest thing to do, but once again Yeti has come through with some killer updates. Some sleek internal cable routing, tweaked geometry, and metric shock tooling gives this bike some great new industry features. Some awesome first few rides confirmed that all these updates are going to be great, and it looks like the SB5 will continue to be a shop favorite. It certainly exceeded my predictions and put a huge grin on my face during every ride! I can't wait to get more rides on this bike, and could very easily add it to my personal arsenal of bikes.
To check out more of the 2017 Yeti bike lineup, click here.
*This bike is currently available to demo*
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