Yeti SB4.5 vs Transition Smuggler (Trail Bike Shootout!) [Video]

Yeti SB4.5

When you first look at the numbers, the Yeti SB4.5 sits in the trail category, but leans toward the XC side of the spectrum. Yes, the geometry might have you thinking about steep, sustained climbs and twitchy, unpredictable downhills, but when riding the SB4.5 it takes on a slightly different personality than the numbers suggest.  

Yeti sb4.5 vs transition smuggler

Having a solid amount of time on the 4.5, this bike really suits my style of riding. I am a rider that likes to earn my turns and then hit some fun, flowy or chunky trails on the way down. Immediately you will notice how the 4.5 climbs. With plenty of past experiences on XC bikes under my belt, I can say this bike is an amazing climber. I have no qualms about hitting some punchy sections or clearing technical rock gardens and switch backs. I have put down five-hour rides with 5k of climbing and would choose this bike again and again for that ride. While it's not my number one priority in a bike per se, it's not a negative and I don't think any rider out there would bash a bike that is able to climb well.

Yeti SB4.5 Geometry

Turning the bike downhill you forget how easy it was to get uphill because you’re grinning from ear to ear. This bike screams confidence and really shows all of its colors. With every quick pedal or pump, you gain momentum. One of my favorite parts about the mid-travel range is the efficiency; what you put in is not soaked up by unneeded suspension.  

This bike is not afraid to get rowdy. Hitting decent size jumps or blasting through rocks, the 4.5 holds its composure well for the amount of travel this thing has. While you will not be hucking your brains out on this bike, for the platform, it punches way above its weight class.

Yeti SB4.5 Details and Highlights

  • 114mm rear travel/140mm fork travel
  • 67.4-degree headtube angle
  • 437mm chainstay length
  • BB92 bottom bracket
  • Fully internal cable routing
  • 12x148mm Boost rear spacing
  • Switch Infinity suspension design
  • 2.3in tire clearance (some 2.4in tires may clear)

Yeti sb4.5 vs transition smuggler

Transition Smuggler

Looking at the geometry chart of the Transition Smuggler, it has some pretty extreme reach and headtube angle numbers that surpass even some long travel enduro bikes. Transition really wanted to push the limits of their new bike, and this is all apart of their Speed Balanced Geometry technology. We have a blog that goes more in depth about this, so I won’t spend too much time explaining SBG. In short, it’s a slacker headtube angle, longer reach, steeper seat tube angle, shorter offset fork, and a shorter stem that create the magic that is SBG.

Transition SBG Technology

The Smuggler is a 120/140 travel bike with a 66-degree headtube angle. Our test bike was a size Large with a 475mm reach. Did someone order long and slack? Because Transition delivered! While you would think this bike would ride like a short travel enduro bike...well, it actually kinda does. But it also surprises you with how it goes uphill and handles the more mellow trails too. It’s not quite the mountain climbing goat that the SB4.5 is, but for the angles and suspension design this pony does get you to the top without extra effort. This is mostly due to the steeper seat tube angle, putting your legs in a really great position for an efficient pedal stroke. This has always been one of the hardest things for me to get right on a trail bike or longer travel bike, which is not the case with Transition. Saddle rails centered and your body in the correct position makes for comfortable all day climbing.

Now the best part: shredding some gnar. The Smuggler, like the 4.5, also lands itself in the trail category as far as travel goes, but don’t be fooled by this. Riding anything and everything on this bike I can honestly say this can be a do-it-all bike. From mellow, almost XC trails, the bike’s traction in flat corners is insane. I was able to carry momentum I never have before thanks to its slack headtube and longer wheelbase. Get yourself into some DH bike worthy trails and the composure is still there. On the Smuggler, I find myself riding lines I would normally attempt only on a 160mm bike. The Smuggler delivers again. While you can't quite jump into rocks or chutes, there isn't much that holds this bike back. I can't stress the composure of this bike enough, it's like nothing I’ve ridden before. Even taking this to the bike park and hitting all jump lines and trails at full speed behind DH bikes, the Smuggler keeps it together.

Transition Smuggler Details and Highlights

  • 120mm rear travel/140mm fork travel
  • 66-degree headtube angle
  • 430mm chainstay length
  • Shorter seat tubes across all sizes
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Internal shift and dropper cable, external rear brake
  • 12x148 Boost rear spacing
  • Metric shock sizing
  • GiddyUp 2 suspension (Horst link refined design)
  • Speed Balanced Geometry
  • Aluminum and carbon frames
  • Water bottle storage inside the front triangle

Comparing SB4.5 vs Smuggler

Yeti SB4.5 vs Transition Smuggler


While the Smuggler isn’t a slug as I mentioned above, the SB4.5 certainly takes the cake on this one. The efficiency on the 4.5 is really remarkable and I would be hard pressed to find a trail bike that can pedal better. Again, the Smuggler has great positioning on the bike and that really, really helps this thing pedal well, but it’s still not designed for max pedal efficiency.  

Yeti sb4.5 vs transition smuggler

Mellow and Smooth Trails

This is where it gets interesting for me. A lot of our trails around the shop are on the more mellow and smooth side, which are great for a trail bike or even beefy XC bike. The Smuggler has amazing cornering skills and can keep its momentum through lots of terrains. This style of trail is where the SB4.5 is extremely fast and peppy all while carrying momentum well. On the SB4.5, you really feel like you get the most out of every pedal stroke and trail pump you give it. It has a great light and nimble feeling and you feel fast riding it. Personally, I think it’s a draw on this style of trail. The Smuggler can corner confidently, but the SB4.5 brings the nimble handling and efficiency in. It would come down to a timed test to determine the faster bike. It would also depend on rider and riding style for this.

Yeti sb4.5 vs Transition Smuggler

Chunky Trails and Bike Parks

While people normally wouldn't pick a trail bike for these trails, sometimes you find yourself at the top of a mountain and there is an easy way or fun way to go down. Well, I’m not sure about you but I choose the fun way no matter the bike under me. Also, everyone is looking for the do it all bike, so let’s ride it like one. Both of these bikes completely ignore what their numbers and trail category suggests. The SB4.5 does well in situations where you find yourself riding steep chunk or hitting some 20-foot bike parks jumps. But you also find the limit of the 4.5 pretty quickly on trails like this. After all, it only has 114mm out back. The Smuggler, on the other hand, excels for a trail bike and can rip hard. Full days in the bike park aren’t quite as sketchy as the 4.5 and on the same DH chunky trails you can get up to full speed and hold it. You can find the limit of the suspension on the Smuggler, however, this bike seems to like being ridden this hard. Seeing as how I set some PRs on serious trails on a 120/140mm bike, I think it means it can handle the rough. I would say the Smuggler gets on with this type of trail like a winner for sure. While the 4.5 can make it down without a problem, the Smuggler loves it.


While both of these bikes sit in the trail category, they ride very differently. I would say the Yeti SB4.5 takes the crown for the all-around bike winner since the climbing on this thing is second to none and it doesn’t complain on any downhill. While the Smuggler climbs well, it really shines on the descents. If you are looking for a bike that can get you to the top fast and stay in control on the way down the Yeti SB4.5 might be for you. The Smuggler is more of a get to the top comfortably then push it, and push it hard, on the way down. Both are killer bikes and can really rip any type of trail, but with slightly different personalities you should try them both out before making your choice!  

Shop yeti sb4.5

Shop transition smuggler

July 28, 2018

Bike Review › Transition › video › Yeti ›

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