The Yeti SB5.5 and the Evil Wreckoning: two long travel 29ers that rock a 160mm fork up front and have modern updated geometry. So which bike comes out on top? Or should we say, which bike gets to the bottom of the trail faster? A newer category of bikes, (like we need more of these), is the long travel 29er - the new monster truck of the trail bike/all mountain/enduro style bike. Filling gaps from all these categories and possibly taking over the spot of your downhill bike as well, these bikes are capable enough to ride shuttle laps all day or hit the local bike park, but still allow you to ride the local XC loop after work. These two bikes could have everything you're looking for in your next bike!
We now have experienced a lot of rides on both of these bikes -- on different trails with varying conditions, shuttle laps and pedal loops. Getting to know both of the bikes’ characteristics and learning the differences between the two bikes took some time, while getting used to riding each one did not. Visually the two look similar in geometry: slack front end, low bottom bracket, tight chainstays. Of course the suspension design of the two are very different, but that is what makes this shootout a shootout.
Bike specs between our two test bikes: Both bikes are medium frames with the Yeti SB5.5 sporting the brand new SRAM Eagle 1x12 drivetrain while the Wreckoning runs the tried and true SRAM 1x11 setup. The Wreckoning is sporting Rockshox suspension front and rear - a Lyrik 160mm boost fork with a RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 with a DebonAir can for the rear. The SB5.5 rocks a Fox setup front and rear - a Fox 36 Factory 160mm boost fork, and an equivalent Fox Float X factory shock with a 3 position lever in the rear. This equal match made for some great comparisons.
Starting with the Evil Wreckoning, I think it's easy to say this bike wins on the playful factor thanks to its extremely short 430mm chainstays and extra low bottom bracket height. It’s possible that this bike felt more at home being whipped around in the air than it did on the ground -- not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about a big 29 inch bike! Flicking it around tight and technical sections proved to be a normal task on this bike. Pulling this bike up into a manual was insanely easy also, so much fun that I found myself manualing around like a BMX bike every chance I had. Getting into the rougher sections, it did not care about line choice, because its long travel paired with 29 inch wheels took over and plowed -- or better yet -- monster trucked its way through with style. While I wouldn't say climbing is what this bike is intended for, it does a good job at being efficient for the amount of travel this monster has in the rear, 161mm! The overall impression of this bike is that it will especially please the rider who likes to hit all the side jumps, manual every roller and just enjoy the ride, whether it's up or down.
After spending lots of rides pedaling both bikes, we concluded that the Yeti SB5.5 is easily the victor for the better pedaling bike. The Switch Infinity link really does make this bike climb like a smaller travel brother. This is an especially nice feature when you're facing a daunting hour climb before the next downhill! Once you get to the downhill, maybe after a few breaks and picture spots on that hour climb, the SB5.5 really comes to life. Opening up and letting go of the brakes is when you feel the classic Yeti ride: stable in high speed sections and comfortable tackling the chunky technical spots. The SB5.5 really does a great job at creating an all-around great riding bike. Admittedly not as playful as the Wreckoning, it still jumps, manuals, and corners the way you would expect a smaller-wheeled bike to handle. The strong point I feel about this bike is the way it takes on the high speed sections -- specifically cornering at high speed and breaking both wheels loose around a sweeper -- felt 100% natural and boosted sliding confidence. This kind of confidence is amazing and can also get you into some trouble. Nevertheless, it is a characteristic you want in every bike. Even making switchbacks was surprisingly not any different than on the average 29” wheeled bike. Fast trails, drifting corners, or going out for an all-day trail ride, this is the guy you will want to be on.
Is there an overall winner? I'm not sure if it’s that black and white with these two colorful characters of “wagon wheel” bikes. The talk among the rest of the crew members who also tested both bikes is mixed. Some love the Wreckoning, because pulling manuals and jumping big trail gaps define their prefered styles. The other half is biased toward the SB5.5, because setting their PR records, blasting down the fastest way possible and being in a controlled-out-of-control riding experience is far superior on the SB5.5. If you want to race the local enduro class, I would suggest the SB5.5 without a doubt. But if you're looking to spend your time at the bike park, hitting jumps, pulling manuals and shredding every possible section, then we recommend you take out a Wreckoning.
We currently have both of these bikes available for demo so if you're looking to try one out, come check them out at the shop and set up a demo! Click here to shoot us a message or give us a call at 805-375-4525 if you have any more questions. We have spent a lot of time on both of these machines and are more than happy to answer any questions you might have.