Two schools of design have emerged within the plus-size market: One builds bikes around either plus-size or normal tires, but intends for compatibility with both, while the other goes all-in on plus.
The 127-mil-travel SB5+ falls into the latter category, fitting up to a 3-inch-wide tire between its conspicuously elevated stays. As one would expect, Yeti’s initial plus offering makes use of the Switch Infinity system, which is a carrier on rails housed above the bottom bracket. The translating pivot increases anti-squat at the settle point where pedaling happens, and then changes direction deeper in the travel for increased suppleness. The system feels well-suited to plus size, with the tires’ added traction complementing its anti-squat characteristics. In tandem with the 74-degree seat-tube angle, this makes the SB5+ one of those bikes that will have you taking another look at those previously un-climbable pitches, though you will need diligent stroke timing to avoid pedal strikes.
Plus-size tires add rolling resistance, but our test crew noted that the SB5+ rode lighter than most other plus bikes. Yeti’s high-end Turq carbon is partially to thank here–it shaves about half a pound compared to Yeti’s lower-cost carbon–which, combined with our XT build kit–including DT Swiss wheels, XT brakes and a primarily XT drivetrain–results in a size-large weight of just under 29 pounds. Despite our appreciation for the svelte rig, buyers will get the most value out of the non-Turq builds, which start at $4,700.
When pushed into corners, the supportive midstroke kicks in after the deformation of the tires, and there was plenty of suppleness on tap deeper in the stroke. Because of those big, soft tires, the SB5+ isn’t as sure of itself at high speeds and when dealing with jumps or high-G corners. It has a confident feel in technical terrain, though, thanks to its relatively long 1,190-millimeter wheelbase, reasonable 67-degree head angle and 150-millimeter-travel Fox 34 fork. Given that all three testers felt it was one of, if not the top-performing plus-size bike in this year’s Bible, it’s clear that the SB5+’s commitment to big tires pays off on the trail.
Q&A with Chris Conroy, President – Yeti Cycles
Who is this bike for? What buyer should choose an SB5+ over Yeti’s other bikes?
Each one of our bikes has a specific personality, so it’s really about what you prefer. The SB5+ is all about having fun. Clean technical, rocky ascents? No problem–it has loads of traction and is a super-effcient climber. And while it’s not as point-and-shoot as some of our more race-oriented models, it’s a traction machine and we get a perverse pleasure in trying to make it drift. It likes a post-ride beer as much as you do.
Is there anyone at Yeti who rides this bike over the other models in the Yeti lineup?
Yep. We don’t make bikes we don’t ride. For a handful of our staff it’s their preferred year-round whip. A growing number are also switching over to the SB5+ now the weather is changing–wider tires and added grip are nice companions on cold rides with snow and ice.
Threaded bottom brackets are universally appreciated amongst our editors, and we were glad to see several brands move in that direction this year. What benefit do riders get from the press fit design on the SB5+?
True, threaded bottom brackets have advantages. We use BB92 because it’s lighter and allows us some more design freedom; specifically, running a much larger downtube to increase frame stiffness.
Anything you’d like to add?
At the end of the day, Yeti holds true to making bikes that we want to ride. We saw the need for this bike on our own trails and a need in the market for a more performance focused plus bike, thus the SB5+ was born.