If you score a job at Yeti Cycles, you have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is the company policy mandating a mid-day ride on trails behind the office. For the rest of us cubicle-bound worker bees, there's the Yeti SB5 LR, or Lunch Ride, a model Yeti based off the modifications that its employees regularly make to the SB5, namely stouter suspension to give the 127-millimeter-travel trail bike an all-mountain edge.
You'll pay $200 more for the Lunch Ride than the traditional SB5, and that gets you a 160-millimeter Fox 36 fork, Fox Factory DPX2 piggyback shock, 800-millimeter-wide Yeti carbon handlebars and a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5/Aggressor 2.3 tire combo. The stock SB5 comes with a Fox 34 fork, Factory DPS shock and narrower bars, tires and rims.
The longer fork slackens the headtube angle from 66.5 degrees to 66.1 degrees and the seat-tube angle from 73.5 degrees to 73.1 degrees, though the Lunch Ride doesn't feel any less nimble on the trail. With modern geometry trends dictating ever-steeper seat-tube angles, 73.1 is slack and testers reported some difficulty maintaining traction on the steepest climbs. It may feel more difficult to get your weight forward and keep the front wheel planted than other bikes with a steeper angle.
The frame doesn't change between the two builds, though you can get the SB5 in the lower-cost, slightly heavier version of carbon fiber, while the Lunch Ride only comes in one high-end package. Yeti's signature lightweight and efficient chassis means this bike screams uphill, and its Switch Infinity suspension platform is remarkable in its elimination of bob; this bike climbs very efficiently with the shock wide open, but if you've ridden a Yeti in the past three years, that will come as no surprise.
Going down is just as pleasurable as going up, with the platform staying active and offering plenty of support without any harsh bottom-outs on high-speed descents. Still, it only has 127 millimeters of travel, and though its burlier build definitely adds capability, the Lunch Ride isn't going to plow through everything in its way like a bigger-hit bike. The Lunch Ride wants to go fast, but it also wants its operator to be able to pick a decent line.
Testers were unanimous on two points. One—the Lunch Ride is one of the quickest, most maneuverable bikes in the entire test, and it loves to get off the ground and play. Two—this bike is for wealthy people. It comes only in one $7,200 package (although one could buy the SB5 frame for $3,400 and build it to preference), and it's a sweet package, but perhaps not one for the masses.
But if you yearn to be an insider at one of the most storied and history-steeped mountain bike brands in the industry, the Lunch Ride is a way to feel like one of the cool kids. Even if you have to work on your lunch hour.
Q&A with Chris Conroy, president and co-owner of Yeti Cycles
Brilliant marketing behind the Lunch Ride, playing up the (enviable) company culture inside Yeti. What's the story behind offering the Lunch Ride edition to consumers? Did you just look around one day, realize all the employees had the same build on the SB5 and decide to sell it?
Pretty much. The SB5 Lunch Ride reflects who we are as a company—mountain bikers who build bikes we want to ride. Our staff tends to like bikes that climb well, but really excel on the downhill. The SB5 with a 160-millimeter Fox 36 fork and DPX2 shock, matched with a SRAM X01 Eagle drive train is a great balance for big uphills and rowdy downhills. It's what we ride every day on the trails that surround our factory.
With just one frame option and high-end build, the Lunch Ride seems to be targeted at a specific customer. Who is that rider in Yeti's opinion?
We always say we build bikes we want to ride and hope we find riders that share the same values. This bike is as pure as it gets at Yeti. It's what we ride. Who's the target customer? Us. We hope you're Us.
Except for a few special builds, like the Lunch Ride, Yeti's line is unchanged for 2018. What does that mean for next year?
Stay tuned …
What happened to the ASR and Beti ASR, which are no longer on Yeti's website—and are those out of the line for good?
Again, stay tuned. We ensure the more cross country oriented Yeti Freaks will be stoked. In the meantime, take the SB4.5 out for a spin. That bike rips.