When the PR materials for the new Yeti SB5.5c hit the inbox, I was stoked to see Yeti finally had a true replacement for the SB95, a bike which changed many people’s opinions about what a 29er could be capable of.
In trying to transform those notes on geometry and spec into a story, our editorial team put together a short list of questions for the product gurus at Yeti Cycles. Here’s what they had to say via Yeti marketing manager Janette Sherman. If there are any topics we missed, please leave a comment. We’ll be meeting up with the turquoise crew later this week at the Sea Otter Classic to find out more about this new bike.
Mtbr: Yeti now offers a SB6c, SB5c, and a SB4.5c, not to mention the SBs of yesteryear. How does the new SB5.5c slot into the existing nomenclature?
Yeti Cycles: Like all our models, the 5.5c is born from the experiences of our race team. They wanted a strong, stable 29er platform bike with all the benefits of Switch Infinity, but with a bit more trail muscle to stay at the edge of events like the Enduro World Series.
Mtbr: Aside from the obvious differences in travel, how does the new SB5.5c differ in terms of riding characteristics from the SB4.5c? Or would it be better to compare this model to the 27.5” equipped SB5c?
YC: There’s a little bit of both of those bikes in the 5.5c. As a 29er, the ride quality of the 4.5c is tough to beat, but sometimes the challenges on the trail demand more travel and more suspension. The 5c is more in-line with the type of terrain we envisioned riding with the 5.5c, but the bigger hoops are going to produce a totally different experience for the rider.
Mtbr: When Yeti was designing this bike, who did they envision as the target rider?
YC: We’re a bit selfish in the design process, where we don’t really make a bike that we wouldn’t ride ourselves. The 5.5c is what we’d pull down for really technical challenges where speed counts. Enduro racing is the obvious match-up here, but any rider who spends time off the XC course is going to find an opportunity where the 5.5c is going to shine, uphill or down.
Mtbr: While you’ve offered frames (and geometry charts) with different fork travels in the past, why was the choice made to spec this 140mm travel bike with a 160mm fork?
YC: The 5.5c really walks the line between a trail and gravity bike. We wanted a rig that’s capable of blistering fast descents on technical terrain and we were committed to a 29er platform. Fox’s 36 Factory 160mm Boost was a natural choice.
Mtbr: Neither of the 29ers in the current lineup is compatible with a front derailleur. Can you offer us some insight into that decision?
YC: The design of our bikes centers around simplicity. If something isn’t absolutely vital to performance, we leave it out. There’s been so much progress in 1x groups now, and the future is only looking brighter for the reliability and price point of these components, that we decided we could start designing bikes that leave the front derailleur behind. Being able to move past that meant we could route cables more cleanly, have a more streamlined left-side cockpit, and be freer with the frame design. Plus, it looks cleaner which is always nice.
Mtbr: The SB4.5c is available in four sizes (S, M, L, and XL), while the SB5.5c is only available in M, L, and XL. Will there be a size small offered in the future?
YC: Right now, we are sticking to this size line up. Again, it comes down to our high standards around bike design. The biggest issue around designing a small size was our desire to run the Fox Float X Factory DPS rear shock and ensuring we had proper top tube clearance. We felt that shock was instrumental to the performance goals for this bike. So for us, the sacrifices we would need to make for the small fame size, were not in line with the goals we had for the SB5.5c.
Mtbr: Are there any plans to offer either the SB5.5c or the SB4.5c as a plus sized model?
YC: That would be cool, wouldn’t it?