SB5+ T-Series SLX Complete Mountain Bike
For those looking for a fun trail bike that can add some welcome traction to trails with kitty litter over hardpack, loose loam, and slimy root lattices comes the SB5+ T-Series SLX Complete Mountain Bike from Yeti. Its plus-size wheels and tires add much-needed volume making mincemeat out of trail situations that can prove problematic for bikes with standard tire widths. Along with a bigger footprint, plus tires allow for lower pressure for even more traction while scrambling up steep technical climbs and rolling over uneven trail furniture, providing a confidence-inspiring ride for both new and seasoned riders alike. One feature that's unique on the SB5+ versus many other bikes on the market is that this one is dedicated to 27.5+. Most bikes in the category pull double duty as both a 29er and a plus bike, but not with the SB5+. This means no sacrifices to the geometry or suspension kinematics allowing the frame to play nice with both wheel sizes. This is important because we feel both Yeti's geometry and its Switch Infinity platform are both among the most refined we've ridden and it'd be a shame to possibly muddy it up by accommodating dual wheel sizes. This frame features generous clearance for up to 3-inch tires for surefootedness in nearly every trail condition and when paired with this Competitive Cyclist custom build of Shimano's workhorse SLX group and FOX suspension, it's ready to go exploring and looking for an eager pilot to share the experience with.
So by now, you've probably noticed the SB5+'s slimmer brother, the SB5 and with similar geometry and suspension travel, it might be difficult to decide which one to go with. If you prefer a nimbler, lighter weight, and a sportier ride, go SB5. However, if you prefer fun versus the fastest over timed segments, regularly ride loose terrain, or are the type of rider that will continuously ride a technical section of trail, both going up and down, until you clean it, well the 5+ might be more your speed. Differences in the frame features between the two involve a redesigned rear triangle with elevated chainstays that brings increased rigidity and tire clearance needed for wider tires. The raised stays allow Yeti to keep short 17.2-inch chainstays, for a snappy rear end, while providing the additional clearance needed for the wider rubber by moving them up and out of the way. On the singletrack, this translates to quick handling and better power transfer from the cranks to the rear cassette.
Naturally, Yeti's excellent Switch Infinity suspension platform finds a home on the frame and governs the 127mm of travel coming from the FOX DPS shock. The design helps the already traction savvy plus tires find even more bite when the trail is loose and rough while seamlessly transitioning to a bottomless feel when you go into point-and-shoot mode or huck off any feature on the trail. The translating pivot is key to allowing Yeti to alter the leverage ratio throughout the stroke providing the necessary ratio depending on where the shock is in its travel. It automatically switches directions providing maximum anti-squat characteristics while pedaling for excellent climbing and an efficient ride, while the linear path of the system allows for unrivaled small bump sensitivity so all of the travel is utilized for soaking up massive square edge hits and drops with ease. It feels less than 5-inches when you're chasing your buddies on their XC bikes on extended climbs but somehow feels like more when hustling down black diamond trails against the enduro sleds. A well balanced 67.1-degree head tube angle adds confidence and stability at speed without taking anything away from its slow-speed maneuverability. We'd also go on record saying that the SB5+ feels the least plus-like of any of the plus bikes we've ridden and that's meant as a compliment. Maybe it's the fact that its dedicated to that size and it really allowed Yeti to optimize the ride, but whatever the case, it rides pretty damn normal except you reap the benefits of the increased tire patch.
Switch Infinity is now ubiquitous on all of Yeti's frames and so is the fact that every frame is constructed from carbon fiber. You do get a choice between the standard Carbon series and the top-tier Turq models as we have on this build. Turq is a high-modulus carbon fiber that's lightweight and supremely durable for years of trouble-free singletrack miles. By using high-quality resins and fiber, the material comes in lighter and it allows Yeti to use less of it without sacrificing strength and affords a 240-gram weight saving over the Carbon level offering. You'll find Turq constructed frames under the likes of Richie Rude as he campaigns the Enduro World Series so if you are ever doubting the longevity and durability of the material, you can rest assured.
The build of this bike is just as versatile as the frame is and well suited to the miles of fun you're sure to have on this rig. Shimano's SLX group receives a ton of trickle-down technology from its range-topping XTR group and some might argue that SLX's durability is a better match for a trail bike and you should reserve XTR for cross-country race machines. Shifting and braking duties are very much on par with XTR without the cost prohibitive exotic materials and fancy finish, again at a minimal weight penalty, but dollars saved. The 10-42-tooth cassette range levels hilly terrain so extended fire roads up to the goods and sharp steep technical climbs are all a little more manageable. A FOX Performance Float 150mm 34 fork soaks up the chatter when sending it down steep chutes and the boost spacing and large diameter sanctions refuse to twist and flex for sure steering, braking, and cornering. Like the frame, it has plenty of clearance for 3-inch tires and the compression and rebound adjustments let you easily tune the fork for your terrain, riding style, and the unique feel of low pressure, high-volume tires.
- A 27.5+inch trail machine for added traction on loose trails
- 5 inches of travel soaks up a big hit and small chatter
- Anti-squat adds great pedaling efficiency
- Linear travel path for supple off the top and small bump sensitivity
- Turq level carbon fiber drops grams but not durability
- Depending shifting and braking from Shimano SLX
- Switch Infinity offers excellent suspension characteristics throughout its travel