Mountain Bike Yeti SB 4.5c, One Month In

Tony S

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So, I have something like a month now on my new-to-me 2016 Yeti SB4.5c, riding a couple times a week. Here are some more or less unstructured reflections.

Notable cons:
  • The thing pogos on pavement. Doesn't matter how much platform / lockout I dial into the fork and shock. Interestingly, I observe the identical phenomenon on my S.O.'s SB5c. Therefore I speculate it's something about the Yeti geometry or suspension design. I do not notice it at all on the trail. Since I spend VERY little of my MTB time on pavement, this is not a big issue for me, but it would be if I had to ride to and from trailheads frequently. Caveat emptor. (Or maybe it's just a flaw in my pedaling that this bike highlights for some reason.)
  • I have not been able to tweak the suspension to be as seamless and forgiving as I'd hoped, over the rock gardens and root lattices that are prevalent in my area. (Sometimes too-slow rebound is a culprit in these situations, but that's not it.) It is distinctly less plush than the SB5c, nothwithstanding the help contributed by the 4.5's bigger wheels. But see notes below* on shock tune.
  • Shifting on the SRAM XO 11-speed rear is not as smooth or crisp as the 9-speed XO I have used for many years. I get a lot more clunky-sounding and -feeling shifts. I don't think it's the adjustment, but it could be related to drivetrain wear, since the bike is not brand new.

Notable pros:
  • Acceleration is excellent for a 29er. You step on the pedals and it just goes.
  • Climbing traction is amazing. In particular, its ability to clean step-ups and technical scrambles seems limited only by my strength and gumption. If I try a pitch with commitment I either clean it or tip over like Artie Johnson; I pretty much never spin out or pop an inadvertent wheelie.
  • I've had zero problem with chain drops, knock on wood.
  • Bike is super quietl (Well, it was until I introduce a little squeak somewhere with a bike wash. Operator error. I'm sure I got something too thoroughly with the hose.) There is an occasional chainstay thunk, but compared with any previous bike frame noise is zero.
  • The Enve / DT Swiss 60/40 HV wheels just feel great. Tires definitely look and ride bigger and more proportionally sensible on this rim than on my previous 19 - 21mm rims. Between the wheel and the fork, line-tracking is excellent: You point there, you go there, for better or worse. This is particularly noticeable on downhills, where my confidence is higher than on my old wheels. Also - this is unquantifed, and possibly BS - the bike just feels like it rolls easier. And feeling counts.
  • On slightly smoother terrain - a smattering of rocks and roots but not nonstop chunk - this bike flies. It lives for little dolphin-y airs on weightless rollers, and for swoopy corners. For most people in most parts of the country, this is what you will notice. I think only those of us who live in rock-and-root land will experience the slight bit of harshness in the efficient suspension design. For example, the more well-drained esker-y terrain at Kingdom Trails in Vermont, where I originally demo'd the 4.5, suits this bike beautifully.


Other random observations:
The difference in bike tech now vs. 7 years ago is really noticeable in terms of quietness and efficiency. The new bikes just feel a lot more solid - not just the Yeti. I attribute this to well-sorted carbon frames, burlier forks, and wider wheels and rims. Also clutch derailleurs.

While most of the time I can get by on the 30T ring that came with the bike, I'm going to go to a 28 eventually. I just never use the smallest cog, and I could use a little more spin-ability on some long steep climbs.

Removed both air spacers from the fork. This was a significant improvement, for the kind of riding I do, at my weight (~135lbs). I still like the buttery feel of the Pike better than the overly conscientious upright attitude of the Fox Factory 34 on this bike. Can't have everything.

*I didn't realize when I bought the bike that the model had initially been sold with an "XC" shock tune. Sometime after it was released they started offering a second shock option with a "Trail" tune. I suspect that when I demo'd an SB4.5 last summer it had the "Trail" shock on it. Mine has the XC version, I have found out through research. I think I would prefer the "Trail" version. Of course there is no cheap / easy way to swap at this point. In fact Yeti won't even sell one unless you buy the frame with it. :rolleyes:

At 5'7" I am on the cusp between a Medium and a Small. I bought the Medium. It's totally fine. (Not to say the Small might also be totally fine.) I say this with some confidence since some other Mediums I tried - Pivot, Niner - were very clearly too big. Through a complicated and boring series of events, I ended up on a 60mm stem, and I think I really would be better on a 40 or 50mm stem on this bike. I'm going to do an experiment with that shortly, and will post results.

I have quite a bit of time riding the 4.5 back-to-back with Wendy's 27.5" SB5c. The SB5 is definitely more plush and more playful. The extra bit of travel on the SB5 is noticeable. If you are not wed to big wheels and are not looking for maximum efficiency, it's probably a better choice. Personally I love the luxuriously confident feeling of rolling over everything just a bit more easily, and am not troubled by the arguably slower steering of the 29er, so I enjoy the 4.5 more most of the time.

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Erik Timmerman

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Have you ever used PUSH? You could send the shock to them for a trail tune.
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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Have you ever used PUSH? You could send the shock to them for a trail tune.
Definitely familiar with Push. They did a great job on my fork and shock years ago. I even turned Ron onto them. :) Unfortunately for us, for the moment, they are transitioning their business over to being more of a competitor with Fox, rather than a collaborator, so they are doing less and less with Fox products. They will still work on older shocks such as the RP23, but won't touch the newer stuff. (Presumably Fox is not too interested in working with them.) I also noticed they are not working with RS at all anymore. I've been out of the loop for a while. I had to call them to get the skinny.
 

Monique

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The thing pogos on pavement. Doesn't matter how much platform / lockout I dial into the fork and shock. Interestingly, I observe the identical phenomenon on my S.O.'s SB5c. Therefore I speculate it's something about the Yeti geometry or suspension design. I do not notice it at all on the trail. Since I spend VERY little of my MTB time on pavement, this is not a big issue for me, but it would be if I had to ride to and from trailheads frequently. Caveat emptor. (Or maybe it's just a flaw in my pedaling that this bike highlights for some reason.)
Can you lock out the front and rear for pavement, and would that help?
 

Mike Thomas

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PUSH isn't the only game in town when it comes to suspension tuning. Check out Vorsprung Suspension, based in Whistler, they are world class.
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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PUSH isn't the only game in town when it comes to suspension tuning. Check out Vorsprung Suspension, based in Whistler, they are world class.
Thanks, Mike.
 

Monique

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Sorry - somehow I missed the word "lockout" right there on the page.
 

Tom K.

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I didn't realize when I bought the bike that the model had initially been sold with an "XC" shock tune. Sometime after it was released they started offering a second shock option with a "Trail" tune. I suspect that when I demo'd an SB4.5 last summer it had the "Trail" shock on it. Mine has the XC version, I have found out through research. I think I would prefer the "Trail" version. Of course there is no cheap / easy way to swap at this point. In fact Yeti won't even sell one unless you buy the frame with it. :rolleyes:
That's crazy. Pro Tip on bike customer service: Call back this week. If somebody else answers the phone, ask again. Don't be surprised if you get a different (better) answer.
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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i was told by yeti that they only sell the 4.5 with the trail now. you could just buy a 2017 shock?
Supposedly I can buy one from "your [my] local Fox dealer." I may go there. Honestly I'm not relishing the thought of explaining exactly what I'm looking for to a non-Yeti-dealer - none local - and then (maybe) receiving the phone call three weeks later from the reluctant shop that it's going to cost me $700, or whatever full retail is, and that they can have it for me by labor day. Sorry - my luck with special orders from LBSs has generally been poor. They tend to be interested in selling what they have in the back room.
 

Monique

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I'd ride it until ski season and then have it re-valved, probably by Fox.
I did not know you could do that!
 

Monique

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Around here, all the shops seem to send shocks and forks to DirtLabs for servicing / rebuilding ... how many of these shock tuning shops exist? Are they one in every mountain biking town, or ..?
 

Tom K.

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I'd ride it until ski season and then have it re-valved, probably by Fox.
Great approach. Fox will typically do a mild revalve to another stock tune (i.e. SB4.5 "XC" to "Trail") at no additional charge, when you send it in for a rebuild.
 

Monique

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Great approach. Fox will typically do a mild revalve to another stock tune (i.e. SB4.5 "XC" to "Trail") at no additional charge, when you send it in for a rebuild.
Except of course for the cost of the rebuild ;-)
 
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