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ENDURO 2015 Long Term Test | First Ride: YETI SB6c X01

Just two months ago I took delivery of my long term test bike for the season, and I have to admit to being childishly overexcited when it arrived, for full details of the bike check here. In the flesh the SB6c looks amazing, it’s bloated carbon tubes look mean and menacing and the signature Turquoise colour scheme heralds it’s arrival everywhere I go. Jared piloted this bike to victory in the 2014 EWS season and after testing the very impressive SB5c, I was keen to find out if size matters when it comes to the extra inch.

For the last three months I have been putting the bike to the test, it has climbed the highest mountain in Wales, been thrown down rugged Welsh DH tracks, toiled on long day epics in the Scottish Highlands and even managed a 6 hour endurance XC race. Here are my first impressions from these experiences.

The Scottish Highlands are the perfect proving ground for new technology

The Build

The SB6c comes ready to go right out of the box, but I had to make a few changes to make it more suitable for the Scottish trails. The Maxxis High Roller II tyres are well proven rubber that have been shown to grip well in most conditions, but the winter had been a wet one and our local trails were muddy as hell. The High Rollers were swapped for the new Maxxis Shorty tyres, as we have found that they grip well and clear quickly. We were also not really impressed with the Yeti branded grips that came fitted to the bike, with their single clamp we found the rubber would flex and twist when riding hard. Some Hope Lock-on grips were added to improve the feel, and they feel a lot more secure.

Hope Lock-On grips have improved the contact points

The Maxxis Highroller II tyres have been removed until the spring. Maxxis Shorty tyres are much better in the mud

The rest of the componentry is good. The SRAM drive train can throw the odd tantrum in thick mud, especially the lower jockey wheel which sometimes jumps to thin-thin thick-thick with the chain and causes a terrible racket, but aside from that it has been fault free. The DT Swiss wheels still spin smoothly and the freehub pick-up is almost instantaneous. The 800mm wide Easton bar and 50mm stem is music to the ears of an aggressive rider, and the Shimano XT brakes are reliable performers, if a little snappy.

The glue on the chainstay protector is starting to peel back, some adhesive will fix this

The frame has taken a couple of big hits and has shrugged them off well, an ‘over enthusiastic’ line choice resulted in a terrifying bang as the rear dropout clattered hard off a rock, but the only damage was a deep scratch. After 300 tough kilometres the paintwork has some chips and the glue on the dropout guard has started to lift, but aside from that there are no other cosmetic issues. So what of the new Switch Infinity, well I have pressure washed it, repeatedly filled it with mud and blasted it out again and it looks and feels perfect – looking at it in detail theres not much to go wrong to be honest so I dont expect any problems there.

The Switch Infinity has not received any special attention

Suspension Setup

At 75kg I am a pretty average weight for a rider, so I initially set the FOX 36 to run 20% sag and 30% on the rear FOX Float X. After a few months of use I think that the rear suspension is a little too linear for my riding style, grip is immense but I would like a little more pop out of turns. I experimented with running 25% sag on the rear but the SB6c seemed to lose a little small bump sensitivity so I will go back to 30% after the addition of a volume spacer to make the shock ramp up faster. I will also add a volume spacer to the fork to balance the feel of the bike.

Climbing

If there is one thing that will surprise you when riding the SB6c, it is sure to be the pedalling efficiency. Even in fully open mode the bike presses on as if it’s keen to get you to an urgent appointment, there is not the wallow, sag and general sluggish demeanour than can plague long travel bikes, just sprightly forward momentum. The outgoing SB66 was also a good pedaller, but the new SB6c brings the same efficiency with a much more aggressive outlook. I have ridden the SB6c on numerous big days out in the hills and have never felt overbiked or wished for something more trail friendly. I could ride a medium or large frame (180cm), but even the medium offers a nice top tube stretch that makes climbing easy. The FOX Float X is incredibly active in the initial stroke and there is a little bob if you are out of the pedal sprinting, but it never feels inefficient, you feel like you are getting back exactly what you put in. For sure, it’s a 65 degree head angle bike so low speed nibbly technical climbs are never going to be its crowning glory, but if you keep on the pedals it will truck up most sections with ease.

The SB6c climbs well, far better than it should, it is a bike that loves to march on

Cornering

Where the SB6c excels and shows its race pedigree is through the turns, it is a cornering animal, changing direction like a startled ferret. It seems that no matter how hot you come into a turn, the Switch Infinity rear end finds traction and spits you out the other side. It does not matter if you weight up the bike and try and rail a smooth arc, or stay up front and let the back slide – the Yeti displays perfect balance and composure and in no time at all you are drifting, catching, railing and hooting like a lunatic. The FOX 36 and Float X work exceptionally well together, offering a delicate balance and sublime support in the mid stroke – allowing the bike to corner sharper and faster than a 65 degree head angled bike should.

The SB6c loves being chucked into turns, you can basically ride like a lunatic

Descending

So this is the part we have all heard before in hundreds of other enduro bike reviews “what this bike is all about is the descents, Blah Blah Blah.” But yes it’s true, the SB6c is a total beast on the descents, the Switch Infinity develops ridiculous amounts of grip and traction – tracking the ground like a dog on a scent. The breakaway of the shock is almost coil like, cutting out all the small bumps and chatter – while swallowing big hits with ease. It’s a bike that will make you lazy, you can smash it through anything, and it just doesn’t flinch. Totally stuffed up your line? Just hold on! Heading for rocks? Just hold on! It’s just that good. When it comes to composure under fire the SB6c is a game changer, but it does need some speed to inject the fun into the ride.

The Yeti loves descending, the SB6c is an animal

The Yeti is a very balanced bike, and feels great to carve

The only issue I have encountered is that at very high speeds on open terrain, the extremely sensitive initial breakaway and linear stroke can make you feel a little disconnected from the trail as the ride is so smooth, but this is likely to be helped with adjusting the air volume in the rear shock which is the next job. For the next few months I will be working on the suspension setup to try and find a setting that gives a little more feedback on rough ground at very high speeds.

The SB6c is as close to the ‘one bike to do it all’ as you could wish for

So, it’s early days in the relationship, but the SB6c and I are getting along just great (I even got on the podium of a 6 hour endurance race). The SB6c gets very close to the elusive ‘one bike’ status, delivering mini DH geometry and one of the best suspension systems in the business – all for a sub 28lb package. Yes, at $7400 it’s furiously expensive – but hot damn, it’s good. With a busy race season ahead it’s about to get some hammer, we will keep you posted.

Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Catherine Smith

If you enjoyed this review, you can read this and more great articles at Enduro-MTB.com

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