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As bike technology advances, we see performance improvements getting infinitesimally smaller. However, there are still companies that hold caffeine fueled think-tanks, daring to be different, challenging conformity, happy to push new technology in the search for improved performance. Yeti Cycles is one such company, run by Chris Conroy and Steve "Hoog" Hoogendoorn, both passionate riders who firmly believe in innovation. When we were invited to look at the new Yeti bikes, we suspected that we may be in for a surprise, and we were not disappointed. In a beautiful chalet high above Valloire, Chris and Hoog took some time out to show us their exciting new bike, the SB5c, but it was the new suspension platform, the Switch Infinity technology, that will be sure to raise some eyebrows!

The new Yeti SB5c is the first to use their new Switch Infinity technology

The new technology integrates seamlessly into the frame.

The SB5c

Yeti are excited to launch their latest trail bike, the SB5c, a 5 inch travel bike that delivers an impressive 2.3kg frame weight (including shock). The SB5c features 27.5 inch wheels as expected, but Chris is quick to point out that this move is a reasoned one. Chris stated that while the wheel size issue was raging on over the last few years, they did not believe that the increase from 26-27.5 was a taking a quantum step forward in technology, so they focused their efforts on developing a new suspension system that they could move through all their travel platforms. The SB5c uses a light tune shock, confident that all the pedal support comes from the new Switch Infinity suspension kinematics, and after extensive testing the bike offers a firm pedalling platform maintaining efficiency, while also keeping compliance.

The New Switch Infinity System

Ever since the 303 DH bike, Yeti have firmly believed in the advantages of a pivot point mounted on rails, and after 3 years of development are excited to release their new suspension platform, Switch Infinity. Switch Infinity utilizes a patented translating pivot that is free to move and switch direction as the bike moves through its travel. The aim of the system is to provide improved anti –squat characteristics for superior pedaling performance, while maintaining responsive suspension characteristics throughout the travel.

The new Yeti SB5c features their new Switch Infinity pivot system

The new Switch Infinity Pivot is a big change from conventional designs. The central pivot is free to move up and down on the FOX engineered stanchions. The addition of grease ports should simplify lubrication.

The new SB5c uses a light tune on the shock, with the anti-squat properties handled by the Switch Infinity system.

The full carbon frame weights in at 2.3kg with shock.

Yeti are confident that the new system is highly durable, stating that it is simple, lightweight and bombproof, built by FOX from proven and tested suspension components. The Switch Infinity uses Kashima coated stanchions for low friction and durability, using seals and bushings from FOX’s off-road racing division, with a lightweight forged translating pivot. Yeti has been testing the system for years and the original bushing, seals and stanchions of the prototype are still going strong. FOX has also thrown the system into its testing regime as well and have found the system worthy for the ‘Enabled by FOX’ banner. The new system also saves 100g over the outgoing Switch Technology and Yeti are so confident about the durability that they are offering a 5 year warranty on the Switch Infinity Hardware.

The SB5c features a 67 degree head angle, which is quite slack for a 5 inch bike, the aggressive geometry does not stop there either, a low BB (340mm), long top tube (624mm in Large) and compact chainstays (442mm) keep things fun. Yeti claim that this bike is as capable as a 6 inch bike on the trail, but also stress that this incarnation is all about trail riding fun and not aimed as their next big hitting enduro rig, suggesting they may have a replacement for the SB66 in the wings?

The SB5c will be available in turquoise and raw carbon.

The 5 inch travel bike is aimed firmly at the Trail/AM sector, and weights in around 27lbs.

The SB5c will be available to ship immediately as a complete bike with SRAM’s X01 Build Kit with an MSRP of $6599, or $8999 (€ prices coming soon) with an Enve M60 wheelset. Complete SB5c’s will weigh 25.5lbs with a Thomson Elite seatpost, and 26.2lbs with a Thomson Elite Dropper seatpost. It will also be available with a SRAM XX1 Build Kit with an Enve M60 wheelset for $10,599.

The new Switch Infinity system is guaranteed for 5 years!

From prototype to finished design. This new system is 3 years in the making and has been developed in partnership with FOX.

Check out this video to see the new Switch Infinity in action.

Without the chainset, the new Switch Infinity can be clearly seen. The system is 100g lighter than the outgoing Switch link.

Over the next few years we can expect Yeti to roll out Switch Infinity into a larger bike range, the system can be mounted in different orientations to provide different kinematics for different applications, from long travel downhill bikes to short travel XC. Longer travel bikes need different kinematics in the later parts of the travel, and Yeti state that the new system allows them to have more control on leverage ratios than ever before.

Chris Conroy unveils the new bike and talks us through the technology.

Yeti and FOX tested many bushing materials, but in the end found that the most effective was the same standard as already used.

First Ride Impressions on the SB5c

Whilst at the press camp, Chris and Hoog were keen to spend as little as possible time talking about the new SB5c, and as much time as possible riding it. We had the opportunity to test the bike fully on the peaks high above the infamous Col du Galibier. With the bikes all set up, it was time to start the 600m climb, as I reached down to flick the pro-pedal into "climb" mode, Chris stopped me and suggested that I left the bike in "descend". This seemed crazy, especially after the "carpark bounce test" had suggested that the bike was very plush, I was certainly skeptical when I looked up at the imposing peak were were going to have to climb.

As soon as I started turning the pedals though, my fears were dispelled. At the beginning of the travel, the main pivot is free to translate upwards, creating a rearward axle path, the holy grail of suspension travel, the resultant lengthening of the chainstay helps minimize pedal feedback. The linear leverage ratio works with the translating pivot to provide very effective small bump sensitivity. When the suspension encounters a bigger hit, the Switch Infinity system reaches the inflection point, and the main pivot begins to translate downwards, providing more support for square edged hits. Yeti is confident that this provides a mechanical superiority that cannot be achieved with a traditional link design.

And you can certainly feel it working, it felt like no bike I had ridden before. When you put down the power the bike pushes forward with enthusiasm, but as soon as you hit the rough stuff, the SB5c is magic carpet smooth. The 600m climb was dispatched with relative ease, and not once did I notice excessive pedal feedback. The bike seems to ride well in its travel, and the seat tube angle and controls all make for an efficient climber. When it came to the descent, the SB5c was surprising indeed. The steep and rough terrain we descended was perhaps more than you would expect a 5 inch travel to be comfortable with, but the SB5c proved very capable. You certainly sense the rearward travel when hitting big objects, the impact was effectively dampened and lacked the nasty kickback that can plague conventional designs.

You cannot properly review a bike on one ride, but first impressions were very good indeed. The SB5c is a fast and effective climber, but also offers a very good downhill performance that belies its mid travel reserves. This could well be the bike that suits a lot of riders, offering fast and efficient all-day pedalling, while retaining the capability to handle alpine terrain and big mountain epics. The switch infinity works well, and you can directly feel the benefits over the traditional platform controlled suspension design. Pedal feedback is minimal and the SB5c certainly punches above its travel and weight. The jury is still out on the longevity of the system, but Yeti have tested it extensively with Fox and are offering a 5 year warranty, so they are very confident.

Originally published at Enduro MTB Magazine

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